MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Same home, new roommate. That's more or less the situation for the Minnesota Gophers and TCF Bank Stadium.
On August 8th the Vikings christen their new two-year temporary home as work is underway on their new stadium.
Two weeks before kick-off, U of M Associate Athletics Director Scott Ellison took us on a tour of the changes.
"The biggest part of the project for the remodel is the field," said Ellison. "We took out a portion of the old sub-base, put in coils."
Those coils under new athletic turf will carry antifreeze heated by the stadium's steam plant, keeping the field soft on those cold December days.
The turf itself is upgraded too, no longer single strands of artificial grass, but tufts. "And then when it gets installed it eventually splits apart, so it ends up looking like real grass," explains Ellison.
Real enough, in fact, to put a mow pattern in it by dragging the field. "It gives the players and fans a feel like they're out in an outdoor stadium will real grass on the field," says Ellison.
The turf is responsible for roughly a third of the $6.6 million budget for stadium upgrades, all of it covered by the Vikings under their agreement with the U of M.
The opening in the horseshoe shaped stadium, is now filed with 1720 temporary seats, bringing stadium capacity to 52,525.
Among the other improvements, more storage space for Vikings equipment, additional broadcast cable and heaters for the stadium's loge seats.
"We're adding heat to all the bathrooms right now," adds Ellison. Heat is needed to keep pipes and fixtures from freezing. Other pipes in the concourses have been relocated to interior areas.
"The Bank" was never meant to be a winter stadium, flirting with it only once when the Vikings played there for a single game after the Metrodome roof collapsed.
The Gopher's locker room will not change for the Vikings. It's perfect just the way it is, and much bigger than the Vikings were used to in the Dome.
Besides, most of the emphasis will be right where it should be - outside.
"How can you beat outdoor football in Minnesota in the fall," smiles Ellison.