When the Seattle Seahawks play the Minnesota Vikings for a National Football Conference wild card playoff spot on Sunday, the temperature in Minneapolis is expected to be around zero degrees.
There's been speculation that the frigid weather could give an edge to the home team because the Seahawks are accustomed to a more mild climate (as Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman told The Seattle Times, "There's no simulating zero degrees"), but the bigger concern may be keeping the fans warm.
NFL teams employ a number of methods to keep their players as toasty as possible, from state-of-the art apparel to heated benches. Fans, on the other hand, are usually, well, left out in the cold. But for Sunday's game, the Vikings' front office is taking steps to mitigate the effects of freezing temperatures on folks in the stands.
The team said in a press release that it will do the following to "keep fans safe":
• Free hand warmers will be distributed to those who need them. The team is encouraging all fans to also bring their own.
• Caribou Coffee will provide free coffee in the Fan Zone located outside the stadium.
• Beginning at 9:00 a.m., a nearby arena will be open and available as a pregame warming house for fans.
The team is also encouraging fans to bring blankets as well as "styrofoam, cardboard or newspapers to place under their feet" in the stadium.
"We know Minnesotans are resilient when it comes to cold weather and unified when it comes to the Vikings, so we view this Sunday's game as a rallying moment," Vikings owner Mark Wilf said in a statement. "At the same time, we want our fans to be smart and safe when they are supporting the team, and we are taking a few extra steps to assist in that effort this Sunday."
Perhaps not surprisingly, there are still plenty of tickets left for Sunday's showdown. As The Times reported on Tuesday, more than 12,000 seats were available for the game (as of Tuesday), more than twice as many as the 5,000 to 6,000 remaining for the three other wild card games.