U says stadium will be ready

Associate AD Scott Ellison said he and the NFL are pleased at the progress being made.

Shovelers pile snow from the bleachers onto chutes leading to the field Wednesday afternoon at TCF Bank Stadium. Workers are busy preparing the stadium for a Monday night Vikings game.

Image by Ian Larson

Shovelers pile snow from the bleachers onto chutes leading to the field Wednesday afternoon at TCF Bank Stadium. Workers are busy preparing the stadium for a Monday night Vikings game.

by Andrew Baker

Despite the weekend blizzard, continued low temperatures and a forecast calling for even more snow, TCF Bank Stadium will be ready in time for Monday nightâÄôs Minnesota Vikings game.

 âÄúThere will be a game here Monday night,âÄù said Scott Ellison, the UniversityâÄôs associate athletic director in charge of facilities and event management.

The field remained mostly blanketed in white with substantial drifts remaining in some areas, but most of the lower-deck seating had been cleared, and workers in the upper deck were snowblowing and shoveling snow down a chute to waiting front-end loaders on the field.

In addition to the workers already contracted through a temp agency, Ellison said the University is still looking for more shovelers to help between now and Monday. All shovelers will be paid $10 per hour by the Vikings.

An earlier release from the Gophers athletic communications office asking for volunteers to help with the shoveling had made no mention of shovelers being paid. âÄúThere was a little confusion on how weâÄôre going to handle the shovelers,âÄù Ellison said, “and letâÄôs just say that weâÄôve come to an agreement that we will pay the shovelers if they show up.âÄù

 âÄúThe snow is still our biggest obstacle,âÄù Ellison said. âÄúYou look around, you see some pretty sizeable drifts up in the seating section, you see a lot of snow on the field and the snow weâÄôre getting tomorrow is not going to help.âÄù

The National Weather Service is forecasting one to three inches of snow tonight and less than one inch tomorrow.

Ellison said the NFL plans to use âÄúsome sort of chemicalâÄù to de-ice the field Monday night, and may place a heated tarp over the field.

The game will be staffed entirely by the University of Minnesota, which will also receive all the revenue from concessions.

Ellison said the NFL was âÄúpleasedâÄù with the progress being made on preparing the stadium, but that the league had not officially signed off on the game. Pressed as to why there had been no official approval, when he expected such an approval and who from the NFL would make the decision, Ellison would only confirm that âÄúa couple gentlemanâÄù from the league who were in town to evaluate the stadium were impressed with the facility itself and the progress being made to prepare it for the game.

 âÄúThey have not said to me, âÄòWeâÄôre not going to host the game, we donâÄôt support the stadium,âÄôâÄù Ellison said. âÄúSo to me that means they support what weâÄôre doing and they support the stadium.âÄù

Shovelers in the stadium didnâÄôt seem to mind the frantic pace or the cold and wind as they earned some extra cash methodically clearing snow out of the seating area.

âÄúEverybodyâÄôs having really good attitudes about it,âÄù said Ashley Furseth, a 26-year-old seamstress from Roseville. Asked how tough the work was, Furseth responded simply, âÄúWell it depends on how tough you are.âÄù

Gerold Anderson, a 24-year-old Minneapolis native, said he was just happy to make some extra money before the holidays so he could get something nice for his daughter. âÄúItâÄôs beautiful out here,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúItâÄôs not even cold.âÄù

That might be a stretch, especially if you ask Vikings players on Monday night, when the temperature at kickoff is forecasted to be in the high teens, with a slight chance of snow.

For now though, spirits are high at the stadium, and despite some unanswered questions, it appears that Monday Night Football is indeed coming to campus.