The opening of U.S. Bank Stadium in 2016 provides a sense of optimism for the Minnesota Vikings. Standing nearly 30 stories tall and covering more than 1.75 million square feet, it represents a bright future for Mike Zimmer’s team; it’s a home that finally matches the Vikings’ recent progress on the field.
Designed as the epicenter of downtown east Minneapolis, it’s a fitting stadium for the Vikings and a welcome attraction for local Minnesotans. With a Super Bowl coming to Minnesota in 2018, U.S. Bank Stadium may become the first venue to host its own team in the big game in NFL history.
Looking back, 13 franchises have opened new stadiums since 2000, and each has done so with similar aspirations of success and revitalization. Under Zimmer, the Vikings have gone 18-14, all while playing outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium. Does history suggest their winning ways will continue, or does a move spell disaster for a team on the rise?
The New Stadiums
- 2000: Paul Brown Stadium — Cincinnati Bengals
- 2001: Heinz Field — Pittsburgh Steelers
- 2001: Sports Authority Field at Mile High — Denver Broncos
- 2002: Ford Field — Detroit Lions
- 2002: CenturyLink Field — Seattle Seahawks
- 2002: Gillette Stadium — New England Patriots
- 2002: NRG Stadium — Houston Texans
- 2003: Lincoln Financial Field — Philadelphia Eagles
- 2006: University of Phoenix Stadium — Arizona Cardinals
- 2008: Lucas Oil Stadium — Indianapolis Colts
- 2009: AT&T Stadium — Dallas Cowboys
- 2010: MetLife Stadium — New York Giants/New York Jets
- 2014: Levi’s Stadium — San Francisco 49ers
- Bengals (4-12 to 4-12) lost to Browns 24-7
- Steelers (9-7 to 13-3) beat Bengals 16-7
- Broncos (11-5 to 8-8) beat Giants 31-20
- Lions (2-14 to 3-13) lost to Packers 31-37
- Seahawks (9-7 to 7-9) lost to Cardinals 13-24
- Patriots (11-5 to 9-7) beat Steelers 30-14
- Texans (4-12) beat Cowboys 19-10
- Eagles (12-4 to 12-4) lost to Buccaneers 0-17
- Cardinals (5-11 to 5-11) beat 49ers 34-27
- Colts (13-3 to 12-4) lost to Bears 13-29
- Cowboys (9-7 to 11-5) lost to Giants 31-33
- Giants (8-8 to 10-6) beat Panthers 31-18
- Jets (9-7 to 11-5) lost to Ravens 9-10
- 49ers (12-4 to 8-8) lost to Bears 20-28
Combined, the teams went 6-7 in the home openers at their respective stadiums. Of the 13 franchises, only five improved their record from the previous year, while the remaining eight either regressed or finished with the same regular season mark.
When the Vikings moved from the Metrodome to their temporary home at TCF Bank Stadium in 2014, their record actually improved. The hiring of Zimmer, along with the arrival of Teddy Bridgewater and the improvement of key players on defense, helped the team notch two more wins than they did under Leslie Frazier the previous year. That trend continued in 2015, as the Vikings finished the season 11-5 and clinched their first division title since 2009.
Given the state of the current roster and the positive outlook moving forward, the Vikings have a chance to buck the losing trends of former relocated teams. Their home opponents in 2016 include the Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals, and of course, their three NFC North foes. It’s very likely that the NFL will schedule the Vikings in a primetime home opener Week 1.
Teams like the Cardinals, who bested the Vikings last season, would be a fitting opponent to kick of Minnesota’s new era in U.S. Bank Stadium. The new “digs” and buzz surrounding Minnesota will make them an attractive opening night showcase for the league. Their new home is a palace fit for kings. Can the Vikings prove they’re worthy of such a throne?