The Minnesota Vikings appear to have the best chance at being the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. With the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs and the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles without Carson Wentz against the Atlanta Falcons this weekend, the possibility of seeing a team play a Super Bowl at home looks as promising as ever.
While the NFL will not stand in the way to prevent it from happening, the league does have some possible issues that will be drawn out as long as the Vikings are in the playoffs.
Even though Minnesota’s U.S. Bank Stadium is a newer stadium and a state-of-the-art venue, it still needs some temporary work done to accommodate hosting the Super Bowl, as every stadium hosting the big game typically does. In a typical year, that work is already underway at the host site for the Super Bowl, but the NFL is forced to work around the Vikings as the team prepares to host a divisional round playoff game this weekend, and possibly for a home game in the NFC Championship Game the following weekend.
“We’re watching it closely, no question about it, and we have been for a while,” Peter O’Reilly, the league’s senior vice president of events, said to Sports Illustrated. “The good thing is there is a really detailed contingency plan in place that hasn’t had to be rolled out before, but is in place. We’ve been talking with the Vikings and the host committee throughout the back-half of this regular season on a regular basis on all the different scenarios. It adds another factor for sure, but we feel good about the planning in place.”
The logistical nightmare can still be worked around with the bye week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl, but even that may not be enough time to get everything done that would typically get done. The NFL may have to prepare for some around-the-clock work in getting the stadium set for the Super Bowl, regardless of who is playing in the game.
Between auxiliary press boxes, temporary structures for the television broadcast, and exterior security structures to improve the security for the game, there is a good amount of work to cram in as soon as the NFL can begin doing so.
The Vikings would essentially flip the NFL’s arrangements for game prep and accommodations if they manage to reach the Super Bowl. With the AFC being the designated home team in this year’s Super Bowl, the AFC champion would be assigned the Vikings’ practice facility and locker room while the NFC champion would practice at the University of Minnesota and get the road locker room.
However, if the Vikings reach the big game, they will get the home field advantage, a contingency plan the NFL always has in place. After all, it would be silly for the team playing a Super Bowl in their home stadium to be kicked out of their own room and practice facility. It is a scenario that rarely becomes an actual issue.
The Vikings would enjoy quite a financial benefit from hosting the Super Bowl and playing in it. As noted by The Star Tribune, teams competing in the Super Bowl get roughly 17.5 percent of the ticket revenue from the game, with the league getting 25.2 percent and 34.8 percent being shared among the rest of the NFL franchises not playing or hosting the game. The remaining percentage of the ticket revenue goes to the host team, and the Vikings would get that revenue on top of their Super Bowl share.
Before any of this becomes relevant, however, the Vikings first must find a way past Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram and the New Orleans Saints this weekend. The Vikings will know if hosting the NFC Championship Game is on the line because the Eagles will host the Falcons on Saturday. The NFL Super Bowl prep team may secretly be rooting for the Eagles this weekend, just so they can get in Minnesota’s stadium and get to work with three weeks to get their jobs done instead of two.