MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Vikings take the field against the Chicago Bears at TCF Stadium this Monday it will be the first outdoor NFL football game in Minnesota in nearly 30 years.
The University of Minnesota is looking for more than a few good volunteers to help make this bit of football history happen.
U of M officials announced Wednesday that shovelers are wanted to clear the playing surface and stands of snow in the wake of last weekend's huge snowstorm, and they will be paid.
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Shovelers are asked to gather at the Lincoln County entrance to TCF Stadium on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 a.m., noon and 4 p.m.
Shovelers must be at least 18 years of age and will be paid $10 an hour for four-hour shifts. Anyone interested must also bring a Minnesota State ID (driver's license) and social security card or passport to sign up with a temp agency at the stadium.
Assistant Athletic Director Scott Ellison said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon that the Vikings will pay for the total cost of shoveling efforts. There is also free parking for workers in lot 37 off 5th St.
You are encouraged to wear warm winter gear. Shovels will be provided, but you are welcome to bring their own shovel if they wish.
Shovelers can also check Gophersports.com for the slots where shovelers are needed at the stadium.
When asked about the potential of alcohol sales for the game at Wednesday's news conference, Ellison said "I have nothing to say about beer."
On Tuesday, the University began to clear 1,500 tons of snow from the stadium, which is home to the Golden Gophers. Four hundred temporary workers will be hired to help shovel out the snow from last weekend's storm, which dumped 17 inches of snow in Minneapolis and tore a hole in the Metrodome roof.
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There are 20-inch-deep snow drifts throughout the facility, and much of it will have to be removed by workers with shovels rather than plows that might damage the stadium's floors, said Garry Bowman, the university's director of athletic communications.
The Vikings have agreed to pick up all preliminary expenses, including plowing, as well as all expenses involved in holding the game, said Ellison. He didn't know how much it would cost to remove the snow, but said he thought it would be considerable.
The normal game day budget at the stadium is $250,000, he said.
The snow removal plan is to have groups of 100 workers, working four-hour shifts, for 16 hours a day. Right now, most of those workers are coming from temp agencies.
Officials also have to get the building ready, including the concessions, which are only designed to withstand mid-November temperatures. Ellison said officials would have to put Plexiglass covers over concession stands to trap heat inside.
TCF Bank Stadium has a seating capacity of about 50,000 -- about 13,000 fewer seats than are available at the Metrodome for football games. The Vikings are working on a plan to decide which ticket holders will get seats. Attorneys are also exploring whether beer will be sold at the stadium, as the 'U' doesn't allow it for college contests.
Despite the challenges, folks at the U seem pumped about temporarily embracing a color change from maroon and gold to purple. "The University of Minnesota is excited to be hosting Monday's game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears," University Relations director Daniel Wolter said Tuesday evening.
"In the coming days we'll be working hard to get the stadium fully prepared for this game, which is no small task. We'll make every reasonable effort to ensure the Vikings and their fans have a great venue for their Monday Night Football game."
It was Dec. 20th, 1981 when the Vikings ended their storied run at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington with a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The high temperature that day was 33 degrees.
The Vikings' Monday night appearance on campus is not unprecedented: On October 5th, 1969 they played the Packers at old Memorial Stadium due to a conflict with a Minnesota Twins playoff game.
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