U.S. Bank Stadium will be a fan-free zone for at least the first two Minnesota Vikings home games this season because of COVID-19, the team announced Tuesday.
The Vikings open their season at home at noon on Sept. 13 against the Green Bay Packers. Two weeks later, they are scheduled to host the Tennessee Titans.
But statewide restrictions on big indoor gatherings and concern for fans, players and employees compelled the team to preemptively close the stadium to spectators for at least those two games.
Even before the team announced the decision, fans had backed away from attending in person. About 60% of the team’s 60,000 season-ticket holders had taken up the team’s offer of skipping the season, according to the team.
Vikings executives said last week that they’re still working to get some fans in the building. The team is in discussions with state officials about eventually reopening for a fraction of the usual number of fans, possibly 20%. If fans are allowed into games this season, they will likely see new seating configurations, staggered entry times and face-covering requirements, the team told ticket holders.
In the NFL, more than 20 of the 32 teams already have announced plans for games without fans.