The Minnesota Vikings would be the visiting team if they advance to Super Bowl LII, at least officially.
Unofficially, the Vikings will be anything but the road team if they secure a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. It would become the first franchise to play a Super Bowl on its home turf. Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis is Feb. 4.
“It’s a little amazing as was the fact (the Vikings) were the first team to play a divisional round game at the same stadium that hosts the Super Bowl,” Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s senior director of events, told USA TODAY Sports. “It is surprising that it hasn’t happened yet, but last year’s Super Bowl was the first overtime game. We are certainly prepared for this.”
Two franchises have played virtual Super Bowl home games: The Los Angeles Rams played a few miles from their home stadium at the Rose Bowl in January 1980, and the San Francisco 49ers played at Stanford Stadium in January 1985.
Months ago, the NFL took into account the possibility of the Vikings potentially playing in the Super Bowl and the only significant change would be where the NFC team will practice.
If the Vikings advance, they will be able to use their Winter Park, Minn., facility. That would put the AFC representative — either the New England Patriots or Jacksonville Jaguars — at the University of Minnesota. If the Vikings don’t make it, the AFC team would use the Winter Park location and the Eagles would practice at the University of Minnesota.
The Vikings could make use of the Super Bowl hotels the NFL has booked. Some teams stay at hotels the night before home games during the regular season, but the Vikings coaches could make use of the hotel the entire week ahead of the game.
“They are still determining their plans,” O’Reilly said.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher was in favor of Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer utilizing the hotel ahead of the game.
“There is certainly (a) comfort level to being at home, but the challenge you have is the multitude of people coming into your house,” Cowher, an NFL analyst for CBS, said in a conference call this week. “A lot (of) times it may be easier to isolate yourself when you’re not at home. The challenge will be for him, and I think they will be fine during the week, to keep focused on the game. … The challenge is trying to create normality.”
The NFL will control the game-day presentation, meaning the Viking horn — one that sounds during games — may not be heard quite so often.
“We will work with them to find (the) right balance in the presentation,” O’Reilly said.
How tickets are allocated also would change for the Super Bowl if the Vikings make it. Typically, each team gets 17.5% with another 5% going to the team where the game is hosted. If Minnesota is in, the Vikings and the AFC team would each get 20% of the allotment from the NFL.
Ticket prices already are at record-high prices in anticipation of the Vikings playing in the Super Bowl, SeatGeek spokesperson Chris Leyden told USA TODAY Sports. As of Thursday, the average resale price was $5,296, the most expensive seat this far out from the game since SeatGeek began tracking Super Bowl ticket prices in 2011.
“It’s tough to tell how much more prices may go up,” Leyden said. “But as a point of reference, College Football Playoff Championship tickets went up about 20% when Georgia and Alabama won (in the semifinals).”
Jesse Lawrence, the spokesperson for TicketIQ, noted the quantity of available tickets is lower than the conference title games this Sunday.
“One wild card here is the quantity of inventory available for the Super Bowl, which could lead to a higher price increase,” Lawrence said.