US Bank Stadium is the backup option if the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have to move their Sunday night game from Florida due to damage from Hurricane Ian, a National Football League official said Wednesday.
Jeff Miller, the NFL’s senior vice president of health and safety policy, made the announcement during an appeal. Miller said the 2020 Super Bowl rematch is still underway for Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, but will be moved to Minneapolis if necessary.
Miller said the first priority is to make sure the league does nothing to “negatively impact public safety efforts in the affected areas. … We are closely monitoring the situation and are in talks.” with both clubs, the stadium, local and state authorities and various minute by minute weather bureaus.”
Asked how close to a decision could come on Sunday, Miller said there is no timeline.
“It is literally a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour consideration and conversation with all affected parties, state and local authorities, emergency response agencies and the participating clubs – as well as the Vikings,” he said.
Rumors of the game moving from Tampa Bay to Minneapolis started online on Tuesday and quickly sparked excitement from the teams and players involved.
The game would be a match-up of two of the NFL’s biggest stars and future Hall of Famers on the first ballot: quarterbacks Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. In the 2020 championship game, the Brady-led Buccaneers defeated Mahomes and the Chiefs in Tampa Bay.
John Drum, general manager of ASM Global, which runs US Bank Stadium operations, has said the staff and building can be mobilized and ready.
US Bank Stadium’s more than 67,000 seats are said to be available Sunday night as the Vikings will be far away and the New Orleans Saints will be playing in London. The Vikings, the main tenant of US Bank Stadium, postponed comment on the competition.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the New York-based league is in no rush to call.
“We are always making contingency plans in case we need to make adjustments while continuing to monitor developments and keep in touch with the two participating teams along with local officials there,” McCarthy said. “We could make decisions later in the week, including on Friday.”
Moving the game due to a hurricane is not unprecedented. A year ago, the New Orleans Saints’ home opener against the Green Bay Packers was moved to Jacksonville, Florida, due to Hurricane Ida.
The NFL is familiar with the capabilities of US Bank Stadium’s operations and staff, as the building hosted Super Bowl 52 in 2018. Brady also played in that game as the losing quarterback to the New England Patriots.
It is not yet clear whether Hurricane will hit Tampa Bay and how severe the damage will be. Even if the storm doesn’t hit Tampa directly, the damage nearby or elsewhere could put a strain on public safety facilities and necessitate moving Sunday’s game.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis urged Floridians to prepare for extended power outages.
Staff writer Ben Goessling contributed to this report.