Giants, Vikings Play in Detroit After Roof Collapse

The New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings will play tonight at Detroit’s Ford Field after yesterday’s game was rescheduled and relocated because the roof at the Metrodome in Minneapolis caved in under the weight of 17 inches (43 centimeters) of snow.

Kickoff for the National Football League game, which will be televised on Fox in local markets, is 7:20 p.m. New York time.

The Giants flew into Detroit from Kansas City, Missouri, yesterday after their flight to Minneapolis was diverted by the biggest snowstorm to hit the Twin Cities area since 1991. Giants coach Tom Coughlin said last night that his team was in good spirits even with the lengthy travel delays.

“While we waited (in Kansas City) we were entertained a bit by our rookie vocalists,” Coughlin said during a media conference call. “That always seems to stir them up. They’ve handled it well.”

Detroit’s Ford Field is the closest indoor NFL stadium to Minneapolis, about 689 miles (1,108 kilometers) from the Metrodome. Giants President John Mara said the facility was the “most logical” because it was reasonably close and News Corp.’s Fox already had its television equipment at Ford Field after broadcasting yesterday’s NFL game between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.

Mara said while the University of Minnesota’s 50,805-seat open-air stadium was considered -- being about 2 miles from the Metrodome -- the NFL said it wouldn’t have been ready in time after being shut down for the winter.

No Instant Replay

“There were a lot of other issues like the snow on the field there, the college hash marks not the pro hash marks, and they didn’t have instant replay capability,” Mara said. “They didn’t have TV equipment out there. The commissioner ultimately made the decision to play the game in Detroit, and we were fine with that.”

Ticket holders for yesterday’s scheduled game in Minneapolis will get seating along the 50-yard line at Ford Field in addition to a refund, the Vikings said.

General admission will be free, with tickets available at the Ford Field box office beginning at 8 a.m. today, the team said.

“We’re going to work to make this as accommodating of a game for both teams, but particularly the Vikings, since it is their home game that is being lost,” Lions President Tom Lewand said in a statement.

Previous Incidents

Repairs to the inflatable Metrodome roof, which comprises 10 acres of Teflon-coated Fiberglas, will take “several days,” Bill Lester, executive director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which owns the Metrodome, said yesterday in a telephone interview. There were no injuries when the three roof “panels” were damaged, Lester said.

The Metrodome roof deflated under the weight of more than 10 inches of snow 48 days after first being inflated in October

1981. While the structure has had tears since then, the only previous event to be postponed because of snow was a Major League Baseball game between the Minnesota Twins and California Angels in April 1983.

“We’ll get a little walk through or chair drill (this) morning just to move around a little bit and get our minds back into football,” Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. “In essence we’ve been just sitting around since Saturday morning at nine o’clock.”

Favre Injury

The delay gave Vikings quarterback Brett Favre another day to recover from a shoulder injury that knocked him out of the 38-14 win against Buffalo Dec. 5.

Favre, who has made an NFL-record 297 straight starts, has been listed as questionable on the team’s injury report.

For the Giants, it cost them a day of preparation for next week’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

At 8-4, the Giants trail the Eagles by a half-game in the National Football Conference’s East Division. Philadelphia improved to 9-4 with last night’s 30-27 win in Dallas.

“Obviously we would have liked to have a full week but what are you going to do? It could not have been avoided,” Mara said. “Right now this game is the most important game so you can’t worry about the Eagles just yet. You never like to play on a short week, but you have to.”

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