One day after Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck voiced desire to have the team switch sidelines at TCF Bank Stadium, athletic director Mark Coyle pumped the brakes Monday.
“We just started to have this conversation the past week or so,” Coyle said. “Before any decisions are made, we obviously communicate with our season-ticket holders, and so we’ll continue to have those conversations.”
The Gophers have used the south sideline since the stadium opened in 2009. The north sideline is considerably sunnier during football season, with a shadow from the press box and club seating often covering the south sideline.
The Vikings used the north sideline when they played at TCF Bank Stadium from 2014 to 2015, while U.S. Bank Stadium was under construction. The Vikings sold tickets before news of their sideline switch came out the summer before the 2014 opener.
But Vikings coach Mike Zimmer saw too many advantages not to change, especially knowing the Gophers season ends in November, while the Vikings would be playing home games into January.
“We did a study on the wind,” Zimmer said before the 2014 season. “We did a study on the temperatures, things like that, which side is a little bit more conducive to the better conditions as opposed to the other side.”
The Gophers also considered switching sidelines under former coach Jerry Kill but stayed put.
Fleck told WCCO (830-AM) on Sunday: “I think we’re going to be on the other side that we haven’t been in the past. ... I think it gives you a lot of advantages as well, so we’ll probably be on a different sideline.”
The Gophers open this season at TCF Bank Stadium on Aug. 31 against Buffalo. Coyle didn’t rule out a sideline switch by then, but it didn’t sound likely.
“We’re so early in the process,” he said. “We need to sit down and see what works and what doesn’t work. We want to be mindful of our season-ticket holders who’ve been with us and are such a great part of our program. We need to gather the information and then we can start to make decisions.”
Fleck named grand marshal
Fleck will be the grand marshal of the 78th annual Minneapolis Aquatennial Torchlight Parade on July 19, organizers announced Monday.
The largest nighttime parade in Minnesota runs down Hennepin Avenue from the Basilica of St. Mary to 5th Street, between 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
“My family and I are honored to be part of the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade,” Fleck said in the news release. “Everyone has been so welcoming to us since we arrived in January, and I am looking forward to meeting more of our fans and embracing the local culture and traditions.
“I have heard wonderful things about this family-friendly event and how it helps bring a community together to celebrate our elite city of Minneapolis.”