U.S. Bank Stadium won't play host to the NFL's marquee game Sunday night because Tampa was spared extensive damage from Hurricane Ian, the Buccaneers announced Thursday.
Minneapolis was the designated backup site if the game had to be moved from Tampa's Raymond James Stadium due to damage from the massive storm. Minneapolis stadium officials were prepared and eager to host the matchup between two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes.
The Buccaneers issued a statement saying they were "very thankful that the Tampa Bay area was spared the most damaging consequences of this powerful storm.
"We have informed the NFL, after consulting with local and state agencies, that we are ready to play Sunday night's game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium as originally scheduled."
The decision allowed the game-day crew in Minneapolis to exhale.
John Drum, general manager for ASM Global, which runs U.S. Bank Stadium operations, said it's fortunate Tampa was spared but unfortunate Minneapolis didn't get a chance to showcase its hospitality. Stadium staff had been waiting for word on whether to mobilize thousands of event-day staff for the game.
"The thing that was great for me is the team that I have, nobody said, 'Ugh, I've got to give up another weekend for work,'" Drum said. "We've got a really, really strong group of people that bring this building to life whether it's a Minnesota Vikings game or a high school football championship."
But it still would have been a scramble to pull it off. The Vikings are out of town Sunday, playing New Orleans in London. So U.S. Bank Stadium was expected to be dark this weekend. As the hurricane approached Florida, however, the NFL began talking to Minnesota officials about moving the game.
"It was a huge compliment that we were being considered," Drum said.
Now Minnesotans can watch the Chiefs and the Buccaneers on TV Sunday night after seeing the Vikings play Sunday morning.
The NFL has moved games for weather reasons before. Last year, the league moved the New Orleans Saints' home opener against the Green Bay Packers to Jacksonville, Fla., with 10 days' notice because of Hurricane Ida.
In December 2010, a Vikings game with the New York Giants was moved from Minneapolis to Detroit with one day's notice when the Metrodome roof collapsed during a blizzard.