U.S. Bank Stadium is the backup if the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to move their Sunday night game from Florida because of damage from Hurricane Ian, a National Football League official said Wednesday.
Jeff Miller, NFL senior vice president of health and safety policy, made the announcement during a call. Miller said the 2020 Super Bowl rematch is still for Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, but that it will be moved to Minneapolis if necessary.
Rumors of moving the game from Tampa Bay to Minneapolis started online early Tuesday and quickly generated excitement because of the teams and players involved.
The game would be a matchup of two of the NFL’s biggest stars and future first-ballot Hall of Famers: 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 manages US Bank Stadium operations, said staff and the building can be mobilized and ready.
US Bank Stadium’s 67,000-plus seats would be available Sunday night because the Vikings will be away, playing the New Orleans Saints in London. The Vikings, the main tenant at US Bank Stadium, deferred comment to the league.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the New York-based league is in no rush to make a call.
“We always make contingency plans in case we need to make adjustments as we continue to monitor developments and stay in touch with the two participating teams along with local officials there,” McCarthy said. “We could make decisions later in the week, including Friday.”
Moving the game because of a hurricane is not unprecedented. A year ago, the New Orleans Saints’ home opener against the Green Bay Packers was moved to Jacksonville, Fla., because of Hurricane Ida.
The NFL knows the capabilities of US Bank Stadium’s operations and staff because the building hosted Super Bowl 52 in 2018. Brady played in that game as well as the losing quarterback for the New England Patriots.
It is still not clear will the hurricane hit Tampa Bay and how severe the damage will be. Even if the storm doesn’t directly hit Tampa, the damage nearby or elsewhere could strain public safety measures and necessitate moving Sunday’s game.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis urged Floridians to prepare for extended power outages.
“It’s a big storm, it’s going to raise a lot of water when it comes in,” DeSantis told a news conference in Sarasota, a coastal city of 57,000 that could be affected. “And you’re going to end up with a really significant storm and you’re going to end up with really significant flood events. And this is the type of storm that threatens life.”
Staff writer Ben Goessling and the Associated Press contributed to this report.