Vikings change venues as Metrodome roof gets fixed
The Minnesota Vikings are getting ready for a frigid night of
football after officials said Tuesday that the Metrodome’s torn
roof won’t be ready for Monday night’s matchup against the Chicago
Bears, forcing the game to move to University of Minnesota’s TCF
Inspectors found that damage from the weekend snowstorm that
dumped more than 17 inches in Minneapolis and busted through the
Metrodome’s Teflon roof was worse than initially thought, according
to the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission.
Officials decided the roof couldn’t be repaired in six days, but
could not immediately estimate how long the process would take.
Commission president Roy Terwilliger said they hoped to know more
in two to three days.
“Our first priority is the safety and well-being of the Vikings
fans and players, the hundreds of youth sports, community and other
groups that use the Metrodome throughout the year and our
employees,” he said.
The Vikings immediately turned their “full attention to the
University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium,” the team said in a
statement. Vice president for public affairs Lester Bagley told The
Associated Press that the NFL has agreed to allow the game to be
played at the roofless Gophers’ football stadium.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello didn’t immediately return a call
Workers at the university, meanwhile, began the daunting task of
clearing tons of freshly fallen snow from inside the stadium, which
opened in 2009 and never has hosted a pro football game.
There are 20-inch-deep snow drifts throughout the facility, and
much of it will have to be removed by workers with shovels rather
than plows that might damage the stadium’s floors, said Garry
Bowman, the university’s director of athletic communications.
The Vikings have agreed to pick up all preliminary expenses,
including plowing, as well as all expenses involved in holding the
game, said Scott Ellison, the university’s assistant athletic
director for facilities. He didn’t know how much it would cost to
remove the snow, but said he thought it would be considerable. The
normal game day budget at the stadium is $250,000, he said.
The snow removal plan is to have groups of 100 workers, working
four-hour shifts, for 16 hours a day. Right now, most of those
workers are coming from temp agencies.
Officials also have to get the building ready, including the
concessions, which are only designed to withstand mid-November
temperatures. Ellison said officials would have to put Plexiglass
covers over concession stands to trap heat inside.
Monday night’s game will fall 29 years to the day after the last
time the Vikings played outdoors in Minnesota: Dec. 20, 1981, their
final game at the since-demolished Metropolitan Stadium in
Bloomington, which the Metrodome replaced. The Vikings lost that
game to the Kansas City Chiefs, 10-6.
It promises to be a memorable experience on a night in which
long-term forecasts predict temperatures in the single digits or
”I think they’ll love outdoor football in Minnesota. I think
it’ll be a great experience for the fans,” he said.
TCF Bank Stadium has a seating capacity of about 50,000 – about
13,000 fewer seats than are available at the Metrodome for football
games. University spokesman Dan Wolter said lawyers also are were
exploring whether beer will be sold at the stadium, which doesn’t
allow it for college contests.
In the Metrodome on Tuesday, work crews laid sheets of plywood
on the field to keep it dry and used several hydraulic lifts as
they began tearing down pieces of the tattered roof.
Inspectors from Birdair Inc., the Amherst, N.Y.-based contractor
that built the roof, found that the snow and ice in roof panels
that didn’t collapse was so deep, it posed a safety hazard to
workers – and would have to be dealt with in a slow and painstaking
“We have to go this way, to be on the safe side,” Terwilliger