Dome to get new roof, Vikings eye new stadium

The Vikings support the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission's decision to replace in full the roof of the Metrodome, but the team also is advancing its plans for a new stadium.

The roof of the Metrodome will be replaced, but that is only a temporary fix to the Vikings' stadium issues, the team said Thursday.

The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission announced Thursday afternoon that engineers recommended a full replacement of the Metrodome's roof, which collapsed in the early morning hours of Dec. 12 after 17 inches of snow fell in the Minneapolis area. About seven hours later, the Vikings were scheduled to play a home game against the New York Giants at the Dome. That game was pushed back to a Monday night contest and moved to Detroit, causing the loss of millions of dollars in ticket revenue.

The Vikings' final home game was also moved to TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus, which required the removal of snow in the open-air stadium, the refunding of several thousand tickets and many more millions in lost revenue.

The cost of replacing the Metrodome roof is expected to be at least $18.3 million. The vast majority of the cost will be covered by insurance.

The Vikings issued a statement, saying they support the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission's decision to replace the roof of the Metrodome, but the team was clear that replacing the deflated and torn roof isn't a long-term solution.

"The Minnesota Vikings support the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission's (MSFC) decision to replace the Metrodome's damaged roof. We appreciate the MSFC's efforts to ensure a safe environment for all year-round users of the publicly-owned stadium, and we are pleased the Vikings will be able to play in front of our fans at Mall of America Field during the final season of the team's lease agreement," the team said in a statement issued after the MSFC's announcement.

"The Vikings also want to be clear that the MSFC's decision to replace the roof is not a long-term stadium solution and does not change the urgency to build a new multi-purpose stadium for the state and the Vikings. The Metrodome still ranks at the bottom of the NFL in terms of revenue and fan experience. It is our intent to pursue the final passage of legislation during this year's legislative session to finance and construct a new stadium, and we are encouraged by the progress on that front."

The team announced plans to negotiate for a new stadium at the Arden Hills/Ramsey County site that formerly housed the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant.

"The Vikings strongly believe that this location could make an excellent site for a new publicly-owned, multi-purpose stadium," Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf wrote in a letter to the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners. "The Vikings also agree that this project would provide an opportunity to create thousands of jobs and significant economic activity in Ramsey County and the surrounding area."

The Vikings acknowledged in the letter that it is not an exclusive agreement between the team and Arden Hills/Ramsey County, but the key will be finding public partners to pay for about two-thirds of the stadium. The Vikings have said they will pay one-third of the cost of an open-air stadium. Depending on what kind of stadium is built, the cost could range between $700 million and $900 million.

In the meantime, the Metrodome should be ready for use by the time the 2011 preseason starts. Last year, the Vikings' first preseason game was on Aug. 14. The 2011 schedule hasn't been announced yet, and there is uncertainty surrounding the season because a new collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association hasn't been reached yet, but as long as the labor issues don't affect the season the Vikings should have a home for 2011.

"We are pleased that the MSFC's decision removes the uncertainty and ensures continuity for you, as well as provides a safe environment for all users of the publicly-owned facility," the Vikings said in an open letter to fans. "We now turn our full attention toward doing everything possible to bring a World Championship home to Minnesota and our very passionate fans."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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