Metrodome inflated, turf evaluation next

The roof of the Metrodome is back up and the turf was being uncovered Wednesday. Up next: evaluation of the turf that may have to be replaced for the second straight year.

The Metrodome roof is back, newer and brighter than ever and once again providing an arch over the Minneapolis skyline.

Metrodome officials and workers from the roof manufacture Birdair inflated the new roof in about 45 minutes Wednesday morning. The roof collapsed Dec. 12 under the weight of a 17-inch snowstorm, forcing the Vikings' final two games of the 2010 season to be played at Ford Field in Detroit and TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.

"The inflation went without a hitch. There doesn't seem to be any issues whatsoever," said Ted Mondale, chairman of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission. "We are confident that this project will be in a final stage of completion Aug. 1. We are extremely confident that we will have our first community event Aug. 20 and we'll be ready for the Vikings, if they're ready, to play their first scheduled game Aug. 27. So it's been a good day."

The Vikings and MSFC requested of the NFL to schedule the team's first two preseason games away, and the league complied, but, while reports of late indicate progress is being made with the NFL's labor impasse, a full preseason still isn't certain.

The replacement of the Metrodome roof was done ahead of schedule and on budget. The project cost $22.7 million, with the roof taking up $18 million of that figure.

A crew of about 55 workers put in 10 hours days, six days a week for the last three months and has the project on schedule for "substantial completion" by Aug. 1, which would earn Birdair a $500,000 bonus.

"Starting with the morning of Dec. 12, when it collapsed, it's been a long, arduous journey, but we're in a successful place," said Bill Lester, executive director of the MSFC.

The raising of the roof started at about 7 a.m. with the doors of the Dome closed, the perimeter sealed and 12 fans used at about 40 percent of normal power to slowly raise the roof. Eventually the fans went to normal operating pressure when the longest cable, 800 feet, was in place.

"It's fully inflated now. It's lighter in here than it used to be and a lot less rainfall," Mondale said with a laugh.

Some of the panels have yet to be fully bleached by the sun, but already the Dome is lighter inside and acoustic panels now hang from the middle of the roof where a liner used to be hang. The removal of the middle of the liner was done to increase the heating process to melt snow in the winter.

"Viking football is on the way and we can get our home-field advantage back. We appreciate it and we're looking forward to the season," said Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president of public affairs/stadium development.

There is one more step before the Metrodome hosts the Vikings. The artificial turf has to be inspected and likely will need to be replaced, just one year after Sportexe was installed after the Twins left for Target Field. While the roof was being replaced, the turf was covered by three layers of plywood that heavy equipment could drive over, leaving the condition of the turf uncertain on Wednesday.

"The field has been under three pieces of plywood since January," Mondale said. "There's been rain and snow and all those things, so there's review going on right now. We don't know what that determination is, but we will know very soon."

Bids from five different turf companies, including Sportexe, are expected in Thursday with a decision on turf replacement coming next week. If it needs to be replaced, that project would start Aug. 1 and be scheduled for completion Aug. 18, two days before the first public event at the Metrodome and nine days before the Vikings' first preseason game.


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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\r\nWant more in-depth coverage on your favorite NFL team? Click here and get started today.\r\n","mobileBody":"The Metrodome roof is back, newer and brighter than ever and once again providing an arch over the Minneapolis skyline. Metrodome officials and workers from the roof manufacture Birdair inflated the new roof in about 45 minutes Wednesday morning. The roof collapsed Dec. 12 under the weight of a 17-inch snowstorm, forcing the Vikings' final two games of the 2010 season to be played at Ford Field in Detroit and TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus. \"The inflation went without a hitch. There doesn't seem to be any issues whatsoever,\" said Ted Mondale, chairman of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission. \"We are confident that this project will be in a final stage of completion Aug. 1. We are extremely confident that we will have our first community event Aug. 20 and we'll be ready for the Vikings, if they're ready, to play their first scheduled game Aug. 27. So it's been a good day.\" The Vikings and MSFC requested of the NFL to schedule the team's first two preseason games away, and the league complied, but, while reports of late indicate progress is being made with the NFL's labor impasse, a full preseason still isn't certain. The replacement of the Metrodome roof was done ahead of schedule and on budget. The project cost $22.7 million, with the roof taking up $18 million of that figure. A crew of about 55 workers put in 10 hours days, six days a week for the last three months and has the project on schedule for \"substantial completion\" by Aug. 1, which would earn Birdair a $500,000 bonus. \"Starting with the morning of Dec. 12, when it collapsed, it's been a long, arduous journey, but we're in a successful place,\" said Bill Lester, executive director of the MSFC. The raising of the roof started at about 7 a.m. with the doors of the Dome closed, the perimeter sealed and 12 fans used at about 40 percent of normal power to slowly raise the roof. Eventually the fans went to normal operating pressure when the longest cable, 800 feet, was in place. \"It's fully inflated now. It's lighter in here than it used to be and a lot less rainfall,\" Mondale said with a laugh. Some of the panels have yet to be fully bleached by the sun, but already the Dome is lighter inside and acoustic panels now hang from the middle of the roof where a liner used to be hang. The removal of the middle of the liner was done to increase the heating process to melt snow in the winter. \"Viking football is on the way and we can get our home-field advantage back. We appreciate it and we're looking forward to the season,\" said Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president of public affairs/stadium development. There is one more step before the Metrodome hosts the Vikings. The artificial turf has to be inspected and likely will need to be replaced, just one year after Sportexe was installed after the Twins left for Target Field. While the roof was being replaced, the turf was covered by three layers of plywood that heavy equipment could drive over, leaving the condition of the turf uncertain on Wednesday. \"The field has been under three pieces of plywood since January,\" Mondale said. \"There's been rain and snow and all those things, so there's review going on right now. We don't know what that determination is, but we will know very soon.\" Bids from five different turf companies, including Sportexe, are expected in Thursday with a decision on turf replacement coming next week. If it needs to be replaced, that project would start Aug. 1 and be scheduled for completion Aug. 18, two days before the first public event at the Metrodome and nine days before the Vikings' first preseason game.

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