MINNEAPOLIS -- The Metrodome has risen again.
(View video at bottom of story.)
Stadium officials and construction workers inflated the Teflon-coated fiberglass ceiling of the iconic stadium Tuesday morning. The work was considered a test, but no problems cropped up so the roof will stay up while the finishing touches are put on a rebuilding project that began in March.
"The inflation went without a hitch. There doesn't seem to be any issues, whatsoever," said Ted Mondale, the chairman of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, the public agency that operates the 29-year-old facility.
The roof was replaced after it collapsed during a December storm, forcing the Vikings to play their final two home games elsewhere.
The new roof sits a little lower than before, but it still has the puffy, muffin-top look that frames the east side of the downtown Minneapolis skyline. The dome is held up by several 100-horsepower fans, which quietly and steadily lifted the ceiling to full height in about 45 minutes.
Most of the construction work should be done by Aug. 1, which will trigger a $500,000 bonus for Amherst, N.Y.-based contractor Birdair Inc., the company that designed and installed the original roof. The entire project cost $22.7 million, including $18 million for the roof itself, and it's covered by the MSFC's insurance.
The artificial turf was also damaged when the roof broke open and snow poured in, and that might have to be replaced, too, but MSFC chief engineer Steve Maki said that work, if necessary, would be done by Aug. 18.
The Vikings will play their first home preseason game on Aug. 27, assuming the NFL lockout is over.
Vikings vice president for public affairs and stadium development Lester Bagley said the team is appreciative of the work.
"Viking football is on the way, and we're going to get our home-field advantage back," Bagley said.
The Vikings are seeking a new stadium, but that effort has been stymied in part by the state's budget deficit and government shutdown.
"We're going to need to raise revenue to do this, and there really hasn't been a lot of synergy on how that would happen at this point," Mondale said. "So we're waiting. But we're working. We're being creative, and we're being solution-focused. I think there's still a pretty good shot that we'll have a good proposal ready for the elected leaders to take a look at -- and hopefully in the right timeframe."
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