DETROIT -- If the Vikings are going to play next Monday's game against the Chicago Bears at TCF Bank Stadium, Gophers officials say they need to know by Tuesday in order to get the stadium operational.
The Vikings have not formally asked the Gophers to use their stadium after the Metrodome roof collapsed, but that is one option being considered.
Scott Ellison, University of Minnesota associate athletic director in charge of facilities and event management, said removing snow from the stadium would take five to six days. Ellison inspected the stadium on Monday and said there are four- to five-foot snow drifts on the field, in the stands and in the concourses.
"Looking at what we have over there now, it would take us all this week to get the snow out," Ellison said.
TCF Bank Stadium was winterized at the end of the Gophers season. In addition to clearing all the snow, Ellison said water must be turned on in concession stands and throughout the facility.
"It’s not as easy as just throwing a switch or a valve and walking away," he said. "You have to open up the water line and make sure there’s no leaks and make sure everything is running properly.
"The entire concourse, all the bathrooms and all the concession stands, have been treated for the winter," Ellison added. "The stadium was designed for your typical [college] game in November. The average temperature in November is mid-30s, not what we’re seeing today. It wasn’t built for those types of temperatures so there are some other issues that we have to look at as far as making sure that if we do open a concession stand for a game we don’t freeze a sprinkler pipe or freeze water lines once they are back in service."
Ellison said snow removal is the biggest issue. The Gophers had to remove snow from the stadium after eight inches fell two weeks before the Iowa game.
"We’ve only had one experience removing snow from the stadium, and we learned a lot from that process," Ellison said. "For the Iowa game when we had that eight inches of snow prior to, we thought, ‘Well, let’s take our time getting it out. There’s no rush.’ We found out that we needed to get on it right away in order to get it out."
Ellison estimates it would take a crew of 20 to 30 people all week to get the job done.
"We had an eight inch snow two weeks before the Iowa game; that was a pretty big task getting that much snow out," he said. "Now we’re facing 17 inches and drifts, so it’s something we’re still looking at, to come up with a plan of attack. ... It was hard enough with eight inches. Now we have four feet [drifts]. Getting that out is going to be a challenge."
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