The Metrodome's new tan roof is expected to rise starting about 7 a.m. Wednesday, barring breezy weather or other complications.

Ordinarily the roof can be inflated in short order, but workers plan to take it nice and easy.

The entire procedure could take as long as three hours, said Bill Lester, executive director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which owns and operates the Dome.

When it's up, it will appear somewhat tan and a bit flatter than its puffy predecessor.

Permission to proceed has been obtained from the city of Minneapolis, Lester said.

The $22.7 million roof project is supposed to be finished by Aug. 1. Officials say that even with the roof up, numerous small tasks remain to complete the job, including various seals and installation of lightning rods.

The Dome's former roof, which lasted for 29 years, was ripped open in a blizzard seven months ago Tuesday.

KEVIN DUCHSCHERE