In this photo from Dec. 12, snow fell into the Metrodome through a hole in the collapsed roof. Besides a roof, the Dome needs new turf.

, Star Tribune

Metrodome needs new turf as well; low bid: $476,000

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON
  • Star Tribune
  • July 19, 2011 - 9:50 PM

The one-year-old Metrodome turf won't see another Minnesota Vikings season.

Along with the recently inflated new roof, the 29-year-old Dome requires new turf because of damage from the roof collapse in the winter.

The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (MSFC) on Thursday is expected to select a bid to replace the turf before the Minnesota Vikings preseason begins Aug. 27 -- if the game is still scheduled pending a settlement of the NFL lockout.

Last month, commissioners agreed to seek bids to replace the turf while studying whether replacement was needed.

An independent report to be submitted to commissioners Wednesday shows the turf spent too much time under water to remain viable, said Bill Lester, the commission's executive director. He said the study will show the drowned turf could spawn mold or develop other problems.

"We knew this was a possibility," MSFC Chairman Ted Mondale said on Tuesday.

The Dome's chief engineer, Steve Maki, had said last month the field looked to be in "good shape." Apparently that isn't the case.

"Because of the collapse and the aftermath of the collapse, there was an excessive amount of water on the field for an extended amount of time," Lester said.

He said the staff would recommend the commission go with the lowest qualified bid of $476,000. He did not identify the vendor, but he said the high bid was $784,000.

Lester said an insurance claim for replacement costs has been submitted, but that he didn't know whether it would be covered. The new turf vendor must be acceptable to the Vikings, and Lester said it is.

The bid requires the turf be completely installed by Aug. 18. An open house will be planned for the afternoon of Aug. 20 so the public can see the new facility, Lester said. The Vikings are scheduled to host the Dallas Cowboys a week later.

The sodden turf was installed by Sportexe. When the Metrodome opened in 1982, the commission's first choice -- natural grass -- wasn't feasible, so an artificial alternative called Superturf was glued down over a pad. AstroTurf replaced it in 1987 because it could be rolled up for the Dome's multiple uses.

In 1995, AstroTurf won a bid to replace the turf with a better-cushioned product. In the late 1990s, new products emerged with even better cushioning and shock absorption. In 2004, FieldTurf installed its product at the Dome, but the Vikings immediately expressed player safety concerns.

Sportexe won the bid for the new turf for $495,000 last year. The Dome's spectacular collapse under heavy snow was seen by millions around the world seven months ago.

Rochelle Olson • 651-735-9749 Twitter: @rochelleolson

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