Metrodome demolition won't be a blast

  • Article by: RICHARD MERYHEW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 6, 2013 - 9:43 PM

Turns out, there’ll be no big-bang farewell for the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

Instead, the 31-year-old downtown Minneapolis sports venue that has played host to hundreds of baseball, basketball and football games and dozens of monster truck and tractor pulls will be torn down piece by piece once the Vikings finish out the 2013 NFL season.

Company officials working on the nearly billion-dollar project are “99 percent sure” the Dome will not be razed in one, big blast in early 2014, according to John Wood, senior vice president of Mortenson Construction, the builder of the team’s new home on the Metrodome site. He said Tuesday explosives would kick up “a tremendous amount of dust” that would blow into nearby buildings and residential neighborhoods.

“For that reason, we’ve pretty much rejected that as an approach,” Wood said.

Although Mortenson had initially favored a staged demolition, company officials also had considered using explosives to raze the building.

“People keep asking: ‘Will there be a big explosion?’ ” said Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which is overseeing stadium construction. “The answer is ‘no.’ ”

Should the Vikings qualify for postseason play and host a playoff game in January, Dome demolition work probably wouldn’t start before February 2014.

Kelm-Helgen said construction workers will spend six to eight weeks after the team’s home season ends removing pieces of the stadium that can be salvaged or recycled before deflating and removing the roof. The razing of the stadium’s walls and demolition of its foundation would follow.

Late last month, the stadium authority began working on a plan to sell off surplus property before demolition takes place. What will be put up for sale and how it will be priced and sold have yet to be determined.

Kelm-Helgen said Tuesday that dozens of community organizations, school districts and sports fans have called or e-mailed the authority in recent months, requesting a seat or row of seats, a piece of the stadium’s turf or some other Dome memento.

Some items, such as baseball and basketball equipment no longer in use, will be the first to go, most likely being put up for sale before the football season ends, she said.

Going counter-clockwise

Groundbreaking for the new stadium, scheduled to open in time for the 2016 NFL season, is set for October in a stadium parking area east of the Dome.

Wood said that Mortenson will know more about the demolition schedule after selecting a contractor to perform the work.

For now, he said Mortenson envisions dismantling the northeast corner of the stadium first before working counterclockwise around the site. The phased demolition would allow crews to begin building portions of the new stadium before all of the old one is torn down, he said.

“If we have to wait for the entire Metrodome to be demolished by implosion, it could hold up our ability to get into that northeast corner,” he said.

He added that crews will spend much of next spring and summer working on the stadium foundation, with structural steel work and steel roof construction to follow. The building should be enclosed by late 2015, Wood said, with the final months devoted largely to interior work and finishing.

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