Back at Dome, Vikes repairing an image

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 27, 2011 - 5:30 PM

The Metrodome is back after a collapse last year that symbolized the Vikings' strange season.

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Jon Yates put the finishing touches on the Vikings logo at the center of Mall of America Field on Thursday in preparation for Saturday’s game.

Photo: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

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Even the night before, there were concerns.

Falling snow was accumulating on the Metrodome roof. Windy conditions prevented removal. As Vikings players and coaches were going to bed the night before their scheduled Dec. 12 game against the New York Giants, there were rumblings of potential problems. The Giants, diverted by weather, were bedding down in Kansas City.

Steve Poppen, the Vikings chief financial officer, got a call from the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission that snow levels on the Dome were getting bad. A few hours later, the roof caved in, officially becoming the most powerful metaphor for the 2010 Vikings season.

"We went to bed knowing there could be some issues," said Steve LaCroix, the Vikings VP of sales and marketing. "We didn't expect the Dome to collapse, though. We thought we might have to postpone the game to Monday, needing a day to get back up on the roof during sunlight."

Sunday morning, that all changed. There were flurries of calls with the NFL and the Giants. At breakfast, players were told the news, then met later at Winter Park. By that afternoon, the team was on a flight to Detroit to play the Giants in Ford Field on Monday night.

That was the start of a very strange month.

Two-plus weeks into the job of interim coach, Leslie Frazier had to keep his team together through that trip to Detroit, a home game played on the University of Minnesota's frozen TCF Bank Stadium field, and an extended weather-related stay and a Tuesday night game in Philadelphia.

Strange days.

"Every year I've found myself saying I've seen it all," said tight end Jim Kleinsasser, in his 13th season with the team. "But then I'm always surprised. So I've decided I'm not going to say that anymore."

Tonight the Vikings will make their first appearance in the dome since beating Buffalo on Dec. 5. There is a new roof that allows more light. There is a new field. There will be the same old cacophony from the fans and many of the same issues that have prompted the Vikings to seek a new stadium.

As far as homecomings go, this one might be a mixed blessing.

Season in turmoil

LaCroix pulled out his notes from that weekend to relate a time line. The warning Saturday night, the collapse early Sunday. The meetings. The decision to play in Detroit, which was made just before the originally scheduled noon kickoff.

"You can reflect on all the different things that happened up to that point," LaCroix said of a 2010 season that was already derailed by the time the roof collapsed. It was a strange year that included another late Brett Favre arrival, typical Favre drama, allegations of Favre's texting misconduct and the firing of coach Brad Childress after a one-sided loss to the Packers.

While the playoffs were no longer an issue, the Vikings had won their first two games with Frazier at the helm. Then all kinds of travel broke loose, starting with the trip to Detroit to play the Giants.

"It was a different time for everybody involved, for our fans, for our players, but we got through it," Frazier said. "Our guys stayed together and fought through some adversity and that's part of being in the NFL. ... But the good thing is our guys stuck together and we fought through it, and I think we came out on the other side better for it."

Linebacker Chad Greenway said the Vikings quickly saw how composed Frazier could be during tough times. "He's as steady as they come," Greenway said. "And we trust in what he's saying."

Jared Allen remembers getting a text early Sunday morning from a buddy on the Giants telling him about the collapse.

"I thought he was messing with me," Allen said. "And then I turned on the news and the next thing you know our plane is landing in Detroit. It was actually kind of humorous. I mean, as far as metaphors go, you can't beat that one. "

Said Greenway: "It was a crazy end to a long season. Look at it from start to finish, the things that came about, the way it all progressed. From the moment we walked into training camp until the last game there was something going on."

Now, the homecoming

When it comes to Mall of America Field -- which is how the Vikings refer to the Metrodome after signing a sponsorship deal -- there are mixed emotions among the players. You could see that last week when, while being interviewed on the sidelines in Seattle, Allen took direct aim, calling it the worst venue in the league.

He didn't back down this week.

"It's just a matter of fact that the Metrodome is outdated," he said. "It's the only stadium I've ever been in where I have to ride the vending elevator down to the locker room, where I have to park in the admissions parking lot and walk through the ticket office."

That said, Allen and the players take pains to praise the fans, the noise, the ambiance of game day. Defensive tackle Kevin Williams called it a great atmosphere to play in. Kleinsasser talked about the noise.

"The fans are phenomenal," Allen said. "Imagine what it would be like if we had a nice, new stadium for the fans?"

The Vikings were 18-5 at the dome the past three seasons, so there is definitely a home-field advantage. As Greenway said, the players don't have to deal with any of the fans' gameday problems, whether it be the crowded concourse or long lines at the bathroom. As for any parking hassles or the tight locker room?

"I know it's probably not the best situation for some of the fans," Greenway said. "I know there are some tight spots ... I hear about that from my wife and family.

"But as far as a player? It's as loud as anywhere. We win there. It's a great home-field advantage."

  • PRESEASON HOME OPENER VIKINGS VS. DALLAS

    7 p.m. Saturday • Mall of America Field at Metrodome • TV: Ch. 11 (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)

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Cincinnati
Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
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Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
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Los Angeles
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Central Conn St 55
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Florida State 63
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
Northwestern 63
Ohio 49 FINAL
George Washington 77
Southern Utah 61 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 70
Elon 67 FINAL
Kennesaw St 65
Dartmouth 49 FINAL
Penn State 69
Green Bay 70 FINAL
UC Irvine 72
DePaul 58 2nd Half 3:51
Colorado 76
Lewis & Clark 39 2nd Half 6:04
Portland 67
SC State 30 2nd Half
Abilene Christian 23
Manhattan 22 1st Half 5:56
Fordham 21
Truett-McConnell 16 1st Half 7:10
Ga Southern 27
Citadel 22 1st Half 6:49
Michigan State 23
Miami-Ohio 14 1st Half 5:43
Ohio State 34
Gardner-Webb 22 1st Half 7:17
Purdue 29
Idaho 18 1st Half 7:57
Northern Ky 20
Fairfield 6:00 PM
Albany
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Alcorn State
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Clemson
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TCU
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Vanderbilt
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Tenn Tech 7:05 PM
UMKC
Murray State 7:05 PM
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California
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Oregon
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Northeastern 8:00 PM
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Northern Colorado
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Portland State
TX A&M-CC 9:00 PM
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Nevada
Boise State 9:30 PM
Houston
UC Riverside 10:00 PM
San Diego St
Tulane 10:00 PM
Washington
Loyola Marymount 10:00 PM
Wichita State
Nebraska 12/23/14 12:00 AM
Hawaii
BYU 48 FINAL
Memphis 55
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
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North Carolina
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UCF
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Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Holy Cross 78
Temple 59 FINAL
Villanova 64
Georgia Southern 68 FINAL
Southern U 52
Xavier 60 FINAL
Kennesaw St 61
Eastern Michigan 52 FINAL
Michigan 81
Brescia 56 FINAL
Marshall 127
(21) West Virginia 54 FINAL
Ohio State 96
UMBC 87 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 78
Cornell 79 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 61
St Bonaventure 70 FINAL
Georgetown 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Northeastern 62
Eastern Washington 67 FINAL
Florida 56
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Texas Southern 69
Butler 72 FINAL
Illinois State 60
UC Davis 53 2nd Half 3:15
(16) Stanford 65
Washington St 73 2nd Half 5:49
Loyola Marymount 46
Sacramento St 65 2nd Half 11:21
San Jose St 68
SIU-Edwardsville 34 2nd Half
UMKC 18
Oakland 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Belmont 6:00 PM
(14) Georgia
George Mason 6:00 PM
Longwood
Kansas 6:05 PM
Creighton
Abilene Christian 7:00 PM
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UT Martin 7:00 PM
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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