The Metrodome’s roof deflated within 35 minutes Saturday morning, despite uncertainty about wind and snowy weather conditions.
Officials from the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority opened the relief vents to begin the deflation at 7:15 a.m. — a move that permitted the Dome’s 10 acres of Teflon-coated fiberglass fabric to slowly deflate.
The deflation will make way for construction of a new $1 billion Vikings stadium, which will be located roughly where the Dome stands in downtown Minneapolis.
The snow-laden roof silently deflated in the middle of fairly heavy flurries, sagging first in the middle. While there were few people out and about at the early hours, those who were walking by the Dome didn’t seem to notice the deflation occurring.
“Really? That’s crazy,” said Jon Silveira, a Minneapolis resident who was heading to his job at Sea Change at the Guthrie Theater. “I didn’t notice it, I’m too busy trying to get to work.”
When asked if he was sad to see the Dome go, he replied, “No, but I’d rather not pay for the new one.”
Construction has already begun with the excavation of a giant crater on the eastern stretch of the property to make way for the new structure’s pilings. The Vikings played their final game in the Dome on Dec. 29, so stadium officials need to deflate the roof to prepare for the 31-year-old structure’s demolition piece by piece, beginning next week.
The Dome’s roof fabric will be recycled by St. Paul-based excavator Frattalone Companies, which will cut it up and use it for future construction projects. Already the turf and most of the bright-blue seats have been removed, leaving a kind of concrete shell inside the stadium.
Officials were worried that winds higher than 5 miles per hour could hamper the deflation. While this was the fifth time the Dome’s roof collapsed this is the first time it was deflated intentionally. On four prior occasions, the roof collapsed due to extreme weather conditions, including the Dec. 11, 2010 incident where excessive snow caused the roof to cave in.
Trying to figure out when, exactly, the Metrodome's roof will be deflated is a bit like attempting to find Edward Snowden's whereabouts.
It's an elusive thing.
The deflation of the fabric roof is tentatively scheduled for Saturday. The fans in the Dome that inflate the roof will be disabled, causing the roof to deflate. It could take 20- to 40 minutes.
But Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, said Friday the timing is "unclear" due to many factors. The MSFA doesn't want throngs of people descending upon the construction site because there are potential safety issues. That's partly why a Saturday was chosen for the deflation, since there won't be as many people downtown on a weekend.
The deflation will be called off entirely if winds surpass the 5 mph on Saturday. Currently the National Weather Service is predicting a snowstorm beginning this evening, with winds out of the north at 10 mph.
Should the deflation occur, the event will be available for viewing from cameras inside and outside the Dome on www.vikings.com.
A Fridley firm is ready to remove and sell many of those blue seats at the Metrodome, as the sports stadium nears its final days.
Albrecht Sign Co., a family- and minority-owned firm, is one of five bidders for the job, but the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, the public body in charge of the new $1 billion stadium's construction, says no contract has been signed yet.
However, the MSFA's request for proposals (also known as an RFP) states that the selection of the firm to remove the seats is Dec. 23. Proposals were due at 1 p.m. on Dec. 20.
Removal of the "riser mounted chairs in the seating bowl" -- as the RFP puts it -- calls for about 64,000 seats to be removed from 8 a.m. Dec. 30 to noon Jan. 17, 2014. The heat in the Dome will be turned off beginning Jan. 15.
The price of the seats is not to exceed $50 each for designated public organizations and charities interested in buying them. But the price could be higher for anyone else.
Since talk of the Dome's imminent closure and roof deflation (set for Jan. 18) surfaced, many folks have wondered about buying seats.
Details will be forthcoming, once the contract is signed with a vendor to remove the seats. The Vikings' final home game is this Sunday, against the Detroit Lions.
Anyone who has spun by the northeastern section of the Metrodome (and certainly anyone who works near there) has heard the telltale clang and din of construction. It's the first tangible sign that the controversial $1 billion Vikings stadium is actually a construction project.
Most noticeable is the considerable hole that have been dug to make way for the new stadium's footprint. As John Wood, senior vice president for general contractor Mortenson Construction, noted Friday, the new stadium is quite a bit larger than the current Metrodome. "We're basically digging the basement for the new stadium," he said following a meeting of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Friday.
Beyond the Big Dig, electricity to the Dome will be turned off Jan. 18, and the roof will deflate soon after that. Within minutes, actually.
The roof fabric will ultimately be cut up and perhaps recycled, as was the case after it was replaced in 2010 when it caved in due to excessive snow mass. Once the power is cut off, demolition will begin immediately on the 32-year-old Dome.
In the meantime, 70,000 cubic yards of dirt have already been excavated from the property -- all told, some 850,000 cubic yards will be removed. Some of the soil cannot be reused, but the intention is to use as much as possible for cost-savings purposes. (Wood estimated that the savings could reach the $800,000 mark.)
The stadium authority on Friday approved a contract with 309 9th Ave. South LLC, an entity associated with the Wilf family (owners of the Vikings), to lease space the Wilfs own across from the Dome for soil storage for up to $60,000.
American Indian activists pushing to ban the broadcast or display of the Washington Redskins’ nickname and logo when the NFL team visits the Metrodome Nov. 7 have announced details of a rally leading up to the game.
Organizers of a campaign to “Change The Name, Change The Mascot” plan to gather at 4:30 p.m. on game day at the American Indian Movement’s national office at 1113 E. Franklin Avenue and lead a march to the stadium, where they will rally outside in the hour before Washington and the Vikings square off.
Former 10,000-meter Olympic Gold Medalist Billy Mills and Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum are among the scheduled speakers.
Details of the march and rally come just days after several American Indian activists, including AIM founder and longtime leader Clyde Bellecourt, asked the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which operates the Metrodome, to bar the broadcast or display of the Washington nickname in public places throughout the stadium on game night. Bellecourt and others have argued that the term and logo are demeaning, hurtful and racist.
The stadium authority, however, declined the request after its attorney advised it that blocking the use and display of the name and logo could infringe on freedom of speech.
“Change The Name” organizers also announced Monday plans for a two-day exhibit at the University of Minnesota that will display “the good, the bad and the ugly” of Native American imagery, said Richie Plass, the exhibit founder and a member of the Menominee/Stockbridge-Munsee tribes in northern Wisconsin.
The exhibit will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 5 and 6 in room 234 of Coffman Memorial Union.
A symposium on "Racism in Sports and Media" also has been scheduled for 1 p.m. Nov. 5 at Coffman's President's Room.