The popular indoor running nights return to the Metrodome's replacement this winter starting Dec. 13. But nowhere near as often.
The opportunity to get off the ice and snow to socialize while pounding the concrete concourses of the Metrodome was a 31-year tradition for runners. Bladers had been coming for "rollerdome" nights for 20 years. During winter, runners got most Tuesday and Thursday nights. In-line skaters took as many of the other nights as they could claim, paying $6.50 to get in and skate.
The convivial events ended in December 2013, weeks before the Metrodome succumbed to wrecking crews, clearing the ground for the new $1.1 billion stadium.
Now they're going to be able to do the same at U.S. Bank Stadium, but on a limited basis — 16 times over a three-month period. And unlike the Metrodome, the two groups will be in the building on the same nights, with runners using the upper concourse and skaters using the lower one.
Runners will pay a $3 entry fee, with $1 going to the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA). Fees for skaters aren't yet determined.
Rick Recker, board member of the Minnesota Distance Running Association, ran for 31 years at the Metrodome, organizing and overseeing many of those evenings. He was at Friday's MSFA meeting and has been behind the scenes coordinating the effort. "We'll make it work," he said.
MSFA Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen said the new stadium was designed with a continuous loop specifically so runners and skaters would be able to use it. But she also said the suites and hospitality areas in the new "people's stadium" were booked for events, so it isn't available for recreational use as often as the Metrodome.
The running hours are scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. starting Dec. 13 and ending on March 13. For now, Recker said he's going to allow only 250 runners into the building at a time. Runners will go on two circles in opposite directions so they can greet one another. U.S. Bank Stadium is 696 meters around the concourse, just shy of half a mile.
One new option at U.S. Bank Stadium: running on ramps for those who want to do some hill work. Recker said if the ramps get lots of use, he can allow more runners onto the concourse.
Mike Cofrin, partner at Podium Sports based in Anoka, used to organize the "rollerdome" events, which started in the early 1990s. He's no longer an organizer, but he will be there. "We developed such a community of skaters," he said.
The dates are Dec. 13, 20, 27; Jan. 3, 17, 18, 31; Feb. 3, 6, 21, 23, 27 and March 1, 6, 9, 13.