Official: No timeline for repair, but Metrodome will be ready for next seasonby Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis — Repairs on the collapsed roof of the Metrodome in Minneapolis could start as early as tomorrow, officials said Monday.
The snow that had fallen on the roof has been melted, and it should finally be safe to work throughout the stadium itself.
Workers now are draining water, cleaning up the stadium and assessing what other damage this month's blizzard did to the Metrodome.
The worst seems to be over, said Bill Lester, the executive director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission.
"We are anticipating that by the close of business today, we will have a safe working environment for those workers." he said.
Staff resorted to a shotgun earlier this week to break open the most dangerous of the roof panels, bulging with the snow and ice that brought the dome down 10 days ago. The slug tore open the panel and dumped the contents onto the playing field.
Officials said Monday that a factory in Mexico is gathering unused fabric from other air-supported domes around the U.S. to fabricate replacement panels for use in Minneapolis. Crews are also tying the roof down to concrete road barriers on the playing field, to keep it stable during repairs.
But there's no timeline for getting the roof patched and back up, Lester said.
"The objective was to get it up and running in full confidence, but we do have a couple of events in January that it's going to be a challenge to do."
Those include a Monster Jam truck show on January 22 and Twinsfest, a preview of the baseball team's 2011 season, scheduled for the last weekend in January.
Already rollerblading and running in the dome has been canceled this month, and a Christmas Day flag football tournament traditionally held by the Minneapolis Jewish Federation is being relocated to Plymouth on December 24. The Hmong-American New Year celebration on January 1 and the Home & Landscape Expo scheduled for January 14-16 have changed plans as well, according to their websites.
It isn't clear if any of the other events will have to be canceled or rescheduled. There are about 300 events, other than NFL games, held annually in the Dome.
Lester did say that he's confident the dome will be ready for the final season of the Vikings' lease on the Metrodome.
Commission members also said that a Houston engineering firm, as well as the engineers that designed the roof and the company that built it, will sign off on the dome's safety before it hosts any more events.
- All Things Considered, 12/22/2010, 5:25 p.m.