Vikings will host Bears at TCF Bank Stadium

5:44 PM, Dec 15, 2010   |    comments
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Video: Vikings looking to host Bears at TCF Bank Stadium

  • TCF Bank Stadium snow removal starts
  • U asks for help to clear snow at TCF Bank Stadium
  • Repair crews at Metrodome
  • Metrodome repair crews
  • TCF Bank Stadium snow removal starts
  • Workers drag section of Metrodome roof fabric
    

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Metrodome's roof will not be repaired in time for next Monday's Vikings game with the Chicago Bears, according to the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission. That sets the stage for moving the contest to the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium.

The Dome's air-supported roof was ripped open and deflated by an accumulation of heavy snow Sunday morning, and until late Tuesday afternoon the managers of the stadium had held out hope it could be repaired sooner.

The announcement came Tuesday evening after a day of intense discussions between the team, the NFL, the Commission and the University of Minnesota.  Engineers on the site Tuesday found that the damage to the Teflon fabric ceiling was worse than originally hoped.

"Our first priority is the safety and well being of Vikings fans and player, the hundreds of youth sports, community and other groups that use the Metrodome throughout the year and our employees," Commission chairman Roy Terwilliger said in a prepared statement.

Vikings spokesman Jeff Anderson issued a statement Tuesday night assuring season ticket holders more information will be coming in the near future as to their status at the outdoor game. The Bank seats 50,000 in its current configuration, and the team has already sold 53,000 seats to Monday's game.

"We appreciate the tremendous cooperation of the University of Minnesota and look forward to completing preparations for the game and turning this into a memorable experience for the State of Minnesota and Vikings fans," Anderson wrote.

It will be the first outdoor NFL football game in Minnesota since Dec. 20th, 1981 when the Vikings ended their storied run at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington with a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.  The high temperature that day was 33 degrees.

Earlier Tuesday the University began to clear 1,500 tons of snow from the stadium, which is home to the Golden Gophers. The U announced it will hire 400 temporary workers to help shovel out the snow from last weekend's storm, which dumped 17 inches of snow in Minneapolis and tore a hole in the Metrodome's roof.

"The University of Minnesota is excited to be hosting Monday's game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears," University Relations director Daniel Wolter said Tuesday evening.

"In the coming days we'll be working hard to get the stadium fully prepared for this game, which is no small task. We'll make every reasonable effort to ensure the Vikings and their fans have a great venue for their Monday Night Football game."

The Vikings's most recent regular season game at the U of M came on October 5th, 1969 when they played the Packers at old Memorial Stadium due to a conflict with a Minnesota Twins playoff game.

Surreal "home" game on the road

Because the Vikings organization is committed to playing its final home game of the troubled 2010 season before a real home crowd, it was drawn to the rare scenario of moving to a college stadium that had already been placed in winter hybernation mode.

"We want to play in front of our fans, we weren't able to do that on Sunday when we went to Detroit and we lost our home field advantage," Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley told KARE, "But we're determined to play in front of our fans so that's our mission and we're working on that right now."

The Vikings lost to the New York Giants 21-3 Monday night in a "home" game relocated to Detroit. That loss was compounded by legendary quarterback Brett Favre's decision not to play, breaking his record streak of 297 regular season starts in the NFL.

The New York Times estimated that the team lost at least $4.5 million in ticket revenue alone, but the team has not produced a figure yet for the financial impact of relocating the game.

Efforts to melt the snow ceased Saturday night after high winds and plummeting temperatures placed workers in harm's way. It remained a hazardous situation for the workers seen removing sections of the fabric from the ceiling Tuesday.

"The NFL would prefer to have it here, the Vikings would prefer to have it here," the Commission's executive director Lester Bagley told KARE, "The Birdair people understand that too. They're very focused on safety. It's a dangerous job. You're over an open air."

Birdair Inc. is the New York manufacturer of the roofing material, and Geiger and Associates is the installer. Inspectors from both companies were on site from late Monday afternoon, and workers could be seen taking down large sections of fabric Tuesday.

Their options were to attempt a quick fix so that the Vikings could squeeze in the Bears game, or to go with the option of a longer term solution for the 2011 season.

Many details of a game at the U are still pending, including the ban on alcohol at the college stadium imposed by the state legislature before it opened for play in 2008. That's one of the sticking points in discussions between the team and the U of M, according to several sources.

Related: Metrodome decision pending

The Dome's spider web cabling system, now keeping the fabric from falling to the floor, is actually designed to keep it from blowing off the arena.

"With the air supported roof the air pushes it up, and the cable runs hold it down from flying away," Lester told KARE, "Now that whole system web system is holding it up along with tons of snow."

The snow removal that worked many times before at the Dome, including the much heavier storm on Halloween of 1991, was being put to use this time around. Crews begin by heating the stadium to 80 degrees, heating the air between the layers of fabric and then raising the air pressure to stretch the material tighter.

When that doesn't do the trick they train four hoses on the roof with hot water and steam, to melt the snow. The melted snow runs off the roof and into drainage plugs above the playing field.

"But with the winds and the cold, this was the 'perfect storm' that got the best of the roof," Lester explained.

RELATED:  Dome collapse rekindles stadium debate 

(Copyright 2010 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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