Minn. Metrodome Roof Collapses After Snow Storm

The inflatable roof of the Metrodome collapsed Sunday after a snowstorm that dumped 17 inches on Minneapolis. No one was hurt, but the roof failure sent the NFL scrambling to find a new venue for the Vikings’ game against the New York Giants.

The teams had been scheduled to play at noon Sunday. The game was pushed back to Monday night when Saturday’s blizzard kept the Giants from getting to Minneapolis. But after the Teflon roof collapsed overnight, the commission that runs the Metrodome told the NFL the stadium wouldn’t be ready for a game Monday or Tuesday.

Photo: AP Photo
Workers shovel snow off the roof of Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis.

The NFL said it was considering moving the game to the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium or to another NFL domed stadium, spokesman Greg Aiello said. TCF Bank holds about 50,000 people, compared to the Metrodome’s 64,000. TCF has the advantage of being close, but it would have to be cleared of snow, and alcohol sales aren’t permitted there.

Bill Lester, executive director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, said a crew that had been working to clear snow off the roof was pulled off late Saturday night due to safety concerns.

“There were no injuries, which we’re thankful for,” Lester said.

On Sunday morning, six workers could be seen on the concrete rim of the stadium, shoveling off snow. The roof, a white bubble criss-crossed with cables holding it in place, could no longer be seen from the street.

The city got 17.1 inches of snow during the storm that started Friday night and ended around 10 p.m. Saturday, said James McQuirter, a National Weather Service meteorologist. He said the storm was one of the five largest to hit the Twin Cities. Some surrounding communities got more than 21 inches of snow, he said.

The Metrodome roof has failed three times before. It deflated in 1981, 1982 and 1983, each time due to tears caused by heavy snow. The April 14, 1983, collapse forced the postponement of the Twins’ game with California, which had been the only postponement. A slight tear also delayed a Twins game briefly in 1986.

The Vikings will enter the final year of their lease at the Metrodome next season and have been lobbying for a new building for about a decade.

The Vikings have previously pledged roughly one-third of the cost for a new stadium, which would cost at least $700 million, according to past estimates. But the team has had difficulty getting much traction with the state legislature on public funding to pay for the rest, with lawmakers pointing to huge state deficits that need to be addressed first.

The team has been contacted by two Los Angeles-based groups interested in bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles, but so far has said it remains “committed to finding a solution in Minnesota.”