TCF Bank Stadium Begins Around The Clock Preps

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — The Minnesota Vikings will be playing Monday night’s game against the Chicago Bears at TCF Bank Stadium.

Metrodome officials were hoping damage repairs at the Dome would be fixed in time for Monday’s game, however, they informed the NFL that just wasn’t going to be the case.

The damage to the Metrodome’s roof panels are “worse than hoped,” according to a release from the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which owns the Metrodome.

Scott Ellison, assistant athletic director for facilities at the University of Minnesota, said workers started removing snow from TCF Bank Stadium Tuesday, while a team of engineers and workers undertook a major inspection of damage to the collapsed roof at the Dome.

“Though we are extremely disappointed with the results of the assessment and the time it will take to replace the panels, our first priority is the safety and well being of the Vikings fans and players, the hundreds of youth sports, community and other groups that use the Metrodome throughout the year and our employees,” said president of MSFC Roy Terwilliger.

The schedule to return the Dome to full operations will be developed over the next several days.

A statement released by the team said they have turned their “full attention” to TCF Bank Stadium.

“We have been in close contact with the University and the NFL office since last weekend. Preparation of the stadium is fully underway and University officials have told us they will make every reasonable effort to ensure the stadium will be ready for Monday night,” the Vikings stated.

The team said ticket information for the Vikings-Bears game will be released soon. There is no word yet if alcohol will be allowed, but a regent at the university said he doesn’t expect the alcohol ban to be overturned for the Vikings game.

Seating could be another issue — though the university’s talking about putting up temporary bleachers on the west side during the game to help make up for the roughly 13,000-seating difference. The Metrodome has a seating capacity of roughly 64,000 while TCF Bank Stadium can only hold about 50,800.

There is still plenty of work to be done to get the outdoor stadium ready by game time. The university plans to hire 400 temporary employees to help and it’s possible they may look for volunteers for additional assistance. Still, the university released a statement saying it is excited to host the national game.

Given all the snow and other weather-related factors, it could take five days to prepare TCF for an NFL game, said Garry Bowman, director of athletic communications at the University of Minnesota — so time is of the essence.

Bowman said there are 20-inch-deep snow drifts throughout much of the TCF Bank facility, and much of it would have to be removed by workers with shovels rather than by plows that might damage the stadium’s floors.

Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley has said the team was determined to play Monday in Minnesota, after Sunday’s game against the New York Giants was delayed by a day and played in Detroit.

Inside the Metrodome, work crews were laying sheets of plywood on the field to keep it dry and using several hydraulic lifts as they began tearing down pieces of the torn roof. Pat Milan, spokesman for the Sports Facilities Commission, said that five experts from Birdair Inc., the Amhert, N.Y.-based contractor that built the roof, did a complete damage inspection Tuesday morning.

A Birdair inspection earlier this year found the roof’s overall condition was “good,” though it said that the inner lining of woven fiberglass — one of two layers that make up the roof — was dirty and in poor condition. Terwilliger said facilities officials at the Metrodome told his commission after the inspection that the roof had several more years left in it. The roof last gave way in April 1983 because of snow, forcing the postponement of a Minnesota Twins game.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

WCCO-TV’s James Schugel Reports


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