MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — The Minnesota Vikings’ Metrodome has deflated for the last time.
Officials from the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority opened the relief vents to begin the deflation at 7:15 a.m. Saturday. Fans providing the air that supports the roof were turned off. It was done in 35 minutes.
The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority gave the go-ahead despite concerns about weather conditions. According to the National Weather Service, between 4 and 5 inches of snow fell in the area overnight. Wind was a steady 5 to 10 mph Saturday morning.
The deflation will make way for construction of a new $1 billion Vikings stadium. It will be located roughly where the Dome stands in downtown Minneapolis.
MSFA Vice Chairman Bill McCarthy called it “a sad and exciting day at the same time.”
“It’s going to be kind of weird to look at it and first see it without a Dome, and then not see it at all,” said Benson Hardy of Minneapolis.
Cameras placed inside and around the dome caught the roof coming down.
So what will crews do with the roof once it’s down? Officials said construction workers will cut it into very large pieces and we’re told they will use it as construction tarps.
“They kind of made some statements and told fans not to come down. Really? I wasn’t going to miss this,” said long-time Vikings fan Larry Spooner. “We knew this wasn’t going to be a blow-up type of thing, but what a significant day here.”
While Saturday was the fifth time the Dome’s roof has collapsed, it was the first time it was deflated intentionally. On four prior occasions, the roof collapsed due to extreme weather conditions, including the Dec. 11, 2010, incident where excessive snow caused the roof to cave in.
Crews will begin demolishing the rest of the building Monday. The new stadium is expected to be ready in time for the 2016 NFL season and will be located in roughly the same spot as the Metrodome. The team plans to play at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
St. Paul-based excavator Frattalone Companies will recycle the Dome’s roof fabric, cutting it up to be used in future construction projects. The entire roof deflated without the fabric ripping, said Steve Maki, the director of authority’s director of facilities and engineering..
Already the turf and most of the bright-blue seats have been removed, leaving a kind of concrete shell inside the stadium.
Few people were out and about in the early morning hours, and those who were walking by the Dome didn’t notice the deflation occurring.
“Really? That’s crazy,” said Jon Silveira, a Minneapolis resident who was going to work as the roof silently sunk. “I didn’t notice it.”
When asked if he was sad to see the Dome go, he replied, “No, but I’d rather not pay for the new one.”
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