MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a milestone week in the demolition of the Metrodome, with crews starting to knock holes in the exterior walls, starting with the northeast corner.

It’s a rugged yet meticulous process, bringing down a stadium that used to have the nickname Thunder Dome. Now, all the decibels are coming from heavy machinery, smashing steel and concrete, section by section.

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Allen Troshinsky is Director of Operations for Mortenson Construction’s sports group.

“As the weeks progress,” he said, “you’ll see coming out of that northeast corner, the hole in the building opening up and working its way in two directions both clockwise and counter-clockwise.”

Blowing up the stadium with explosives would have caused too much dust and vibration to other downtown buildings, so crews are using a wrecking ball and a high reach excavating machine with a “muncher” attachment, which severs the structure.

“They’ll go in and strategically make structural cuts in the concrete or the steel,” said Troshinksy, “and cause elements to collapse.”

Crews took all the seats out of the Metrodome weeks ago. And now, 90 percent of what’s left is going off to reclaiming and recycling facilities.

“Scrap steel is recycled into new steel and that could go into possibly new construction,” Troshinksy said.

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Several people are starting to turn out, to take in the sight for themselves.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” said Grant Niver of Minneapolis. “Obviously a lot of good memories at the Dome, but it’ll be exciting to see the new one go up.”

Tony Curtis of Brooklyn Park is able to watch the demolition from the federal office building, where he works, but he drove to the site to get a closer look.

“I’m not really a fan,” he said, “but still, it’s part of Minnesota, you know?”

Mortenson expects all of the Dome’s walls to be down by the end of April. Crews are on schedule despite the cold, but they’re hoping for an extended warm-up.

“The equipment works better, our people are a little happier to be in the warmer climates,” said Troshinsky.

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At the same time the Dome comes down, construction on the new stadium is well underway. Some of the wall foundations are going in this week, in what used to be the east parking lot.