MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Damaged by the infamous April blizzard, the future of a sports dome in Ramsey County is now up in the air.
The dome at the Vadnais Sports Center has been closed since the storm, and county officials decided it will stay that way through next spring until they make a decision on what to do with it.
Hockey season is in full swing at the facility, with teams packing the schedule on the two rinks. But the dome next door — normally packed with indoor soccer, lacrosse, and rec league teams this time of year — is full of nothing but hot air.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” said LeRoy Andrle, director of soccer operations for the North East United Soccer Club.
The club is one of several sports organizations that used to call the Vadnais dome home, until the storm deflated it. The fabric, interior lighting and sprinkler system were damaged when it collapsed.
“Fortunately no one was in there, no one was injured,” said Mark McCabe, director of the Ramsey County Parks and Recreation, which oversees the facility.
County commissioners want to evaluate the site’s future, which could include revamping it into a sports structure that would not deflate.
“Or we also have significant parking challenges on our site,” McCabe said. “If it were to be parking, that would leave us in a position to do other things on the site in the future if needed.”
A county spokesperson said up to 40,000 people go through the dome in a winter season — people who might have been spending their money at neighboring restaurants and shops.
“When we’re not here, we’re taking that business somewhere else, and that’s not what we want to do,” Andrle said.
His club now trains at the West St. Paul Sports Center dome, a much longer commute for his north side families. That is one of the reasons he wants the Vadnais dome to be back in business next year.
“It really hurts the community as a whole to hear that it could be becoming something else,” he said.
McCabe says the dome was inflated recently so insurance adjusters could inspect the damage. He says it will be deflated in the coming weeks ahead of the winter season. He expects a decision on the site’s future to be made by next spring.