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Published December 14, 2010, 04:20 PM

Crews Inspect Metrodome, Aim to Decide on Repairs

The Minnesota Vikings say they're getting ready to use Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium as a backup if the torn Metrodome roof can't be repaired before Monday night's game with Chicago.

By: Associated Press,

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings said Tuesday they're getting ready to use Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium as a backup if the torn Metrodome roof can't be repaired before Monday night's game with Chicago.

Workers at the university began the daunting task of removing snow from the outdoor stadium, which was buried after a weekend snowstorm dumped more than 17 inches in Minneapolis and caused the Metrodome's Teflon roof to collapse early Sunday.

"We're going to do the best we can to get as prepared as we can for Monday night's game," said Scott Ellison, assistant athletic director for facilities at the University of Minnesota.

A team of engineers and workers inspected the Metrodome's collapsed roof on Tuesday, but there was no immediate decision on how long it would take to repair the tattered roof and whether the stadium would be usable in just six days.

In a statement, the Vikings said they are working with the university and NFL to get TCF Bank Stadium ready in case Mall of America field isn't an option.

"The Vikings are committed to ensuring a home game in Minnesota for our fans," the Vikings said.

Roy Terwilliger, president of the Metrodome-owning Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, said the Vikings would prefer to play in the Dome but officials were working "on a dual track that would have TCF Bank Stadium ready in case the Metrodome isn't."

Garry Bowman, director of athletic communications at the University of Minnesota, said clearing tons of snow from inside the stadium would be a tall order.

"If we're going to do it, we really need to get started yesterday," Bowman said. Given all the snow and other weather-related factors, it would likely take five to six days to prepare TCF for an NFL game, he said.

Vikings vice president Lester Bagley has said the team was determined to play next week in Minnesota, after Sunday's game against the New York Giants was delayed by a day and played in Detroit.

Inside the Metrodome on Tuesday, 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, were in the process of a damage inspection and officials with the commission were expecting to have a set of options laid out for them later in the day.

"Everyone expects we will know where we're going by tonight," Milan said.

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.

While repairing the roof by Monday could amount to a daunting task, getting TCF Bank Stadium ready is also a huge job. Bowman said there are 20-inch-deep snow drifts throughout much of the 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.

Ellison said the Vikings agreed to pick up all the prelimary expenses, including plowing, as well as all expenses that would be involved in holding a game there. Ellison didn't know how much it would cost to remove the snow, but said he thought it would be considerable. The normal game day budget at the stadium is $250,000, he said.

The snow removal plan is to have groups of 100 workers, working four-hour shifts, for 16 hours a day. Right now, most of those workers are coming from temp agencies.

Officials also have to get the building ready, including the concessions, which are only designed to withstand mid-November temperatures. Ellison said officials would have to put Plexiglass covers over concession stands to trap heat inside.

It could also be a challenging experience for the players, because the field ground is not heated. But Ellison said he said he thinks it will be an exciting experience for the fans.

"I think they'll love outdoor football in Minnesota. I think it'll be a great experience for the fans," Ellison said.

TCF Bank Stadium has a seating capacity of about 50,000 — about 13,000 fewer seats than are available at the Metrodome for football games.

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