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Updated: July 13th, 2011 8:26am
Seven months after old one fell in, new Metrodome roof inflated

Seven months after old one fell in, new Metrodome roof inflated

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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The Metrodome's new roof has a new look -- and it's finally inflated again.

Workers raised the roof on Wednesday morning, a little more than seven months after a snowstorm dumped more than 17 inches on the Twin Cities, caused several panels to collapse and forced the Minnesota Vikings to relocate two home games.

"We appreciate the efforts of the (Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission) and the local unionized workforce who spent countless hours replacing the Metrodome roof since its collapse last December," Vikings president Mark Wilf said in a statement.

"(Wednesday)'s roof inflation means the project is ahead of schedule and ensures that Mall of America Field will be the Vikings home during the 2011 season. We are excited about getting our home field advantage back and playing in front of Vikings fans this year."

Crews from Birdair, Inc., began working to replace the roof in mid-March. The target for having the building operational was early August, with the Vikings' first scheduled home preseason game on Aug. 26.

The new roof includes criss-crossing rows of hanging panels designed to improve the building's acoustics, according to Jeff Anderson, the Vikings' assistant director of public affairs.

Bill Lester, executive director of the MSFC, which operates the Metrodome, told reporters at a media conference shortly after inflation the roof cost $18 million and the final bill will be $22.7 million.

An evaluation of the stadium's artificial turf was expected to take place later Wednesday. If it has to be replaced, the MSFC would have to put out bids and installation would begin on Aug. 1.

The Vikings have used the roof collapse as evidence they need a new stadium, which they continue to pursue, although their push in the Legislature has slowed since the state government shut down on July 1.

"We're happy this is behind us and we have a place to play," Lester Bagley, the Vikings' vice president of public affairs and stadium development, told reporters. "We're still working on a long-term solution. That doesn't change."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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