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Updated: May 13th, 2013 10:50pm
Zulgad: For Vikings' new stadium roof, 'clear is the new retractable'

Zulgad: For Vikings' new stadium roof, 'clear is the new retractable'

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by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- One of the primary points of discussion in recent months about the design of the Minnesota Vikings' new stadium has been whether there would be a retractable roof.

Although it was unclear who would pay for such a feature, there seemed to be a belief that being able to push a button and peel back the roof on a pleasant fall day would enhance the fan experience.

But when the Vikings, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority and Dallas-based HKS Sports & Entertainment Group unveiled the design for the $975 million stadium on Monday evening at the Guthrie Theater, there was nothing retractable about the roof.

Given the plans, however, there shouldn't be much angst about this.

The new venue will feature the largest transparent roof in the world and operable doors that open to the downtown skyline. That will be the retractable feature.

Looking at the 65,000-seat stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2016, it's clear how much things have changed since the Metrodome was completed in 1982. Simply put, just because a stadium isn't open to the elements doesn't mean it's destined to be a dark and dingy dome.

In fact, there is no such thing as a true dome stadium anymore. The trend now is to have a retractable roof or build a venue that enables sunlight too easily flood into the building. Ford Field, where the Detroit Lions play their home games, has what looks like a shed for a roof but also utilizes plenty of glass in order to create an outdoor feel.

"Clear is the new retractable," said Bryan Trubey, the lead architect on the project for HKS.

Trubey, who gave a detailed presentation of what the stadium will look like on Monday, said the venue will have the world's largest transparent roof.

The roof also will be steeply pitched, thus allowing for much easier snow removal than was possible with the Metrodome. The Vikings played their final two home games of the 2010 season in Detroit at TCF Bank Stadium, respectively, when the Metrodome roof came crashing down after a substantial snowstorm.

The Vikings will spend one more season in that building before playing the 2014 and 2015 seasons at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.

"I love playing in the Metrodome because of our fans, it's just the building was outdated and we all understood the implications of not putting a new facility in," said Vikings center John Sullivan, who attended Monday's event along with right tackle Phil Loadholt.

"There were possibilities the Vikings would move. I know that was never the intended course, and it's nice that we were able to come to a compromise situation where we have a new stadium going in."

The first looks at the Vikings stadium on Monday was part informational and part pep rally.
A large group of fans in the upper deck came decked out in their Vikings gear, sang "Skol Vikings" beforehand and later cheered several times as the various dignitaries on the Wurtele Thrust stage discussed the plans for the stadium.

They also cheered when Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said his team had the best fans in the NFL and as local officials and politicians, including Gov. Mark Dayton and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, patted themselves and each other on the back for getting the stadium approved.

If their vision for how the stadium and the surrounding area works out, they might be justified in taking their bows.

In essence, the hope is to recreate the success of Target Field on the other side of downtown with a stadium that will be capable of hosting far more events -- owners Zygi and Mark Wilf still very much want a Major League Soccer team, too -- and also will feature entertainment around it.

That, of course, never really has been the case around the Metrodome, which has Hubert's Bar and Restaurant right next door and not much else.

"We want people to come early and stay late," Mark Wilf said.

In other words, the Vikings want to provide an experience that never has been possible with their current stadium.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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