Metrodome woes continue

MINNEAPOLIS — The new head of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission said Thursday replacing the snow-damaged roof of the Metrodome would likely take five to six months, raising the possibility of affecting next season’s schedule for the Minnesota Vikings.

Ted Mondale took the oath as chairman Thursday, less than a week after Gov. Mark Dayton made the former state senator his administration’s point man on the push for a new Vikings stadium.

“This is the year we do it,” Mondale said of the effort to replace the Metrodome as the state’s NFL venue.

However, the Vikings have another season in the dome, which was damaged by a December blizzard.

The commission is awaiting a report on the extent of that damage, a recommendation on whether to simply repair torn panels or replace the damaged roof entirely, and estimated costs. The report is expected before the end of January.

The damaged roof has already affected another sport, as hundreds of college baseball games scheduled for February and March — including doubleheaders on Feb. 13 and 14 that would have opened the season for the Lincoln Blue Tigers — have been canceled.

The games, which are held each year for Midwestern teams looking to play before they can head outside, are typically scheduled from 8 a.m. to midnight several days a week.

Mondale said replacing the roof would likely mean five to six months of work. Depending on the timing, repairs could go into late summer and the August start of the NFL exhibition season. The NFL has not yet released the 2011 schedule; it will be announced in April.

Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said the team wouldn’t talk about options for next season until there’s a better handle on what work needs to be done at the Metrodome. He said the team and the NFL have hired their own engineer to help make decisions.

One possibility if the Metrodome is not ready for the Vikings could be TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota, where the team played its final home game of the season. Another 2010 home game was moved to Ford Field in Detroit after the collapse.

When the Metrodome was built three decades ago, its design was considered state-of-the art and its Teflon roof, held up by forced air, was less expensive than a solid one. The roof has collapsed four times over the years.

The Vikings are the facility’s only major tenant and their lease expires at the end of next season.

Vikings officials have said the Metrodome is no longer a viable NFL facility and are seeking partial public financing for a replacement. State lawmakers who support the team’s request are aiming by later in February to introduce a proposal that would include a location, type of stadium and a financing plan.

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