“Today is not the time for any stadium talk,” said Vikings co-owner Mark Wilf following the collapse of the Metrodome’s roof. “Basically, there’s a time and place for the stadium discussion, but right now we’re focused on the game tomorrow.”
Naturally, one of the first thoughts that came to many minds on Sunday was how this might play into the Vikings bid to obtain public funding for a new stadium in Minnesota. After all, the Wilf’s have been contacted by at least two investment groups based out of Los Angeles that would love to see the Wilf family trade their snowstorms for earthquakes.
Mark Wilf was correct, however, there was too much to be done to sit around and talk politics. This ordeal could end up costing the Vikings, and their landlords the Metropolitan Sports Facility Commission, millions of dollars in revenue.
The Vikings vice president of sales and marketing Steve LaCroix said that they will “not begin to delve into the economic ramifications until we have taken care of the more pressing needs of our fans, our business partners and our football team.”
LaCroix’s employees were busy packaging up advertisements from the field, hoping to bring them with to Detroit.
The rooftop installer Birdair, Inc. is expected to begin assessing the damage on Monday but no timeline is yet available for when the Metrodome could again be functional. This isn’t the first time Birdair has had to deal with a deflated Metrodome roof, as similar occurrences happened in 1981, 1982, and 1983.
The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission will eventually have to answer to plenty of tough questions during the fallout of this mess, especially after their director of facilities and engineering Steve Maki made such a public error in judgment on Saturday.
“There is no structural issue occurring [to the dome],” said Maki on Saturday night. “But we have a pretty heavy snow load up there and the way the wind was blowing it was getting really nasty for our crews so we pulled them down and we’re going to have them back up there [Sunday] morning to remove the snow.”
Maki apparently didn’t realize his crew would be removing snow from the turf, as well.
His crew of about seven workers followed normal protocol during the record breaking snowstorm, removing snow from the inflatable surface by using hoses shooting hot water in an effort to melt the snow.
While I know a thing or two about the stress snow and ice loading can put on a structure, I am no expert. However, I have to wonder about their decision to douse the roof with water, probably increasing the weight dramatically, and then simultaneously blasting the heat inside the dome to keep said water from freezing. The effort may have been an attempt to melt the snow and get it to drip down the sides of the dome, but something tells me any investigation into this accident will turn up evidence that their efforts, which they abandoned due to high winds, actually compounded the problem.
And, seriously, a crew of only seven guys?!? With so many people looking for extra holiday cash these days, could they not scrap together the funds to hire a few more qualified snow movers to help them avoid disaster during a storm which everyone knew was coming days in advance?
The head of the Commission, Roy Terwilliger, said all normal protocol had been followed and credited “an extraordinary situation involving Mother Nature” for the collapse. As to the financial fallout, Terwilliger simply said, “We have business interruption insurance, and we will leave it at that.”
Tell that to the numerous fans that travelled from afar to attend the game only to be forced to make a decision to go home having spent a bunch of money for nothing, or spend even more money to attend the game in Detroit.
The game will be able to be viewed on television only by those people residing in the Twin Cities, Mankato, Rochester, and Duluth markets. Those who subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket will also have the game available to them. The NFL Network will re-air the Vikings-Giants game in its entirety right away Monday night, at 11:00 p.m. central time.
With the Vikings being the Commission’s most important business partner, I am not sure that a bolstered insurance policy will be enough to ease the damage done to a relationship that is currently scheduled to end following the 2011 NFL season.
Next week, the Vikings play host to the Bears on Monday Night Football, and about 64,000 fans have tickets to attend. If the Metrodome isn’t available, the Vikings may look to TCF Bank Stadium where the Gophers play. The problem with that, however, is that there are about 13,000 fewer seats and the game could end up being played in extreme conditions which the teams may not be properly equipped to deal with.
Considering how Jay Cutler and the bears played in the snow on Sunday, however, that could end up being a significant advantage.