A team of engineers and workers undertook a major inspection of damage to the Metrodome's collapsed roof Tuesday as the facility's owners faced a decision whether to push ahead on repairs in an attempt to make the aging stadium usable for the next Minnesota Vikings game in just six days.
Roy Terwilliger, president of Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which owns the Metrodome, said the University of Minnesota would be asked to prepare the school's roof-less TCF Bank Stadium in case the Metrodome can't be made ready in time.
"The Vikings would prefer to play in the Dome," Terwilliger said. "But we're working with the University of Minnesota, and, in essence, we'll be on a dual track that would have TCF Bank Stadium ready in case the Metrodome isn't."
In a statement released Tuesday, the Vikings said they are "committed to ensuring a home game in Minnesota for our fans" and that the team is working with the University of Minnesota to prepare TCF Bank Stadium in the event that the Metrodome is not ready.
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 making 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," although 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, the university's Bowman said getting TCF Bank Stadium ready would also be a "huge" job. He 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.
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.