Testing to begin on repaired Metrodome roof this week

If weather and work schedules permit, the repaired Metrodome roof will be re-inflated this week, The Star Tribune reported Monday.

The roof collapsed Dec. 12, forcing the Minnesota Vikings to play their final two home games at alternate venues.

This week's "test inflation" will help crews determine if further steps need to be taken or if they can finish securing and sealing the fabric of the new fiberglass roof, officials of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission said.

The new roof will have a flatter profile than the one that collapsed under the weight of accumulated ice and snow hours before the Vikings were scheduled to host the New York Giants in a game that ultimately was played at Ford Field in Detroit the next day.

As of Monday, only one fabric panel remained to be installed, said Bill Lester, the stadium commission's executive director told The Star Tribune.

"I'm hesitant to say we're ahead of schedule, when you talk about all the detail work," Lester said. "We've been fortunate with the weather. There have been some days of intense heat and high winds, but we've been able to stay on track and on budget through the entire process."

The project's $22.7 million cost is covered by insurance. Crews have worked a little more than 15 weeks -- 10 hours a day, six days a week -- to install 106 Teflon-coated fabric panels, each weighing 2.5 to 3 tons.

The project's target completion date is Aug. 1.

Steve Maki, the Metrodome's chief engineer, said inflating the roof is expected to take two to three hours to ensure that cables properly adjust to the rising roof.

The Vikings are working toward having a new stadium built. Several sites have been considered, but in late May, the Vikings and Ramsey County agreed to build a $1.1 billion stadium complex on the site of a former ammunition plant in suburban Arden Hills.

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