Work on damaged Metrodome roof panels underway

MINNEAPOLIS -- The real work of replacing the Metrodome's damaged roof has begun.

The first three diamond-shaped panels were being stretched and clamped into place Friday, a process that takes about a day for each panel.

The inside of the dome resembled a construction zone, with beeping machinery and lifts to handle the work. Meltwater from the most recent snowfall dripped through three sections that had been removed to prepare for the new panels.

It was a December snowstorm that caused the dome roof to fail. The work will continue six days a week in an effort to finish by Aug. 1, ahead of the Vikings' season.

Replacing the roof is estimated to cost $18 million. Dome officials say all but a $25,000 deductible will be covered by insurance.

The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission opted to replace the roof after engineers said they worried simply repairing torn panels wouldn't be enough to prevent another collapse.

The commission hired Birdair Inc. to replace the roof. The Amherst, N.Y.-based contractor designed and installed the roof, which has covered the Metrodome since its opening in 1982.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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