Metrodome officials are prepping a repair of the stadium’s inflatable roof for a late January or early February completion, but the longer-term issue of what happens to the home of the University of Minnesota Golden Gopher baseball team remains to be seen.
New Teflon panels are being prepared in a Tijuana, Mexico manufacturing facility: four new panels are definitely needed, but perhaps upwards of nine new panels may be required for the roof to work properly. The late January opening is the goal, but baseball events are already scheduled for that time period, including TwinsFest and a Gopher alumni game. TwinsFest could easily be moved to another venue — like the Minneapolis Convention Center or St. Paul RiverCentre — but the alumni game could be canceled.
The Dome is heavily used for baseball in the spring: In addition to the Gophers, area and regional colleges as well as high schools use it for games and tournaments. Should the repairs to the Dome roof stretch out, a contingency plan will be needed. Here’s what we heard from Director of Athletic Communications Garry Bowman about the situation:
We have been told that the Dome will be operational by March when we begin hosting games. As a backup, we are looking into a variety of options but nothing has been decided yet. We may end up back at Siebert Field, which, as you know, could impact our ability to host games due to weather early in the season.
There are some long-term ramifications as well should the decision be made to limp through a year before the place is renovated or razed. The Minnesota Vikings are in sore need of a new stadium, and one likely plan calls for the Metrodome to be torn down and a new stadium built on the same site. If that happens, the Gophers will need to figure out how to fill their long-term needs as well. Fundraising for a new ballpark continues, but it will take a year or two for construction to be completed.
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