Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome Open House

On December 12, 2010 the inflatable roof of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome collapsed from the weight of the snow from a blizzard that hit most of Minnesota and Western Wisconsin and just hours before the Minnesota Vikings were to play the New York Giants. The roof collapse caused that game and the remaining home game of the 2010 season, against the Chicago Bears, to be played at other venues. After analyzing the damage, it was determined that the Metrodome needed a new roof. The same roof had been there since 1981. Crews worked feverishly to insure that there would be no need to move any Vikings games or other events elsewhere. They finished the roof three weeks ahead of schedule and the new roof was inflated on July 14, 2011. With the inflation of the roof, the Minnesota Vikings, Monster Jam, and Metrodome management announced an open house would be held on August 20, 2011 to give fans a chance to see the new roof and turf (the turf, which had been newly placed in time for the 2010 season, was badly damaged from its exposure to the elements and the heavy equipment used to replace the old roof) of Mall of America Field. Fans would also get to see parts of the Metrodome that they normally do not get a chance to see. Admission and parking were free plus food and beverages were available for purchase at hugely discounted prices.

The crowds gathered in earnest around the gates hours before the event began and they were rewarded for their patience. The first 3,000 people to go through the gates were given a piece of the old Teflon roof as well as offers to purchase tickets to select Vikings games at $10 less than their normal prices. The event kicked off in the parking lot when the Monster Truck Grave Digger crushed a large wooden box that marked the official end to the repairs and renovations at the Metrodome and officially reopened the stadium. Once Grave Digger was safely inside the dome, the attention turned back towards the gates and shortly the gates opened and the public was allowed inside. Fans were allowed to walk on the field, which was marked for football, and there were several exhibits for the fans. Grave Digger was there to greet the fans and it was joined with fellow Monster Truck “Grinder”. In the upper deck there was an inflatable version of the “Spiderman” Monster Truck. On the field there were other inflatables including the Viking ship that the Vikings run through for their pregame introductions. The video screens showed the fans who came to the open house as well as a video on the Metrodome and many events throughout the history of the facility. Local bands provided musical entertainment. The acts that played in the dome were the New Salem Baptist Church Choir, Protogee, West of Aldine, and Auburn. Fans were able to get autographs from Vikings cheerleaders as well as former Vikings Ted Brown, Stu Voigt, Joey Browner, Walker Lee Ashley, Bob Lurtsema, and Chuck Foreman. The Vikings had a booth for people to purchase season tickets and individual game tickets. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources had a booth to promote fishing, hunting, and conservation in Minnesota, Another booth that was available for the fans was the Vikings Locker Room fan store where you could purchase t-shirts, jerseys, and the famous Helga Helmets fans could also purchase other items to show their horns. Several Viking cheerleaders were walking around the field signing autographs, taking pictures with fans, and selling their calendar which benefits charities. The Vikings’ cheerleaders also performed a dance routine. Visitors to the dome also were treated with the opportunity to take a tour of the Metrodome. Fans were also encouraged to visit booths set up from many organizations in the Twin Cities area in an effort to promote community involvement.

Tours were given free of charge where fans were given the opportunity to see a luxury suite and other areas of the stadium. The tour continued downstairs where folks were treated with getting to visit the locker rooms. Some tours were able to see the visitors locker rooms, the locker room used by the University of Minnesota’s football (before they moved to TCF Bank Stadium), or the Twins’ old locker room (now used by the Gophers’ baseball team) and everyone who took a stadium tour was treated with a visit to the Vikings’ locker room. The tour ended after visiting the Vikings’ locker room. After the tour concluded visitors were encouraged to stick around and grab something to eat or drink and go back on the field. The event ended at 5 pm and people left happy. The Metrodome’s new roof was made of a stronger material and had some improvements from the original roof’s design. One of the most notable differences of the new roof is with the roof’s ventilation holes. The old roof had holes for ventilation to help maintain air pressure and were simply holes while the new roof has holes for ventilation but there are vents to prevent rain or moisture from condensation from leaking into the stadium. While the Vikings are more than likely going to be moving into a new stadium in a few years, the Metrodome is currently their home and is a viable venue for sporting events for the years to come. To the thousands of fans who came to the open house on Saturday, they did not seem concerned about that issue. The only thing that seemed to matter for those in attendance is getting to visit the Metrodome and the hopes for a great 2011 season from the Vikings.

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