New Metrodome roof inflated ahead of schedule

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 8:46 PM ET

When Minnesota Vikings players are finally allowed back into team facilities, they will at least have a permanent stadium to call home again.

The new roof of the Metrodome was inflated for the first time Wednesday, the team said.

Its raising came seven months after the previous roof collapsed under the weight of too much snow, forcing the Vikings to play their last two home games outside of Minneapolis.

"Today's roof inflation means the project is ahead of schedule and ensures that Mall of America Field will be the Vikings' home during the 2011 season," team president Mark Wilf said in a statement. "We are excited about getting our home field advantage back and playing in front of Vikings fans this year."

A time-lapse video on the team's website shows the inflation of the white dome from inside the stadium. It wobbles a little as it's raised, speakers and all, during the 1-minute video. Between four and five workers are seen on the ground, and several more in the stands.

The project was undertaken by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which ruled months ago that the roof would have to be replaced rather than repaired. The MSFC said at the time that the new roof would be completed by August 1 -- in time for the team's preseason games.

Because of the lockout, it is uncertain when the Vikings will play their first game under the roof. They played their final two home games last season at Detroit's Ford Field and the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium.

The Vikings are still working on plans for a new stadium. They took a big step in May by reaching an agreement with Ramsey County on a 260-acre site in Arden Hills. 


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