The commission that runs the Metrodome says it will begin putting a new roof on the stadium starting in mid-April, and they're hoping to have it done in time for the Vikings pre-season in August.
At the same time, Ramsey County officials say they're ready to start talks with the Vikings for a replacement for the 29-year-old home of Minnesota's NFL team.
Bad as it was, the "Dome buster" blizzard that hit the Twin Cities on Dec. 12 wasn't the worst of the problems for the Metrodome. It was the rest of the winter.
"The panels that broke were because of the 100-year storm. There was really nothing we could have done to stop it," said Ted Mondale, head of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, the board that owns and operates the Metrodome.
"But the majority of the damage of the roof is because in its deflated state, the ice and the water and the pressure has continued to make the roof weaker and weaker and weaker every day, to the point where now it is a total loss."
Mondale and the commission received two independent engineering reports Thursday saying that in addition to a handful of wrecked roof panels, hundreds of defects had cropped up across dome.
"What they said it they don't know how to find all the weakened panels. You could be in the middle of a game in a wind of 55 miles an hour, which happens," Mondale said. "It could have, you know, caused the roof to go back down again. So I don't think, I have not heard from anyone looking at it that there was any other way for us to go."
Initial estimates put the price tag for a new roof at $18.3 million, although the commission is likely to add an incentive up to a million dollars to get the roof up in time for the Vikings preseason in mid-August.
Insurer FM Global is on the hook for the replacement. The dome's owners are likely to be out only a $25,000 deductible.
And while actual roof replacement will start in mid-April, that won't be the only work on a stadium going on in the Twin Cities this spring.
Ramsey County officials have scheduled a meeting next week to give their official blessing to talks with the Vikings on a proposed stadium in Arden Hills. The team and county are both eyeing a 430-acre piece of the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site as a home for the Vikings.
"It's our responsibilities as commissioners for Ramsey County to put forth and let the Vikings know we think we have a great site, has great potential into the future and quite frankly, I told the Vikings 'I want to make sure we keep a team,'" said Rafael Ortega, one of the county commissioners pitching the idea.
Paperwork released by the county on Thursday is only preliminary. It doesn't include any dollar figures. It only authorizes county manager Julie Kleinschmidt to start talks. It also includes a letter of intent signed by Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf.
Team Vice President Lester Bagley said it wasn't an exclusive offer.
"There are other viable sites and there are other conversations going on," he said. "But this is kind of a late breaking entry, if you will, in terms of the last few months really getting serious with the site and our owners getting a close up look and meeting the folks up there. And getting a commitment from Ramsey County leaders that this is something they're serious about."
Commissioners say they're even willing to put some money into the deal, and that they hope it will spark tax-paying development in the area.
Opponents are already campaigning against the idea. Minneapolis resident Chris David said he and more than a dozen others had set up a website at novikingstax.com to oppose a new Vikings stadium.
"In order to get even one year of use, they have to put the roof up and the floor is going to make the facility last at least another 20 years, I would say," David said over the vote to fix the roof. "I don't see a reason why we have to purchase a stadium that would essentially be only for the Vikings. We could have this stadium for all the public events."
Ramsey County will formally take up the matter on Tuesday.