The Metrodome rose again this morning, seven months and a day after it collapsed in a blizzard.
"We hit a home run here today," said Steve Maki, the Metropolitan Sports Facility Commission's head engineer. The inflation took 45 minutes and went off without a problem. Maki initially expected it to take up to three hours.
The $23 million project started in March and took about 15 weeks. All but about $25,000 is covered by insurance.
The new roof isn't just a replacement. It has a new generation of fiberglass and teflon fabric, and the center sections have been reconfigured: they have extra gussets that make them stronger, Maki said. They also have a lower, flatter profile that will make them less susceptible to wind and help keep snow from piling in drifts along the seams between roof panels.
It's unclear, however, when pro sports will return to the stadium. The NFL has locked out its players in a labor dispute that could postpone or even scuttle the 2011 season.
That's the last season the Vikings are committed to playing in the Dome and they're actively pursuing a new stadium in Arden Hills.