How to watch the Metrodome’s demise in the comfort of your own home

An image from one of the cameras EarthCam will use to watch the new Vikings stadium go up. This picture was taken about 6:20 this morning. (Photo courtesy EarthCam)

On Saturday morning, they're planning to pull the plug on the Metrodome. The lights will go off and the fans will shut down and the iconic Teflon roof will settle into the bowl.

If you don't want to stand in the forecast single-digit windchill to watch, there may be another option.

EarthCam, of Hackensack, N.J. is expecting to carry the deflation live this weekend, streaming on the Vikings official website.  The Vikings have hired EarthCam so fans can watch the work in progress and so team owners can keep an eye on their $500 million investment in Minnesota.

Earthcam is using cameras like this to keep an eye on the Metrodome and building its replacement.

"It's a total of three cameras. They're digital SLR cameras, with a ruggedized housing and a computer system inside that talks back to our network," said Lisa Kelly, spokeswoman for EarthCam. "It's high definition, it's very different from a security camera or a CCTV camera."

The housings have defrosters and coolers, and even a remote controlled motorized wiper to clear the window on the front of the housing. The cameras are mounted on a robotic base so they can be aimed with GPS technology.

One camera, called the "Construction Cam HD," will provide live, streaming video, expected to start later today. The others take a snapshot every 15 minutes, images that can be compiled into a long-term, time-lapse video of the whole project.

And one of those cameras will take eye-popping panoramas, Kelly said. "It takes 16 megapixel images, but once a day it's stitching together a panorama, and it can do over a billion pixels of details. That's the camera that's really going to provide some amazing detail of the entire project."

It's a patent-pending process that's also being used to watch the construction of the Freedom Tower in New York City.

Kelly has a special interest in watching the stadium's construction from her New Jersey office. She's a native Minnesotan, an Irondale High School grad, and her mom still lives here. Joan Kelly and her sister, Jane Lonergan, are known as the "Carnival Twins."  They are retired teachers and unofficial St. Paul Winter Carnival historians and Skyway goodwill ambassadors. "I spent my childhood dreaming of warmth while I stood in my moon boots waiting for the Torchlight parade to be over," said Lisa Kelly.

EarthCam, by the way, will also be streaming two other big Minnesota projects: the St. Croix Crossing bridge connecting Minnesota and Wisconsin south of Stillwater, as well as the construction of the Lowertown Ballpark in St. Paul.

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