Minnesota Wild and Gophers Should Pay for Roof on Vikings' New Stadium

Andrew RostenContributor IIJanuary 13, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 13: A torn section of the roof sags inside the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on December 13, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Metrodome's roof collapsed under the weight of snow after a powerful blizzard hit the area on December 12, 2010, forcing the NFL football game between the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings to be postponed and relocated to Detroit's Ford Field.  (Photo by Hannah Foslien /Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

There was a time when the Astrodome in Houston was looked at in the same light as Cowboys Stadium is seen nowadays.

A modern marvel, sparking a trend that other cities followed.

Domes, once upon a time, were the preferred form of architecture for outdoor-sport stadiums.

One of the cities following that trend was Minneapolis, whose Minnesota Vikings and Twins started playing in the Metrodome in the early 1980s.

If the domed-stadium trend wasn't already dead before this year's winter storm, it deflated along with the roof of the now-maligned Metrodome.

Now, with the roof on the Metrodome ripped by the snow and the Vikings' lease on the stadium set to expire after next season, they are threatening to move away from Minnesota if they don't get the stadium they want at the price they want.

The Vikes have said that they would pay one-third of the cost to build the new stadium. However, they also said they would prefer to have an outdoor stadium because it would cost them too much money to build a stadium with a roof.

Lawmakers in the state of Minnesota, however, said they want the stadium to have a roof on it no matter what the cost.

"If you're going to put this much capital, this much sweat and tears into it, you're going to need a 365-day facility like the Metrodome," State Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, said to the Associated Press.

That makes sense. With the newly-built Target Field and TCF Bank Stadium being outdoor facilities, Minnesota does need a multipurpose, indoor stadium to host events such as the Final Four.

But the Vikings have leverage, as Los Angeles has plans to build a new stadium. Unlike Minnesota, the weather in L.A. is usually sunny and warm, eliminating the need for a roof over the Vikings' head.

Plus, given what they've just been through with their current domed stadium, could you blame them for wanting to take their game outdoors?

So what can be done to make the Vikings and the state law happy and keep the Vikes in Minnesota? I have a proposal that is a little out of the box but could potentially work out.

Instead of the Vikings paying for one-third of the cost of a roof over the stadium, the NHL's Minnesota Wild and University of Minnesota athletics should pitch in some money for a retractable roof.

Why should they pay for a roof on the Vikings' new stadium, you ask? Because of a two-word phrase that has become a new trend over the past few years: outdoor hockey.

Over the last four years, the NHL Winter Classic has become a New Year's Day tradition, pulling in millions of viewers on NBC and tens of thousands of fans into a frigid stadium.

This year's Winter Classic, played at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh between the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins, drew a capacity crowd of 68,111 and 4.65 million viewers on NBC. This is despite the game being delayed for about seven hours due to rain.

Outdoor hockey is a trend that hasn't been limited to the NHL. In December, Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor hosted a winter classic between Michigan State and Michigan's hockey, a game that broke the record for most fans witnessing a live hockey game with an attendance of 113,411.

Just imagine what kind of crowds and viewers the Wild and Minnesota hockey teams could attract by playing at the open-roofed new Vikings stadium. It would provide the potential for publicity that would more than make up for the cost of one-third of a retractable roof.

Plus, the thing about a retractable roof is that you can close it, something the Vikings can consider if they decide that minus-10-degree temperatures are too much to bear.

And I'm sure the Minnesota Golden Gophers basketball team wouldn't mind hosting the Final Four, or at least the Big Ten Tournament.

This article can also be seen on Drew Rosten's Sports Thread at http://drewrosten.blogspot.com/. Also check out the Sports Thread for my two cents on the Cleveland Browns' new head coach.


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