The Metrodome and Its Effects

Editor's Note: This is a comprehensive recap of the situation that unfolded at the Metrodome recently. The piece is long; it's intended to be. Distribute this to the appropriate departments; the article is labeled for your ease. Print this out. Take it home with you. Read it on your time. Please enjoy the piece and educate yourself. It's worth your time.

When Disaster Strikes 
 
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you know that the Metrodome's roof collapsed under the weight on snow and ice, tearing a hole in it and leaving the venue unplayable for the Vikings' final two home games of the season. You might not know however just how many factors needed to be handled - and to what extent - as the Vikings prepared for and executed two "home" games at Ford Field in Detroit and TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota's campus.
 
For ALSD members, the most pressing and interesting issue is what was done about the displaced premium seating clients. Following the topic of premium seating will be the bevy of issues that also had to be dealt with; most of them with much success, albeit with some headaches along the way.
 
A special thanks goes to these ALSD Members, who contributed their own accounts and solutions to the situation at their respective venues:
 
J.P. Paul
Director Suites and Premium Seating
Minnesota Vikings / Metrodome
  
Tanesha Wade
Director, Premium Seating Stewardship & Events
University of Minnesota Athletics
 
Anne Campbell
Suite Services Manager
Detroit Lions / Ford Field  
 
Fast Fact: The proper name of the Vikings football venue: Mall of America Field at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
 
Background
 
On Saturday, December 11th, 2010, a foot and a half of snow blanketed Minneapolis, marking one of the biggest snow falls on record for the city. On Sunday, December 12th, the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants were set to square off at the Metrodome. That game never happened... at least not how it was supposed to happen. The winter storm kept the Giants from arriving in Minneapolis, as MSP International Airport was shut down, re-routing the Giants to Kansas City. As a result, the game was postponed until Monday, December 13th. The good news was that the Giants and Vikings got one more day to prepare and Brett Favre's shoulder got to rest for an additional 31 hours, keeping the possibility alive that he would continue his streak of games started. The bad news was that the same Sunday the Vikings' world came crashing down - literally.
 
At 5:00 a.m. three panels of the 28-year-old Metrodome's Teflon and fiberglass roof tore, causing it to collapse, dropping snow and ice onto the field. Consequently the Vikings were left without a home for the immediate future. 
 
Fortunately there was two-fold silver lining of the situation:
 
One: no one was injured when the roof tore.
 
The roof, made of 10 acres of Teflon-coated fiberglass and weighing in at 580,000 pounds, is kept inflated by 20 90-horsepower fans at the top of the structure. When it snows, the Metrodome operators heat the building to more than 80 degrees to melt away the accumulation. In extreme situations, like this one, workers are stationed on the roof to remove snow with fire hoses and hot water (those workers are understandably paid 2.5 times their normal hourly rate). On this Saturday night seven workers were on the roof manually removing snow and ice to prevent the collapse. At 4:00 p.m., a wind gust knocked down Metrodome engineer Steve Maki, who was also on the roof, and he faced a decision. The roof was sagging in the center. Hot water from the hoses was not working and there was a watery, slushy layer building up. Maki made the decision to stop the snow removal; he had the men off the roof by 6:00 p.m. Just hours later, the roof collapsed.
 
Because of the collapse, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which operates the stadium, flew in officials from Birdair Structures, Inc., the Amherst, NY rooftop fabricator and installer, to assess damage and begin repair work. This is the fourth time Birdair has had to deal with a collapse of the roof. The Dome collapsed in November 1981, just one month after it was first inflated and again in December 1982, eight months after its completion. In April 1983, snow deflated it and it took four days to repair. Star Tribune reported that in July Maki reported on the roof's inspection, stating that it should be ok for the next four years; however the inner liner was in poor condition, is extremely dirty from the years of events, and has holes throughout. The recommendation was that the roof be watched carefully by Birdair so the holes don't get bigger. The inspection found that fabric strength was comparable to the original 1982 specifications, but suggested the commission consider planning to replace the fabric, since it would take five years to do so. Additionally the replacement would be far cheaper than a new roof, which would cost $12 million to $15 million.
 
Later in the week - Wednesday, December 15th - a fourth panel collapsed and snow and ice fell again. Workers had been on the floor 24/7 to assess and clean the damage, but no one was injured; the panel was located in a different area than the original three that tore. Workers were evacuated from the stadium floor, until inspections could take place the following day.
 
Two: the collapse was caught on tape.
FSN reported that, Randy Carr, videotape operator for FOX Sports said that on setup Saturday he was visiting with a friend in the operations department who was concerned that the roof looked concave, "like an upside-down umbrella." Carr knew this was unusual, so he returned to the FOX operations truck and told technical director Colby Bourgeois about what he'd seen and heard. Richie Zyontz, FOX's lead NFL game producer, thought the same thing Carr did. "'In the afternoon, it was just leaking into the stands. Once we knew that this was not an everyday leak in the roof, we decided to record it. The crew's day ended at 5 p.m. A lot of us had the idea to record it but it was executed onsite by Colby [Bourgeois] who got the ball rolling along with Randy Carr. Colby set up the cameras and rolled all night, like we sometimes do on NASCAR coverage. It's a technique used in other broadcasts to replay time-lapse events in high speed later. The EVS - a tapeless replay system, much like a personal computer's hard drive - was rolling, and the roof imploded at 5 a.m. When the crew arrived at 7:30 a.m., they only had to rewind a couple hours back to get the money shot they were looking for.'"
 
Unfortunately an unfamiliar stage was set shortly after the money shot was captured: The first Vikings home-away-from home game would be played at Ford Field, the Detroit Lion's home and the second at TCF Bank Stadium, home of the University of Minnesota football Gophers.
 
The Vikings would have to find a new home away from home for Monday's game against the New York Giants. TCF Bank Stadium, the closest option was not available because the venue had already been winterized (discussed below); it would take at least four days to prep the venue and additional time for snow removal. Three other venues were options for the Vikings: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, the Superdome in New Orleans, and Ford Field in Detroit. Detroit was the most practical alternative. FOX Sports - who had the rights to the game - was already in Detroit for the Sunday, Lions-Packers game. And so the decision was made that Ford Field would be transformed into Viking territory for a Monday Night Game. It was decided soon after that the second game would be held at TCF Bank Stadium and preparations to de-winterize the stadium began in earnest.
 
 
Overall Financial Implications
 
On Sunday, December 12th, the tumultuous task of taking home games on the road began for the Vikings - and for the folks at Ford Field and TCF Bank Stadium. Needless to say, there were "Things that you can't imagine need to be done and they had to be done in a matter of days," recalls J.P. Paul of the Minnesota Vikings.
 
For the Vikings, two games worth of revenues were lost. "Think about it; that's 20% of our season. You have to consider sponsorships, suites, premium seating, ticketing, concessions, and so on," Paul told ALSD. Both the Vikings and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission have insurance policies; MSFC stating it has "business interruption insurance." Pioneer Press reported that the deductable is $500,000 on the roof, according to its property policy with Affiliated FM Insurance.
 
Neither the Vikings or TCF Bank Stadium could give the exact financial information, as each group is compiling expenses/revenues for the events. But it was reported in Pioneer Press that the Vikings average ticket price is about $85, which would "effectively scuttle about $5.3 million in gate receipts." Star Tribune reports that the Vikings gross revenue per game is about $4.5 million. No matter which figure is most accurate, the fact is that millions was lost. Additionally, MSFC gets $650,000 per game in rental fees from the Vikings. It was not discussed in reports if the Vikings will want the money they would have netted had the game been played, as part of the insurance and lease terms the team has with the commission.
 
For the Lions, it was not about moneys made. Pioneer Press reported that, "Ray Anderson, NFL Vice President of Operations, said in a conference call with Detroit reporters that the Lions will be reimbursed for the expenses they incurred for hosting the game but will not be otherwise compensated. 'It's not a compensation deal, per se,' he said. 'They aren't looking to make money. They will have the cost reimbursed. They're being good partners to the NFL and to their 32 owners.'" The Lions have an insurance policy that would help cover costs, but the revenue distribution and expense responsibility among the visiting teams, the Lions, and the NFL will be worked out at a later date.
 
Premium Seating
 
For the Detroit Lions, rumblings about the Metrodome roof issues started "from the moment we walked in on Sunday morning to open the doors for our own game versus the Packers," recalls Anne Campbell of the Lions. "At noon, we got confirmation that we would be hosting the game the next night. We were all busy carrying out our game-related duties, but we also had to shift our communal focus a bit to start making plans for the task ahead of us. We held an emergency staff meeting after the Packers game to get everyone up to speed on the planning progress each department had made during the day, and then we met again on Monday morning."
 
The Lions quick plan of action was to go door-to-door to each long-term suiteholder and explain the situation and what they were going to do regarding tickets. Campbell stated, "The message was simple: this is an unexpected event for you, if you want to come, collect the tickets from today's game and re-issue them for tomorrow, no Will Call, no reprints." The Lions made the decision not to sell any suite rentals; time and logistics wouldn't permit that to happen. The Lions matched up the Vikings quantity of tickets with open inventory at Ford Field and honored Metrodome suite tickets in the building. "It went very smoothly. Everyone enjoyed themselves and complimented us on the experience at Ford Field," says Campbell. Add to that, this was the first Monday Night Game ever played at Ford Field and the first in Michigan since the Pontiac Silverdome hosted one in 2001; excited fans had an opportunity they don't often get.
 
When the news did break internally that the Vikings would play their next and final home game at TCF Bank Stadium, J.P. Paul recalls that he originally had nine suites to offer his clients. And even that was not known until late Thursday. Tanesha Wade states that, "Our football suite and loge box holders have first right of refusal for all TCF Bank Stadium events. That right did apply in this [unusual] case and we communicated the offer to each suite and loge box holder as soon as pricing was confirmed during the week." Not all TCF suiteholders took advantage of the offer (nor did all Vikings suiteholders), so Paul and his staff did slowly get more suites to offer to Vikings clients.
 
Next, the Vikings evaluated the relationships and tenure with existing clients to determine who would be offered suites first. Fortunately, TCF Bank Stadium has 24-person suites; the Vikings suites are mostly 12-person. So the Vikings could accommodate more clients by matching up suiteholders that could share a large suite. Laughing, Paul says, "We got out the White Board and spent hours going through hypotheticals and literally diagramming who could go where. Add to that, it was the celebration of 50 years in Vikings history, where we honored the 50 greatest players in team history; people wanted to be there for that."
 
Paul's plan called for e-mails to be sent to suite clients, rather than phone calls. The plan was more successful through e-mail given the time constraints. "We sent a very concise, point-by-point e-mail with directions, game day instructions, area-by-area accounts of what to expect. We did this via e-mail for two reasons: one, clients who we would have called would have wanted a follow-up e-mail anyway and two, most of the goings-on happened very near to the weekend; everyone carries smart phones and checks e-mails nowadays, but not everyone would pick up their office phone on the weekend. Furthermore, it was quicker on our end." Paul did say that the refunds and credits for 2011, discussed below, would be handled via phone.
 
Although TCF Bank Stadium has only 38 corporate suites and the Metrodome has 115, most Vikings suiteholders had a home on game day. Wade noted that, "Several of our suiteholders were 'crossover' suiteholders; they have both Vikings and Gophers suites. That simplified the situation for those clients." Vikings clients who did not end up in a suite were offered loge boxes or club seats, some with access to the DQ Club area in the stadium. Paul says his suiteholders were fantastic and most were happy to have the opportunity to see a new stadium.
 
Unfortunately, Wade's club seat holders and season ticket holders could not all be accommodated due to capacity limitations. TCF Bank Stadium holds 50,805, while the Metrodome holds 64,000. "Since the Vikings were renting our facility and working to transition their season ticket holders into a smaller stadium, we were unable to offer club seats for purchase. Loge, club, suite, and auxiliary seating totals just under 2,900, so some of our clients were displaced." 
 
Food and Beverage
 
During the Lions-Packers game, Campbell recalled that, "A representative from Levy Restaurants went through the suites and attempted to get as many pre-orders placed for the [Vikings-Giants] game ahead of time from a very condensed 'day of event' menu they created especially for that night, allowing folks to also call in on Monday until 3:00 p.m. Luckily, they had ordered plenty of food in advance for some of our upcoming events and many vendors contacted them to see if they needed product replacements." Ford Field already had stocked concessions for the Little Ceasar's Pizza Bowl that it hosted December 26th. The Lions were then able to bring in perishables on a quick turnaround for Monday and restock as necessary.
 
As for the Vikings, the food that would have been prepared and served for the December 12thgame at the Metrodome did not go to waste. ARAMARK, the dining partner at the Metrodome, donated the food to a local food shelter, Twin Cities Second Harvest. Vikings.comreported that ARAMARK General Manager, Corey Hedrick said, "This was an easy decision. We knew the food wouldn't be able to be used at the Metrodome, so we contacted Second Harvest to ensure it would go to a great cause."
 
For the Vikings-Bears game held at TCF Bank Stadium, the fortune was that ARAMARK is also the exclusive food and beverage provider for TCF Bank Stadium. "ARAMARK Sports and Entertainment runs the Metrodome, while the Educational division runs TCF Bank Stadium. The groups had conference calls to put together the best solution," says Paul. The groups communicated about the expectations, previous orders and preferences. The solution the two groups came up with called for ARAMARK to provide, "A standard menu option for each suite along with a game day menu. The loge box and Outdoor Club seat holders had access to the premium area concessions while the Indoor Club Room offered complimentary food and beverage service as part of the ticket," states Wade. Paul commented that his clients were pleased with the food and beverage situation. "My clients didn't have to place orders by a certain date and time and they didn't have to fret over the payment process. It was handled and there would be food; it was that simple." The Gophers do have to honor the contract with the F&B provider, so the university staffed the game and took all proceeds from concessions.
And what about alcohol? TCF Bank Stadium is a dry stadium, so the serving of alcohol during the Vikings Monday night game was a major issue for the university and the team throughout the process (more on the issue of beer sales below). "Currently, TCF Bank Stadium is not allowed to serve/sell alcohol on game days. Alcohol is allowed during non-game day events," states Wade.
 
Staffing
 
For the Lions who held the Vikings-Giants, Pioneer Press reported that, "'The advantage that we had (Sunday) was that, obviously, we had a game,' Lions President Tom Lewand said. 'That helped us in terms of the communication with our game-day employees, whether that was ticket-takers, security, housekeeping, concessions. We were able to communicate with all of them immediately prior to the game, during the game and immediately after the game so that we could get staffing levels. We had a meeting (Sunday) at 5 p.m., an hour after our game finished, and at that point, we knew we had 85 to 90 percent of the staff committed to come back today. We had begun to make calls in all the different departments to add staff to get us up to 100 percent and in some cases above 100 percent. Calls also were made throughout the night for staffing purposes.'" 
 
For the Vikings-Bears game at TCF Bank Stadium, game day staff numbers were above average. The Vikings and Gophers each wanted to make sure that patrons could navigate the building and see a familiar face when they arrived. TCF Bank Stadium had most of their full-time staffers to plan and execute the game and regular game day staff members were available during the game as well to provide directions and access. Tanesha Wade and Jason Butikofer, Director, Annual Fund and Premium Seating Sales for the Gophers worked hand-in-hand with J.P. Paul to staff the game with both groups. Paul, along with Nicole Santelman, Suite Sales and Service Manager and Michael Manihan, Operations Manager for the Vikings planned to have Vikings hosts and hostesses available on game day. Some were stationed at the premium entrance as greeters, some were concierge on the suite/premium levels, and Michael was in the ticket office with two Will Call representatives.
 
Paul and Santelman floated to ensure the entry and game day experience was as smooth as possible, while the other game day staff provided familiar faces to Vikings clients. Paul credits Gopher staffers. "We can't thank them enough. Our main objective when we first learned that we would be playing there was to get to the stadium, check out the clubs, suites and loges to see what was free for game day. We evaluated what entrances to use and the most efficient way to get our clients into the game."
 
Suite owners entered at the premium level entrance with a Vikings ticket, where personnel met and escorted them to the suite level. No new ticket was issued; the concierge had a conversion chart, let the suiteholders know which suite they would be sitting in, and hand wrote the suite number on the original ticket. Club seat and Gridiron Club seat holders went to Will Call, exchanged the ticket for one with a new seat number on it and were directed to the correct section. One e-mailer told Paul that the, "Ticket Exchange process went great."
 
Tanesha Wade told ALSD, "Our premium seating staff worked directly with J.P. Paul and his staff to assure a smooth transition from one venue to another for the Vikings seat holders. We communicated throughout the week to provide the information and resources necessary to overcome such a challenging situation. It was a pleasure to meet and work with each of them and I look forward to a continued relationship."
 
Ticketing
 
General ticketing for the Vikings-Giants game allowed the original ticket holders to receive preferred seating along the 50-yard line or receive refunds. For the remainder of the general seating bowl, the policy was first-come, first-served and the tickets were free. The Lions opened their box office at 9:00 a.m. on Monday and capped the number of free tickets at 30,000; the giveaway had to be stopped just 90 minutes after it began because of high demand. The Lions didn't need the headache of displaced fans if too many original ticket holders and too many new ticket holders showed up. The bowl was not sold out for that reason alone, with attendance at 40,504 - 10,301 short of a sellout.
 
For the Vikings-Giants game held at Ford Field, the refund policy, reported on Vikings.com was as follows:
  • The Minnesota Vikings policy will affect the original account owner of record for Giants-Vikings tickets purchased through the Vikings and Ticketmaster only.
  • Vikings Season Ticket Owners: Season ticket owners and five-game package purchasers will have their accounts automatically credited for the Giants game to their 2011 Season Tickets.
  • Single-Game Tickets Purchased Through Ticketmaster: Fans who purchased single-game tickets by telephone or the internet through Ticketmaster will receive a refund to the credit card used for the original purchase, including fees (except UPS and InStore Pick Up, if applicable) within 7-10 business days.
  • If tickets were purchased in person through a Ticketmaster outlet, then the original tickets must be returned to the same outlet, where purchased, to receive a refund.
  • Single-Game Tickets Purchased Through Vikings Ticket Office: Fans who purchased tickets directly from the Vikings Ticket Office at Mall of America Field need to return the original game tickets ONLY if the tickets were purchased in person at the Vikings ticket window and NOT part of a Season Ticket or five-game package or purchased at a Ticketmaster outlet.
  • Group and Mail Order Tickets Purchased Through Vikings Ticket Office: Group or mail order ticket purchasers will automatically receive a refund to the same credit card from the original purchase.
  • Fans who purchased tickets from a source other than the Vikings or Ticketmaster must contact that specific source for a refund. The Vikings are not responsible for refunds to purchasers of tickets through other sources.
Fast Fact: It was reported that MSP Airport added several chartered flights, so the Vikings would have backing from home crowd clients. 
 
Fast Fact: The last game that was moved on a day's notice was the Dolphins-Chargers game in 2003 that had to be relocated to Tempe because of brush fires in San Diego. Free tickets were also distributed to that game. 
 
A more complex ticketing system was able to be put in place for the game held at TCF Bank Stadium, one that tried to accommodate more than 64,000 fans who paid for a game now scheduled at a stadium with a capacity of slightly more than 50,000. TCF Bank Stadium did not sell the tickets; the Vikings were responsible for the ticket sales. "This is a difficult situation with no easy solution, so we greatly appreciate our fans' patience in this process," said Steve LaCroix, Vikings Vice President of Sales and Marketing and Chief Marketing Officer said in a statement. "We are making every effort to accommodate as many Vikings fans as possible and play a home game here in Minnesota. We're excited about celebrating the 50th season with a return to outdoor football." 
 
For the Vikings-Bears game held at TCF Bank Stadium, the ticketing policy was as follows:
  • All ticket holders will use their Vikings-Bears game tickets for Mall of America Field at the Metrodome to enter TCF Bank Stadium and seating will be general admission by lower and upper levels.
  • Mall of America Field at the Metrodome Lower-Level Ticket Holders (100 level): Ticket holders with lower-level tickets (100 level) will get lower-level seating access at TCF Bank Stadium (general admission) - UNTIL SEATING IS AT CAPACITY. Gates will open at 5:00 p.m. for those 100 level ticket holders with line queues starting at 4:00 p.m. The value of all lower-level tickets will be considered to be $77. If the face value of the original 100-level season ticket is greater than $77, a credit for the difference will be applied to the Season Ticket Owner's account toward 2011 season tickets. For single-game purchasers, a credit will be applied via Ticketmaster.
  • Mall of America Field at the Metrodome Upper-Level Ticket Holders (200 level): Ticket holders with upper-level tickets (200 level) will only have upper level seating access at TCF Bank Stadium (general admission). Gates will open at 5:30 p.m. for those 200 level ticket holders. The value of all upper-level tickets will be considered to be $29. If the face value of the original 200-level season ticket is greater than $29, a credit for the difference will be applied to the Season Ticket Owner's account toward 2011 season tickets. For single-game purchasers, a credit will be applied via Ticketmaster.
  • Unused Season Tickets for Mall of America Field at the Metrodome: Season Ticket Owners that do not use their tickets will receive full credit on their account if the ticket goes unused AND is mailed to the Vikings Ticket Office (425 Chicago Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55415) POST-MARKED by Saturday, December 18.
  • IMPORTANT: This is a first-come, first-served event. The Vikings anticipate this game to be well-attended and having a valid ticket does not guarantee admittance into TCF Bank Stadium. In the event that some ticket holders are turned away on game night due to capacity, only the original ticket account owners will receive a full refund.
  • Game Logistics: The Vikings and the University of Minnesota have agreed no alcoholic beverages will be served. No outside food or beverages will be allowed into the stadium. Game parking details will be announced in the coming days.  
Vikings.com also published a FAQ about the event at TCF Bank Stadium, with questions such as: What if I elect to attend the game instead of sending in my tickets for a refund and then I am turned away at the gates because the stadium reaches capacity?; Will people with lower level tickets be allowed to use upper level seats if the lower bowl fills up?; How will fans be ensured a seat once they've entered the stadium?; If seating is General Admission and I have to leave my seats to use the bathroom or concessions stands, do I lose my seat(s)?
 
Nearby Williams Arena was suggested as a possible off-site meeting location for ticket holders to keep warm while waiting to enter the game. Free Caribou coffee and hand warmers were distributed to fans as they stood outside the stadium, starting at 4:00 p.m. Steve LaCroix said extra security was on hand when the gates opened but had urged fans to use "common sense" when picking out their seats. "First off, hopefully common sense prevails," LaCroix said. "I used the term yesterday 'Minnesota Nice'. Let's put that in play here. Not everyone wants to go to the same spot. Some people prefer end zone down low, some people prefer 50, some may want to go up to the second deck and have a seat there from a viewing angle. We hope that some of the personal preferences kind of filter some of that out and just that common sense prevails."  Temporary bleachers were not built, as originally proposed, but a standing-room only area was available for about 2,000 fans.
 
For displaced fans, Star Tribune reported that the team looked into off-campus sites for fans to watch the game. Some season ticket holders did voice complaints about the first-come, first-served policy, claiming it was not an ideal way to handle loyal, longtime fans. But bar and restaurant owners couldn't have been happier, as most were expecting to be game viewing sites for those displaced (and other local) fans. The parking lots near the stadium also made a hefty profit by offering spaces at a premium for the game. Amusingly, liquor store owners were happiest, as their overflowing tubs of airline-sized bottles of booze sold quickly. We can all read between the lines regarding that fact.  
 
Fast Fact: The Vikings used 84 points of entry to the stadium, including the plaza area. The Gophers use 60 for games.
 
Making It a "Home" Game
 
For both "home" Vikings game, fans were very excited and most understood the rushed nature of the planning. The Lions' Campbell recalls that her suiteholders were pleased to re-use their suite, "But my phone certainly rang off the hook that Monday morning. I also spoke to or texted/emailed J.P. Paul from the Vikings a lot and my hat goes off to the Vikings staff for really pulling together on their end to help us put on a good 'home' game for them. We painted the field with their logos, had their music and in-stadium graphics. It was like being at a road game, in your own stadium, but your team's not playing, very bizarre, but a lot of fun too."
 
Star Tribune reported that, "Playing in the home of a division rival, the Vikings brought a traveling contingent of 16 cheerleaders, two of their mascots and public address announcer Bruce Cusick, among others, for Monday night's relocated game against the Giants. They even brought their stencils with them so they could have their logo painted at the 50-yard line and the words 'Vikings' painted in both end zones." Although, Pioneer Press reported that Bob Gardner, Senior Director of Facilities Management at Ford Field said, "We had blue. We had white. We had black. But the purple was the hardest. (The Vikings) sent us the (specifications) on what paint to buy, but of course that doesn't happen overnight. We had some close colors that we got with our paint manufacturer and they mixed us up a batch." The Lions didn't receive the paint until 1:30 p.m. Monday, and standing air fans still were drying the paint two hours before the 7:20 kickoff. Additionally, the Vikings sent the Lions all their tapes for the video board and player introductions. The biggest challenge that the Director of Broadcasting and Production for the Lions said was reformatting the Vikings graphics to fit the boards at Ford Field; the Lions board is a different size than the Vikings'. 
 
For the Vikings-Bears game, it was not announced formally by the NFL until Friday that TCF Bank Stadium would host the Vikings-Bears game. Published reports quoted that it would take $700,000 to get TCF Bank Stadium ready for play. The normal budget to get the stadium game ready is $250,000. "The stadium was not fit for this type of weather and it had already been winterized. Add to that, we had a terrible snow storm and snow removal was imminent if the way was to be played at TCF," says J.P. Paul. University of Minnesota Associate Athletic Director in charge of facilities and game management, Scott Ellison, said that water had to be turned on in each of the concessions stands, which is not as easy as flipping a switch. The water line had to be opened up and checked for leaks.
 
The restrooms needed to follow suit; freezing water lines were a major concern. The concession stands weren't built to withstand temperatures below 30 degrees, so shields that trap heat were placed at concession stands and rest rooms, making them serviceable, Ellison said. Additionally, there are no beer taps, which would prove to be a non-issue. But had beer been served, it would have required the beer to be served in bottles. Eventually, the university agreed to hire 400 workers to prepare the winterized site. The Vikings and the NFL would reportedly cover the university's $700,000 expenses.
 
Snow Removal
 
Snow removal at TCF turned out to be the most daunting task of all at TCF Bank Stadium. Pioneer Press reported that Ellison thought it would take a week to get all of the snow out of the stadium. They needed to start immediately when they got word that the game was going to be likely held there. However, they had to consider that if they started work, they could well get stuck with a bill - whether the game was played there or not. TCF Bank Stadium did get to work with snow removal - with 400 workers, in groups of 100, working four-hour shifts, for 16 hours a day. Some of the workers were recruited from temp agencies, and the university put out a release for folks over 18 to shovel snow for $10 per hour, to be paid by the Vikings. Gophersports.com published the shoveling schedule.
 
One of the other concerns was that TCF Bank Stadium's field was frozen and blanketed by the 5-foot snowdrifts, which could cause unsafe playing conditions for players even after the snow was cleared. TCF Bank Stadium's is not equipped with heating coils in the sod. Before the thawing process, the FieldTurf's give was comparable to asphalt. There were further concerns about the traction. The solutions: heaters, using 4 million BTUs, reportedly had to be placed on the field and covered by a tarp to thaw and soften the ground. The NFL considered also using a chemical compound to further break down the ice. The NFL worked directly with FieldTurf and Gopher facilities staff to resolve the issues. ESPN.com reported that more rubber was also added to the turf to create a safer surface. The university also investigated other heating options, like using the field's draining system to heat it from underneath.
 
Fan Travel and Parking
 
The University of Minnesota coordinated shuttle buses to shuttle Vikings fans who normally park in garages and lots around the Metrodome across the Mississippi River onto campus. This solution proved more efficient than having folks unfamiliar with the campus, stadium, and surrounding areas driving in for the game at rush hour. Additionally, the Metro Transit added 16 double buses for before and after the game. Parking was available for $10 on the state fairgrounds in Falcon Heights, and fans could ride the bus for free to the game. 9,000 parking spots were available in university lots that charged $20 for event parking. Vikings.com published a full transit schedule, with costs and routes prior to the event. To further combat travel issues, casual travelers were asked to stay away from the area if they were not attending the game. The upside was that final exams did keep some students away from campus and opened up parking spots.
 
The Long-Term Stadium Effect
 
The roof collapse at the Metrodome re-ignited the debate about a new stadium for the Vikings. One issue that faced the premium seating department was whether the relocation for two home games affected the suiteholder relationships moving forward at the Metrodome. Were clients left wondering if they should buy suites at Target Field or TCF Bank Stadium instead of the Metrodome? Paul says, "No, that's not the case. First, we have great relationships with our long-term suiteholders. They know it's a different product on the field; it's pro football and that's what they are most interested in." However, he is quick to point out that, "We need to address the stadium issue in Minnesota." Clients' eyes were opened when they saw TCF Bank Stadium. Many now know what its like to sit in new suites and loge boxes (a product that Paul says should be included in a future stadium). What Paul really wants is, "To put on the best show for suiteholders. We can't do that unless we have the product to present."
 
The stadium issue has been ongoing for 10 years. Vikings officials have made it clear they will not renew their Metrodome lease, which runs through the 2011 season. With new control in state leadership, the issue has been heavily discussed as of late. However, there may be little that leadership is willing to do until the $6.2 billion state deficit is rectified. Vikings have been working on a new plan to present to the Legislature after the session begins in January and have recently pledged one third of the cost of a new stadium, about $700 million. The difficulty remains in getting support to raise the rest of the funds.
 
More specifically on a new stadium, Pioneer Press reports that the team is considering possible stadium sites in Minneapolis and one in the suburbs, which could be a decommissioned Army ammunition plant in Arden Hills. If the Vikings truly are considering Arden Hills, time may be of the essence in passing a stadium bill. The site, which is several hundred acres, has numerous advantages, including proximity to major highways and the availability of land, allowing real estate developer Wilf to develop the surrounding property as a revenue-generator. But the federal government is scheduled to auction the property early next year, giving the team only weeks to decide whether it wants to place a bid. Arden Hills Mayor-elect David Grant said he met with the team over the summer and said another meeting was held within the past few weeks, but he did not attend. The land still needs environmental cleanup, which would be assumed by the buyer and take as long as 18 months. While the federal government owns the property, Arden Hills long ago incorporated the land and would retain zoning authority over any development. Grant said there is no clear community sentiment for or against a stadium, but with long-foundering development plans, residents may want to see anything move forward. "(Development there) has been on the horizon for the last 15 years for various reasons, and I think the community is wondering if anything will happen. At this juncture, a lot of things are possible," Grant said.
 
Senator Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, is preparing a stadium bill that she said would not require general funds. Under her legislation, she said, the stadium's estimated cost of $700 million to $900 million would be paid with user fees and, possibly, by redirecting existing tax sources. The team is willing to pick up a portion of the tab, but sees the roof as a luxury that should be funded by taxpayers, should they want one. A covered stadium would cost a minimum of $200 million more than an open-air one.
 
To boot, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met with Governor-elect Mark Dayton about the future of the Vikings stadium. Oddly enough, the meeting was scheduled to happen before the roof collapsed. Clearly with the roof collapse, the issue of a new stadium is now more magnified. Dayton claims that by building a new stadium, 8,000 construction jobs would be created over the next three years. He also stated that tax revenues, Minnesota business contracts and other economic benefits exceed any public costs.
 
The Vikings have also been contacted by two groups in Los Angeles who are interested in bringing an NFL team to the city. The Vikings have so far said that they want to find a solution on Minnesota. The NFL will almost certainly expand to LA, so this does provide ammunition for NFL teams who are unhappy with their leases. 
 
Tanesha Wade comments on the future of the Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium, "When asked about the Vikings playing more games at TCF Bank Stadium, University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks was recently quoted as saying: 'I don't think it'd work. We worked hard together on a joint stadium concept and came to the conclusion that the economic model didn't work well for the Vikings, and it was very difficult to manage on a university campus because we have a lot of other athletic venues and also students, thousands of students coming in the evening to study. We want to be a good partner. Personally, I'd like to see the Vikings get their stadium rebuilt and have it as a strong amenity in our community, but I don't think in the long haul (that the Vikings playing at TCF Bank Stadium) will work well. It's not impossible, nothing is impossible. I don't think it's the best solution, however.'"
 
A final issue that J.P. Paul addresses is that, "The stadium is used nearly year-round for non-football events. Baseball games, college and high school, are held at the stadium on a regular basis because of weather. Games have already been cancelled." That could cause similar headaches for displaced sports teams who can no longer use the Metrodome to combat weather issues.  
 
Fast Fact: Before the Metrodome roof can fuction again, nine to 15 panels must be replaced. The replacement process could take until March.
 
Disaster Plan
 
The situation begs the question whether all venues have a "disaster plan" in place? In the Vikings case, they really didn't. In this case, it may have been beneficial to have a plan in place for the simple fact that the roof had collapsed before. However, J.P. Paul's group was "confident that they could pull this off and did so with very few unhappy folks." He pointed out that in almost all cases, you wouldn't know what you would be preparing for anyway. A natural disaster could strike, a venue could be deemed unplayable, and the list goes one. Hypotheticals may not be the best use of time and resources.
 
In the End
 
Anne Campbell: "So what did I learn from this experience? I wish I had a dollar for every time I used the expression 'it is what it is' in that 30+ hour time period! I am impressed and very proud that we were able to pull it off, but our staff is awesome and we really pulled together to help out our friends in need. I guess that's one of the great things about the NFL, and probably all sports leagues, in the end, we are a big family and we need to help each other out from time to time. That's one reason why groups like ALSD are so valuable, you never know where that helping hand will come from, and you're just grateful that it's there when you need it."
 
Tanesha Wade: "The best advice I have for a situation similar to this is to BE FLEXIBLE! It's in times like these that you realize what you really CAN do. It was admirable to witness many different people - NFL, Vikings, Gophers - come together in such a short amount of time to pull off an event of this magnitude. It was truly an impressive experience that I am to proud to have been a part of with the Gopher staff. It also shows the value of an ALSD membership - building relationships, making connections and sharing our experiences in the many different situations that we all experience is beneficial." 
 
J.P. Paul: "Over communicate with clients is the best piece of advice I can give. It's tough for me to say 'be prepared for something like this'. You really don't know what you need to be prepared for. Our roof collapsed, a natural disaster could happen; you just can't create a disaster plan on a hunch that one thing or another will happen. Additionally, we all liken the ability to thrive on pressure. In this case, we had a deadline - a 7:30 kickoff - we were going to know shortly thereafter if we were successful or not. Do I like staying up all hours of the night? No. But we are getting positive e-mails and feedback. We are being complimented on the execution of our plan. We know we did something good."
 
More Fast Facts
 
In July, the commission reported than an inspection by Birdair determined that the roof, well past its 20-year life expectancy, was in good enough shape to survive at least another four years. The commission considered the cost of replacing the material - $12 million to $15 million - prohibitive considering the Vikings, its lone tenant, expect to be playing in a new venue by 2014.
 
Because the game was delayed a day and went up against Monday Night Football on ESPN, FOX could only broadcast the game in New York City, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Duluth, Mankato, and Rochester (it was also available on DirecTV).
 
Pioneer Press reported that, "The condition of the roof had nothing to do with what occurred," commission chair Roy Terwilliger said Sunday. "The weight loads, combined with the wind and cold, didn't allow us to do anything to prevent it. The fact is the fabric tore because of the weight of almost 20 inches of snow. Whether it was new or 30 years old wouldn't have made a difference."
 
The Metrodome, which cost $68 million to construct and opened in 1982, stands 16 stories high with a 10-acre roof made of Teflon-coated fiberglass. The roof is supported by 20 electric fans blowing at 90 horsepower apiece.
 
The roof consists of two layers: the outside Teflon membrane surface, 1/32nd of an inch thick, and the inner liner of woven fiberglass, 1/64th of an inch thick.
 
There are 192 panels that make up the roof at the Metrodome. The panels come in various sizes and are shaped in diamonds, triangles and rectangles.
 
ESPN reported that experts from the company that made the roof, along with a crew of construction workers, electricians and plumbers were assessing the dome Tuesday and aimed to lay out options, but that work couldn't even begin until The Occupational Safety and Health Administration ensured the stadium was safe.
 
J.P. Paul stated that he knew of clients who had friends, family or clients that were flying in for the game, so the game being moved to TCF Bank Stadium was the best option so as to not cost his clients money on airline change fees or cancellations.
 
Dennis Ryan, Vikings Equipment Manger ordered 78 jackets, 10 pairs of boots, about 144 pairs of gloves and 216 stocking hats. And that doesn't include the 80 pairs of football shoes purchased to provide the best traction possible on a frozen surface should the turf turn slick. The only reason Ryan didn't have to make larger orders was because he already was prepared with some equipment for the Vikings' cold-weather game next Sunday at Philadelphia. What makes Monday's game an even trickier assignment for Ryan is all of the items that had to be transported from either Winter Park or the Metrodome to TCF Bank Stadium, because the Vikings are the home club. Items range from the numerous exercise bikes that must go in both locker rooms as well as on the field, to chains for the chain gang, to goal-post pads, to field markings, to a rack of 5-gallon jugs of water, to towels that are stored at the Dome, to trunks of headsets, as well as the units for the coaches to communicate with the press box and players.
 
 
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