Vikings Set to Move Outside for Bears Game

The Vikings and the university made the arrangement Tuesday afternoon, then affirmed it several hours later, when the Dome was declared unplayable.

“We’re determined to play our next game in front of our fans in Minnesota,” said Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ vice president for public affairs and stadium development.

Representatives of Birdair Inc., the company that manufactured the roof, and Geiger and Associates, its designer, spent Monday night and most of Tuesday examining the three damaged panels. They concluded that the damage was worse than expected and that the panels must be replaced, which cannot be done by Monday. Roy Terwilliger, the chairman of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which runs the Metrodome, said the facility would be fully functional once repairs are completed.

The university asked the Vikings for early notice because it needed six days to remove snow drifts and reopen the stadium, which had been shut down for the winter.

“It’s not a daunting task, but it’s going to take some time,” said Scott Ellison, the university’s associate athletic director for facilities and event management. Preparing the stadium is expected to cost $250,000 to $300,000, which the Vikings will pay, Ellison said.

The Vikings have not played an outdoor game in Minnesota since a 10-6 loss to Kansas City on Dec. 20, 1981.

That was the team’s last season at in suburban Bloomington before moving to the Metrodome.

The Metrodome roof collapsed Sunday under the weight of the largest snowfall in the area since 1991, measured at 17.1 inches.

The roof had not had a snow-related incident since 1983, when Metrodome officials established a protocol that includes clearing snow off the roof with high-powered hot-water hoses. But high wind forced Metrodome workers inside Saturday night, eliminating that key step.

The Vikings had already postponed Sunday’s game with the Giants until Monday before moving it to Ford Field in Detroit. There, a mostly uninterested crowd announced at 45,910 watched the , eliminating the 5-8 Vikings from playoff contention.

Vikings officials would not say how much money the team lost by not playing at home. The Vikings insisted on keeping the Bears game in Minnesota since it is the final home game of the season, and the organization will be introducing its 50th anniversary team in a gala at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Sunday night.

“We want to be where our fans are,” Leslie Frazier, the Vikings’ interim coach, said at the team’s Winter Park complex in Eden Prairie on Tuesday. “If that means being outside, that’s O.K., because we will have our fans.”

The Vikings must decide how to accommodate more than 63,000 ticket-holders (about 54,000 of them season-ticket subscribers) in a stadium that holds 50,085.

FAVRE COULD BE BACK SOON ’s career is not quite over yet. Leslie Frazier said that the team was hoping to have Favre back this season — and possibly this week.

Favre’s -record streak of starting 297 straight games ended when a sprained throwing shoulder and numb hand kept him out of Monday’s game against the Giants. (AP)

DROP HOLDER After letting the snap on an extra-point attempt go through his hands in a 1-point loss, Washington punter-holder Hunter Smith said, “If anybody needs to lose their job, it’s me.”

Smith lost his job Tuesday. The Redskins cut him two days after his gaffe in the 17-16 loss to Tampa Bay.

The Redskins (5-8) replaced Smith with Sam Paulescu, who takes over the punting and holding duties.

Smith mishandled the snap after the Redskins pulled to a point behind on a touchdown with nine seconds to play Sunday against the Buccaneers. (AP)

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