By now, you’ve seen the incredibly awesome footage of the Metrodome roof caving in on Sunday morning, and you know the Vikings and Giants have been forced to play tonight at Ford Field in Detroit as a result. But this one game is only the beginning of the headaches for a Vikings team that ranks near the bottom of total revenues for all 32 NFL teams.
Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported today that the Vikings probably won’t be able to play their next game at the Metrodome, either.
With the roof completely deflated and snow covering a large swath of the playing field, it could take several days to determine if and when the orphaned Vikings could host their final regular-season home game, scheduled for Dec. 20 against the Chicago Bears.
The Vikings may be forced to play that Monday Night game at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium, a brand new open-air facility that, annoyingly, wasn’t built for both the Vikings and the University to play in (hooray, politics!). The Vikings stand to lose over $5 million in gate receipts from tonight’s relocation, and almost certainly more if that Bears game is moved (the Metrodome seats 13,000 more paying customers).
For Zygi Wilf, the owner of the Vikings, this has to be the final straw. The Vikings have been trying to escape from the Metrodome for ages now. Red McCombs, who owned the team prior to Wilf, mounted his own failed stadium drive before turning the team over to the New Jersey shopping mall magnate, who has seen numerous stadium initiatives die even as the Twins and University have gotten stadiums of their own.
The Vikings’ lease with the Metrodome expires at the end of next season, and Wilf isn’t going to tolerate playing one more game in the facility without some kind of ironclad deal in place for a new joint. If he can’t get it from the Minnesota Legislature, then I think it’s a virtual certainty that he’ll begin digging around Los Angeles and AEG’s current proposal to build an NFL stadium near the Staples Center. The team intimated it would do as much just a week or two ago.
So while it was cool to watch that footage of the roof tearing and all that snow coming down, this recent Metrodome roof collapse is a definite sign that its tenants aren’t going to remain there one second longer than they must.