The Minnesota Vikings’ Metrodome has deflated for the last time.
Officials from the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority opened the stadium’s relief vents to begin the deflation at 7:15 a.m. Saturday in downtown Minneapolis. Fans providing the air that supports the roof were turned off. The 10 acres of Teflon-coated fabric were done deflating in 35 minutes.
Bill McCarthy, vice chairman of the authority, called it "a sad and exciting day at the same time." The deflation and the demolition of the Dome beginning next week will make way for construction of a new $1 billion Vikings stadium.
The muffin-shaped dome opened in 1982 and was once a focal point of Minnesota professional sports. In addition to being the home field for the Vikings and the Twins — who won two World Series there — the Timberwolves played their first NBA season in the Metrodome in 1989. The Twins left in 2009 for Target Field, leaving the Vikings as the Metrodome’s only major tenant.
The authority gave the go-ahead despite concerns about weather conditions. According to the National Weather Service, between 4 and 5 inches of snow fell in the area overnight. Winds were a steady 5 to 10 mph Saturday morning.
The morning snow was both a help and a safety concern, said Steve Maki, the authority’s director of facilities and engineering. "We moved it up to do it as soon as we were ready," he said, noting officials were concerned that if the winds increased, the deflation would have been delayed.
Officials were worried that stiff winds could have turned the roof into "a big sail," Maki said.
While Saturday was the fifth time the Dome’s roof has collapsed, it was the first time it was deflated intentionally. On four prior occasions, the roof collapsed due to extreme weather conditions, including the Dec. 11, 2010, incident where excessive snow caused the roof to cave in.
Sharper arrested in rape investigation
Former NFL star defensive back Darren Sharper has been arrested on suspicion of rape, the Los Angeles Police Department said.
Sharper, who played 14 seasons in the NFL with Green Bay, Minnesota and New Orleans, was arrested and booked Friday and released on $200,000 bail just before midnight. He faces a Feb. 14 court appearance.
LAPD said it is investigating Sharper in connection with two sexual assaults that occurred in October and earlier this month in the West Los Angeles area.
A New Orleans Police Department spokeswoman said Saturday in a statement that NOPD is also investigating an allegation of sexual assault filed against Sharper on Sept. 24. Sharper, 38, played in the NFL from 1997-2010, mostly with the Packers. He retired after the 2010 season.
Sharper was selected All-Pro six times and chosen for the Pro Bowl five times.
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.