What a checkered history for the Metrodome, home of the Minnesota Vikings football team. It has collapsed four times including the latest incident on December 12, 2010 under the weight of about 17 inches of snow.
According to msfc.com page on the history of the Metrodome, construction started in December 1979. Just two days after a roof-inflation ceremony in 1981, the roof collapsed for the first time due to a 10 inch snowfall. The rip in the roofing fabric was repaired quickly and the dome re-inflated four days after going down.
The dome also collapsed in 1982 (the year it formally opened) and 1983.
My impression is that air-filled dome is just not the way to go in this climate. One needs a central ridge to encourage snow to slide off. The Milwaukee baseball park is more of a clamshell design, but it has an inclined surface anchored to a high ridge that is just a sounder design. They have had their own troubles in the early days of this ballpark with leaking rain, but that seems to have been taken care of.
Of the list of covered stadiums, few are in the northern climes. Most are down south, which puzzles me. Why bother with a roof when many game fans would just as soon work on their tans while at the ballpark?
The ones in a snowy latitude are: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN; Montreal Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Quebec (that's Canada, for those of you who are geographically challenged), possibly the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, MO, Ford Field in Detroit, MI, the Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada again), the Sapporo Dome in Japan, Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY, Miller Park in Milwaukee, WI, Fargodome in Fargo, ND, Kibbie Dome in Moscow, ID, Alerus Center in Grand Forks, ND, Holt Arena in Pocatello, ID, DakotaDome in Vermillion, SD, UNI-dome in Cedar Falls, IA, and Superior Dome in Marquette, MI. There are also some other covered domes in Japan and Europe, but I am not sure how much they are challenged by snow or other weather events.
An internet search re how often Lucas Oil Stadium has collapsed yields only stories on how Vikings games may be moved there (or to Ford Field) after this latest collapse. No roof collapses there. No roof collapse at Holt Arena, either.
No roof collapses at Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, either. They are proud to say that the place is built to handle snow. A story on stltoday.com states that: "The Edward Jones Dome roof is sloped so that when snow melts it slides down and collects behind parapets along the edge of the roof and then flows down drains"
The Carrier Dome in Syracuse used to be deflated in advance of large snowfalls. However, after a new roof was installed in 1999, it has never been deflated. Its website states that "modifications after installation of a new roof in 1999 allow it to reach higher temperatures. The new roof has never been deflated."
And in the spirit of Christmas, the Carrier Dome has even offered a spare roof panel to Minneapolis so that home NFL football games can resume. The Carrier Dome panel is ready to be shipped if officials at the Metrodome want it. One commenter on the syracuse.com story backed the shipment as long as they did not trade it for (quarterback Brett) Favre. He felt that would be a downgrade.
The only dome that I found that ever collapsed due to snow was the DakotaDome, a collegiate venue, but that problem has since been remedied. According to their website:
"Most of these college football domes featured an air-supported teflton-coated fabric roof, which was copied by the Metrodome, which opened in 1982. In the short run, it saved a lot of money, but in the long run it gave rise to never-ending headaches. The main problem was that heavy snow caused the roofs to collapse, which happened twice at the DakotaDome (1979 and 1982), and once again at the Metrodome on December 12, 2010. Besides, the fabric roofs just looked tacky. For these reasons, new $13 million steel-supported roof was built at the DakotaDome in 2001."
Problem solved, and for a dirt-cheap price, too, compared to a whole new stadium.
The UNI-Dome, a venue for U of Northern Iowa football, collapsed in 1994 after high winds tore a hole in the roof.
Amazingly, the Superior Dome in Marquette, MI, a locale famous for getting 200 inches of snow in some years, has not had a roof collapse.
According to msfc.com page on the history of the Metrodome, the design team included a Minnesota company:
"The design team included Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and Minneapolis-based Setter, Leach & Lindstrom, Inc. SOM, one of the world's largest architectural firms, had designed the Pillsbury Center, Lutheran Brotherhood headquarters and Minneapolis City Center. Setter, Leach & Lindstrom, Inc., has done a number of major Twin Cities projects, including design of the Fairview-St. Mary's Medical Office Building, the Minneapolis Convention Center and the James J. Hill House restoration. New York-based Geiger Berger Associates designed the Metrodome's roof. Overseeing Metrodome construction was Construction Management Services of Minneapolis and Detroit-based Barton-Malow."
Maybe less reliance on Minnesota talent, and more sharing of expertise with people managing and building domes in northern climes would benefit the Metrodome as well as Minnesota taxpayers.
BC Place probes dome collapse, Jan. 5, 2007, CBC News, www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2007/01/05/bc-dome.html
Carrier Dome – Syracuse Football, undated article, sports-venue.info, www.sports-venue.info/NCAAF/Carrier_Dome.html
DakotaDome, Clem's Baseball Blog, 2010, http://andrewclem.com/Baseball/DakotaDome.html
List of covered stadiums by capacity, Wikipedia.com, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_covered_stadiums_by_capacity
Metrodome History, msfc.com, 2007, www.msfc.com/history.cfm
Newhoff, Nancy, UNI_Dome had its own collapse in '94, Dec. 13, 2010, WCF Courier.com, http://wcfcourier.com/news/local/article_8adc09ab-d60d-514c-92cc-03edf9c8d880.html
O'Connor, Phillip, Edward Jones Dome built to handle snow, Dec. 13, 2010, stltoday.com, www.stltoday.com/sports/football/professional/article_696a9e5f-a97b-573f-896e-19c0d6b6390a.html
Syracuse Carrier Dome officials offer spare roof panel to Minneapolis' collapsed Metrodome, Dec. 13, 2010, AP in The Post-Standard, Syracuse.com, http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2010/12/syracuse_carrier_dome_official.html