It’s been 8 1/2 months since the roof of the Metrodome collapsed under the weight of a December snowstorm, forcing the Vikings to find a new home for two of the final four games of the 2010 season. Tonight, for the first time since the collapse, the Vikings return to the much-maligned Dome, which has been outfitted with a new, hopefully snow-resistant roof.
Just as the collapse of the roof symbolized the implosion of the Vikings’ 2010 season, so does the restoration of the roof embody the team’s hopes for a new beginning. Since that 2010 debacle the Vikings have hired Leslie Frazier as full-time coach, added a new offensive coordinator with a whole new philosophy, exchanged Brett Favre for Donovan McNabb, drafted a pair of potential future leaders in Christian Ponder and Kyle Rudolph and revamped the defense by turning over four starters.
The hope is that the new roof will do a better job holding up against the rigors of a Minneapolis winter than the old one did. And fans also hope the new-look Vikings will fare better in 2011 than they did in 2010, when dreams of a third straight playoff run came unceremoniously crashing to the ground.
To be sure, building a new roof is a lot easier than building a football team. The engineers who put the new top on the Dome had only one hole to fill, while Rick Spielman and the rest of the Vikings organization have many, most prominent among them being the hole left at left tackle by the departure of an out-of-shape and unmotivated Bryant McKinnie.
Like the Metrodome roof failure, McKinnie’s betrayal of the Vikings’ trust is something to be left in the past. Now is a time for looking forward, a time of renewed aspirations, of rekindled dreams. Tonight when the first ball is kicked, a sad chapter in Metrodome history will finally be brought to an end. The Vikings and their fans hope that with the closing of this chapter will come a new beginning not only for the stadium but the team, a first step toward the Super Bowl championship that has eluded the Dome for all of its nearly 30-year history, and the team for all its 50-plus seasons in the NFL.