The fabric roof of Minneapolis' Metrodome deflated and fell with a groan yesterday when it was torn by a crane removing snow. An official said he was "pretty confident" it could be fixed in time for the Minnesota-Dallas football game Monday night.
Don Poss, executive director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, said stadium officials were "working feverishly" on repairs with the contractor in Buffalo who made the roof. The contractor will fly in a 200- by 40-foot replacement panel of fiberglass-Teflon by chartered plane by Saturday night, he said. Workers will begin attaching the new panel with clamps as soon as it arrives. Then the dome will have to be reinflated.
As many as 100 workers have been removing snow from the facility since a blizzard dumped 16 1/2 inches Monday night and Tuesday.
Ten workers were shoveling snow into a huge bucket on a crane reaching over the east side of the dome early yesterday. The fabric was rising as snow was removed, so workers kept the crane five feet above the roof.
"But a section of snow and ice about 30 by 10 feet shifted all at once, causing the roof to inflate upward about six feet instantly," said Jerry Bell, assistant director for the commission. "It (the roof) struck the bottom of the bucket and punctured a panel with hole six by six feet."
The accident happened in darkness about 4 a.m. Air began escaping and the roof sank into the 62,000-seat stadium in 30 to 45 minutes. But it remained 75 feet above the field and well above the seats. It was the second time the dome has fallen. In November 1981, before the structure was ready for use, the roof deflated after a heavy snowfall. It was repaired and reinflated within a few days . . .
NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle has fined Mike Reinfeldt, a free safety for the Houston Oilers, $1,000 for a "flagrant personal foul" against Johnny Perkins in a Dec. 5 game. A certified letter from NFL headquarters referred to a personal foul penalty charged to Reinfeldt for hitting the New York Giants receiver; Reinfeldt "didn't think it was a penalty, much less a flagrant foul," and said he will appeal within a week and ask Perkins to testify on his behalf.
The play happened early in the second half when Perkins caught a short pass in front of the Giants' bench and Reinfeldt hit him on the throat with his forearm. Perkins reeled, but recovered and gained several yards.