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Published December 14 2010

NFL football at the Fargodome? Don’t count on it

Are you ready for some football, Fargo?

Don’t plan that Monday night party just yet.

It’s a tantalizing prospect: With the Metrodome roof collapse throwing the site of the Dec. 20 Vikings-Bears Monday Night Football matchup into uncertainty, the Fargodome has stepped forward as a possible alternate venue.

Fargodome Manager Rob Sobolik said he placed a call and sent an e-mail early Sunday afternoon to William J. Lester, executive director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission that owns and operates the Metrodome.

The e-mail didn’t specifically reference the Monday Night Football game, Sobolik said.

“(It) just simply said that if you’re looking to need to relocate some events, we could be a possible site depending upon the circumstance,” he said.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Monday that officials are looking for an alternate site for the Vikings-Bears game.

The Fargodome, which seats 18,300 to 19,000 for football – less than a third of the Metrodome’s 64,000 seats – could accommodate the game from a technical standpoint, but chances of it happening are slim, Sobolik said.

“It all depends upon the circumstances, and obviously it wouldn’t be an ideal situation for the teams playing or the TV crew or the NFL or the Fargodome. But how bad does it have to happen? How dire are the straits, or what’s the situation?” he said.

Sobolik said Monday he hadn’t heard back from Lester. He noted that where the game will be played is up to the Vikings and the NFL, not the metro sports commission.

“I would think if we’re talking the Monday night game, they have a 45,000-, 50,000-seat stadium in that same market,” he said, referring to the $288.5 million TCF Bank Stadium, which was completed last year and seats up to 50,805 fans for University of Minnesota football games.

“So they would probably choose to get TCF Bank up and running again versus coming up in this market,” he said.

Sobolik said he contacted Lester because he knows what it’s like to have a facility suddenly taken out of commission at the hands of Mother Nature.

In July 1995, winds reaching 70 mph ripped off a 50-by-120-foot section of the Fargodome’s roof. In June 2000, torrential rains flooded the dome with more than 8 feet of water on the main floor, causing about $8 million in damage.

After the flooding, Sobolik said the dome received a lot of e-mails and phone calls from managers of other venues offering their assistance.

“You want people to know that you’re there to support them,” he said.

This isn’t the first time Fargo has offered to host the Vikings. The Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau made an unsuccessful bid in 2003 to lure the Vikings’ summer training camp away from Mankato, Minn.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528