Venue News: Metrodome Rises Again; Marlins Close Upper Decks in Sun Life Stadium

The Metrodome has risen again, seven months and a day after it collapsed in a blizzard. Initially expected to take up to three hours, the roof’s inflation took only 45 minutes and went off without a problem. The $23 million project started in March and took about 15 weeks; all but about $25,000 is covered by insurance. The new roof is constructed of fiberglass and Teflon fabric, and the center sections have been reconfigured with extra gussets that make them stronger, and a lower, flatter profile that will make them less susceptible to wind and help keep snow from piling in drifts along the seams between roof panels. It’s unclear when professional sports will return to the stadium; next season, currently in jeopardy because of the NFL lockout, is the last that the Vikings are committed to playing in the Dome…

…The Florida Marlins are closing the upper deck to spectators at Sun Life Stadium for the remainder of the 2011 regular season. Because the section attracted so few fans, it made little sense to staff the upper deck with ushers and security personnel; the upper deck had previously been open only for games on Friday and Saturday. The Marlins plan to open the upper deck for Bark in the Park night on Aug. 12, and may also open it for the season finale — the final game ever for the Marlins at Sun Life Stadium — when they face the Washington Nationals on Sept. 28. The Marlins rank last in attendance among the 30 major-league teams, averaging just more than 18,000 per game in paid attendance, but play in the largest facility in terms of available capacity…

…Construction of the Nets’ new Brooklyn arena may be on track to be completed next year, but a New York judge’s ruling yesterday puts much of the rest of the embattled $4 billion Atlantic Yards project in further jeopardy. Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman ruled the Empire State Development Corp. illegally approved changes to the Prospect Heights project in 2009 by relying on an out-of-date, 10-year timeline for the plan that also includes 16 residential and office towers. Friedman isn’t requiring developer Bruce Ratner to halt construction on the arena, which will house the NBA team, or the rest of his project’s long-delayed first phase. But she did order the corporation to conduct a new environmental review for the project’s larger second phase, which includes 11 of the residential towers; a move that could set it back many more years…

…Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is continuing his campaign to bring a new sports and entertainment center to the Downtown Sacramento Railyard. After reaching an agreement to keep the Kings in Sacramento for another season, NBA Commissioner David Stern encouraged the city to have a plan in place for a new arena by March.  Johnson and his staff said the new complex would cost roughly $387 million, which is down from the $600 million proposed to voters in 2006. He also said the proposal will bring more money to Sacramento; since the venue would not be owned by the Kings’ owners, it would be more readily available for other entertainment events. Johnson’s committee is set to release a report showing potential funding sources for the new complex by this fall…

…Kentucky Speedway has apologized to fans who missed the inaugural Sprint Cup Series race because of traffic, and will offer a ticket exchange for entry into the 2012 Kentucky race or any 2011 race at an SMI track. Fans were stuck in traffic for hours as they tried to get into Saturday night’s race at the track in Sparta, KY. Many reported that, once they did get to the gate, they were turned away by police because the track had no more parking spaces. The track announced a week before the race that it had sold out all of its 107,000 seats for a Cup race the region had been hoping to host for a decade.

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