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Does The New Stadium Need A Retractable Roof?

In a little less than 36 hours, we will finally be getting a look at what the new home of the Minnesota Vikings is going to look like. At 7 PM Central time, in a presentation that will be streamed live on (and that you can damn sure bet we'll have an Open Thread for), the new design for the place our favorite football team will call home starting in 2016 will kick off.

A lot of talk has been floating around over the past few days about some of the details of the new stadium, but as this article from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune points out, the biggest question that remains is this. . .

Will there be some sort of retractable feature in the new digs?

If there is, will it be a retractable roof? Will it be some sort of a wall or panel or something?

Well, the article speculates that it will be the latter, due to a number of factors. . .not the least of which is the cost of operating a retractable roof.

Several sources with knowledge of the design say the most recent renderings by HKS Inc., the project architect, call for a fixed roof with a giant, sliding window or wall that opens to the west, showcasing the downtown Minneapolis skyline.

Lester Bagley, the Vikings vice president of stadium development, wouldn't confirm that, but said the team and authority have reviewed renderings of retractable roofs, walls and windows.

"We are determined to try and deliver a retractable feature," Bagley said. "But we have a very specific budget, and there are a lot of issues and a lot of moving pieces.

"At the very least," he added, "we expect to have a great view of the downtown skyline."

Now, while that might be a bit of a bummer to some folks, it actually makes a great deal of sense. According to this article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, while the idea of a retractable roof sounds cool, the teams that have them really don't use them all that frequently.

There are currently four retractable-roof stadiums in the National Football League. They are University of Phoenix Stadium (Arizona Cardinals), Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis Colts), Reliant Stadium (Houston Texans), and Cowboys Stadium (Dallas Cowboys). The breakdown of those stadium as far as having the roof open vs. having it closed breaks down like this:

Reliant Stadium - 31 games with roof open, 59 games with roof closed (90 total games)
University of Phoenix Stadium - 19 games with roof open, 40 games with roof closed (59 total games)
Lucas Oil Stadium - 13 games with roof open, 30 games with roof closed (43 total games)
Cowboys Stadium - 13 games with roof open, 20 games with roof closed (33 total games)

So, out of a total of 225 games played at those locations since those stadiums were built, the roof has been open just 76 times. So, approximately two-thirds of the time, it wouldn't have made any difference if the stadium had a retractable roof or not. Given that three of those four stadiums are located in significantly warmer climes than the Twin Cities, the practicality of a retractable-roof stadium in Minneapolis seems a bit on the low side.

My guess is that, as the Star-Tribune article suggests, there will be a panel or a wall of some sort that can be opened for whatever reason. Whatever it is, my guess is that it's going to be pretty great. In addition, in order to get people ready for next week's music in the Open Threads, whenever the wall opens up, this song needs to be played.