It's official, football fans. The upcoming NFL season will be the last the Minnesota Vikings will play in the Hubert H. Humphery Metrodome; aptly renamed Mall of America Field.
The Dome will be razed after the 2013 season, likely in January or February of 2014. Whether the Vikings will be playing in a Super Bowl by then is still open to speculation.
What isn't open to speculation is this irrefutable fact: The Dome needs to be torn down to make way for the new stadium. And, for that to happen, the Vikings will have to play two seasons - 2014 and 2015 - at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.
The Minneapolis Sports Facilities Authority announced their plan earlier today. Although the official announcement was little surprise - the stadium authority and Vikings have said for weeks that the team most likely would play two seasons at TCF Bank - both wanted to wait until a builder was hired before making a final decision.
The team and authority hired Mortenson Construction - who also built Target Field for the Twins - last week to oversee the construction of the $975 million project, which is scheduled to open by July 2016.
Lester Bagley, a Vikings vice president, said the team has been working with the U of M on reaching an agreement to play on campus for two seasons.
"We have a handful of issues we're trying to resolve and we're trying to close those out as quickly as we can," Bagley said. "Part of that would involve capital improvements to the facility."
Ground breaking for the new stadium is tentatively scheduled to take place in October, in the heart of the 2013 season, on property just east of the Metrodome.
The thirty-one-year-old facility, which was home to the Vikings, Twins, and University of Minnesota football team when it opened in 1982, could be razed one of two ways - piece-by- piece or by using explosives.
"It seems from what we have looked at to date that it's more than likely going to be a more traditional, piece-by-piece approach," said John Wood, Mortenson's senior vice president.
I know I'm not alone in my disappointment. Several Minnesota sports fans would pay good money to see that inflatable piece of crap go up in smoke.
"There'll be a lot of new construction activity going on while the Metrodome is still being demolished," Wood added.
Over its lifetime, the Metrodome has been host to thousands of sporting events, including a Super Bowl, two NCAA Final Fours and a Major League Baseball All-Star game. And don't forget: two World Series championships won by our beloved Minnesota Twins in 1987 and 1991.
So here's to you, Metrodome! You've served as a colossal eyesore for decades but you also provided a decisive 'dome field' advantage; so, although millions celebrate your imminent departure, you've managed to serve your purpose quite well.
And that's not quite a compliment, but a notable accomplishment.