Crews shoveled snow out of TCF Bank Stadium to prepare for the Vikings football game on Monday. A team of local companies assisted with the stadium preparation. (Staff photos: Bill Klotz)
The Herculean task of clearing 40,000 cubic yards of snow from TCF Bank Stadium in preparation for Monday night’s football game required a game plan that likely made Vikings football coach Leslie Frazier proud.
On short notice, a team of local companies – including Mortenson Construction, Metropolitan Mechanical Contractors (MMC) and Frattalone Cos. – helped to develop and carry out the plan.
“We could not have done it without them,” said Garry Bowman, director of communications for University of Minnesota athletics. “Those guys were key to helping us pull this off. It would have been next to impossible to do this on our own.”
How much snow was in the stadium? If it had covered the playing surface alone, it would have been piled 20 feet high from one end to another, according to Bowman.
Mortenson, which built TCF Bank Stadium, helped oversee the effort to clear snow out of the 50,800-seat venue, which was hastily awakened from its winter hibernation to accommodate the Dec. 20 Minnesota Vikings-Chicago Bears football game. The entire cleanup effort cost more than $100,000 – and possibly several hundred-thousand dollars, Bowman said.
The game was scheduled to be played in the Metrodome but had to be moved after the Dec. 11-12 storm dumped more than 20 inches of snow and ice on the dome’s Teflon roof, causing parts of it to tear and collapse.
On the Wednesday morning after the snowstorm, Mortenson called on Eden Prairie-based MMC and “laid out this huge request” for 800 feet of 36-inch-diameter PVC pipe, according to Michelle Rose, MMC business development manager.
The idea was to cut the pipe lengthwise then slice it into sections to create makeshift chutes, which would be used by shoveling crews to help clear snow out of the stadium’s seating bowl.
It was a challenge, in part, because it’s not a common pipe size, Rose explained. But an MMC production manager got on the phone and tracked down a pipe supplier in Fairmont who could fill the order.
“We immediately had them truck up as much as they had,” Rose said. “By 6 o’clock that night they delivered the first load of pipe.”
Once delivered, the pipes had to be cut and mobilized for safe and effective use at the stadium. The project team cut the pipes, drilled holes, installed rope handles and fabricated joining brackets, Rose said.
Tasks that may seem simple, like cutting the pipes to size, turned out to be a challenge.
“This was a trial-by-fire effort,” Rose said. “They had to find the right type of saw to even cut these puppies in half. I am not sure how many saws they went through, but they figured out one that worked well.”
For its part, Little Canada-based Frattalone Cos. provided trucks and loaders to haul snow out of the stadium and deliver it to a dump site at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.
Frattalone’s effort was based on a plan the company devised with the University of Minnesota back in August, in anticipation of having to clear snow out during the Gophers’ season.
Turns out, the Gophers didn’t have to worry about snow.
“When the dome went down, it was, ‘Oh boy, how can we make this happen?’ ” said Tony Frattalone, president of Frattalone Cos.
Finding a dump site for the snow wasn’t a problem because Frattalone had already been under contract with the university to clear snow from the St. Paul campus, which uses the Fairgrounds as a snow dump site.
The biggest trick was getting the proper equipment in place without damaging the playing field or the drainage pipes.
“Basically, we supplied the University of Minnesota with two loaders, which are small enough weight-wise [and] light enough so it won’t affect the field,” Frattalone said. “We basically hauled out the snow. The university had their equipment push the snow to us and we took it from there.”
One thing that’s overlooked is the property around the stadium – parking lots, curb lines, sidewalks – that had to be prepared for the game, according to Frattalone.
“That was probably as big, if not bigger, than getting the snow out of the stadium,” he said. “That was not seen as much because it was done at night. We were running day and night.”
TCF Bank Stadium wasn’t the only sports venue on Frattalone’s mind last week. The company stores 8,000 sheets of plywood for the Metrodome, which uses the sheets to prepare for events like the Home and Garden show.
After the storm, Frattalone got a call to deliver nearly 2,300 plywood sheets in four truckloads to the Metrodome. The sheets have been used to protect the playing surface while crews assess damage to the dome’s roof.
“It was a pretty hectic week for us – but a good hectic,” Frattalone said.
By the numbers
40,000 Cubic yards of snow in TCF Bank Stadium
800 Feet of PVC pipe used for snow removal
(SOURCE: Brian Johnson – Finance and Commerce, Dec. 23, 2010)