MINNEAPOLIS - A Metrodome institution is rounding its final turn. On Friday, hundreds of inline skaters will flood the dome's upper and lower concourses for the final session of Rollerdome before the stadium's demolition.
If the second-to-the-last outing is any indication, big crowds can be expected.
More than 700 skaters showed up on Monday night, roughly triple the normal turnout.
"It's better than going to the movies," smiled Mike Cofrin, still promoting the event he helped found in 1990.
Cofrin, who now owns the business, says more than 800,000 customers have strapped on skates since Rollerdome was launched. "There are people that do this ever open night that we have."
Kenrdra and Dale Weichbrodt were among those who brought their skates Monday to reminisce. The couple met at the coat check while working at Rollerdome. They now have two children, 9-year-old Blake and 10-year-old Brooke.
"Trying to find a way where I can rip down the coat check sign," laughed Dale.
For a time loyal skaters were concerned Rollerdome would meet its doom with the dome.
"I had older couples that come skating and they were in tears," said Jim Hoffner, who has skated more than 18,000 mile at the Metrodome.
Hoffner went to the governor, the mayor and anyone else who would listen. "Then I got to meet with the architect, and the architecture firm," he said.
His persistence, and that of others, paid off. The new Vikings stadium will have the smooth floors needed for skating and concourses that loop the entire building.
"In 2012 we travelled around the state, and at every meeting there was someone advocating for indoor skating," said Jenn Hathaway, spokesperson for the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. "We are happy that we are able to continue to provide a place for them in the new stadium."
Skaters should be especially pleased with concourses twice as wide as those in the Metrodome.
Though he still has strong feelings for the building that launched his business, Cofrin says can't help but be grateful for what's to come. "Just their willingness to turn this one billion dollar facility into a place that accommodates this crowd is just spectacular," he said.
Rollerdome should be back with the stadium opening in the fall of 2016 – all new, but still turning left. "Yep, I'm not going to change that," laughed Cofrin.
Note: The final Rollerdome will take place on Friday, December 27th from 5 p.m. until midnight. Skaters are being told to bring their own skates and protective gear, if possible, due to the expected large crowds and limited rentals.