What Goes Around Comes Around at the Rollerblade® Rollerdome™
by Rob Zverina
An old joke goes, "There are two seasons in Minnesota--winter and July." During the latter, 'Sotans enjoy some of the finest skate paths in North America, which is fitting since this is where Rollerblade rolled out the first inline skates back in 1984. Another Rollerblade innovation was to bring inline skating to the buttery smooth concrete concourses of Minneapolis's Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, whose inflatable ceiling, in addition to protecting the Vikings, Twins, and Gophers, has sheltered nearly 800,000 inline skaters from the elements since 1990.
The upper and lower concourses of the Metrodome become the Rollerblade Rollerdome, annually hosting thousands of inline skaters who come to relax, exercise, train, socialize, or just watch others turn endless effortless laps on the roughly half-mile smooth concrete loop. Park your car in the free lot adjacent to Gate D and enter the revolving doors. (Because trapped air is what keeps the Dome domey, trying to use a conventional door will expel you quicker than a sneeze.) Admission is $6.50 for adults, $5.50 for students, and $4.50 for kids. Optional skate rentals cost an additional $5.00 per pair of well-maintained and up-to-date Rollerblade inline skates. Coat/shoe check and safety gear are free, but neither is mandatory. "Skate at your own risk" signs might intimidate the newbie, but you really couldn't ask for a more forgiving environment in which to learn--a level, debris-free surface, ample elbow room on even the most crowded nights and free skate tips qualified instructors make this the ideal place to take the evolutionary step from plodding flat feet to speedy wheeled wonders.
Rollerdome Touchdown Towel
Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka is credited with the name "Rollerdome" after the storied 1987 Rollerdome game between the Vikings and the Bears. The Touchdown Towel pictured here was used to promote the rivalry.
From the Needy to the Speedy, Rollerdome Has Room for All. Upstairs is a virtual health club on wheels for fitness-minded adults where serious speedsters hug the inside lane--but no more than three in a line for safety reasons. Slower folks are asked to stay to the right, leaving an ample alley for passing in between. Downstairs, kids and novices take it at their own pace, receiving courtly help from a roving helmeted staff of ten. Concession stands and water fountains keep everyone refreshed and video monitors on both levels provide information on lap distance (2.5 laps = 1 mile), upcoming events, and the ubiquitous "words from our sponsors," in this case primarily Rollerblade. Through it all a DJ, on the lower level, spins tunes (mostly danceable and top 40 stuff)
A Village Square with A Roof Over It. The Metrodome is a public facility, and as such sees constant use, of which the Rollerdome is but one example. As you turn laps on the concourses, a peek through the glass doors leading to the astroturf field will reveal a grammar school soccer game or senior citizen square dance taking place in the Viking end zone. This sense of a place for the community to meet and recreate is typical of the spirit of the great Minnesotan social reformer Hubert H. Humphrey, after whom the Metrodome is named. In addition to a generous schedule of usual skating, the Rollerdome spices it up with special events such as workshops with top pros such as Eddy Matzger, rock-n-roll costume parties on skates, singles nights, and intoxicant-free new year's celebrations. The spirit is always festive and friendly.
In 1993 numerous Guiness World Records were set at the Metrodome for distance skating. Among them was Jonathan Seutter (left) who skated for 24 hours in the Metrodome, setting the 24 Hour World Record with 271 miles.
The Wall Street Jounal reports on the Rollerblade Rollerdome and skating in the new stadium