MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Work begins Thursday on replacing the Metrodome's roof, which collapsed after a snowstorm last December.

Crews with Birdair Inc., the New York contractor hired by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission for the job, will spread a protective tarp over the playing field.

Clamping for roof panels will be checked Monday, and the installation of new roof panels might begin as soon as late next week.

The commission decided to replace the 29-year-old roof after it ripped open following a storm that dumped 17 inches of snow on Minneapolis.

Birdair will be paid $18 million for substantially completing the job by Aug. 1, in time for the Minnesota Vikings' preseason games.

Birdair designed and installed the roof that had covered the dome since its opening in 1982.

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