As I'm sure many of you already know, I live in Minnesota most of the time. And, as anyone who watches the weather on TV know... Minnesota gets REALLY COLD at times! Below zero (Fahrenheit/-17°C) is pretty common here in the winter, and it can get worse.
Luckily, we Minnesotans know how to make the best of it. We insulate our houses and our bodies, and have perfected the mad dash from our door to the car. And we come up with creative ways to do our favorite activities when the weather doesn't permit.
In the 1980s, in one of the most famous examples of Minnesotan inventiveness, two local hockey players invented Rollerblades so they could practice hockey in the summer. The skates quickly grew in popularity all over the US, and developed their own following. Soon, many Minnesotans (not just hockey players) were rollerblading all over the state during the warm season.
But then (ironically) inline skaters in Minnesota ran into a problem: how to keep practicing their favorite sport in the winter!
Finding a solution for the inline skaters, however, didn't require creating anything new. Actually, the answer was found by looking at an existing facility in a new way.
In the picture below, you can see the solution to all the MN inline skaters' problems:
At the beginning of the 1990s, someone noticed that the Metrodome - a heated indoor sports facility in downtown Minneapolis home to Vikings football (and previously Twins baseball and Gopher football) - was surrounded by two levels of very smooth concrete. And although the playing fields were frequently in use for team practices and exhibitions, the hallways of the 'Dome were empty on non-game-days.
And so the "Rollerdome" was born!
Every year, the Metrodome opens its doors several days a week from November to April to inline skaters. Over 50,000 Minnesotans visit every year - from beginners to speed skaters. There are lessons, a live DJ playing music, concessions, and even the world's only Inline Marathon held indoors.
The Rollerdome is a great example of how someone came up with an excellent solution to challenge of enjoying inline skating in a state with uncooperative weather simply by looking at what's already around them in a different way!
A lot of times, we think of innovation only as creating something new. But that's not always necessary. Sometimes though, the best solution comes from looking around to see what's out there, and figuring out how existing resources can be used to solve a problem.
Rollerdome Photo Credit: Darlene Prois
Disclaimer: I have a season pass to the Rollerdome, so I'm obviously in favor of it. But I've not been paid in any way to write this post. However, if anyone from the Rollerdome reads this and wants to discount my skating... I wouldn't be opposed! ;-)