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It's an iconic landmark here in Southeast Minnesota. The big inflated sports bubble and dome is back again at Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC.)

It looks like a big bubble, but what is the actual name of Rochester's bubble/dome stadium?

Whether you call it the Rochester Sports Bubble or the Rochester Dome, it's tough to miss the big, white inflatable structure that surrounds the football field at Rochester Regional Stadium, just off Collegeview Road and East Circle Drive in southeast Rochester, on the campus of RCTC during the winter.

The Bubble at Rochester Regional Stadium (Jan 2022) CSJ/TSM-Rochester
The Bubble at Rochester Regional Stadium (Jan 2022) CSJ/TSM-Rochester
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According to the RCTC website, its official name is the Rochester Sports Stadium and Bubble. And if you're not familiar with it, RCTC describes it like this:

"The Rochester Regional Stadium & Bubble, constructed on the campus of Rochester Community & Technical College, features a full-size turf football/soccer field. Thanks to a temporary dome that covers the field during the winter months, the venue is available for use year-round!"

RCTC goes on to say that the Rochester Sports Bubble is a venue "often utilized by local sports organizations to host practices and camps, but is available for anyone who wishes to use it for their event," the site said.

The Bubble at Rochester Regions Stadium (Jan 2022) - CSJ/TSM-Rochester
The Bubble at Rochester Regions Stadium (Jan 2022) - CSJ/TSM-Rochester
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When is Rochester's Sports Bubble set up every year?

The Sports Bubble is usually brought out of storage and inflated over the field at Rochester Regional Stadium during the second or third week of November and is taken down again during the second or third week in April.

Getting that inflated dome up and running every fall is no small task, mind you. KTTC reported in October of 2021 that "normally, RCTC uses the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) to supply the manual labor, which is about 50 to 60 people."

The Bubble, laid out before being inflated over the field at Rochester Regional Stadium (Jan 2022) - CSJ/TSM-Rochester
The Bubble, laid out before being inflated over the field at Rochester Regional Stadium (Jan 2022) - CSJ/TSM-Rochester
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Those same 50 to 60 people are needed again in the spring to help take the big Dome down and get it stored for the warm weather season. Except when a worldwide pandemic rears its ugly head, that is.

So why have there been changes to the Rochester Bubble's schedule lately?

Much like most other parts of our lives, recently, there have been a few changes to the Bubble's normal schedule, courtesy of the ongoing pandemic. Thanks to the Minnesota state shutdown in the spring of 2020, the Sports Bubble wasn't ever removed and was instead left on the field until the fall of 2020.

And in the fall of 2021, KTTC noted that both a spike in labor costs and a lack of manpower (again due to Covid-19) delayed things again and kept the Bubble from being inflated until the second week of January 2022. (We reached out to RCTC to see  who it was that finally helped set up the Bubble this year but haven't heard back yet.)

You can read more about what it takes to rent the Rochester Sports Bubble (including what it costs) on the RCTC site. Whenever it's inflated, though, the Bubble (or dome or whatever you call it) is a definitive part of Minnesota's Med City!

And speaking of the Med City, just how well do you know your Rochester landmarks? Keep scrolling to see if you can identify them... from above!

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LET'S PLAY A GAME: Can You Name These Rochester Locations From Above?