Minnesota Vikings

The Audubon Society went on the offensive Wednesday in its fight with the Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority over making the new glass encased football stadium safer for birds.

Warning the new stadium “could kill thousands of migratory birds unless the stadium’s builders take immediate action to incorporate bird safe measures,” Audubon urged its members to make their voices heard.

Birders have been worried for more than a year about the mammoth glass and steel stadium and the potential for many birds to die hitting it. They’ve  been pressing for project builders to use bird friendly designs.

But Audubon said that on July 17 staff were told that there would be no change in stadium glass choice, “potentially dooming thousands of birds.”

Updated 5:15 p.m.

Metropolitan Sports Facilities Authority chair Michele Kelm-Helgen responded the stadium’s designers had in mind “to create a building that was more connected and integrated with the community than the Metrodome had been. The ability to see in and out of the stadium was what led us to the design that included the ETFE roof and operable doors on the downtown facing wall.”

The MSFA’s statement released Wednesday afternoon continues:

“We have met several times with the Audubon Society and worked with Mortenson and HKS to look at all options for design and operational solutions to minimize bird collisions.

We have agreed to the Audubon Society’s operational approaches, including the “Lights Out” guidelines.

We have also taken into consideration the lighting design for the stadium, and where we are able, we will follow the Audubon’s suggestions.

We were able to adopt operational guidelines used by other downtown office and residential buildings, we were unable to change the design and do not have the budget to include the $1.1 million needed for bird safe glass.”

 

It looks a long way away. But opening day for the new Vikings stadium is approaching fast: the construction contract for the facility sets a deadline for the project to be ready for football for the 2016 preseason.

“It’s amazing when you look at the site, you can see how much construction has already happened,” says Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chair Michele Kelm-Helgen. “You actually can see the concourse you’re going to walk in on when you’re back on 11th Avenue. You can kind of picture yourself already standing in the stadium. And two years from now, we’ll be opening the doors, July 15, 2016.”

That leaves about 731 days left to get the work done. Right now, there are about 400 people a day showing up at the site to work on the project. Kelm-Helgen says there are about 200 Minnesota companies already with contracts for the projects. There will be three more big chunks of the project to be put out for bid in the next coming months — which will officially put the entire project under contract.

“The big thing this coming year will be that roof structure that’s going up. We’re going to have that huge steel truss that spans from one side of the stadium to the other,” Kelm-Helgen says. “At its peak, it will stand about 300 feet in the air. They’re building it from both sides and it will meet in the middle and it’ll take about a year to get the whole thing done.”