Minneapolis, MN – No relocation needed. They fought hard to stay in their own market and the reward, a new stadium. By late July, the Minnesota Vikings will unveil their new stadium after twelve years of negotiating, the vision has finally come to fruition. A unique partnership between team owners and the public created the funds needed to not only bring a new stadium to the area along with new opportunities to the city of Minneapolis.
The project has already employed up to 4,000 construction jobs and will continue to employ more once the stadium is schedule to open in time for the 2016 NFL season. The city of Minneapolis is expected to bring more jobs and housing in the area where the stadium is located. While it’s been an arduous process in getting approvals and funding, more than 275 Minnesota businesses have contributed to the design and construction of U.S. Bank Stadium with approximately 90% of the construction dollars, or more than $700 million, going back to Minnesotans.
“The process to get the stadium approval, work the deal, and assemble the partnership was complicated,” Owner/President Mark Wilf said. “It was difficult at times but in the end, a project of this magnitude took a lot of partners to come together. I think we’ll have the finest football stadium in the country.”
The owners decided they will do whatever it takes to bring a new stadium to Minneapolis. The Wilfs dedicated their time to three primary areas since taking ownership in 2005; building a winning football team, a new stadium and bringing a Championship to Minnesota which will provide the best game day experience for Vikings fans, and positively impacting the Minneapolis-St.Paul community and the entire state of Minnesota.
The Vikings have made strides in developing a state-of-the art, multi-use stadium in downtown Minneapolis. The stadium, which gained state approval in May 2012, is set to open end of July for a ribbon cutting ceremony. The stadium is almost complete and has many features that will impact the National Football League in being one of the best premiere stadiums in the league. Not to mention securing two of the world’s best sporting events, Super Bowl 52 in 2018 and the NCAA Final Four in 2019.
NFL teams hoping to build a new stadium in their cities such as the Oakland Raiders should take a page out the Vikings book. Governor Mark Dayton signed the stadium bill in 2012 and later strongly defended the $1.1 billion cost to build the stadium. Had the state not approved the new stadium, than it would’ve been the Vikings moving to Los Angeles. Following on the heels of the Minnesota Twins who moved to their new ballpark in 2010 after sharing the Metrodome with the Vikings for 28 years. The Vikings new they would be next to get a deal done.
“It was clear we needed to have a local partner to get a stadium deal done,” said Lester Bagley, Executive Vice President Public Affairs & Stadium Development. “It wasn’t just the roof collapsing, that got us a stadium deal done. It took a long time to get a coalition effort, business laborer elected officials to get it done. It was a long discussion following on the heels of the Twins deal who shared the Metrodome with us.”
“It was essentially our Governor and Republican Legislature leaders who said let’s take a vote on the stadium,” Michelle Kelm-Helgen, Chair of Minnesota Sports Facility Authority said. “50% of the money came from the public while the other 50% came from the team.”
The new stadium has already created jobs and a $400 million development project involving two office towers, retail, housing and a two-block City park constructed adjacent to U.S. Bank Stadium. In 2012, the public (City of Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota) put up 498 million while the team added $477 million along with a private source. Four years later, the Vikings added an additional $115 million beyond the original $475 team/private commitment.
Many of the features that will standout for this new stadium is an elevated pedestrian bridge and the only ETFE (ethylene‐tetra‐fluoro‐ethylene) roof on a sports facility in the U.S.. Designed to let light in like glass, the ETFE roof gives fans the best of both worlds: an outdoor experience in a climate‐controlled environment. Two high quality LED video boards will be located in the east and west end zones estimated in size at 120’ x 68’ (8,160 square feet) and 88’ x 50’ (4,400 square feet).
“The Metrodome was so dark you couldn’t determine if it was blue sky day or raining and lightening,” said John Wood, Senior VP of Mortenson Construction. “Now you can see all of that with the ETFE roof.”
U.S. Bank Stadium will also have a collection of art, hundreds of pieces specifically commissioned from primarily local Minnesota artists. The Art will span eight mediums and three themes, including celebrating the State of Minnesota, honoring Minnesota sports moments and saluting Vikings past and present. A nearby park is also a key feature of a five-block redevelopment next to the stadium. Wells Fargo, (state’s largest bank) is spending $300 million on two 17-story office towers next to the park and stadium.
The Vikings chose a local construction company (Mortenson Construction) to build U.S. Bank Stadium which was designed by Dallas‐based HKS Architects who also designed Lucas Oil Stadium and AT&T Stadium. The next task is installing a
world‐class technology infrastructure that complements the unmatched game‐day atmosphere of a Vikings home game, and providing the most social experience in the NFL. The Wi‐Fi is capable of accommodating every fan inside the stadium and the bandwidth will be able to accommodate expanded capacities (i.e. 70,000 at Super Bowl LII).
In hopes of duplicating Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers. Levi’s is the most high-tech sports venue in the NFL. In the heart of Silicon Valley, the team spent a significant sum of money in building a high-tech infrastructure. 400 miles of cabling, and 40 gigabits per second of available bandwidth which is 40 times more Internet bandwidth capacity than any known U.S. stadium, and four times greater than the standard NFL stadiums today. The Vikings hope to top that and become the best high-tech stadium in the NFL.
“We came up with this catchy slogan in house, ‘drive way to drive way’,” John Penhollow, VP of Corporate & Technology Partnerships said. “When you leave your house in the morning, can we somehow affect your journey from your house to our stadium.”
Approximately 1,300 access points will be installed in “clam shells” in the hand rails – proprietary technology that ensures prime frequency and coverage. The access points are typically installed in premium spaces; the Vikings will be stadium‐wide. A neutral host distributed antenna system will ensure a all major wireless carriers creating reliable, high‐speed mobile connectivity for users. Through Beacon technology, U.S. Bank Stadium will leverage geofencing to connect with fans in and outside U.S. Bank Stadium.
A new Vikings app and U.S. Bank Stadium app will be released soon, that will include access to robust content, digital ticketing, fan loyalty programs, wayfinding in and outside of the stadium, food and beverage offerings, merchandise and other fan engagement content. Highlights of app will include game action replays from various angles, express food and beverage ordering, and push notifications containing messages from players and coaches.
“We want to create a family-friendly environment and a positive experience for all fans at our football games,” said Kevin Warren, Vikings Chief Operating Officer. “I saw a pod while traveling and immediately thought we need to bring this to our fans. We want to encourage breastfeeding mothers to nurse where they feel comfortable, and if that’s at a football game, than we can accommodate. We are always striving to create the most positive workplace environment within our organizations and the pods in our offices will benefit many of our female employees.”
Another exciting feature at the new stadium will be the Mamava breastfeeding pods. Designed for breastfeeding mothers, this pod will offer privacy and enough space for a family. The Vikings are the first NFL team to partner with Mamava. These pods will be available in the suites, upper levels and lower levels throughout the stadium. The single units contains comfortable benches, an electrical outlet for plugging in a breast pump and a door that can be locked for privacy. The 4-foot by 8-foot suite is meant for individual use but can fit mothers with babies and other children in tow.
The Vikings new home will hold about 66,200 fans, expendable to 70,000 for events like the Super Bowl LII in 2018. The facility will feature six different suite options totaling 131 individual suites range in capacity from 10-24 fans. The most unique option is the Turf Suites (23) located directly on the field just 25 feet away from the playing field, giving fans a true on-the-field experience. Six clubs will include Club Purple, the stadium’s dynamic, all‐inclusive fantasy sports HQ that connects fantasy sports content to the live game. Just 100 plus days away from until the ribbon cutting ceremony. Stay tuned.