The state-of-the-art, multipurpose U.S. Bank Stadium is poised to become one of Minnesota’s most notable pieces of infrastructure
By Sergio Flores
As a testament to Minnesota pride and the strong relationship between the Vikings and the citizens of Minnesota, more than 200,000 people attended the grand opening for the Vikings’ new home in downtown Minneapolis, the U.S. Bank Stadium.
Funded through a combination of both public and private money, the stadium’s development for the new Vikings home began in June 2012, with construction beginning in January 2013. The state of Minnesota put in $498 million; the Vikings originally put in $475 million, although over time their contribution grew an additional $130 million; and with private money the U.S. Bank Stadium sits at about $1.15 billion dollars.
The economic impact of the stadium can be measured in three ways:
The first: the economic impact of the construction and its direct effect on Minnesota businesses and workers. More than 8,000 construction jobs were a part of the construction process, with an average 1,500 a day. More than 300 Minnesota firms worked on the development, and roughly $1 billion of the construction costs stayed with Minnesota companies.
The second: the stadium is one piece of the city’s endeavor to revitalize the eastern area of downtown Minneapolis, especially including the stadium’s immediate surroundings. Before the opening of the U.S. Bank Stadium, more than $1 billion of economic investment was poured into the two blocks of empty parking lot surrounding the stadium. Numerous projects are either completed or underway, including hotels, office, retail and residential space, and a two-block community park suited for pre-games during Vikings game days, totaling roughly $1.1 billion economic activity—not including the stadium itself. And that’s just what’s happening now.
The third: the big events. The U.S. Bank Stadium has already secured the X Games in 2018 for two summers, an estimated revenue of $100 million; the Super Bowl LII in 2018, an estimated revenue of $400 million; and the Final Four in 2019, an estimated revenue of $200 million.
Testing the waters, the stadium’s public opening held July 23-24 was a huge success. Chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Michele Kelm-Helgen notes that the reception for the new stadium has been incredibly positive. “People were blown away,” she noted. “Comments like ‘we’ve never seen anything like this’; ‘there’s nothing like this anywhere in the country’. ‘We are so proud.’”
The stadium features a variety of amenities, but the one attendees love is the stadium’s ability to blur the threshold between the indoor and outdoor, simulating an outdoor stadium. To achieve this, 60 percent of the stadium’s roof was constructed with a transparent material called ETFE, a copolymer plastic similar to glass that allows ample light and is much more cost-effective – through the ETFE, attendees can see clouds and sky as if the material weren’t even there. The blurring of interior and exterior continues on the west side of the building where an impressive 300-foot-tall glass wall grants attendees an unbelievable view of the Minneapolis skyline. In addition to the roof, the stadium is equipped with five of the largest operable doors, standing at 95 feet tall and 55 feet wide. When open, the length is equivalent to a football field, letting in air and adding to the outdoor feel of the stadium.
“The easy way out would have been a simple roof,” said Kevin Taylor, the senior vice president at HKS Architects who has managed the project for the Dallas-based firm. “This will be one of those well-recognized buildings in the industry. We think the perception of sitting in a facility enjoying a game when it’s either raining or snowing outside and still feeling like you’re experiencing an outdoor stadium is going to be phenomenal.”
Other notable features include 34 rows of retractable seating on the Northside of the stadium, the largest of its kind. Placing it in the Northside allows the building to host local college and high school football teams to practice there during the spring when the weather in Minnesota is not ideal and would usually require the teams to travel.
The monumental stadium is also vastly energy-efficient, earning a prestigious LEED certification. Advanced LED lighting and the use of ETFE material, in addition to the roof’s south-facing orientation to maximize on sunlight, all add to an energy-efficient, state-of-the-art building. In fact, The Vikings added an extra $1.3 million from their initial commitment to upgrade the lighting system.
“It’s much more energy efficient to use the LEDs for sports lighting because you have them on an hour or two before an event and an hour or two after an event,” said principal for HKS Architects John Hutchings. “It’s quite sustainable, and we were glad the Vikings stepped up to the plate and paid extra to get the LED’s for the sports lighting.”
From venues, to weddings, fundraisers, conventions, and more, the multi-purpose nature of the U.S. Bank Stadium will have a resounding effect on Minnesota’s economy and citizens.
Sergio Flores is an Assistant Editor for American Infrastructure magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.