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Council may side with birds in stadium debate

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: July 30, 2014 - 5:58 PM

Updated at 5:55 p.m.

Allegations that the massive, glassy Vikings stadium in downtown will kill thousands of birds cruising into its transparent windows have found sympathetic ears at City Hall.

The City Council, which engaged in a fractious debate over the stadium's construction in 2012, will consider Friday whether to formally support an effort to have the facility bedecked in bird-safe glass.

The Minnesota Vikings have previously rebuffed calls from the Minnesota Audubon Society to shell out an extra $1.1 million for the specially glazed glass at the stadium, expected to cost nearly $1 billion altogether.

A resolution drafted by five council members (below) seeks to apply more pressure, noting that birds frequently use the Mississippi River as a navigational aid and make the metro area their stopover point in the spring and fall. The resolution was authored by council members Linea Palmisano, Cam Gordon, Alondra Cano, Lisa Bender and Andrew Johnson.

"The City of Minneapolis is contributing approximately $150 million in local sales tax revenue to building the stadium, and the interests of the people of Minneapolis should be honored in the design of the stadium," the resolution says.

The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which is overseeing the stadium's construction, conceded a year ago that it would turn off lights at night to help prevent bird crashes. The resolution states that is distinct from the calls for different glass, however.

Palmisano noted that the city approved the stadium subject to the conditions of a city implementation committee, which said in its recommendations that the design should be bird safe.

"I hope this starts the conversation in the city that we're asking the Vikings to honor the agreement," Palmisano said.

She added: "Ironically, a thousand years ago, the real Vikings made use of birds for helping with navigation."

They state that the city's stadium implementation committee and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have both outlined the need to mitigate bird deaths in the stadium's design.

"Ensuring that the stadium is bird-safe will improve visitor experience and be good for the Vikings and Minnesota Sports Facility Authority in the long run," the resolution says.

The City Council will discuss it at their meeting on Friday.

For more detailed information on the types of birds typically involved in building crashes, the Audubon Society's "Project BirdSafe" project has answers on their website.

Photo: A ruby-throated hummingbird, one of many migratory birds threatened by building collisions (Brian Peterson)

Bird-Safe Stadium Resolution

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