After nearly three years of usage that included a Super Bowl, monster truck rallies and mega concerts, U.S. Bank Stadium’s turf is kaput.
The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) last month formally requested proposals from companies to install some 100,000 square feet of new turf to replace the greenery now in place at the 2½-year-old downtown Minneapolis stadium, at a cost of at least $1 million.
When the current turf was laid down in 2016, then-MSFA Executive Director Michele Kelm-Helgen told the Finance & Commerce business journal that its life cycle was eight to 10 years and that it came with an eight-year warranty.
However, Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley said Wednesday that the turf replacement is part of routine maintenance necessitated by the “wear and tear caused by heavier use of the stadium. That’s good news; there have been a lot of events in there.”
Lisa Niess, spokeswoman for SMG, the operator of U.S. Bank Stadium, said the turf’s warranty only covered flaws, not normal wear and tear.
Bagley noted that the turf will be paid for with money already in the building’s capital reserve fund. The Vikings and taxpayers each deposit $1.5 million into the fund annually so there’s cash on hand when work needs to be done.
U.S. Bank Stadium will undergo at least $6 million in renovations and enhancements, including the new turf, before the Vikings play there again later this year. The biggest expense will be the $5 million system of curtains and hardware necessary to maintain uniform lighting conditions during the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four, to be played at the stadium April 6-8.
After the curtains and turf are paid for, the stadium’s capital reserve fund will have about $6 million left, MSFA spokeswoman Jenn Hathaway said.
How other fields fare
U.S. Bank Stadium’s current turf came from Ontario-based UBU Sports synthetic turf system, one of a handful of major players in the industry. The Vikings use the same turf at their Eagan practice facility.
MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., home to two NFL teams — the New York Giants and New York Jets — has the same UBU Speed Series S5-M turf as U.S. Bank, and has replaced its turf twice since opening in 2010, once in 2013 and again in 2016.
CenturyLink Field in Seattle, shared by the NFL’s Seahawks and the Sounders soccer team, got new turf in 2011 and again in 2016. The Dallas Cowboys replaced the turf at AT&T Stadium for the first time in 2013, four years after it opened, and again in 2018 before the season began.
Niess noted that stadiums across the country have different purposes and levels of activity, so turf life defies easy comparisons. For example, New Orleans has replaced the Superdome’s turf annually and AT&T Stadium rotates surfaces to extend their use, she said. The turf at U.S. Bank is inspected and tended to daily by an expert, she added.
“U.S. Bank Stadium has hosted hundreds of events per year, a number that outmatches many stadiums across the country. This large amount of activity, combined with the diverse nature of the events, wears on the artificial playing surface over time,” Niess said.
The state owns U.S. Bank Stadium and the MSFA oversees it on behalf of taxpayers, but global stadium operator SMG operates and books the building for events ranging from mega concerts to weddings and business luncheons.
State and city taxpayers paid $498 million to build the $1.1 billion stadium, which replaced the Metrodome. The Vikings, the stadium’s main tenant, covered the balance of the cost.
Proposals to replace the turf will be taken until Jan. 24, and the winning bid is expected to be chosen by March 8. The MSFA board will be asked to sign off on the expenditure.