The Minnesota Vikings are turning off the lights on the team’s new practice facility in Eagan at night, bowing to neighbor complaints about a bright glow over their once quiet — and dark — suburban neighborhood.
The team said Thursday they will kill the lights from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., except on team event nights, when they will keep the lights on an extra hour.
“We listened to the community,” said Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ executive vice president of public affairs. “We’d like to be collaborative and compromise.”
Vikings’ staffers have called the new 277,000-square-foot complex home since March. The space includes an indoor practice facility, the team’s headquarters and an outdoor stadium.
But by early April, team officials learned that the glowing white signage — which includes the Norseman logo and the words “Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center / Home of the Minnesota Vikings” — annoyed their new neighbors. Mendota Heights residents, who live across Interstate 494 from the facility, said it overwhelmed their neighborhood.
Tom Garrison, spokesman for the city of Eagan, said the issue was between the Vikings and nearby residents, not with Eagan city leaders.
When city officials received an initial complaint about the lights in late February, they checked to make sure the building complied with city code. It did, he said.
“Brightness levels are the same as other wall signage in Eagan,” said Garrison, adding that the amount of signage allowed on any building is based on a percentage of the building’s facade.
‘Makes my day’
At a mid-April event, Bagley told neighbors that the Vikings were addressing the lights issue, but didn’t get more specific.
The new solution was an “internal team decision,” he said, and now the team can move forward.
“I know all the neighbors are excited that we’re here, so we want to focus on that element of it,” Bagley said.
Dakota County Commissioner Tom Egan, who represents Eagan and Mendota Heights, said many residents had approached him about the lights. He even drove to the neighborhood to see the signage and was surprised by the giant, gleaming structure.
“It’s probably not what people anticipated when they bought their homes,” he said.
He praised the Vikings’ decision cut the lights at night. “I know that the neighbors will be very pleased,” he said.
Mark McNeil, Mendota Heights’ city administrator, said it was “just wonderful” that the Vikings had shown sensitivity to the concerns of residents on the north side of I-494.
Many residents said they were grateful for the change, but some said the Vikings could do more.
“That will help a great deal,” said resident Bernie Friel. “I wish it were 10 [p.m.] but I guess 11 is OK.”
Jon Parritz said he appreciated that the Vikings kept their promise to address the problem, but also wondered if they could turn off the lights earlier during the long dark winter months.
Nancy Commerford, who had compared her street to a “circus” with all the illumination, said she was “satisfied and happy.”
“If I wake up in the middle of the night now I won’t see the lights,” she said. “Having them compromise like this makes my day.”