The nearly billion-dollar Viking stadium that will rise from the ruins of the old Metrodome will be big and bold, and it will put fans closer to the action than any other venue in professional football.
It’ll have giant pivoting glass doors that open to the downtown Minneapolis skyline and a roof that, while not retractable, will let in so much sunlight come game days, fans will feel as though they’re sitting outdoors.
Seven stadium decks will surround a field of artificial turf and two giant high-tech scoreboards at each end zone will replay the big plays and flash the game stats.
In short, the still unnamed stadium, which will be connected by skyway to downtown, won’t be the Metrodome.
Details of the design were unveiled Monday by HKS Inc., the project architect, during an elaborate presentation at the Guthrie Theater. More than 500 people attended the event, including scores of fans decked out in purple-and-gold chanting the Vikings fight song and hollering approval from the balcony seats.
According to the first reviews from that admittedly biased crowd, the design scored big.
“The structure itself — it’s a beauty just to look at,” said Dulce Avalos, 18, a fan from Crystal.
“I love it,” said Colleen Hayes, a season-ticket holder from Burnsville. “It’s beautiful. I love light and airy and it’s all light and airy.”
Minutes after HKS principal Bryan Trubey finished unveiling the renderings to cheers and applause, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority approved the design and sent it to the city of Minneapolis for review.
At 1.6 million square feet, the stadium will be nearly twice the size of the outdated Dome. It’ll seat 65,000 fans for NFL games but accommodate up to 73,000 for special events, such as a Super Bowl.
The skyline’s newest addition will be asymmetrical and almost diamond-like in shape, featuring sharp angles and a roof line that rises to a peak on the downtown end, which doubles as the building’s grand entryway. From the side, that end juts out, resembling the prow of a ship or a jagged iceberg.
The building facade will be made of metal panels and a glazed glass curtain wall and have four entrances. A walkway will surround the stadium, leading fans to and from stadium gates.
Clerestory windows will circle the building just under its roof line. Five, 95-foot-tall pivoting glass doors at concourse level will allow fans to enter and exit a plaza — more than 2 acres in size — just outside the stadium.
“What we’re really building is a state of the art, indoor, statewide park of sorts that will be used by thousands of Minnesotans throughout the years,” said Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the stadium authority.
Trubey also showed renderings of the facility housing a Final Four tournament and a Motocross event, as well as baseball, hockey and soccer games.
“This will be the most versatile structure on the planet,” he said.
Conspicuous by its absence was a retractable roof, a key feature pursued by the team and authority, and one that many fans, longing for a return to outdoor football and the team’s storied past, wanted to see.
To compensate, and give fans a sense of the outdoors, architects created openings for natural light.
About half the roof will have a hard covering or deck, with the remainder made up of ETFE, a transparent glass-like polymer that was used to cover the outside of the Beijing National Aquatics Center, also known as the “Water Cube,” site of the 2008 Olympic swimming competition.
“We think clear is the new retractable,” Trubey said.
Kelm-Helgen said the retractable roof was in play “for a long time” and that the final decision wasn’t made until last week. She said it ultimately was dropped because it was too costly and couldn’t fit within the construction budget without sacrificing other features the team and authority wanted.
In general, retractable roofs cost anywhere from $25 million to $50 million more to build and install than a fixed roof, industry experts have said.
“It was very obvious from a budget standpoint that we couldn’t do it,” Kelm-Helgen said.
‘One step closer to reality’
Inside, three of the stadium’s seven levels will feature suites, including some at field level. Elevators, escalators and ramps will take fans to seating in each stadium deck.
Concourses will be wider than those at the Metrodome, and there’ll be “many more bathrooms,” Kelm-Helgen said.
Speaking before the unveiling, Gov. Mark Dayton emphasized the thousands of jobs that the project would create.
“I’m just so excited about tonight because it makes this stadium one step closer to reality,” he said.
More detailed drawings of the interior design and finishings will be unveiled later this summer and fall, in time for the October groundbreaking. The city of Minneapolis has up to four months to review and approve the design and issue the necessary building permits.
“Awesome,” said David Gunderson of Brooklyn Park, as the program wrapped up. “It looks like a ship. The ship has landed.”
Added Ben Theis, of Golden Valley, “I like the idea of the new kind of retractable roof, with the covering.”
Still, one of his big questions remained unanswered after the nearly hourlong presentation.
“Now,” he said, “I want to know about the tailgating.”