The Minnesota Vikings will pay about $7.5 million to build more party space into the new U.S. Bank Stadium even before it opens.

The space sits in the upper level of the northeast corner of the stadium, an area previously referred to as “entombed” because it was walled off and unfinished. The area will accommodate up to 904 fans, although the team had yet to determine what sort of packages will be sold for the area and what tickets will cost.

The announcement of the new space came Monday during a regularly scheduled Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) meeting. Until now, the expectation was the space would be finished later rather than sooner, but it will open for the 2016 NFL season along with the rest of the building.

Vikings Executive Vice President Lester Bagley called the 17,500-square-foot area an “exciting space, a place for fans to gather” that will be flexible in terms of uses, be visible from the bowl of the stadium and have a “unique vantage point” on the field.

With construction of the stadium slightly ahead of schedule and swift ticket sales, the Vikings decided to build out the area immediately, Bagley said.

The MSFA, which owns the stadium, will pay $300,000 a year to the Vikings for five years for access to the space.

The $7.5 million estimated cost for the additional space is preliminary and isn’t reflected in the $592 million the Vikings have invested in the building so far. Taxpayers are covering the remaining $498 million cost of the stadium.

The new space will be between the upper and lower concourses and feature “group cabins” as well as a “Lodge Bar” with food and a more traditional drinks bar called the “Truss Bar.”

The area will be able to seat 292 people with space for an additional 612 fans standing, Bagley said.

MSFA Chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen and Executive Director Ted Mondale still must work with the team to arrange usage rights, but it’s expected the authority will have access to the area.

“It’s good for our events and I think the team has a lot of demand to sell this space,” Mondale said.

The new space will add to the roughly 66,200 seats already available in the stadium. Even though tickets aren’t yet for sale, the Vikings will have an online sign-up link for those interested in getting tickets.

In other developments at the MSFA meeting, Kelm-Helgen announced that before the stadium opens, sometime in July, the public will be able to tour the facility for free. The date hasn’t been set for the event but Kelm-Helgen said tickets will be available on the Internet and it will be part of the grand opening.

“Hopefully we will get hundreds of thousands of people in to see that stadium,” she said.

Mortenson Construction executive Eric Grenz told the panel that all of the purple seats will be installed by the end of the month and the building will be 92 percent complete. Next month, the asphalt will be poured onto the field with the turf going down after that. He confirmed that the project is ahead of schedule.


Twitter: @rochelleolson