After Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, Calif., Hewlett-Packard took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal to note that Levi’s Stadium became the first sports venue to transfer more than 10 terabytes (essentially a trillion bytes) of data over a Wi-Fi network for a single game. Everyone in the stadium had a wireless Internet connection, featuring options such as being able to order food and drinks from your seat.
John Wood, a senior vice president of Mortenson Construction, said the Vikings’ new U.S. Bank Stadium will have a similarly excellent wireless system for fans next season and for the 2018 Super Bowl here.
“The [Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority] has contracted with Verizon for the design and installation,” Wood said. “We’re doing some of that work right now ourselves, and the expectation is that there will be complete access to the Internet from any seat in the building.”
A January article in Finance & Commerce noted that the new stadium will have $40 million to $50 million worth of technology components, including devices such as LED scoreboards, ribbon boards around the stadium, Wi-Fi and advanced technology in the broadcast booths.
It’s a massive undertaking. Wood said the stadium is 90 percent complete, but there remains a ton of work to do.
“There’s still about almost 1 million work hours of work to be done, inside the building primarily,” he said. “We’re obviously doing all of the interior finishes, the mechanical and electrical systems are being completed, all of the technology elements of the project are being completed. Actually, we have completed the scoreboard and video boards, but those are still being tested. It’s primarily the interior finishes on the inside of the building.
“There’s probably 25 percent of the seating that has yet to be completed. And we do have a lot of work in the site work — all of the hardscaping and landscaping was completed on the east end of the site, but we have a tremendous amount of work to do on the west end of the site, the west plaza, all of the concrete paving that goes with that and the landscaping at the west end of the building. The turf needs to be installed. … We’re building a drainage system under the playing surface. It then gets a bituminous paving that is underneath the turf. All that work is being done currently and will continue until the turf is installed in May.”
Setups for other sports
Wood explained the process for getting the turf installed.
“Well, of course, it’s an artificial turf system,” Wood said. “That isn’t a part of Mortenson’s contract. It’s being purchased directly [from Germany-based company] SMG, again [by] the facility operators. They’re in the process right now of buying that. My understanding is they’re down to a couple of choices and trying to negotiate a final purchase. That turf needs to start being installed in early May. That decision is pretty close.”
The stadium also will be equipped to handle baseball and basketball games, and Gophers baseball coach John Anderson is already excited about playing in the stadium this year. Wood said the design should be favorable for baseball.
“I think the baseball configuration with this retractable seating system that has been developed for the building is going to be terrific,” Wood said. “I hope that the Gophers and other baseball organizations will be able to take great advantage of that.”
What about basketball flooring?
“There currently isn’t a basketball court that has been purchased for the building, at least not that I’m aware of,” he said. “But that’s something that the MSFA or SMG … will be investing in in the future. I think for the Final Four [here in 2019], as I understand it, I think the NCAA brings in their own facilities for that.”
Wood said seating capacity can be expanded or shrunk depending on need, such as when additional seats are required for the Super Bowl or other major events.
“There’s a number of areas that have been identified for additional seating capacity, and the other thing that is going to be different about this stadium compared to the Metrodome is all of the fixed seating is attached to a rail system and it’s adjustable,” he explained. “Seats can be taken off the rail and replaced. They can be spread apart further or concentrated more. There’s an ability to insert additional seating on the rail system that has been installed in the seating vault.”
And despite recent reports about $4 million in repairs needed for a leaking gutter system, Wood said the stadium is on track to be completed on time.
“Absolutely confident,” he said. “Our completion [target date] is July 29, and right now we’re scheduled to provide some of the spaces in the building for early access to SMG and the [MSFA] and the Vikings on July 15 so they can get ready and get organized for opening. We’ll have no problem getting that to happen.”
• The NFL Players Association announced that the Vikings rolled over $2.1 million in salary cap for next season, meaning they have nearly $24 million in cap space and could add even more if they cut ties with some veteran players.
• One of the only reasons the Wolves would have considered trading point guard Ricky Rubio is the need for a shooting guard with great three-point range. Wolves interim coach Sam Mitchell was asked how much such an acquisition would help the team. “We need some shooters, but right now our guys that we’ve got, they’re working on it. They’re working on it every day. They’re going to get better at it, and it’s our job, myself and Milt [Newton, the Wolves’ general manager], as time goes on, to add the right pieces. With this team it’s just about getting them to play and compete.”
• In the first 54 games of the season, the Wolves shot 31.7 percent on three-pointers and made only 4.9 threes per game. But in the past four games, they have shot 47.6 percent on threes and made 7.5 threes per game, another good sign Mitchell is improving this team as the season goes along.
• Cory Joseph, the brother of former Gophers guard Devoe Joseph, really dominated the Wolves off the bench Wednesday in their 114-105 loss to the Raptors. Cory had 18 points, just shy of his season high of 19, six assists, and was a plus-21 in team scoring when he was on the court. … Devoe Joseph, meanwhile, is playing professionally with KK Buducnost Voli Podgorica in Montenegro and is averaging 6.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 17.8 minutes per game.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. email@example.com