The first sheets of glass are on-site and ready to go up at the new Minnesota Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

On Wednesday, crews were installing the aluminum framework that will house the glass panes, making way for the first of them to go up sometime next week.

Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen said Wednesday that she could see the panes from her window, resting on pallets and ready for installation.

Eventually, the project will be a $1 billion soaring glass structure. The installation of the glass is yet another sign of the swift progression on the building funded by the Vikings, state and city taxpayers.

Each glass sheet is 5 by 9 feet. About 10,000 of them will form the skin of the stadium.

A 30-person crew from InterClad will bolt the glass onto the stadium. The first panes will be put up on the 11th Avenue S. side of the stadium.

The glass will be transparent, not the bird-safe etched product that waterfowl advocates have sought. Maplewood-based 3M is still researching a transparent film that might be applied to the glass after construction, Kelm-Helgen said Wednesday.

Bird protesters have regularly attended meetings of the MSFA to plead for bird-safe glass on the building. The advocates say the building could become a deathtrap during the migration season.

But the MSFA and Vikings say the stadium’s design aims to be transparent and provide an outdoors feeling in the enclosed space. The structure is expected to be fully enclosed by November and is set to open in July 2016.

The glass started rolling off the manufacturing lines at Viracon’s Owatonna facility last month.

Viracon, whose parent company is Bloomington-based Apogee Enterprises Inc., also made the glass used on One World Trade Center. The company built its reputation on the mirrored, colored and energy-efficient glass covering many skyscrapers, the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium and the San Francisco 49ers’ stadium.

The new Vikings stadium will have seven interior levels and two full-circle concourses with views of the field. The site will play host to the 2018 Super Bowl.

The next MSFA meeting is set for March 27.


Twitter: @rochelleolson