Without the 45,000 NCAA wrestling fans who had been expected this weekend at U.S. Bank Stadium before the coronavirus hit, crews were able to forge ahead Thursday with the $21 million repair job on the stadium’s leaking zinc panels.

High above the ground, construction workers began removing the U.S. Bank Stadium logo from the building’s 270-foot-high prow. They worked backward, taking the “m” down first, then the “u.”

U.S. Bank was set to host the NCAA Division I wrestling national championships through Saturday, but the event was called off as part of the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The three-day, six-session event was to be transformative for college wrestling, taking the tournament from an arena to a stadium for the first time.

Instead, construction crews now will have more time to work on replacing the stadium’s leaky exterior.

Scaffolding went up around the building late last month for the exterior repair work. The cost will be borne by the building’s contractors, designers and architects, and not taxpayers who footed half the cost of the $1.1 billion stadium.

Michael Vekich, board chairman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which runs the stadium, said cancellation of the tournament and other events through the next couple of months, including the Rolling Stones concert, will give crews more time to work.

“It certainly would be our hope that we could get to some things quicker,” Vekich said.

When the repair work was announced last month, the timeline for the job was up to two years.

After removing the stadium logo, the crews had planned to take down the giant video board on the prow.

If the coronavirus situation improves, the Minnesota Vikings will play their fifth season at the stadium this fall. “We all are hoping that will be the case,” Vekich said.

M.A. Mortenson, the Minneapolis-based general contractor on the building, is overseeing the repairs.


Twitter: @rochelleolson