U.S. Bank Stadium, the home of the Minnesota Vikings, will require some $280 million in maintenance to remain in top condition over the next decade, including nearly $48 million next year, according to an architectural assessment released Friday.
"Is there sufficient money to cover these? The answer to that is no," said Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) Chair Michael Vekich. "That is the work that we have to do collectively with [stadium operator] ASM, the Minnesota Vikings and ... the governor and the Legislature."
The Vikings and the public make annual contributions to the stadium capital improvement fund, which sits at just over $16 million. The audio-visual room — one of the areas that will need work soon — is alone expected to cost $14 million, the report said.
Kansas City-based Populous, an architectural firm specializing in stadiums and arenas, conducted the facility assessment on behalf of the MSFA, which oversees the seven-year-old building on behalf of Minnesota taxpayers. The MSFA paid $527,500 for the assessment.
Beginning in late December, Populous surveyed the building and found it to be in "very good shape" overall, according to senior principal architect Brady Spencer, who specializes in football stadiums and made the presentation to the MSFA meeting.
The assessment included estimates for maintenance, including an anticipated 4% annual escalation.
"Really the important thing about this is protecting your investment in the stadium," Spencer said.
Populous inspected the entire building, taking photographs to document the condition of everything from the concourses and structural steel to the zinc panels on the exterior. It also looked at all mechanical, electrical, plumbing and audio-visual systems.
Each area was categorized as good, fair or worn. Good condition meant no signs of use and well-maintained. Fair condition meant some signs of wear and possibly needing work soon. Worn condition was defined as needing replacement.
Much of the stadium was determined to be in good shape. Areas said to be in fair condition include the service corridor in the main concourse, some directional signage, floor tile and grout in some restrooms, chipping on outdoor walkways and a bent hand railing.
Areas said to be in poor condition include weather stripping on doors — which Spencer called typical for stadiums — a damaged concession display on the upper concourse and the in-house stadium TV distribution system. which is "nearing the end of its life," he said.
Spencer called the analysis a "roadmap to protect and preserve U.S. Bank Stadium." He praised the MSFA for doing the assessment so early in the stadium's life, saying Populous usually is brought in at 15 years when much work is needed.
"It's hard to catch up," he said.
MSFA member Bill McCarthy asked about the condition of the stadium's clear plastic roof and the black zinc panels that wrap it. All the panels had to be replaced after the building opened due to moisture problems.
Spencer said the roof and panels were in "very good condition," and the only issue was damage to one zinc panel near a doorway.
Before Spencer gave his 45-minute presentation, Vekich read a statement about the need to preserve the building so it "remains a premier venue for Minnesotans."
He also credited "early and ongoing maintenance," noting the $18 million invested in the stadium since it opened.
The $1.1 billion stadium opened in 2016 and was at the time the largest public-private project in Minnesota history. State taxpayers put in $348 million, the city of Minneapolis covered $150 million and the Wilf family, which owns the Vikings, paid the rest.
The public contribution to the building remains controversial largely because of opposition to the use of tax subsidies for billionaire owners and millionaire athletes. The need for additional public money will likely be a tough sell at the Legislature in coming years.
In his proposed budget for 2023, Gov. Tim Walz included $15.7 million to cover the first phase of the secure perimeter around the building.
Vekich expects the MSFA to go to the Legislature next year with a bigger request: $48 million for the perimeter's second phase.
The Legislature also is discussing Walz's proposal to pay off $377 million in outstanding bond debt on the building, using the surprisingly robust balance in the stadium reserve fund — $368 million.
That money comes from taxes on pulltabs, including electronic pulltabs legalized in 2012 to help with the stadium's debt.
At the MSFA meeting, Vikings executive vice president Lester Bagley called the study crucial.
"These are improvements that are similar to those required on other world-class venues," he said. "This study will provide information and data that will help inform broader discussions and determine next steps regarding the future of U.S. Bank Stadium."
In the public comment portion of the MSFA meeting, Constance Pepin was one of two people who spoke on behalf of environmentalists who want the stadium's glass to be treated to spare birds from often fatal collisions.
She called it a "glaring omission" that there was no mention of the glass treatment in the Populous assessment. Without more action, she said, the three-year-old $300,000 academic study on bird mortality funded by the MSFA and the Vikings would be in vain.
Pepin said the cost to treat the glass would be "pocket change" compared to other maintenance. "This capital improvement to fix the glass should be included in the same category to be done sooner rather than later," she said.
MSFA members didn't respond.