What a stretch of sunny days this could have been: the Minnesota Twins playing at Target Field against the Tigers and Red Sox, while across downtown U.S. Bank Stadium workers preparing for seismic concerts next month by Kenny Chesney and the Rolling Stones.
Instead, the buildings are locked down to all but minimal maintenance and security staff. The Twins season is on hold, and the concerts have yet to be rescheduled.
Some operations staffers at the local sports palaces are facing lost hours and furloughs, while many others are working from home. All are wondering what happens next.
“I haven’t been to the ballpark in two weeks,” said Dan Kenney, executive director of the Minnesota Ballpark Authority, which oversees Target Field. He normally works from an office overlooking the third-base line.
“I’m sure the field is immaculate,” he said. “It always is.”
Behind the scenes at both publicly subsidized operations, there’s hope for salvaged seasons as business continues and public meetings are conducted electronically. Both the ballpark and the football stadium are on firm financial footing, with solid revenue and sufficient reserves.
“We just have to see our way through it,” said John Drum, interim general manager for ASM, the global giant that books and operates U.S. Bank Stadium. “We know we’ll be able to get back to what we love doing at some point.”
On Thursday, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, the public body that oversees U.S. Bank Stadium, endorsed the construction closeout terms on the $1.1 billion, four-year-old building. The vote to affirm the stated total cost was unanimous.
Ongoing work to replace the stadium’s leaky zinc exterior panels won’t affect the budget. That $21 million cost is being split by several design and construction firms under the direction of Mortenson Co., the stadium’s general contractor.
The Minnesota Vikings, headquartered in Eagan, are working remotely as they focus on the NFL draft next weekend. “Right now, there’s no need or reason for Vikings personnel to access U.S. Bank Stadium,” said team vice president Lester Bagley.
Because he leads the operation, Drum is among the essential personnel who occasionally go to U.S. Bank Stadium and follow ASM’s pandemic protocol, which includes a temperature check and a six-question medical screening. No employees have tested positive for COVID-19, he said.
Drum said that about 75 ASM employees have been taking furlough days because of the virus pause. The ticket office is closed and there are no tours. The private events that are a big source of stadium activity all have been canceled.
When U.S. Bank Stadium is operating at capacity for a Vikings game, at least 3,000 staffers are on duty from concessions to security and the team itself.
As of Friday, the next event scheduled at the stadium is the Def Leppard/Motley Crue/Poison concert on June 27. The X Games also are scheduled to return in July.
“We have to be ready and we will be,” Drum said.
The Vikings’ season is still months away, but the Twins should be on the field now. Instead, the team’s seasonal employees are getting financial help from the Twins, as are some of the Delaware North concessions workers who expected to be on the job.
In the team’s absence, offseason upgrades are being completed at the ballpark, including the winterizing of restrooms and concessions areas. On New Year’s Day, Target Field will host its first hockey game, the NHL Winter Classic with the Minnesota Wild playing the St. Louis Blues.
“We still have hope there’s going to be some semblance of a baseball season, however that takes shape,” said Twins spokesman Matt Hodson.