The Vikings pumped another $1.5 million into their new downtown Minneapolis stadium Friday, bringing the team’s total to $101 million in additional support since the project has begun.
The money will go toward a plethora of accoutrements at U.S. Bank Stadium, much of it for the 3,000-square-foot video board that will face outward from the building’s 270-foot-high prow, creating an opportunity to display games and movies.
The announcement came at Friday’s Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority meeting. Later at that meeting, bird safety activists sharpened their comments about the lack of attention to their concerns.
The Vikings added money for the video board, the home team’s locker room, the owner’s suite and women’s restrooms.
“We want to make sure the women’s bathroom experience is top-notch,” MSFA executive director Ted Mondale said wryly.
He praised the team’s latest contributions, saying of it and owners Mark and Zygi Wilf, “They’re the kind of partners we were looking for.”
The 65,400-seat stadium is 80 percent complete and scheduled to open for the 2016 NFL season. It’s the largest public-private project in state history. The state paid $348 million. Minneapolis paid $150 million, and the Vikings initially paid $477 million.
Bird concerns linger
Later in the meeting, avian advocate Ann Laughlin complained about the lack of action on concerns that migratory birds will die from smashing into the structure, which is near the Mississippi River flyway. “The Vikings and the MSFA have refused to make a single concession for migratory birds,” she said.
Bird preservationists reliably attend the MSFA meetings and speak during the public comment period. Generally, chair Michele Kelm-Helgen responds briefly, and that was the case again Friday.
For months, Kelm-Helgen has said the MSFA was working with 3M on developing a transparent film that could go on the glass to deter birds. Initially, she indicated it would be ready for testing by summer. On Friday, she said the film is still in development.
Laughlin wasn’t buying it, referring to it as “nonexistent film” for the “acres of glass on the building.”
The soaring, shiny glass walls have been erected on the building and are an element that Kelm-Helgen repeatedly describes as key to the structure’s “iconic” design, providing an open-air feel to the enclosed building.
Laughlin also pointedly lamented the presence of trees in the landscape, including near the recently announced Vikings “legacy ship” on the three-acre western plaza. The trees will draw birds to the site and their leafy reflections in the glass could prove deadly, Laughlin said.
Kelm-Helgen countered that no final decisions have been made on landscaping.
The rest of the meeting involved routine updates about hiring goals and progress. Mortenson Construction senior project manager Brendan Moore said 1,300 workers are on the site daily — a number that will steadily decrease as the building chugs toward completion.