COVID-19 has essentially shut down U.S. Bank Stadium for the rest of 2020 with the possible exception of Vikings, high school league games and a holiday bazaar.
As of Monday, the four-year-old stadium has no major events on the fall schedule. Even if the NFL season goes ahead, it’s unlikely to include a packed house of fans.
U.S. Bank Stadium typically hosts hundreds of gatherings a year from small business meetings and receptions to high school sporting events and conventions. Some of those may still occur later in the fall, but that’s not definite.
John Drum, interim general manager for ASM Global at U.S. Bank Stadium, apprised the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) members of the empty calendar during their regular monthly meeting held via conference call Monday.
The Def Leppard-Motley Crue concert scheduled for this coming Saturday was postponed until July 2021. Other major 2020 concerts were to include the Rolling Stones, Kenny Chesney, Rammstein and George Strait. The Stones and Rammstein have yet to set new dates.
The Vikings are expected to open the season at home Sept. 13 against the Green Bay Packers. The first preseason game is set for Aug. 14 at home against the Houston Texans.
Lester Bagley, Vikings executive vice president, said the team remains optimistic. “We are staying close to the NFL, their chief medical officer and Vikings trainers and doctors. These medical and training professionals are optimistic we will play football this season,” Bagley said.
Despite the shutdown, the stadium isn’t in imminent financial risk. ASM and the Vikings pay the stadium. The state also makes an annual operating payment.
The Vikings, for example, pay rent and also expenses, such as security and utilities, on game days. If fans aren’t in the building, the team loses concessions revenue.
As part of its contract to operate the building, ASM must meet financial targets for bookings. ASM receives a share of the revenue above the bookings. Although it’s a private company, Drum has previously said employees have faced cost-cutting furloughs.
But Ann Dunne, assistant general manager, said ASM has weathered the pandemic relatively well because many of the major events in the current fiscal year occurred before the March shutdown. The fiscal year ends June 30. Similarly, Dunne said she expects ASM should be able to bounce back in the coming year with the events rescheduled from this year.
With all the big events definitely off, Dunne said smaller events are in limbo. She said ASM awaits word from the Minnesota State High School League on prep football and soccer games. Also still on the calendar is the Holiday Boutique.
Some corporate gatherings also remain on the calendar for later in the fall, but they remain “fluid,” Dunne said, adding, “This is a challenging time for event planners.”
Minnesota now is operating under Phase 3 of Gov. Tim Walz’s “Stay Safe” plan. Although restaurants, bars, salons and stores have begun reopening, gatherings of larger than 250 are prohibited. Massive public events remain weeks if not months off.
Dunne and MSFA Chairman Michael Vekich said ASM, which operates venues throughout the world, is developing so-called VenueShield, protocols and plans to keep facilities clean and safe when they reopen.
The $1.1 billion stadium opened in August 2016 and was the site of the 2018 Super Bowl and 2019 NCAA men’s basketball Final Four.
The MSFA has four full-time employees and projected annual operating revenue for the coming fiscal year of $36 million with projected operating expenses just under $35 million. The MSFA has not laid off or furloughed employees during the pandemic.