Phil Loadholt is not one to denigrate the Metrodome. He likes the facility for a couple of related reasons: the fans and the noise they can generate in that building.
At least one of those factors should transfer to the Vikings' new stadium when play is expected to begin there in 2016. The fans will follow to the team's sleek new home, the design of which was revealed Monday night.
"The Metrodome right now is still my favorite place to play because the fans, it's really electric," the big right tackle said. "There's nothing like it in the league as far as our fans go. So you're going to take those fans and put them in a new place like that, I think it's going to be an amazing atmosphere and I'm looking forward to it."
The seating in the new stadium is expected to hold less than a thousand more fans – to 65,000 – but Loadholt is hoping their energy transfers from one stadium to the next.
The new stadium is bigger, nearly twice the size of the Metrodome and 270 feet from field level to the peak of the sloped roof. The roof is also a translucent material known as ethylene tetrafluoroethylene, which will change the acoustics of the new stadium.
It also changes the view for the better. The skyline of Minneapolis will be visible from within the stadium.
"It looks amazing. The roof stood out to me, it looks like something that I've never seen before," Loadholt said. "I'm really excited for 2016 to get in there and play a little bit."
After signing a four-year, $25 million deal in March, Loadholt is one of only a handful of Vikings veterans currently under contract in 2016, when the new stadium is scheduled to open. He and center John Sullivan, who is also signed through 2016, were the two active players present for the public stadium unveiling at the Guthrie Theater Monday night.
Loadholt said it helps his excitement level for the new stadium knowing he is still slated to be a Viking when it opens.
"I'm happy here and happy to be here. I'm just looking forward to it. 2016 is a ways to go but I'm looking forward to it," he said.
Owner Mark Wilf said he is also excited by the design of the building. Initially, the Wilf family wanted an open-air stadium, but it had to have a roof of some sort if the State of Minnesota was going to consider a financial partnership in the project.
After seeing the shape of the building and the translucent roof and walls, Wilf is a fan.
"It's very open and inviting and we worked hard with the authority to try to have it be integrated into the city landscape like it is and I think fans will have the experience, both outside on the plaza and walking in, being in the very enjoyable – a place our fans will want to come with their families and really spend the day there. Not just for game time, but we want people to come early and stay late," Wilf said. "I think this building is very inviting that way and very open. I think walking in at that level, on grade like that, is a unique, special experience and our fans will get to enjoy that. And I think our home-field experience and advantage will be great too, so we're excited."
Wilf said the Vikings had "a very good collaboration" with the state-appointed stadium authority in helping design the new stadium.
Many of the features inside the building are yet to be revealed, but Bryan Trubey, design principal with HKS Sports & Entertainment Group, said they will be publicized in future announcements.
For fans, things like wide concourses, more bathrooms and sightlines from the concourse to the field are all important factors in the new building. For players, a new locker room will be inviting.
The Metrodome locker room is an extremely cramped environment for players after a game with equipment scattered throughout the floor. Although he hasn't seen a layout for a new locker room, Loadholt figures it, too, will be a big upgrade in the 1.6 million square-foot complex.
"I wish they would have had a 3D flyover of that," he said with a smile after Monday's presentation. "I can imagine it's going to be state-of-the-art like everything else. It's going to be a lot of fun."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Loadholt sees ‘amazing atmosphere' in stadium
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