New film could save birds from Vikings’ glass

A window film designed by 3M could be tested on the Vikings stadium to see if it helps prevent bird deaths.

Those fearing potential bird genocide got good news Wednesday.

The Vikings, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, the Audubon Society and 3M Co. are in discussions to test out a transparent film that may prevent what the bird lovers see as being tough times ahead for migratory birds.

The issue has been debated for the last several months as the Vikings stadium construction continues. One of the iconic features of the new stadium is the nearly 200,000 square feet of glass that will give the stadium an outdoor feel with indoor temperatures. But the Audubon Society and other wildlife organizations have claimed the glass wall on the north end of the stadium will result in birds slamming into it and dying because of the lack of patterned (fritted) glass that would help birds identify the building as an obstacle to be avoided.

With the bidding process on the glass already completed, the Vikings balked at the idea of adding another $1 million to the stadium cost for the specialized glass. But 3M has claimed it may have a solution that would appease both sides.

3M claims to have an experimental film that serves the purpose of fritted glass, but is invisible to the human eye. The film could be placed over the glass and potentially serve the purpose of having patterned glass while not losing the aesthetic value that is expected to be a cornerstone of the stadium design.

The MSFA approved conducting a study that could incorporate the film into the design plan if it demonstrated that it works. Other venues have taken similar approaches to deter bird collisions, but, because of its location on the Mississippi Flyway, which is one of the most used routes for migratory birds, the new Vikings stadium is feared to have the potential to kill birds by the thousands.

Audubon Society estimates claim that almost one billion birds a year die in North America as a result of flying into buildings.

The stadium authority has agreed to go along with a “lights out” policy at night to prevent birds from crashing into the building when it isn’t being used. The window film, if successful, could help reduce those numbers even further.

At this point, there is no guarantee as to whether the film will be successful in its goal, but all sides feel it is an option worth exploring. The glass is scheduled to be installed starting in February and the testing of the glass treatment is scheduled to begin later in the spring.

There have been no estimates as to how much it will cost to put the treatment on the massive north side of the stadium or if the product itself will be effective. But for those who are fearful of the consequences of a glass-walled stadium, at the least the key players in the matter are at the table having talks about the potential that option might work.

More details will be forthcoming from the MSFA as cost figures and test analysis results become available.

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