With U.S. Bank Stadium 90 percent complete, the Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority showed off the work of the past two-plus years on the site of the old Metrodome.
The translucent ethylene-tetra-fluoro-ethylene (ETFE) panels that cover 60 percent of the entire roof are completely installed and the stadium is fully enclosed. The five pivoting doors that are all 55 feet wide and range from 95 to 75 feet high are installed and about two months away from being tested. Those doors are located behind a massive video board that will be the 10th-largest in the NFL and the view from the concourse behind the video board and through the pivoting doors provides the best view of downtown Minneapolis.
The Vikings figure the NFL will initiate some sort of rule on when the pivoting doors can be open and when they can’t, but between the ETFE roof, those doors and plenty of views to downtown from various suites, U.S. Bank Stadium will be fully enclosed but have many of the elements to make it seem like an open-air stadium.
“This building is definitely generating buzz nationally,” said Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ vice president of stadium development.
The stadium – like the signature translucent roof, pivoting glass doors and two big scoreboards above each end zone – is massive, nearly twice as large at the Metrodome was. Yet the Vikings say the seating at some parts of the stadium will be closer to the field than any other NFL stadium.
“Very tight, very intimate,” Bagley said. “It feels almost like an arena.”
The two main interior video boards are both installed and will be in working order next month, and the external prow video board is being installed in March. Speakers will undergo testing in March, as well.
In April, internal aspects will be finished. In May, the turf will be installed and cellular connectivity will be tested in June, along with the external video board. In July or August, just in time for the start of the NFL’s preseason, the team and its construction partners will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony and public open houses.
So far, about 3.2 million man hours have gone into the project, said Eric Grenz, a construction executive with M.A. Mortenson, to bring it to its 90-percent completion stage.
Last week, the lockers for the players arrived. In April, the asphalt below the field surface will be poured.
So far, about two-thirds of the 65,000 seats have been installed and those continue to be placed at a pace of about 6,000 a week with crews working in two shifts from about 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. (much of the installation above field level is done at night).
Most of the suites have been booked for Vikings game, with about a half-dozen of the 131 club suites still on sale, according to Bagley. Suites locations range from those at field level behind an end zone, field level along the sideline (a few of those remain) and suites at various heights throughout the stadium.
The two signature suites among them are the larger Hyundai Club and Club Purple.
“The Vikings, their fan base for their games is really going to enjoy the club spaces in the stadium, but from our standpoint, from the state’s perspective, 350 days a year these are all spaces to rent and they are all spaces that the public can use,” said Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chair Michele Kelm-Helgen.
“The purple club I think is an example of space that is really unique for an area that people are really wanting to rent.”
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman have both toured the facility, and so have some of the players. Next month, it could turn into a selling point for potential free agents, and in six months it will be ready for fan occupation.