It seems as though the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) can’t keep itself out of the news. Many have taken the MSFA to task for its handling of how to allocate tickets for two suites at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Following their visit to Houston last week for the Super Bowl, Minnesota Vikings officials were even more convinced than before that the temporary fencing that currently surrounds much of U.S. Bank Stadium should be made permanent.
In light of the security breach at the stadium in the regular season finale and stories of individuals using ladders to access NRG Stadium in Houston, having a permanent fence completely surrounding the stadium is something the Vikings and stadium operator SMG see as a necessary security option.
But, not to the MSFA.
Vikings Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Stadium Development Lester Bagley said this week that, after the experience at the end of the season and the security needs of the Super Bowl, permanent fencing like the fencing that surrounds the player parking lot is a necessary precaution.
He cited that access to the stadium wouldn’t change, it would simply replace the temporary fencing, which is similar to the fences that surround softball fields, with a permanent, more stable option.
MSFA Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen disagreed and made her point made at this week’s meeting of the MSFA, saying, “We hold the position that the stadium needs to be connected to the neighborhoods both visually and in fact.”
Renderings provided by the Vikings would have gates that remain open on non-game days. The key component would alleviate some safety issues, which the current temporary fencing simply doesn’t provide.
The issue doesn’t seem to be a matter of the cost of the permanent fencing. For a $1.1 billion facility, the cost of fencing is small potatoes and, while no cost figures have been provided or how the cost split would be handled between the Vikings and the MSFA, the issue seems to be boiling down to balancing security and aesthetics.
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The Vikings are falling on the side of fan safety, while Kelm-Helgen, speaking on behalf on the MSFA, seems to be holding firm to the aesthetics of walking around a stadium.
“It just makes no sense to fence off a public building from the public itself,” Kelm-Helgen said.
For a building that was breached during the construction process by photographers that scaled a crane to take skyline photos of downtown Minneapolis to the pipeline protesters who were able to get climbing equipment and a giant banner inside the stadium to put fan safety in jeopardy below them, the need for tighter security would seem to be a rational and logical approach to most observers.
However, the MSFA doesn’t currently appear to be one of them and it is the group in charge of making the final determination on whether the fencing goes in or not.