In a last ditch hope of forcing the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) to reverse course and use special bird-safe glass for the new Vikings stadium, the Minneapolis chapter of the Audubon Society is planning a public demonstration later this month.
The protest, scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on September 27 at the Downtown East light rail station, comes in the wake of the MSFA’s announcement that it would not use “fritted” glass on the $1.024 billion project.
Audubon and other leading birding organizations contend the most prominent design feature of the stadium – the approximately 200,000 square feet of glass surfaces – will create a collision hazard for birds during seasonal migrations along the nearby Mississippi River.
“For less than 0.1% of the cost of the stadium, MFSA could have opted for a bird safe alternative glass which features a small pattern, barely noticeable to the human viewer except at close proximity, but allows birds to recognize the surface and avoid flying into it,” Elise Morton, conservation chair of Audubon’s Minneapolis chapter, said in a statement.
Despite 76,000 public signatures, a unanimous resolution by the Minneapolis City Council, and the recommendations of many scientists and conservation experts, the MSFA this week formally rejected the fritted glass option.
In a statement, the MSFA defended the decision, saying “the MSFA, the Vikings and our contractors have looked at this issue very closely” before deciding to stick with traditional silicate glass. The MSFA ordered the glass in early August and installation is expected to commence as soon as December, according to the statement.
The MSFA also said it has modified its lighting design and protocols in an effort to reduce bird collisions.
Those assurances have done little to quell the concerns of the birding crowd. They have also produced a spate of unfavorable coverage. Earlier this month, the national magazine Wired published a story on the controversy with the headline, “Have the Vikings built a Thunderdome for migratory birds?”