Football fans would be well-advised to bring their sunglasses when visiting U.S. Bank Stadium on a sunny day.
Though the stadium bowl and 66,000-plus purple seats are covered by a massive lid, natural light streams through the semi-transparent roof and massive glass walls on the west end of the $1.13 billion building, making visitors almost feel as if they’re outdoors.
That’s one of the vaunted design features that came through during a media tour Tuesday of the new downtown Minneapolis home of the Minnesota Vikings.
“It really does deliver on giving you that indoor/outdoor feel,” Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, said during the tour. “Here we are in air-conditioned comfort on a very warm day, but it really feels like you are sitting outside.”
Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ vice president of public affairs and stadium development, said the semi-transparent roof will “reflect the mood of the day” and keep fans in a climate-controlled setting.
“If it’s raining or snowing or overcast, you will feel that in here. You will be able to see in and you will be able to see out. But the fans will be in comfort,” he said.
The building, which is now officially a wrap after 30 months of construction, will be opened for public tours and an open house Saturday and Sunday. More than 110,000 tickets have been downloaded for that event, stadium officials say.
On Tuesday, photographers and reporters walked onto the spongy artificial playing surface, and squinted up at the massive scoreboard on the west and its smaller counterpart on the east.
Corridors decorated with photos and paintings of past and present Vikings team members greeted the visitors, who checked out the stadium concourses, walked through the press box and Vikings locker room, and filed in and out of the stadium’s six clubs.
Each club space is different, and that’s by design.
“Our architects [Dallas-based HKS] have ensured that no club is the same,” Kelm-Helgen said during the tour. “They all have a very unique feel to them.”
The most upscale space, the two-story Medtronic Club, is tied in with 1,100 stadium seats and can accommodate 850 people for receptions and 150 for banquet seating.
The FMP (Factory Motor Parts) Club, formerly known as the “Fire Club,” is accented by purple and gold lighting and features oversized video boards and larger-than life images of Vikings players on the walls. The space leads directly to the stadium bowl.
Mystic Lake’s Club Purple features lounge seating – purple couches, essentially – and a more traditional stadium gathering space. Bathed in purple light, the space is flanked on one side by an outdoor deck, its signature element.
The deck offers views of downtown Minneapolis and includes a fire pit and drink rails around the perimeter. Exterior stadium glass on one side of the deck reflects images of the city skyline, light rail trains and street traffic.
The Hyundai Club, the largest in the stadium, boasts views of both the Mill District and the stadium bowl, and has a retractable glass wall on the stadium bowl side.
The Delta Sky Club links to a tunnel that players will pass through from the locker room to the field. Similarly, the stadium’s 23 “turf suites” will bring fans close to the action on the field.
Some of those amenities are reserved for holders of club tickets and other VIP fans, but Kelm-Helgen noted that the stadium will host many other events that will allow greater access to those spaces.
Revenue from the club spaces for non-Vikings events goes into state coffers, she said.
Designed by Dallas-based HKS and built by Golden Valley-based Mortenson Construction, the stadium was funded by the Vikings ($607 million), the state of Minnesota ($348 million) and the city of Minneapolis ($150 million).
Though some work continues on the West Plaza, and a few workers could be seen putting up advertising signage, construction of the stadium has made the transition from “substantially complete” to “done,” according to Mortenson.
“As it relates to our contract with the MSFA, we are essentially complete,” Eric Grenz, a Mortenson construction executive, said on the tour Tuesday. “By the end of this week, any open items that we have a punch list for will be done.”
Mortenson senior vice president John Wood said it’s not unusual for some stadiums to still be doing last-minute “punch list” items even after the first event. He assures that won’t be the case here.
The project was “substantially completed“ ahead of schedule in June. The project is expected to reach “final completion” by the end of August, Wood said.
That is an administrative milestone, which indicates that everything is done: from the final paperwork and change orders to subcontractor payments and training of operations staff, Wood said.
“We obviously have a two-year warranty on the building, so as issues arise, which they will, it’s our responsibility to take care of that,” he said.
But from a construction standpoint, “it’s done. Done means done,” he said.
Staff photographer Bill Klotz toured the new stadium: