Allianz Field, the new Populous-designed stadium for Minnesota United FC, is taking shape, 40% of work completed at the time of this magazine’s editorial deadline.
Inspired by the Land of 10,000 Lakes (or 11,842 lakes to be specific) and the Northern Lights, the stadium’s exterior is reflective of the region’s natural beauty through the use of a translucent fabric, creating a new icon for the Twin Cities.
“In about nine or ten months, it’s going to look like a spaceship landed in St. Paul,” says Bryant Pfeiffer, Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer for Minnesota United.
Iconic design elements are found inside the facility as well, highlighted by a diverse premium product portfolio, 2,800 safe-standing supporters spaces, and a canopy roof to protect all fans from the elements.
In a saturated venue marketplace experiencing fatigue for new builds, Allianz Field separates itself in one important way.
“The very first differentiator is the fact that we are not supported by any form of public financing whatsoever,” says Minnesota United CEO Chris Wright. “It’s a privately financed stadium, which is very unusual today.”
To get caught up on the state of construction, the ALSD recently sat down with Mortenson Construction’s Greg Huber, whose firm is serving as the Allianz Field project general contractor and is also a minority owner of Minnesota United. The transcript below has been lightly edited for clarity and abbreviated for space. To watch our interview with Greg Huber in its entirety, click on the video at the top of this page.
Can you provide a current overview of the project?
We started in June with the excavation for the project. We placed foundations starting in July. Concrete decks went into the fall. The building framework really started sprouting up with the steel starting right before Thanksgiving. And since Thanksgiving, we’ve been working on the structural steel frame, as well as the canopy. The canopy started getting set at the beginning of January, as well as the precast seating units.
What does the construction timeline look like now through next spring?
The main activities going on right now are all about structure. It’s all about getting the canopy in place, getting the precast in place on time, and then we’re doing a lot of work behind the temporary enclosure.
“The geometry of the exterior is certainly unique. It’s one of the more difficult geometries that we’ve tackled as a company.”
– Greg Huber, Mortenson Construction
Here in Minnesota, we’ve got to work hard to figure out the weather windows to make sure that we’re cost-efficient and we’re not spending a lot of money doing unnecessary heating. We’re very selective on what types of work go in the winter, and that’s why we’re doing structural steel because it doesn’t take a substantial amount of heat, whereas concrete construction takes much more heat to be protected in the deep winter.
What we’re doing now behind the partitions is building out the service level, a lot of the critical mechanical and electrical systems in the back of house that provide the heart of the building.
Things are going well. We’re on schedule to accomplish our critical milestones, including structural steel topping off in the middle of June. We’re going to start installing seats this summer. And our critical path for the project is really getting grass down by the middle of October. It all revolves around that, so that means the cranes have to be out of the bowl, and systems have to be tested so that the field can be constructed in the fall outside of the winter months and be ready to go by Halloween.
How are you ensuring this project remains on time and on budget?
There’s between 100 and 150 men and women working on the project on a daily basis. Early on, we were working six [ten-hour days] to catch up on some critical path scopes of work. Now we’re generally working five days a week with a couple of catch-up items on Saturdays.
Are there any other unique materials that are noteworthy in bringing this project to life?
A couple of things that the design team incorporated into this project are unique. The geometry of the exterior is certainly unique. It’s one of the more difficult geometries that we’ve tackled as a company, especially in sports construction. There are a lot of different driver tubes, or basically ribbon steel, that form the unique profile of the rain screen, so there's a large structural steel framework that is behind another unique material – PTFE, or polytetrafluoroethylene.
PTFE is being used in this way for the first time. They wanted to design a strong fabric, almost a super fabric, but make it translucent so that it could be aesthetically appealing and also be backlit. So we’ve been working with the design team as well as the manufacturer of the material to figure out what the material properties would be and what stresses it would then impose onto the structure. There’s been a lot of study in making that work, and we’re happy to say that the material is now starting to be fabricated in 10,000-square-foot sheets that’ll be delivered to the site, and we’ll be installing them in May through October. That’ll be unique in the industry, not just in stadium construction.
For more design best practices, join the ALSD at our 5th Annual Sports Venue Design & Build Forum, June 25-26, 2018.