A Viking Ship Appears on the Minneapolis Horizon

During a recent visit to the Twin Cities, I noticed some sizeable changes to the Minneapolis skyline. The new home of the Minnesota Vikings is sprouting out of the Downtown East neighborhood beneath a refrain of construction cranes, a new tower crane appearing seemingly every day. “[The stadium] is getting bigger all the time,” says J.P. Paul, Director of New Stadium Corporate Development for the Vikings.

And bigger is better for fans of the purple and gold. When the stadium opens in the fall of 2016, it will fill out a uniquely designed footprint (1,750,000 square feet) nearly twice the size of the old Metrodome and will be programmed with a multitude of amenities that were absent at the previous venue.

Earlier this year, I witnessed many of these features and design elements at the New Stadium Preview Center that overlooks the construction site. Below is a snapshot of the bones of the stadium layout and site.

Signature Design Features

Designed by Dallas-based HKS (architect of AT&T Stadium), the $975 million, multi-purpose facility features many creative components. With an angular appearance, the stadium mimics a Viking ship sailing out of the adjacent Mississippi River towards the downtown core. But despite its linear nature, the structure’s materials will reject the snow and ice shards of the long Minnesota winter.

Over 60% of the New Minnesota Stadium roof will be made of ethylene-tetraflouroethylene (ETFE), a plastic-like, non-stick, transparent surface. And not only will the ETFE roof resist dirt and debris and rain and snow, but because of the roof’s angle and its south-facing orientation, the entire playing surface and many seats will be covered in sunlight on clear autumn afternoons.

“Our goal was to bring in the outside without bringing in the outside”, Paul says. “As we like to say here, clear is the new retractable.”

So you’ll now be able to get a suntan at a Vikings game in December, or in my case, sunburn. Who needs a tropical winter getaway?

A retractable roof simply wasn’t practical in Minnesota, with the climate being what it is in the fall and winter months and with NFL regulations requiring a retractable roof to be closed once temperatures fall below a certain level. But the Vikings did want some sort of retractable element, so HKS has designed the world’s largest retractable doors: five pivoting glass doors standing ten stories tall.

“By having the large glass walls and pivoting doors, we can bring in the feel of being outside as you look west from our seating bowl towards the downtown Minneapolis skyline,” Paul says. “Yet it will still be in a climate-controlled environment.”

Extending the Experience

The stadium will open to a three-acre plaza, located outside the pivoting doors (similar in concept to the plaza outside Levi’s Stadium). This area will be heavily activated not just on gamedays, but also throughout the year with cultural presentations, music festivals, and other community events.

The fan experience will be extended further into The Commons, what the Vikings are calling “our own version of Central Park”. This new two-block area will also be abundant with activation and tailgating on gamedays, as well as serve as a public gathering spot 365 days a year.

For additional information on the New Minnesota Stadium (including the premium product mix) and the New Stadium Preview Center, see my cover story in the upcoming fall issue of SEAT Magazine.

Extra Points:

  • The Vikings are working in partnership with Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment on suite and SBL sales. Leading the sales effort is Jason Gonella, Vice President of Team & Venue Services at Van Wagner.
  • The new stadium capacity will be 65,400 (expandable to 72,000). The tighter configuration with fewer seats allows the Vikings to generate more revenue per seat while maintaining a healthy supply-demand curve.
  • The site will include 2,500 premium parking spaces.
  • There will be 430 (336 fixed) general concession points of sale.
  • The Vikings, along with foodservice partner ARAMARK, will feature all-inclusive F&B in all suites, leases and rentals.
  • One notable space at the New Minnesota Stadium will be dedicated to fantasy football and other technology elements.
  • The new stadium will pipe into the Minneapolis Skyway System.
  • The New Minnesota Stadium has already been selected to host Super Bowl LII.
  • The Vikings are currently in discussions with potential naming rights partners but are unable to disclose details at this time.

Last Stop: U.S. Cellular Field, Home of the Chicago White Sox

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