The Minnesota Vikings, the state of Minnesota (taxpayers) and the city of Minneapolis (taxpayers) are building a beautiful new football stadium scheduled to open in 2016. The Vikings will contribute $527 million to the project, the state $348 million and the city $150 million. Add it up and you have a preliminary cost of over a billion dollars. Its design will make it the near polar opposite of the reviled Metrodome it is replacing. That venue was a dim, dark concrete mausoleum in comparison. The new stadium will be cheerfully light, bright and airy, due to the extensive use of clear glass. Elegant and attractive, but functional. Fans are excited.
Bird lovers are not. The Audubon Society and other avian advocates are upset that the Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) planned to use clear glass on the new edifice. Some have attended the monthly MSFA meetings to protest the use of this glass they say will potentially lead to thousands of migrating birds unwittingly flying into the building and dying. They are further upset that the team’s owners made the decision to spend hundreds of thousands of additional dollars to enhance stadium features like seating, concessions and elevators, all for the sole benefit of their fans (customers). The unmitigated gall!
To my knowledge there have been no candle-lit, prayer-vigils for the birds yet. Bird-lovers wanted the team to spend an estimated $1.1 million to install ‘bird-safe’ glass instead of the clear stuff. The team and the MSFA declined, in part because the plain glass was already ordered and set for delivery. Now, however, Minnesota-based 3M company is working with the team by testing an invisible film that could be used on the glass that would allow light to penetrate into the stadium and yet protect the birds. Fans would still be able to see the sky.
A co-founder of the Minnesota Citizens for the Protection of Migratory Birds stated, “The fact that they’re considering an alternative tells us it’s not too late.”
Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, is skeptical. She says it would be better to embrace a long-term fix, such as using fritted glass, now rather than later. The Vikings and the MSFA both say that fritted glass, with its dotted texture and appearance, would obscure the much-desired sunlight.
After the stadium bill was approved, publicly subsidized construction was required to be “bird-friendly.” Testing of the 3M film is slated to begin with this coming spring’s migratory season.
The MSFA had already agreed to a “lights-out” policy to help divert the birds away from the glass during migration periods. Does that mean the team couldn’t play night games during the fall migration season?! Or worse?
“Sorry, fellows, but we had to schedule you for six consecutive road games. Migration season, you know.”