The U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota, is home to the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings. It is a state-of-the-art football stadium with a seating capacity of up to 70,000 people. This architectural marvel has a striking silhouette, large pivoting doors made of glass, and exterior zinc panels. It has a translucent ETFE roof that makes it stand out from any other NFL stadium.

The U.S. Bank Stadium has set a new standard for modern sports facilities. On December 3, 2013, the construction began with a groundbreaking ceremony. After two and a half years, the building was finally completed.

The construction project took more than 8,600 workers to provide over four million work hours to accomplish the job. With an exceptional workforce and the involvement of local businesses, the most extensive construction effort in Minnesota history was finally complete.

The stadium became a source of pride for the State of Minnesota. It became an instant hit for sports and entertainment events. Nevertheless, the construction had its faults, and the building had to undergo a costly exterior renovation.

This article will look into a brief history of the stadium, know more about its design, and learn lessons from its construction.

A Brief History of Construction and Use

In May of 2012, the Minneapolis City Council and the Minnesota Legislature approved the $975 million funding for the stadium, and it was to stand on the site of the Metrodome. A year after, HKS Sports and Entertainment, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MFSA) unveiled the stadium’s remarkable new design.

The original construction date of the new stadium was set to commence in October 2013 but was moved to December 3, 2013, instead. The U.S. Bank paid $220 million to acquire the naming rights to the stadium for 25 years.

Mortenson Construction, the general contractor for the project, took two and a half years to complete the building. With roughly around 1,500 construction workers on the site, they could finish six weeks ahead of schedule.

The construction company installed powerful technology systems, including 300 amplifiers, 1600 DAS antennas, and nearly 50 miles of fibre optic cable to provide high-speed Internet for almost 70,000 guests expected to flock to the stadium during significant events.

The project required an astounding budget of nearly $1 billion to create a development that included a 4.2-acre green space, 400 residential units, 28,000 square feet of retail space, and 1.2 million square feet of office space.

On July 22, 2016, the U.S. Bank Stadium opened to the public to welcome more than 190,000 people on its two-day open house viewing. On August 3, 2016, it hosted its first event, the 2016 International Champions Cup. After a few weeks, it hosted its first concert.

In August 2016, NFL’s Minnesota Vikings played their first game and won against the San Diego Chargers right in their new home with an impressive 23-10 score. On September 18, 2016, the Purple and Gold won against the Green Bay Packers with a 17-14 score.

The U.S. Bank Stadium hosted the ESPN Summer X Games in July 2017. It became the first NFL stadium to do so, and the event was a success. Although the original bid was to host the X Games for 2017 and 2018, the contract got extended for 2019 and 2020.

The U.S. Bank Stadium became the host of the Super Bowl on February 4, 2018. The Super Bowl LII attracted an astonishing 67,612 American football fans into the stadium. The event was broadcast by 5,800 media outlets and reached more than 103 million TV viewers worldwide. Many people praised the event for recycling 91% of its trash.

In April 2019, the U.S. Bank stadium made another record by seating 72,711 people who attended the NCAA Men’s Final Four. The enormous success of this event shows that Minneapolis can continue to become a popular destination for many monumental events.

With so many successful events, the U.S. Bank Stadium garnered multiple awards throughout the years. For example, in the 2017 Stadium Business Awards, it won the David Vickers Award and became a finalist for the Venue of the Year Award. In 2020, Minnesota Meetings and Events awarded the U.S. Bank Stadium the Best Sports Venue of the year.

The Design of the U.S. Bank Stadium

The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) originally planned an outdoor stadium. However, the local governments and the State wanted an indoor stadium to host significant events such as the Super Bowl, the Final Four, and other important events.

Retractable roofs, the trend for football stadiums, were not feasible for temperate climates. They are usually closed during the winter season to reduce stress on the components of the roof. The retractable roof would have to be designed to fit the winter season conditions in Minnesota. The design would have allowed the Vikings to play outdoors during playoffs. Nonetheless, the plan was discarded because it was too expensive.

HKS, Inc., the architecture firm that designed the Lucas Oil Stadium for the Indianapolis Colts and the AT&T Stadium for the Dallas Cowboys, took the design challenge. Instead of a retractable roof, they designed a lightweight translucent roof. The idea was to get as much natural light for the interior as possible. The entrances had giant pivoting doors made of glass, and the stadium’s exterior was lined with metallic zinc panels.

The translucent roof is clear of ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene), a fluorine-based plastic. It spans an impressive 240,000 square feet and is considered North America’s most extensive ETFE roof. 

The slanted roof design can endure the winter’s heavy snow. As the snow accumulates on the roof, they eventually move down the slant into warm gutters and drain into the Mississippi River.

The vast wall panels and the translucent roof provide guests with a beautiful view of downtown Minneapolis and an overall outdoor feel. The panels protect the stadium from rain, snow, and cold breeze while providing an outdoor view and natural lighting.

Facelift and Replacement of Stadium Panels

It took just over two and a half years to construct the stadium. However, five years after its opening, the U.S. Bank Stadium had to undergo a $21 million facelift. The $1 billion building must undergo another two years of panel repair.

After hosting the Final Four in 2019, the stadium was still in prime condition. After hosting football matches, concerts, and other prominent events, it gained popularity. Despite its massive construction budget, the facility was not impervious to wear and tear. The black zinc panels on the exterior had to be replaced to fix issues with leaks and the drainage system.

Both Mortenson Construction and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority made a joint statement that the new exterior enclosure will be designed and constructed differently from the original exterior. It will include water barrier redundancies not previously included in the stadium’s original design.

The cost of repairs will be funded by the eight companies involved in the design, engineering, and construction of the facility and their associated insurance companies.

Stadium Construction Considerations

Building stadiums that can accommodate various sports is not a new feat. In the 1960s and 1970s, many multi-purpose facilities were constructed to host professional football and baseball teams. Although old stadiums hosted by the MLB and NFL are already extinct, there is a demand for flexible and multi-purpose facilities such as the U.S. Bank Stadium.

The U.S. Bank Stadium was planned to host the Minnesota Vikings. Hence it was designed primarily for football events. However, the NFL games only occur around 12 times every year, which provides ample opportunity to generate revenue during the rest of the year. Therefore, the stadium hosts the Super Bowl and the Final Four. It also hosts other events such as the X-games, concerts, rallies, trade shows, and other games. The building has become a versatile facility that generates revenue for its owners and the State.

The U.S. Bank Stadium provides a new standard in stadium construction. New stadiums are likely to follow its example and turn into venues that offer a better guest experience while accommodating a variety of activities and events. The owners of new stadiums must adopt a multi-purpose facility design that increases the venue’s flexibility and significantly maximizes revenue to cover operating costs.

Easy Seating Configurations 

The U.S. Bank Stadium has retractable seats. It provides operators with an easy way to make quick changes in seating configuration. Folding and unfolding each section of seating takes around eight minutes.

It is essential to take care of seating configurations to maximize the versatility of venues. For the stadium, the programmatic requirements determine the seating configuration. Retractable seating systems allow the operators to scale down or scale up the seating depending on the event’s needs. It may be necessary to rent temporary seats to accommodate large audiences during concerts or rallies to fill more floor space.

Optimized Circulation

The U.S. Bank Stadium hosts an average of 66,000 guests during significant events. It is essential that guests can move within the venue with ease. Concerts and basketball games have expensive tickets for event-level seating. Therefore, it is crucial to pay attention to the circulation design on the event floor to justify the high price of the tickets. 

The guests on the event floor should have good access to amenities. The best way to address the circulation issue is to set up temporary food and beverage stands and restrooms. Another way to address the matter is to provide club access facilities.

Event-level Surface Considerations

Sports and entertainment activities are two different events that require different types of event-level surfaces. For instance, football players need to play on natural grass for safety and playability. However, it is best to use artificial turf during concerts and other significant events that can cause wear and tear. Artificial turf mimics the look of natural grass, and it will be able to handle a large number of people for a longer period than actual grass.

Having both natural grass and artificial turf is now possible. As long as the budget permits, new stadiums can have both event-level surfaces. For instance, the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas features natural turf and artificial turf. The natural grass tray is retractable and can be rolled in and out depending on the event.

Rigging Requirements

Rigging infrastructure for concerts and sports places a massive demand on the structural system of the stadium. The rigging beams, bracing, trusses, and catwalks support heavy speakers, video boards, and lighting equipment. The Final Four, for example, requires a scoreboard hung from the roof of the U.S. Bank Stadium to reproduce an authentic collegiate basketball atmosphere. Support systems can be incorporated into the stadium’s design or rented during each event.

Balancing Stadium Acoustics

Balancing the acoustics in a covered stadium is challenging. You must deal with sound absorption, distortion, echoes, and reverberation. Exposed structural materials such as steel, glass, and concrete aggravate the issue by bouncing off the sound. Therefore, it is necessary to use a distributed sound system and apply appropriate acoustic treatments to balance the stadium’s acoustics. The U.S. Bank Stadium uses giant curtains to cover large glass sections to provide better acoustic control, especially during concerts.

Access to Loading Docks

Event promoters check for loading access when looking for venues. Concert tours travel with large trucks that deliver production equipment on site. Hence, the operators need easy access to loading and unloading docks. During the planning stage, the designers must figure out the most efficient location of the loading docks and the ideal route to the event floor.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning

The size and capacity of the U.S. Bank Stadium are immense. Venues like this consume massive power, and the primary energy hogs are the HVAC systems. Thankfully, innovative designs and new building materials help reduce the demand for heating and cooling. For instance, the U.S. Bank Stadium is more energy-efficient than the old Metrodome. The translucent ETFE roof allows natural sunlight to provide natural lighting while the energy-efficient glass prevents extreme heat from entering the venue.

Bottom Line

The U.S. Bank Stadium, the official home of the Minnesota Vikings, is a feat of engineering. It required the effort of eight companies and more than 8,600 workers to achieve its completion, and it took them only two and a half years. It opened a new chapter in the history of the Twin Cities.

The stadium was an instant success. It hosted the Superbowl, the Final Four, and other major sports and entertainment events. However, five years after it opened to the public, it had to undergo exterior panel repairs to fix leaks. It shows us that even expensive buildings can experience wear and tear.

The same is valid with all kinds of structures. Your home or your commercial building can also suffer from the damaging effects of storms and other external elements. Therefore, it is crucial to hire professionals to perform routine maintenance and repairs on your roof and other exterior parts of your home or building.

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