Vikes stadium unveiling: Expect ‘modernistic’ design with ‘outdoor feel’

Courtesy of HKS
A rendering of the interior of a proposed Vikings stadium from HKS Inc. The official design will be unveiled May 13 at the Guthrie Theater.

When plans for the Vikings football stadium are unveiled Monday evening, expect to see “a modernistic” stadium with a fixed roof, but sliding panels at each end of the stadium that can be opened to give fans “an outdoor feel.”

Ambitious development plans for the areas around the stadium still are in various stages of negotiations. But Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said developers are working with a number of companies about building nearby. Those projects would require the purchase and demolition of the adjacent Star Tribune building.

According to one source, Wells Fargo has a plan to build two towers near the stadium with about 1 million square feet of space. Some of that space would be for its expanded mortgage operations.

Apartments and green space also would be part of the Wells Fargo development.

A major plaza and a large parking ramp all are part of the grand multi-use development plans that would stretch from the stadium to the Hennepin County jail on Fifth Street.

No public subsidies would be involved in these projects, Rybak said.

The development, in the mayor’s mind, is vital to the success of the stadium project, but plans that requires infrastructure change are creating some dicey issues.

Hennepin County commissioners, for example, have expressed disapproval of some plans that have called for eliminating Park and Portland avenues in the new stadium neighborhood.

Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat points out that the Hennepin County Medical Center will be a neighbor of the stadium and the development that is expected to spring up around it.

In his view and that of other county commissioners, blocking off major thoroughfares near a major metro emergency hospital is not a wise thing to do.

Plans for the $1 billion stadium are being held fairly close to the vest.

For example, Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, the Senate lead on the Vikings stadum bill a year ago, had not seen plans for the stadium as of Monday.

“I’ve been told it’s going to be modernistic,” she said.

What’s the place going to look like? 

“Some people will look at it and see one thing — others will see something else,” Rybak said. “It’s like looking at a cloud. Some people look at a cloud and see the Virgin Mary, some see something entirely different.” 

 Rybak and other sources said they believe the idea of sliding panels at each end of the stadium are more cost-effective than a retractable roof. 

“On a hot day in Minnesota, we don’t take the roof off our homes,” Rybak said. “We go catch the breeze on our porch or on our decks.”

A 65,000-seat porch may sound pleasant to some, although it’s probably a good idea to remember that sweet-sounding plans sometimes don’t work out so well. 

Remember, when the Metrodome first opened, designers said air conditioning would not be needed because sitting in the dome on a hot summer day would be like sitting in the shade of a big tree. In reality, it was like sitting in an oven.

Air conditioning was added in 1984, two years after the facility opened.

If the new stadium does have a fixed roof, the possibility of installing a natural-turf playing surface would seemingly be eliminated, which could possibly lead to future dilemmas.

The high rates of injuries in football have increasingly come under the microscope, and most studies have shown there are fewer types of most injuries when the violent game is played on a natural surface.  

The high number of injuries — especially head injuries — is leading a growing number of people to question whether football has a viable future.  Even if the pro game remains popular, will injuries followed by lawsuits at the high school and college levels slowly cut off pro football’s roots?

And if pro football goes into decline, will the new stadium be viable for international-level soccer?

Under terms of the agreement, Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf have the right of first refusal to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to the stadium for the first five years after it opens in 2016. Currently, MLS wants its league games played in open-air stadiums and,  preferably, on natural turf.

In the MLS, four teams of 16 teams currently play on artificial surfaces, and the Vancouver franchise plays in a retractable-roof stadium. Vancouver games frequently are played with the roof closed, according to Dan Courtemanche, MLS executive vice president of communications.

For his part, Opat believes that MLS, which does not enjoy the popularity of other pro sports leagues, would “be happy to play anywhere they can have a team drawing 20,000 people on a regular basis.”

Of course, at this point, pro football is king, and anything to do with pro football can’t be done in an understated way. The unveiling of the stadium schematic will be held Monday night at the Guthrie Theatre.

 Just 200 (no charge) tickets will be available to the public. Those tickets will be given out, one to a customer, on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 5 p.m. Monday at Gate B of the Metrodome.

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Comments (21)

  1. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 05/07/2013 - 10:42 am.

    “It’s like looking at a cloud.” Pullleeeezzzz !

    No, Mr. Mayor, it’s rather like looking at a huge whirlpool of public money going down the drain in a worthless exercise.

    But then, when people look at the public’s money, they see different things, don’t they ? Some see a subsidy of their tickets, some see an increase in their personal wealth, some see the public’s money as their private plaything. Some see the illusions of clouds.

    If only there were enough people in the Legislature with the backbone to stop this idiocy.

    The idea of closing off Portland and Park Avenues is the worst idea since the idea of public funding of a new stadium for the Vikings.

  2. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 05/07/2013 - 10:54 am.

    I think he’s talking about the financing plan….

    “Rybak said. ‘It’s like looking at a cloud. Some people look at a cloud and see the Virgin Mary, some see something entirely different.’…”

    …and like the Virgin Mary it will take a miracle to make this financing package work.

  3. Submitted by mark wallek on 05/07/2013 - 11:06 am.

    Not a fan

    Given that this is a rich mans playground, and ticket prices, if available, are prohibitively expensive, I am one of the many who really does not care what happens with the perpetual pretenders and their ongoing dramas. It’s costing the citizen, again, and that’s already too much to ask.

  4. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 05/07/2013 - 11:55 am.


    Closing Park and Portland would be a mistake of the first order. We’re still trying to undo the damage when Nicolette was closed for Kmart.

  5. Submitted by James Hamilton on 05/07/2013 - 02:54 pm.

    Does this remind anyone else

    of th Crystal Cathedral? Appropriate, I suppose, given that most games are played on Sundays.

  6. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/07/2013 - 03:09 pm.


    Relatively few Minnesotans will ever see a Vikings game in person at the stadium. What matters is how the stadium looks on TV. For a national TV audience, will it present Minnesota as an exciting place, one where people will want to come to live and work. For Minnesota, this is more of a TV studio than a stadium.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 05/07/2013 - 05:44 pm.

      Have anyon ever moved to a city because…

      …based upon an NFL football broadcast, it looked like an exciting place ?

      I have never met, seen, or heard of any person like this. But I’m open to new information.

    • Submitted by James Hamilton on 05/08/2013 - 01:03 pm.

      And here I thought

      a winning team might do it.

  7. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/07/2013 - 03:55 pm.

    That’s a good point

    Hiram Foster makes an excellent point.

    I wouldn’t cross the street to see the Vikings play for free, much less schlep downtown to a Vegas-like monument to excess to pay ridiculous prices to watch millionaires bump into each other for money. That, however, may well be irrelevant, and Foster is on to something, I think.

    Most people in Minnesota, not to mention the rest of the nation, will never see the inside of this boondoggle in person. Even avid Vikings fans are more likely to see the games on TV — for as long as the NFL can afford to continue to pay out jury awards for brain injuries, which won’t be forever — and it’s as a TV backdrop or “studio” that most people will view the new stadium. In that context, it doesn’t matter what it looks like to skeptics like me, or even to fans in the stands. What matters is how it looks on that flat screen HDTV, and if it looks good there, it’ll leave a positive impression with viewers. Everybody’s happy… well… except for those of us who have to pay for the monstrosity when we don’t even like the “sport” that’s being played inside it.

  8. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/08/2013 - 07:58 am.


    One of the problems with the NFL is what I think of as it’s freeloader model. I put myself in that category of “freeloader”. I haven’t attended a Vikings game in person in over 40 years. I get the benefit of the Vikings presence here without paying a dime. Is this entirely fair? Is it absolutely unreasonable for me to be asked to make some sort of moderate contribution to the Vikings for the moderate pleasure they have given me over the years? Should people who go to all the trouble to attend games, paying sky high ticket prices while enduring TV commercial tv breaks (there is no channel surfing at the dome) be the only Minnesotans who subsidize the Vikings, leaving the rest of us to enjoy the games free on television?

    I suppose people differ on these issues. But here is something I urge people to do. Just for a moment at least, let’s reframe the issue. Instead of thinking of the Vikings as a football team playing in a stadium before a relatively small group of fans who comprise the stakeholders in the team, think of the Vikings as a shared communal experience which we experience through the media. That’s what the Vikings are for the vast majority of Minnesotans, and that’s what we bought when we bought a Vikings Stadium for them to play in, a stadium which the vast majority of us will never see in person. When we think about whether the stadium was a good deal or not, let’s ask ourselves whether it’s a good deal from that perspective. And while you are at it, think of the consequences that flow from the reframed understanding I suggest, and maybe some of the ways the deal we actually made is in conflict with that understanding.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 05/08/2013 - 10:10 am.

      NO, Hiram – the real freeloader is the NFL itself.

      “Should people who…attend games…be the only Minnesotans who subsidize the Vikings…?”

      YES, Hiram – but you can add in the TV and radio ad purchasers, and the people who buy from those advertising appeals. They can subsidize it, too.

      Oh, by the way, in reference to your “without paying a dime”, this is not true. You and I are subsidizing those tickets (according to Sen. Marty’s calculus) by $77 per ticket for the next 30 years, unless someone has the good sense to stop the madness. That comes to about $23,000 or so per seat.

      Since these facts have been clearly available, I figure you’re just ignoring them for the moment to advance your fuzzy argument, “shared communal experience”, “free”, and all that.

      The NFL and its owners are the free-loading parasites here, NOT your average Minnesotan.

    • Submitted by chuck holtman on 05/08/2013 - 03:38 pm.

      Hiram, your reframing is the frame most of us critics have used

      from the start. Public contribution should reflect public revenues plus net positive externalities. I don’t watch the Vikings on TV and think, for a number of economic and sociopolitical reasons, that the externalities of the Vikings and pro football generally are vastly negative. And the community in which the stadium physically sits suffers some very particular and substantial costs (and risks, such as the risk that pro football ceases to be in ten years due to concussions and Mpls is left holding the bag), meaning Mpls residents should not be paying more, they should be compensated dearly. The problem isn’t that externalities aren’t considered, it is that the public decisionmakers never undertook the slightest effort to examine those externalities (positive and negative) carefully and objectively and commit to a public role commensurate with the outcome.

  9. Submitted by Bill Willy on 05/08/2013 - 11:04 am.

    Know thy neighbor

    “According to one source, Wells Fargo has a plan to build two towers near the stadium with about 1 million square feet of space. Some of that space would be for its expanded mortgage operations.

    “Apartments and green space also would be part of the Wells Fargo development.”

    Sounds nice, but:

    – How much do you think it costs to build a million feet of tower space in the heart of a major American city; and

    – Where would a person, or group of people (like you and me and a few of our friends that may or may not be “People’s Stadium” or Vikings fans) GET that kind of money?

    Not to live in the past, but should anything Mr. or Ms. “One Source” had to say look like it might actually be taking real shape, anyone living in Minneapolis may want to take the time to contact the appropriate public service decision makers and remind them of that thing called the “Subprime Mortgage-backed Securities Crisis” that happened in 2008, and Wells Fargo’s contribution to it.

    A search on words like, “Wells Fargo subprime bailout FDIC,” turns up an array of links that tell the story of Wells Fargo’s share of the Bush administration-engineered taxpayer-funded bank bailout, the substantial tax breaks they received as part of that deal, AND the judgments and penalties the Department of Justice forced it to pay, way after the fact (see “Wells Fargo Enters Into $175 Million Discrimination Settlement” @ for one example).

    Here’s a great little summary presented as the top four reasons its readers ought to move their money (

    Why Wells Fargo?

    We’re Moving Our Money because Wells Fargo is…

    1. Performing Discriminatory Lending

    Wells Fargo has been the poster child for discriminatory lending targeting communities of color. Wells Fargo has been sued on several occasions for discriminatory lending practices, and the Federal Reserve Board recently issued you an $85 million civil fine for steering borrowers inappropriately into subprime loans

    2. Foreclosing on American Families

    At the end of 2009, Wells Fargo modified loans for only 22% of those eligible for modifications under the government program HAMP. Unlike other big banks, Wells Fargo hasn’t changed its foreclosure procedures despite many confirmed reports of “robo-signing” and other illegal practices in the foreclosure process.

    3. Not Paying its Fair Share

    Over the last ten years, Wells Fargo paid the lowest worldwide tax rate of the top five big banks – they paid only 24.8% on their $110.9 billion in earnings) and reportedly did not pay any federal taxes in 2009.

    4. Stealing our Democracy

    Wells Fargo’s dollars are helping our elected officials rig the system to work for Wall Street and not the rest of us. Since 2003, Wells has spent over $20 million on lobbyists.

    $43.7 Billion: Bailout money from US taxpayers

    $24.6 Billion: Profits since bailout (2009-2010)

    $17.1 Million: 2010 CEO John Stumpf total pay

    $27.2 Billion: 2010 bonuses and compensation

    $22,100/yr Average Wells Fargo bank teller wage

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    When it comes to the concept and value of “Corporate Citizenship,” one big question would have to be, “Do the people of Minneapolis, its elected leaders and its business community, the Minnesota Vikings fans and ownership, or the NFL think it would be a good idea to invite or allow a corporate citizen like Wells Fargo to erect a million square-foot monument to itself in the heart of town, ‘right across the street’ from the new ‘People’s Stadium’?”

    I hear so many (as in ALL) conservative republican legislators (state and federal) howl endlessly about the deplorable waste of taxpayer dollars on things like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, government employees, higher education, alternative energy, the Vikings stadium (of course), and on and on down the list of the usual ideological talking-point piñatas. But I never hear them (or organizations like the Chamber of Commerce) say BOO about things like 40 billion taxpayer dollars being handed to just ONE “troubled-asset-ridden” business that, five or six short years later is, according to “One Source,” contemplating the construction of a gigantic new building that will provide space for its “expanded mortgage operations, apartments and” (very importantly), “green space.”

    Perhaps Mr. or Ms. One Source, or THEIR source, would be so good as to register and log-in to MinnPost and reply here to assure us that not one (old or new) taxpayer dollar would be used to build it.

  10. Submitted by Tom Suther on 05/08/2013 - 01:32 pm.

    Football might go away

    Sure hope we are not throwing money away on this stadium since football is a dangerous sport and if I were a mother I would not want my child in football. If enough parents say this then the feeder stock is gone.

    I do hope that parents do reconsider football as the sport is bad for the brain in more ways that one.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 05/08/2013 - 02:46 pm.

      Well said !!

      It is not only the game itself which is bad for the brain.

      All the arguments for why the taxpayer should give a billion dollar handout to a billionaire are ALSO bad for the brain !! These arguments have rendered our state legislature and local city council unable to discern the difference between hay before a horse eats it and that same hay when it comes out the other end.

  11. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/08/2013 - 04:39 pm.


    My view of the Viking transaction is simple, and possibly even simplistic. The Vikings have a product to sell, Vikings football. For us, the people of Minnesota, the question is whether we want that product, and if so, how much do we want to pay for it. A lot of time and effort and marketing costs have gone into huge and largely successful efforts to obscure both those questions but nevertheless, those are the questions. My comment above was intended to address the issue of how the cost of keeping the Vikings here should be apportioned among Minnesotans. It was not my intent to address either the issue of whether we should buy Vikings football, or if we do decide we want it, what the price should be.

    “Hiram, your reframing is the frame most of us critics have used new
    from the start.”

    Chuck, there is much in your comment I don’t disagree with. The issue I raised is who benefits from the Vikings, and who doesn’t. I think the notion that Minneapolis or its residents gets some special benefit from the Vikings for which they should have to pay his highly problematic. I have talked about the new stadium as a TV studio. One of the things about a tv studio is that it could be anywhere; it’s specific location is irrelevant. I believe it’s the citizens of Minnesota, not the residents of Minneapolis who get whatever benefits the Vikings provide, and if we decide that we want them, we should look to the citizens of Minnesota to pay their share.

  12. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/09/2013 - 11:31 am.

    Ticket buyers

    Let me put it this way. The ticket buyers in the stadium are paying for a product I get for free. In order to keep the Vikings here, does fairness require that the the ticket buyers pay more, so I can continue to watch the Vikings at no charge?

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 05/11/2013 - 11:15 am.

      “You” don’t get it for free.

      …and by “You” I mean the entire TV audience.

      The advertisers pay big bucks to grab your attention numerous times during that game and convince you that you will have more status or sex appeal if you bought a certain shaving soap or automobile. And the audience dutifully goes out and buys that shaving soap or automobile in hopes of realizing the promise of those ads. It works. That’s why you see so many brands continue on and on in those advertising campaigns.

      Those advertisers make money, Hiram, BIG MONEY, on those ads because the viewers have handed their brains over for manipulation. And the teams are making BIG MONEY selling those ads.

      So the audience is indeed paying, and they are paying big time, for that entertainment you call “free”.

      In fact, the audience is paying so much, the NFL and advertisers want as many people to tune in as possible, in the belief the entertainment they are getting is “free”. So they provide broadcasts of numerous games every weekend on publicly available channels (the model doesn’t require cable broadcast and fees, as in the case of baseball). And to pull in more viewers, they advertise these broadcasts heavily.

      Now, you as an individual can watch those games while ignoring all those advertising appeals. So you as an individual don’t buy the shaving soap or automobile. Be assured this is figured into the revenue model, Hiram – they have accounted for your behavior, even expect it.

      I find it baffling that a viewer should somehow wonder whether there is anything called “fairness” involved here at all, especially after being ripped off in a massive boondoggle handout.

      Is it “unfair” if you don’t buy the shaving soap or automobile ?

      Should you feel responsible to pony up even more to contribute to the obscene profits this model already generates (the owner of the Vikings franchise has reportedly realized a gain of more than $200 million in its value due to the stadium bill) ?

      A little clear thinking is called for here.

  13. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/12/2013 - 08:03 am.

    “You” don’t get it for free.

    I channel surf.

  14. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/12/2013 - 08:05 am.

    A Modest Proposal

    Although I will say, and this idea has never gone anywhere, that instead of taxing football cards, and people at bars, what we should do instead is impose a surcharge on tv advertising revenue generated by commercials during games.

  15. Submitted by Don Petersen on 05/12/2013 - 11:12 am.

    Viking Stadium

    Ignoring the compound gov’t. stupidities already in place, of yielding to the common NFL build-it-or-we-move coercion and the absurd notion that the fat-cat seats would be underwritten by dumb drinkers playing electronic pull-tabs with the rent money, as a one-time mechanical engineer, I believe that if the roof of this monstrosity is constructed to look much like the design they are floating, I would not want to sit under it in the best of weather, let alone heavy snow or… tornado.

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