It’ll eventually cost over $1 billion to construct the new futuristic spaceship-looking multi-purpose U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis that will be the new home to Vikings football, the 2018 Super Bowl and the 2019 Final Four. And from what I saw last week on a private tour with other national media outlets, it’ll be worth every damn penny to the city and the people who’ll watch everything from monster trucks, to concerts, to college baseball tournaments.
And the city watching another $1 billion in construction and development blossom around the stadium, including two new towers for Wells Fargo, multiple apartment buildings and upgrades to the Minneapolis Armory, according to Michele Kelm-Helgen of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. By Super Bowl LII, Minneapolis will have a four-block mini Central Park leading from downtown to U.S. Bank Stadium. The early plans, according to Kelm-Helgen, is to turn this into a winter wonderland for the Super Bowl for those who wish to experience a true Minnesota winter.
The stadium part of the puzzle is supposed to be finished in July.
The Vikings last week invited about 10-12 national writers to see the progress they’ve made on the project and to give us an idea of what this place will look like for the Vikings 2016 season and what the world will see in February 2018 when Super Bowl LII kicks in front of a crowd of 70,000 (66,200 for regular season games).
What’s so great about this new stadium? It’s just a new stadium, right?
- It’s a dome, but there’s going to be drama. What if I told you the stadium included five of the world’s largest glass doors (ranging from 75 to 95 feet tall and extend 55 feet across) that the team will be able to leave open or close. The NFL has rules for opening roofs, so expect new regulation on massive stadium doors, which could allow plenty of wind into a stadium to effect a kick.
- The south side of the stadium features an ETFE (ethylene‐tetra‐fluoro‐ethylene) roof, a first for sports facilities in the U.S. What’s that? The short answer is that ETFE is a transparent material that allows sunlight into the stadium. There will be lots, and I mean lots, of natural light inside U.S. Bank Stadium. Between the giant glass doors and the roof, fans definitely won’t feel like they’re stuck in a dark bowl.
- I know we’re here to talk about U.S. Bank Stadium being a football facility with amazing suites, incredible views of Minneapolis and one of the most unique roofs in the U.S., but they’re going to play baseball in this place. The University of Minnesota is scheduled to play some of its 2017 games in U.S. Bank. An entire section of seats are retractable and will push back to create right field. No joke, the University of Minnesota will play in the baddest college baseball stadium in the United States. Can we please move the College Baseball World Series to this place? I’m begging.
Giant glass doors that the Vikings will have the option of opening during games:
Hey bro, it looks like a normal stadium. What’s going to be cool about it?
- There will be a five-row seating area called Club Purple that will feature purple couches you’d normally see at Vegas clubs. Imagine taking a Vegas club, dropping it into the second level, giving customers a VIP club lounge to go with their purple couch and telling everyone to have a good time. Oh, and Club Purple also has an outdoor balcony with an insane view of Minneapolis. Vikings team officials think this will be a fantasy football hub. I think it’s going to be a hub for the Minneapolis elite. I can picture Prince sitting in the front row of Club Purple, on his private couch with 7-8 dancers. I’m calling it now, this scene will be a favorite for Fox, CBS, ESPN and NFL Network cameras. You’ll buy a Club Purple lounge couch to be seen. It’s a brilliant design feature. Think about the Super Bowl for a minute. It’s going to be wild. Celebrities for days in that section.
- The Ice Club will have massive screens that show live game action (that’s the plan) while you grab a drink at the bar dripping in LED lights. The floor was painted with an epoxy finish that gives it an ice appearance.
- There will be 131 suites, including 23 at field level just 25 feet from the playing field. Not below ground like at AT&T. Fans will be ground level. Look, if you want a suite experience, you’re going to be fine at this place. They have you covered. I keep coming back to seating like Club Purple because of the unique experience. I’m not aware of another stadium like it. Sure, Jacksonville has the pools for fans to jump in, but Club Purple will be much more of a social scene.
Yeah, but it’s cold and miserable in Minneapolis. Why would I want to go there for the Super Bowl?
- It wasn’t exactly hot in San Francisco, Indianapolis and maybe you remember the ice storm Dallas/Fort Worth wasn’t prepared for a few years back. Minneapolis will have you covered.
- There are 10 miles of indoor walkways in downtown Minneapolis that will ultimately connect to U.S. Bank Stadium. You won’t have to go outside to get from most major downtown hotels to the stadium. You know what was terrible about the Super Bowl in San Francisco? It wasn’t in San Francisco. It was 50 miles south of where everyone was staying. I’ve been to four Super Bowl weeks. The best Super Bowls are in compact downtowns: New Orleans and Indianapolis were memorable. New York was a mess and San Francisco was extremely spread out. The Minneapolis downtown bar scene is going to be perfect for a Super Bowl. The options are endless. There will be huge arenas for a Rolling Stone party. I picture Mark Cuban holding his DirecTV parties in the Armory. Brands will have multiple options.
- The people of the Upper Midwest will be fired up. Minneapolis last hosted the Super Bowl in 1992 at the Metrodome. The city, state and region have this one shot to get back into Roger Goodell’s Super Bowl rotation. These people will be going absolutely nuts to make sure Super Bowl week is insane.
- I spent about 30 hours in Minneapolis last week visiting with the Vikings, but I got a sense that it’s a fun town in which to drink. You’ll hole up in the city for four days and drink. Like you really care about sightseeing.
Odds & Ends from the U.S. Bank Stadium tour
- Dave Mansell, the construction manager for stadium builder Mortenson, is a Minneapolis treasure. ESPN should do a 30 for 30 on this guy. NFL Films should mic him for a couple days and make one of the greatest videos in NFL Films history. The guy is a quote box, most of which I can’t repeat here. I asked Dave where he’ll be sitting when he comes to Vikings games. His response: “I won’t be here.” Dave plans on handing the keys to the Vikings and not coming back. I also asked Dave if he tackles small jobs at home or if he farms it out after doing far more important things like managing the construction of a $1 billion stadium. Of course Dave handles the work at home. “You should see my kitchen. I have a great kitchen,” he said.
- You’ll have Wi-Fi. Team officials want your experience to include uploading to social media. All is good on that front.
- The stadium will feature 200 pieces of art located throughout the facility, unlike AT&T where you only see the art in specific high-end spaces.
- The Vikings are building a 160-foot sculptural landmark that they’re calling the Legacy Ship. A 2,000 square‐foot curved LED video board standing 55 feet tall will serve as the ship’s sail. You’ll probably take a picture with the ship and U.S. Bank in the background.
- The Vikings, the city, the state, and the taxpayers have been at war over financing a new stadium forever. It wasn’t my objective to go to Minneapolis and pontificate on the financing of U.S. Bank Stadium. There’s a stadium nearing completion and the Vikings want some recognition for building this massive structure covered in zinc metal panels.
- I didn’t expect to be sitting in a board room with the Vikings front office, all the way to owner Mark Wilf. And then we were told Wilf, GM Rick Spielman and the rest of the staff would be hanging out for dinner. I could see myself hanging in Club Purple with the Vikings staff after a big win over the Bears. One of these days it’ll happen. It was a fun group.
- The Minneapolis Hilton bar scene was incredible for a Monday night. Kudos to the Target human resources employees who were in town for a conference.
- Peter King will love his press box seat. He’ll have a clear view of the Club Purple action.
- Dave Mansell said that there were a couple of incidents where workers tried to pull a fast one and plant opposing team memorabilia as a prank. He assured me the stadium HAS NOT been cursed.
- It’s really cool that the stadium construction workers were allowed to sign one of the roof steel beams.
- High-res image of the steel beam – here.