New Vikings Stadium image
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings and the sports authority are still months away from hiring an architect for the new stadium downtown. But they'll design the Metrodome's replacement with enhancing the fan experience in mind.
"Instead of sitting on your couch and having a pretty good TV show you'll want to go spend a hundred bucks, come downtown, have a brunch, and go to the game because it's just that cool!" Ted Mondale, the executive director of the newly formed Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority.
The Authority and the team will jointly hire an architect and construction manager by November, but the environmental impact statement and land acquisition must be completed first.
The Vikings announced Thursday they've hired Jim Cima as Senior Project Manager. His worked for the New Jersey Devils during the design and construction phases of the Prudential Center.
Eventually the public will see a set of plans, and listening/input sessions will be scheduled as well.
"We're excited," Mondale said. "We've got probably 20,000 decisions to make by January and we're cracking a few off every day. We've got to pick it up!"
Some of the basics program components won't change much based on design. For instance capacity is set at 65,000 seats, and the team is planning up to 7,500 club seats, and up to 150 luxury suites.
After that pretty much every other feature is negotiable. And just what the stadium will look like in 2016 when the Vikings take the field there will depend, in large part, on how much the builders can do and stay under that $975 million budget.
"Maximizing the fan experience will the team's top goal," Vikings Vice President for Public Affairs Lester Bagley told KARE. "We're want to focus on getting people to come early, and stay late."
Bagley said that the Vikings will look to Lucas Oil Stadium, the new home of the Indianapolis Colts, as a model of sorts.
"We'll try to design a great gathering space outside the stadium in the plaza area, but also great spaces inside the stadium for the fans and sponsors to gather."
One of the design elements with the Indiana stadium Bagley finds attractive is the flexible seating, which can be reconfigured in the future to fit changing times.
And, unlike the Metrodome, the Colt's stadium opens up to the city around it.
"We'd like to have a retractable feature of some sort here, but it may not be a roof," Bagley explained.
"It could be a window, like they have in Lucas Oil. That stadium has a retractable roof and a window, but the one feature to look at is their retractable window. It opens on the skyline of downtown Indianapolis."
And, while the goal is to build an iconic structure, it's too early to tell if the budget will allow any moving parts to let in fresh air.
"We've got the pressure to, you know, not get too free-thinking here," Mondale said. "We need to deliver this building. It needs to be open in 2016."
The Dome's narrow, closed-off concourses, have been the source of a lot of angst over the year. One thing the renovation of Lambeau Field made clear is that wider corridors make a huge impact.
"They had a huge upswing in revenue, but also in fan satisfaction," Bagley remarked. "They could finally move through concourses. They could go to that stand, get their hot dog and their beer and get back to their seat before the 3rd quarter started."
The Vikings and the new stadium authority will have to strike a balance between the dream NFL stadium and a year-round facility that can do what the Dome currently does in the off season, hosting hundreds of events.
But there IS one area of total agreement.
"There will probably be twice as many women's bathrooms," Mondale said. "Trust me, we hear you, ladies!"
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