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$300K U.S. Bank Stadium bird study approved

The National Audubon Society and the group that runs the U.S. Bank Stadium have agreed to study the effects the stadium’s massive glass windows may have on birds.

MINNEAPOLIS – The National and Minnesota Audubon Societies, along with the group that runs the U.S. Bank Stadium have agreed to study the effects the stadium’s massive glass windows may have on birds.

The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) and Minnesota Vikings will split the $300,000 cost to study the issue for the next three years. According to the agreement, the groups will start devising a plan right away and then start monitoring the stadium by January in time for the bird migration in the spring. A final report is expected to be completed by 2019.

At the Friday meeting, Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen said that construction crews have not seen birds hit any of the glass yet over the past year, but admitted this wasn’t a scientific study. She said they wanted to study the issue first before committing more taxpayer dollars to fixing the issue. She said there could be a film 3M developed that could be placed on 200,000 square feet of glass.

"This is expensive to do. We don’t want to be investing in a solution if there isn’t actually a problem," said Kelm-Helgen.

Bird advocates said this was a good first step, but wondered why it took so long to finalize.

Jerry Bahls with the Minneapolis Audubon chapter asked the MSFA to provide quarterly reports on how the study is going. He and other advocates believe ultimately a fix will be needed.

"We would have liked to see things happen sooner. And we would have liked to see bird-safe glass put in," he said. "There was ample opportunity to do that.”

Commissioner John Griffith questioned the cost for the study. But Kelm-Helgen attributed the cost to doing the study over a number of years. The four commissioners, including Griffith, voted in favor of the study.

Mortensen Construction says a problem with storm damaged panels on U.S. Bank Stadium have been fixed.  

Also at the meeting, Mortenson Construction said damaged stadium panels will be fixed in the next two weeks. Recent storms caused some of the panels to come loose. John Wood with Mortenson Construction says his team discovered parts of the stadium receive “unusual amounts of wind pressure”. They applied additional “fasteners” and Wood said he felt this would be a permanent fix.

The board also approved both Kelm-Helgen and Ted Mondale to stay on as chair and executive director, respectively.

Some have criticized the two jobs, saying they overlap and would be a waste of money. But the board agreed that it was important for Kelm-Helgen to handle the marketing side of running the $1.1 billion dollar stadium as Mondale runs the day-to-day operations.

Kelm-Helgen earns $130,175 and Mondale $165,333.

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