MINNEAPOLIS - US Bank Stadium is known for its massive windows and translucent roof, but the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Authority is now prepared to spend more than $5 million to cover them all up.
The massive price tag is the cost of doing business with the NCAA. When Minneapolis won the bid to host next year's NCAA Final Four, it included a "darkening solution" in order to ensure that basketball teams playing during the day didn't have issues with sunlight.
"That was a requirement," said Michael Vekich, Chair of the MSFA.
On Thursday morning, the MSFA board authorized a plan that would pay one company $1.4 million to install massive black-out curtains along the exterior windows. Another company will receive $3.2 million to suspend retractable curtains along the translucent roof.
"Consider we're covering 460,000 square feet of windows," Vekich said.
That's still at least $10 a square foot, but it includes a lot more than curtains. Bluemedia, which will install the roof material had to come up with a rail system that would allow stadium employees to install and remove 76 roof panels that each stretch about 300 feet.
"This has never been done before," said Patrick Talty, General Manager of US Bank Stadium. "This was the piece that was very important to us to test to make sure that this would actually work. It's really threading the needle, so that we didn't have to move speakers and affect other things that are up in the roof."
The price tag also includes initial training, installation and removal for the Final Four. It's expected to take a week or less to put everything into place and another week to remove it.
"It's an investment," Vekich said.
The goal is to attract future events and concerts, which require more controlled lighting. At least two upcoming religious youth conventions already plan to utilize the curtains.
It might also help convince the NFL to bring another big event to town.
"We understand the Minnesota Vikings are considering putting in a bid for the draft," Vekich said. "That also requires a darkening solution."
The $5 million approved on Thursday will come out of the MSFA capital reserve fund. After the Final Four, Vekich says it will likely cost at least $200,000 each time the curtains are installed, but that cost will be charged to those who rent the stadium.