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Planned Vikings Stadium will have world's largest transparent roof

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May 14, 2013

The southern half of the stadium will boast the world's largest transparent roof

The southern half of the stadium will boast the world's largest transparent roof

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The Minnesota Vikings American football team has announced the final design for a new stadium to built in the Minneapolis city center that will feature the world’s largest transparent roof. This feat will be achieved using state-of-the-art polymer instead of glass to resist the extremes of Minnesota’s climate, while providing views of the city skyline and a sense of openness for fans and players alike.

Due to its Siberia-like climate, Minnesota isn't exactly the best place in the world for outdoor sports. Its winters are marked by blizzards and arctic cold, while the summers are broiling stretches of windless days punctuated by massive thunderstorms. Spring and autumn are nice, but they each last an hour and a half, so can be safely ignored.

The Viking Stadium is part of a decades-long redevelopment project

In the past fifty years Minnesota has built a number of indoor and convertible stadiums to get away from the weather, but the heavy snowfalls ask a lot of their expansive domes, such as in December 2010 when the Metrodome in Minneapolis tore and collapsed in spectacular fashion when the weight of the snow became too great.

The plans for the new multi-purpose stadium, which will replace the Metrodome, were announced on Monday by the Minnesota Vikings American football team, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) and HKS Sports & Entertainment Group.

The stadium is part of a decades long redevelopment program for the Minneapolis city center and the waterfront area in particular. Seating 65,000 and budgeted at US$975 million, the designers say it boasts an “authentic structure influenced by its Minnesota location” and is marked by a soaring prow and huge doors facing the city skyline that open and are tall enough to let a Star Wars AT-AT walk through comfortably. The purpose of the design is to reflect the city’s climate, geography, history, and civic architectural and technological heritage.

The Viking Stadium faces the Minneapolis skyline

"The design reflects the true story of the Minnesota community with its international style driven by climatic response and energy conservation,” says Bryan Trubey, design principal, HKS Sports & Entertainment Group. "The interior volume makes it the most versatile, multi-use building in the country with the most advanced digital age technology.”

The highlight of the stadium is the largest transparent roof in the world. It does not open, but is sloped to improve load bearing. It will cover the southern half of the stadium and will be made of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) instead of glass. This transparent polymer transmits more light and insulates better than glass for only one percent of the weight and costs 24 to 70 percent less. It can bear 400 times its own weight, can be repaired by welding and has a service life of 50 years. However, it’s also a good noise transmitter and needs to be made up of several inflated layers. It’s already used in other stadiums and for the domes of the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK, and is part of the designer's intent of lowering operating costs.

Main entrance of the Viking Stadium with the doors open

The Viking Stadium is planned as a year-round facility to host, according to the announcement, more events than any other large stadium in the world, yet brings the fans closer in during football games. "Vikings fans will be closer to the action than any stadium in the country,” said Vikings Owner and Chairman Zygi Wilf. "The combination of operable end walls with a clear roof and large windows throughout the facility will give fans the opportunity to experience the best of both worlds: an outdoor feel with protection from the elements.”

In addition, the stadium is intended to blend into the neighborhood instead of looking like a spaceship that's just landed. "We wanted a design that encourages a connection into the neighborhoods, that will spur economic development and that will act as a destination rather than a barrier,” said Michele Kelm-Helgen, Chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority.

The next step is for the design to be submitted to the Minneapolis Stadium Implementation Committee and the City of Minneapolis for review. The groundbreaking for the new stadium is planned for October with the demolition of the Metrodome it replaces slated for 2014. The first Viking game at the stadium is slated for the start of the 2016 season.

Source: Minnesota Vikings

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.   All articles by David Szondy
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8 Comments

As a Vikings fan, I have mixed feelings...it looks pretty cool, but the downside is when you're watching a game you might get the sunny side and have a sun blinding you. Don't forget about the living room viewing, One of the more annoying things is watching a game that has an open roof, or no roof, and the sun is at a bad spot where it shines on half the field, leaving the other half dark and much harder to see at home.

Also, I do not like the fact that they plan on having baseball in this stadium, I don't see why they couldn't do that in the brand new twins stadium...

The reason I don't like baseball in it is that their field is much more square, which is one of the problems of the current metrodome...so can be front row at the sidelines and yet you're still a long ways from the field...the sidelines are way to thick.

Derek Howe
14th May, 2013 @ 08:55 pm PDT

Apart from the poor design, I find the use of this material questionable.

Given the extremes of weather at that locale, i would be concerned about fatigue. The constant expansion and contraction, combined with U.V. degradation, may shorten the life span considerably. The gaskets and seals would need constant monitoring.

Another issue i have is condensation. With 60,000 people on one side of the roof and minus 20C on the other, how do they plan on keeping the "glass" from frosting? What about thawing? How do you deal with icicles?

Finally, this product is essentially a plastic. All plastics burn. If a floodlight were to to overheat, how would firefighters deal with it?

toolman65
15th May, 2013 @ 06:56 am PDT

I'm sure it will be spectacular for the first few weeks. However, the opacity of the window will increase over time via bird droppings, pollution, dust, dirt, and debris.

Cleaning the roof manually on a regular basis will be labor intensive, dangerous, and costly.

Jason Pase
15th May, 2013 @ 08:36 am PDT

Beautiful stadium...but I got a side splitting laugh at the 975m price tag.

Cost overruns will put it closer to 1.5b.

It is absolutely NOT a baseball stadium.

DOC HOLLYWOOD
15th May, 2013 @ 08:39 am PDT

Nice design. The whole transparent roof design started with the Houston Astrodome in 1965. Learn from their mistakes. Use artificial turf. Why do you think it's called AstroTurf?

Clay Jones
15th May, 2013 @ 09:10 am PDT

All our schools, bridges and roads are crumbling, but what is really important is that the local sports team have a state of the art stadium.

Nelson
15th May, 2013 @ 09:35 am PDT

As a (rival) Packers fan looking forward to continuing our domination of the Viqueens in this ostentatious $1-billion facility, I've always been amazed at how the Twin Cities fan base has complained about the Metrodome, which cost less than 1/10th that amount. But that's what you get when you have to please billionaire owners.*

*The Green Bay Packers are publicly owned — even I am a stockholder.

Fritz Menzel
16th May, 2013 @ 09:21 am PDT

To the packer fan named fritz-

1. whats to like about the metrodome?

2. the packers cleverly took money from their fans and gave them meaningless novelty "stock"

you are not an owner, you are a fool being played like a fiddle by sharon rodgers

adrianP
18th May, 2013 @ 02:33 pm PDT
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