MINNEAPOLIS — Enclosed but seemingly open, roofed but naturally bright, mammoth yet somehow intimate, U.S. Bank Stadium is 90 percent complete and looking more and more capable of taking fan experiences to previously unknown levels.
Members of the media toured the state-of-the-art venue Tuesday, receiving updates and progress reports on the construction details, accomplishments by dedicated workers and remaining milestones.
The cranes — 13 at one point in the stadium's bowl — have all been relocated to other sites. Only a few earth-moving machines dotted the subsurface of the field, like Tonka trucks in a sandbox. Some concession stands looked ready for business, while others have a way to go.
View images from the Tuesday, February 16 media tour of U.S. Bank Stadium.
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Eric Grenz, construction executive with Minnesota-based Mortenson Construction, said $780 million worth of work has been installed over the course of 3.2 million craft worker hours. Grenz said 1,300 men and women are on site daily and estimated between 800,000 and 900,000 craft worker hours will be needed, "most attributed to interior finishes, mechanical, electrical and plumbing."
"The bowl is coming together quickly. The lower bowl precast was set at the end of December last year, so now we have crews working on the stadia railing, the stadia sets and putting in the fixed seating," Grenz said. "The fixed seating should be done by the end of March, early April timeframe. The telescopic seating should be wrapped up and substantially complete by mid-March. It accommodates the baseball configuration."
Crews are working their way around the concrete of the bowl to install a sea of purple seats in fixed areas. A couple of large sections of retractable seats are in place, but more remain on the north sideline.
The retractable seats are in front of the Hyundai Club and separated by a wall of removable glass. The Hyundai Club, the largest of six club spaces at a whopping 30,000 square feet, is nearly finished.
Club Purple, however, is waiting for its signature purple sofas and other elements that will go into a one-of-a-kind fantasy lounge that connects to an outdoor deck with a fire pit and a great view of the Minneapolis skyline.
"It's a very unique product in the NFL," said MSFA Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen. "There's no other space like this in any stadium at this point. Outdoor deck with a fire pit that opens to downtown."
Kelm-Helgen said the club spaces will be used on game days but also for events hosted by the MSFA, independently from Vikings games.
"These clubs are going to be a major source of revenue generation for the MSFA because 350 days a year, these club spaces are available for all of our events," Kelm-Helgen said. "We have already booked hundreds of corporate events. We've got a number of weddings, we've got meetings, non-profits that are coming in to do dinners."
In addition to the economic boost the stadium's amenities are expected to generate, Kelm-Helgen said more than $1 billion of new construction is occurring within a couple of blocks of U.S. Bank Stadium.
Vikings Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Stadium Development Lester Bagley told media members the design of the 66,000-plus seat stadium enables it to feel more like an arena that is much smaller.
Bagley said, as construction crews continue finishing the interior, the Vikings are continuing to negotiate plans for an entire game-day environment outside of the stadium. That work has been ongoing since stadium legislation passed in 2012 and includes spaces like Medtronic Plaza and The Commons green space, as well as working on a plan for tailgaters.
"The vision [for The Commons] is to have a family friendly area, with inflatables and NFL Play 60 interactive activity on that great lawn," Bagley said. "There's a ton of work going on with the city, stadium authority and other partners to make sure that that game day experience and event experience for everybody is top-notch."
The following construction milestones remain before the stadium opens in July:
Video boards and the control room
U.S. Bank Stadium logo placed on the prow
Internal video board testing
Cell connectivity testing
Testing of the video board that will appear on the prow