One goal line is down at U.S. Bank Stadium, but more milestones remain as the state-of-the-art venue is steered toward completion this summer.
Crews on Tuesday began installing the turf, which will feature a Norseman at midfield and purple end zones with white Vikings letters in the end zone and "Skol" font numbers to mark the yard lines.
The workers started the project of unfurling 163 total rolls of UBU Sports' Speed Series S5-M synthetic turf that will cover 3.03 acres (132,000 sq. ft.) and placed the goal line at the west end of the field and approximately 30 more yards of turf down by the end of Tuesday.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for July 22, followed by a two-day open house July 23-24 that will be free for the public to attend through a ticketing procedure.
Vikings Owner/Chairman Mark Wilf phoned in and told "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen, host of the "9 to Noon" show, that he's consistently **followed progress via stadium webcams** and visited two days before the interview.
"Everything started coming together," Wilf said. "With the field coming in right now, and you see the Vikings logos and branding all over the stadium, you're going to really get an exciting feeling. 'OK, it's show time,' and we're getting there. You can see the fan amenities that we worked so hard to get in there."
While some finishing remains, modern creature comforts like Wi-Fi throughout U.S. Bank Stadium, a neutral distributed antenna system installed by Verizon yet functional for all wireless carriers, nearly 2,000 HDTVs and 25,000 square feet of 13HD video and ribbon board technology are in place and ready to take fan experiences to unprecedented levels.
Wilf said he anticipates experiencing excitement and some anxiousness when Minnesota hosts Green Bay on Sept. 18 in the first regular-season game at U.S. Bank Stadium, which is twice the square footage of its predecessor, the Metrodome.
"There's a lot of anxiousness, obviously for the football season, we want it to be successful and get that ultimate prize, but from a stadium standpoint, more excitement than anything else," Wilf said. "I'm anxious to see how the fans react to it. I know there will be a lot of excitement. I know what it felt like to walk into the Metrodome. I know how much better of an experience it was when we were at TCF, and now, to come in here, which we think is going to be the best building in the NFL, and for our fans to get that pleasure and excitement with their families, I can't wait to see what will happen."
U.S. Bank Stadium also will feature seats and suites as close to the sideline as any venue in the NFL, and officials believe it will be loud once filled with 66,200 fans.
Allen and Vikings.com's Mike Wobschall jokingly tried to test the loudness of the stadium on air prior to fielding Wilf's call. They asked Wilf about the proximity of the seats to the field, and how much the stadium's roof, which is 40 percent steel and 60 percent ETFE, would bounce sound back.
"We did everything we could in the process to make sure we get maximum home-field advantage," Wilf said. "The ETFE, the clear roof has a lot of acoustic reverberation to it. We have 40 percent of the building that has a metal decking to it. The fans are on top of the field, and we have the best fans in the NFL, so we can't wait. Week 2 is our home opener in the regular season against the Packers, and we know it's going to be loud and the place will be rocking."
Vikings Executive Vice President — Public Affairs and Stadium Development Lester Bagley expressed a similar sentiment earlier in the day as a guest on "The Power Trip."
"We designed this to be an intimate setting, and you can feel that this is almost like an arena," Bagley said. "Acoustically reflective, so we think it will be loud and electric."
For fantasy football fans
Vikings Vice President of Corporate & Technology Partnerships John Penhollow visited the broadcast later in the "9 to Noon" show to discuss the infrastructure, new Vikings mobile app and **Vikings Rewards** program that can be managed within the app or online.
Penhollow said the Vikings approached decisions through a prism of "What would you need to get off your couch?" That thinking led to wide concourses that offer open views to the field, easing the ordering of concessions and an attempt to cater to the burgeoning fantasy football audience.
View a series of panorama images of U.S. Bank Stadium.
"One of the common themes was, 'I get to watch multiple devices on my couch. I get my own restroom, I get my own kitchen,' " Penhollow said. "All fair points, so step one is to design a concourse that easily allows you to get from the restroom back to your seats, from the concession stand back to your seats."
"We've addressed the fantasy football idea with the LED board under the bridge (on the west end of the stadium)," Penhollow added. "That was initially going to be static signage. We realized, what if, for the first time in an NFL setting, we created an LED board that is solely generating fantasy football content, so the idea would be, if you are here, you can certainly look at your device, but you can still keep track of how your [fantasy football players] are doing."
What could have been?
The tragic death of Prince on April 21 sent shockwaves through his home region of the Twin Cities and across the globe. It also prevented what was sure to have been an unforgettable performance from coming to fruition.
Bagley mentioned during his interview that the Vikings had been working on an agreement for Prince to play at U.S. Bank Stadium, which is scheduled to host concerts headlined by Luke Bryan on Aug. 19 and Metallica on Aug. 20.
"We were close to signing [Prince for] August 13," Bagley said. "He was going to play here. It was close, and then he passed away."