MINNEAPOLIS —The Legacy Gates to U.S. Bank Stadium — and a new Vikings era — are about to open.
With U.S. Bank Stadium scheduled to celebrate its ribbon cutting and grand opening on Friday, members of the Twin Cities media on Tuesday toured multiple signature spaces of the 1.75-million-square-foot facility from the Vikings locker room to the field and beyond.* *
"What an incredible journey it has been," said Vikings Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Stadium Development Lester Bagley, breezing through a 12-year process at the legislature, followed by nearly four years of design and construction to the approaching wind-in-the-sails moment. "We're very excited about what this brings."
Bagley said a collaborative, "incredible effort" between business, labor, the State of Minnesota, the City of Minneapolis and Vikings fans through the legislative process shifted into the construction phase and partnerships with the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, architects from HKS, and Minnesota-based Mortenson Construction.
"You can tell it's been built with love and by people who care, so it's been a great partnership," Bagley said.
The cost of the state-of-the-art venue is $1.1 billion. Bagley said the Vikings have committed a total of $607 million, 54 percent of the capital costs. That figure includes commitments of $130 million beyond the $477 million that the team initially agreed to fund. The Vikings will pay $10 million per year in rent — the highest in the NFL — and capital investments, Bagley said.
Bagley said the Vikings have been pleased with responses from fans. Less than 700 of the 49,000 Stadium Builder's Licenses, and only one of the 131 suites remain.
About 4,000 single-game seats* *will go on sale Wednesday.
Architect Bryan Trubey told members of the media that HKS approached the project with two overarching goals: maximizing flexibility of use and creating an iconic building that is a "unique expression of local culture."
Trubey said U.S. Bank Stadium is the "most flexible, multipurpose building on the planet of this kind, in terms of the amount of events we can have and the amount of experiences that one can have."
The second goal prompted the architects to first be anthropologists. They took trips around the state and deeply researched Nordic architectural principles that have been implemented for thousands of years.
"We had a rich assortment of things to focus on in Minnesota," Trubey said.
The design team started with climate to accommodate Minnesota's range of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit in six-month spans or less, ranging from subzero in the winters to more than 90 degrees in the summers.
The need and desire to shed snow efficiently led to the single, soaring ridge truss that ends in a prow, pointing west to the Minneapolis skyline.
Trubey said the other focal points were geography, the desire to create an important civic structure and technology. The study of geography led to the venue's complex angular geometry, and the technology component includes the way the building "responds and interacts with the environment."
"Minneapolis and Minnesota have a long history of developing civic structures that show themselves as a modern, progressive expression," Trubey said. "You see that in this building."
Between Mortenson Construction and more than 300 subcontractors, more than 90 percent of the construction costs went to Minnesota companies. Thanks to their skill, the largest public-private project in state history reached substantial completion six weeks ahead of schedule.
The project also exceeded ambitious workforce goals established by the legislation of 32 percent minority workforce (36 percent achieved) and six percent of women workforce (nine percent achieved). Business enterprise goals (nine percent for minority-owned businesses; 12 percent achieved) and 11 percent for women-owned businesses; 16 percent achieved).
"I think any way that one chooses to measure the level of success in a construction project, this project has been incredibly successful," Mortenson Construction Senior Vice President John Wood said.
View images from Tuesday's media tour of U.S. Bank Stadium, which will formally open later this week.
Reaching early substantial completion allowed stadium operator SMG and concessionaire Aramark to begin a significant amount of prep work for a multitude of events that are already booked.
In addition to Vikings preseason games against the Chargers on Aug. 28 and Rams on Sept. 1, Minnesota will open its regular-season schedule against Green Bay on Sept. 18.
Prior to that, however, the stadium will host an ICC soccer match between Chelsea FC and AC Milan on Aug. 3, a Luke Bryan concert on Aug. 19 and a Metallica concert on Aug. 20.
SMG's Patrick Talty, the general manager of U.S. Bank Stadium, said 60 employees will be tasked with changeovers between events, working behind-the-scenes to clean, maintain and prepare.
"This is a very multipurpose building. It's an amazing building," Talty said. "I think it's the crown jewel of the 230 buildings that we manage worldwide and the five other NFL stadiums, but I'm a little biased."
The Vikings rolled out a smorgasboard of concession options last week that ranged from globally known to locally owned.
A total of 3,000 employees from food service to operations to security plan to implement a "fan-focused" plan designed to include Vikings games, as well as other events like Super Bowl LII (February 2018), the 2019 NCAA Men's Final Four, high school sports championships, concerts and other events.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday will only be the beginning of a welcome weekend.
MSFA Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen said more than 110,000 individuals had downloaded free tickets to attend a public open house. The tickets are available through ticketmaster.com at no charge and are timed to manage the amount of attendees. Timed tickets go from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Sunday, allowing fans their trips inside.
Kelm-Helgen said an old Metrodome tradition will be reinstated this fall. "Rollerdome" — the opening the stadium for roller-bladers, runners and walkers to take 360-degree laps around the concourse for a nominal fee — is scheduled to return on Sept. 26.