MINNEAPOLIS — Vikings alumni recently visited U.S. Bank Stadium during Homecoming weekend, and the consensus is the future home of the team will be the class of the NFL.
The size of the venue, which is about 75 percent complete and on schedule to open July 2016, and its style stood out to players during their stroll onto the future playing surface and through the main concourse.
Crews have started installing the state-of-the-art LED lighting system at U.S. Bank Stadium.
"It was beyond my imagination because I had been through the U.S. Bank Stadium Preview Center and saw what it was going to look like on tape, but it does it no justice," radio sideline reporter and former punter Greg Coleman said. "I can't wait until next year."
Coleman, whose career in purple (1978-87) spanned the final four years at the Met and first six at the Metrodome, said his favorite aspects include: "the fact that you can see the field from almost anywhere on the concourse, the fact that the field is so low, it stretches 270 feet from the field to the top of the stadium. We don't have to worry about punters hitting the top of the stadium this time."
Doug Sutherland, who played for the Vikings from 1971-81, said U.S. Bank Stadium is "very impressive."
"It's going to be a gorgeous place. I always said, back to the Met, that the Vikings needed a new stadium, and I never did like the 'Humptydome.' It's the class of the league and we're so fortunate to get a new stadium.
"I think we'll put it up against Dallas," Sutherland added. "I don't know what we have that they don't have."
Robert Griffith, who spent his first eight NFL seasons (1994-2001) with Minnesota in the Metrodome, said his initial thought was, "Awesome!"
"When I walked up, I thought immediately of a Viking ship when I saw the shape," Griffith said. "I don't think it's quite that, but I thought they did a great job architecturally with the glass doors and the space of the inside. I think the way they constructed it was for maximum viewing area — my engineering brain coming out, right? New is always nice, but this thing is absolutely gorgeous."
View updated images from the landscaping outside of U.S. Bank Stadium.
Esera Tuaolo (1992-96) said "absolutely amazing," adding "When they finish it, it's going to be a great place to play. This is what everybody wanted."
The weekend provided an opportunity for alumni to reconnect with former teammates and share their bond as members of the Vikings family. They were also able to connect with current players* *during practice and before Minnesota defeated San Diego.
Coleman said the consensus is the new sparkling stadium was worth the wait because it will incorporate state-of-the-art features.
"One guy even told me, 'I'm glad it didn't happen 10 years ago because the transformation in the technology is way beyond what it was a few years ago.' We're seeing the latest and greatest. Jerry's World [in Dallas] can't touch this one, baby. This is out the park."