MINNEAPOLIS — One year remains until the scheduled completion of U.S. Bank Stadium, but the state-of-the-art venue was the scene of a tailgate for 1,200 on Monday.
The Vikings celebrated the calendar milestone and the work that's been accomplished since the December 2013 groundbreaking by treating the dedicated men and women to a tailgate lunch and presented them with purple hard hats featuring Vikings horns and U.S. Bank logos.
View iPhone images from the July 20 media tour at U.S. Bank Stadium.
"To be a mere 12 months from opening what will be one of the world's most architecturally-unique stadiums is incredibly exciting," said Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf. "With the significant surrounding economic development, the involvement of thousands of Minnesota workers and hundreds of Minnesota companies, and the securing of major events, U.S. Bank Stadium is setting the bar for public-private partnerships."
In addition to hosting the lunch that was served up by Vikings employees, U.S. Bank Stadium hosted a tour of members of the media led by Mortenson Construction and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, showing itself at 65 percent completion, with more than 40 percent of the progress occurring since October 2014.
As media arrived to the east end of the building, a crew was beginning the installation of the U.S. Bank logo sign near the roofline below the stadium's snow gutter system. This end is where most of the exterior panels have been place after a layering process of substrate, brown insulation and zinc panels.
Once inside, on the east concourse, a panoramic view of the lower bowl with the downtown skyline in the background competed with the spectacle of workers above installing the clear ETFE panels that will cover approximately 60 percent of the roof, keeping out moisture and allowing in light.
An ascending airplane passed several thousand feet above where the crew worked. It crossed the bright blue sky as a reminder of the openness that fans will be able to enjoy while in a climate-controlled environment.
The ridge truss, which runs from east to west, is complete. Most of the queen's post trusses have been connected from the ridge truss to the stadium's ring beam, and the solid covering north of the ridge truss has been placed.
Lance Evans, a designer with HKS who worked on the roof, skin and main concourse spaces, said much of the design evolved from the roof, which also offered an opportunity for innovation. Evans said designers wanted snow to come off the roof and reviewed "the traditional vernacular of architecture, homes and architecture of the Nordic region and northern climates" that have had to shed snow.
The angled pitch of the roof is designed to slide snow into the gutter system that will catch it and melt it to send to the stadium's collection system that has been installed under the southeast corner of the site.
"The design really evolved from that notion, of how to create this efficient way to reduce the overall weight of the building roof (by removing) the snow load. We were able to do that with a pitched roof that sheds that off," Evans said. "To further enhance the roof itself, we only used one main truss. That's a great innovation for us because it drastically reduced the overall steel of the building.
"Most of the major structures you see today have two trusses that run the length of the field to span the roof," Evans continued. "We angled the main truss in such a way that we were able to span the field with only one of those trusses. That was one of the innovations where we're in a climate where we're supposed to have one of the heaviest roofs in the NFL and actually became one of the lightest for two simple reasons: becoming efficient and being responsible to the environment."
Evans has been with HKS for 11 years and previously worked on AT&T Stadium in Dallas and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
"This is my favorite time in a job, when you're seeing what you've designed and what you've worked with, everyone and all the clients, from what you see at the substrate, the brown insulation panels, the zinc that is getting put on the building now," Evans said. "It's is a great representation and almost an educational experience not only for me but all the people that go around the stadium. These things are so big that everyone gets a chance to understand what it takes to build one of these buildings or skin of this size, so it's really great."
Mortenson General Superintendent Dave Mansell has helped keep the project on schedule.
Less than a week before Vikings draft picks, other rookies and veterans report for training camp, Mansell has a couple other "picks" on his mind. There are three interior pieces for the truss system left to be "picked" (lifted) in the next three weeks. That will enable the dismantling of a behemoth crane that must be removed before other work can be completed.
"We've got to get it out — it's in the way," said the always colorful Mansell, who on July 20, also mentioned that winter isn't too far away in reference to what he wants to see accomplished on the project.
The large crane moves at a snail's pace across heavy timber that is placed on the former Metrodome surface. The new playing surface will be 18 inches above the floor of its predecessor, but its roofline soars more than 300 feet at its highest point.
Media began the tour in a conference room of the U.S. Bank Stadium Preview Center. At one end, a countdown clock displayed 375 days remaining. At the other end, MFSA Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen explained the impact the stadium construction — the largest project in state history — is already having on the Downtown East section of Minneapolis.
Kelm-Helgen said "$1 billion in investment is already underway" in the neighborhood around the stadium with new corporate headquarters, hotel and residential developments underway, as well as a private plan to renovate the Minneapolis Armory into an events venue. Kelm-Helgen also noted the unique event spaces that the stadium that she said will make "amazing venues" for events year-round.
The project, which has $1.5 million in work completed per day by workers is involving more than 300 Minnesota-based companies and exceeding equity goals for workforce and women-owned and minority-owned businesses.
Minorities make up 37 percent of the workforce (goal is 32 percent), and women are nine percent (goal of 6), Kelm-Helgen said. She added that women-owned businesses represent 15 percent of the money spent on the project (goal of 11) and minority-owned businesses represent 12 percent of the project (goal of nine).
There were no goals in the legislation regarding veteran participation, but veterans account for about four percent of the workforce, and veteran-owned businesses are accounting for one percent of the project.