Vikings unveil new multi-purpose stadium design

MINNEAPOLIS — Touting its versatile use and environmental features, the Minnesota Vikings, the Minneapolis Sports Facilities Authority and HKS Sports and Entertainment unveiled the design of the new Vikings stadium to be built on the site of the current Metrodome in Minneapolis.

Using glass to present an airy feel, HKS, the stadium’s architect will feature a clear fixed-roof and a set of retractable doors.

“We think clear is the new retractable,” said HKS’s Bryan Trubey.

The stadium will seat 65,000 people for football, with the ability to expand to 73,000 for the potential of hosting a Super Bowl, along with use for baseball, soccer, and the possibility and hope of drawing NCAA basketball’s Final Four. The plans say the seating will be among the closest to the field in the NFL.

“This will be the most versatile structure on the planet,” Trubey said in laying out several pictures of possible usage.

Construction is slated to begin in October. The Metrodome, where the team will play its final season in 2013, is slated to be torn down in “early 2014” to finish the rest of the construction. The Vikings have agreed with the University of Minnesota to play in TCF Bank Stadium on the campus for two seasons and the new stadium is scheduled to open in 2016.

“We’re excited for the kind of building that is very airy and great for fans,” said Vikings’ co-owner Mark Wilf during a presentation Monday. “We couldn’t be more excited to have the kind of iconic venue were going to have there.”

The standout feature of the stadium is its clear roof that will be made of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), allowing the roof to be the “lightest and most efficient roof structure in the nation for a major new stadium.”

HKS touted the roof as the largest clear roof in the world and the first on a stadium, which helps the climate-controlled environment inside.

“It’s material that’s actually been in use for 30 years, so it’s really tried and true,” Trubey said. “Though it’s really an interesting material because of the way it’s made, there’s a ton of engineering that goes into it. It’s just never been used on this large of an expanse.”

The roof has been the biggest debated part of the new stadium since financing was approved and agreed to between the team and state in May 2012. There was talk of having retractable elements to the roof, but the design team and the authority opted for the clear material, which will be allow for the open-air feel, but will still be completely enclosed and climate controlled.

The roof will be slanted, partially to help alleviate the weight of snow fall during the winter, with half of the roof being clear glass to provide the airy atmosphere. The clear portion of the roof will also eliminate shadows, which typically come from retractable facilities.

“When you move north just from a climatic standpoint, you can’t operate a retractable roof under certain temperature conditions and certain wind conditions,” Trubey said. “So when we started looking at the clear roof, if really gave us the ability to do something totally unique and really, honestly, recognizable and substantially better in terms of the interior feel of the whole facility and unique look. And it also gave us a greater value, because we were able to spend costs on things like the louvered doors, which are in fact also unique in the world.”

Instead, the retractable feature will be a set of large class doors, the largest glass, pivoting doors in the world, according to Trubey.

“It’s very open, inviting and we’ve worked hard with the authority to try and have it be integrated into the city landscape like it is,” Wilf said. “I think our fans will have the experience, both outside on the plaza and walking in, of being in a very enjoyable experience, a place our fans will want to come with their families and really spend a day there. Not just for game time, but we want people to come early and stay late.

“I think this building is very inviting that way and very open. I think walking in at that level, on grade like that, is a unique, special experience and our fans will get to enjoy it. I think our homefield advantage will be great too.”

The stadium, approximately 1.6 million square feet, will feature two large high definition video boards, called “two of the largest video boards in the NFL” that will measure 50 feet tall and 120 feet wide. There will be seven levels in the new stadium, with two levels of general admission that will feature completely open concourse to be able to see the field. The stadium will include 125 suites and 7,500 club seats.

The plans include a large plaza and entrances into the stadium from the city’s skyway system.

Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.