Architect chosen for new Vikings stadium

BY foxsports • September 28, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The architectural firm that designed stadiums for the Dallas Cowboys and Indianapolis Colts beat out four competitors Friday to draw up plans for the $975 million Minnesota Vikings' stadium that will be built in downtown Minneapolis.

The selection of Dallas-based HKS Inc. for a $34 million design contract drew predictions of greatness during a meeting of the public authority overseeing the stadium project.

"A few years from now when we walk in there, it's going to be an absolutely incredible experience that's going to change people's lives in this state," said Mark Williams, a principal with the HKS Sports & Entertainment Group.

Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley called Cowboys Stadium and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis "two iconic facilities and among the greatest in the world."

HKS submitted the second-lowest of five bids, at nearly $42 million, but the final price was negotiated down. The highest bid, $54 million, came from Kansas City-based Populous, the designer of the Twins' Target Field, TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota and the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The lowest bid of $32 million came from Los Angeles-based AECOM, which designed CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks.

Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Chairwoman Michelle Kelm-Helgen called the final contract with HKS "a fair, reasonable price."

"We really believe that this firm is the best-qualified to design the world-class stadium that all of Minnesota will be proud of," she said.

Bagley and Kelm-Helgen said the architect selection is one of the most important decisions they will make as they build the stadium, due to open in 2016. The new facility will replace the Metrodome, the team's current home on the eastern edge of downtown. The public is contributing $498 million through gambling taxes and Minneapolis hospitality taxes. The team and private sources are paying $477 million.

Bryan Trubey of HKS said drawings of the new stadium could be unveiled by January or February.

Trubey revealed little about what the new Vikings stadium might look like. He said the company drew on wildly different influences when it designed the "edgy, modern" Cowboys stadium and the "traditional or historicist" Lucas Oil Stadium.

"The personality of this building will have to have a strong relationship with the central business district from a physical and iconographic standpoint," he said.

Bagley said the Vikings still hope to include a retractable roof, wall or window if such a feature can fit within the current budget -- a decision that he said would have to be made early in the design process. He noted that the Indianapolis stadium has a retractable window, and the Dallas stadium has retractable walls on both ends. Both stadiums also have retractable roofs and suites and other features that can be reconfigured to keep up with the market.

Also on the drawing board: Interactive technology that would allow fans to see replays, statistics and other game information on their smartphones.

"We are in competition with high-definition television and we need to get our fans from their couches to the stadium," Bagley said.

The new stadium will also have wider concourses, more restrooms and a game-day plaza intended to draw in fans and connect the facility with surrounding neighborhoods.

Kelm-Helgen said stadium planners are also looking at behind-the-scenes elements such as staging areas and loading docks to accommodate a range of non-game events.

Stadium planners including HKS will go before a Minneapolis stadium implementation committee on Oct. 15. There are also plans to hold meetings in other part of the state for public input into the design.

"We're going to build the best stadium in this country," said Bill McCarthy, the authority's vice chairman and president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation.

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