The push and pull required for $1B Vikings showplace is over

Published 10:03 am Monday, August 1, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS — At the top of the Vikings’ shiny, new $1.1 billion football palace, there is a ring of glass separating the seating bowl from the roof that the team and the stadium designers call the “clear story.”

At night, when U.S. Bank Stadium is lit up, the clear story gives the visual impression that the roof is floating. And on sunny mornings, the large windows allow sunlight to flow in from the east, bathing the seats on the other side of the stadium in a yellow glow.

The clear story is one of the many calling cards for architects of the stadium — and one that almost didn’t make the cut: With the cost of the project rising, Mortenson Construction told the Vikings that eliminating that particular feature would save the team $800,000.

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“At the time we were over a perceived budget. They said, ‘Well, we’d like to accept that,’” said John Hutchings, sports principal-in-charge at HKS Sports and Entertainment.

“We said, ‘Over our dead body.’ … It was a decision that we fought hard to keep. We didn’t win all of them, but that was one that was pretty important for the overall look of the stadium.”

The discussion was one of the countless debates that come with designing, approving and building a stadium of this kind of size and scope.

In the end, HKS won that tussle. Vikings owner Mark Wilf pointed to that clear story as a sign of the additional investment the team put into the project to try to achieve the “world class” designation that the franchise has used to describe it from the stadium’s infancy.

The first official event is Wednesday, an international soccer exhibition that has sold more than 55,000 tickets.