U.S. Bank Stadium will get new, permanent security fencing

U.S. Bank Stadium is going to get a permanent security fence.

The fencing will replace the chainlink currently surrounding most of the building that opened in August 2016. The Minnesota Vikings have for years been interested in permanent security fencing.

The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) on Thursday agreed to allow staff to choose a firm to design the structure and landscaping. Construction bids will come later. The MSFA also approved a review of club spaces exploring the possible of a new training area for event-day staff.

MSFA Chairman Michael Vekich said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security urged the permanent fencing for the stadium to maintain a top safety ranking. “They want us to move forward and that’s really the reasoning for doing it now,” Vekich said.

How much the fence will cost and who will pay for it has yet to be determined, although the stadium does have a capital reserve fund created for such expenses. Combined with potential retooling of interior club spaces at the stadium, the project will be the biggest planned renovation since the $1.1 billion facility opened its gigantic glass doors.

All the original zinc siding on the exterior of the stadium had to be replaced because of water seepage, but that cost was covered by construction and design firms as part of a negotiated legal settlement.

Minnesota Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said there have been talks about a permanent fence since the building opened and that the MSFA’s decision is a step toward understanding the scope and cost of the project. The Vikings are the building’s main tenant and pay millions in rent annually.

“Public safety has always been a priority for the Vikings. That means we constantly evaluate and improve security,” Bagley said.

Vekich said the security project will take place in two phases: Construction of the fence around all sides but the western facade. In the second phase, a permanent structure will go on the west side, the building’s main entrance outside the five pivoting glass doors, where most of the magnetometers are located.

It’s too soon to say what the fence and new security perimeter will look like or cost, but a demonstration photo showed an unobtrusive black fence. Vekich noted that the public will still have the same access to the area that it does now and that the giant building won’t look like a “fortress.”

MSFA member Sharon Sayles Belton said she wants to make sure the fence doesn’t look “industrial.”

In the early days, the stadium had a couple notable security problems, but nothing recent. In July 2016, days before the building opened, a pedestrian on the north side of the building picked up a rock, threw it at a window and shattered a large exterior pane.

During a Vikings’ game in 2017, activists entered the building, climbed a truss ladder, dropped down from the ceiling, and unfurled a banner protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. They dangled above the crowd in the eastern endzone for a later portion of the game. They faced charges after they came down.

The MSFA board also gave staff authority to negotiate a contract with a bidder to look at the efficiency and design of interior club spaces and to explore the possibility of building a breakroom and training center for event-day staff in one of the loading docks.

Sayles Belton asked why they needed a dedicated training area given that the facility already has flexible spaces. “I’m just trying to figure out the cost-benefit,” she said.

ASM Global general manager John Drum, who operates the stadium, said “Sometimes we have multiple trainings. We’re training all year long. We’re hiring all year long so this is not a space that would go dormant.”

Sayles Belton, Angela Burns Finney and Bill McCarthy voted to go ahead with the projects. Board member Tony Sertich was absent.

Vekich said that for the stadium operation to stay at “the top of our game,” the MSFA also needs to evaluate the quality and efficiency of the four club spaces both on game days and for unrelated events. “I would describe this as a continual improvement of the guest experience,” Vekich said.

The four spaces are the Little Six Casino’s Club Gold, Factory Motor Parts Club, the Truss Bar and Lumen Lodge Bar. On Minnesota Vikings game days, the spaces are exclusive club areas that require specific tickets. But the rest of the year, the spaces are rented out for other events such as parties and conferences.

The Little Six Club is on the 200 level of the north side of the building. The club has 1,450 seats and almost 9,500 square feet of lounge space.

On the opposite side of the building and also on the 200 level, the Factor Motor Parts Club 1,450 seats available and 11,600 square feet of lounge space.

The Truss Bar is about as high as fans can get in the stadium, located on the eastern end of the building on the upper suite level. The bar overlooks the building’s exposed ridge truss. The space has a capacity of 150.

On the same level and a just down the hall from the Truss Bar, the Lumen Lodge will also be reviewed. The lodge space is a ticketed, all-inclusive area for groups to watch games.

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