Activists: Proposed skyway at new Vikings stadium endangers birds

Friday February 13th, 2015

Activists concerned about the effect the Minnesota Vikings' new stadium will have on migratory birds say a proposed skyway for the stadium will also be dangerous, reports the Star-Tribune.

The Vikings' stadium is currently under construction and expected to be completed for the 2016 NFL preseason. The $1 billion stadium in downtown Minneapolis will also host the 2018 Super Bowl.

Concerns over birds flying into the stadium glass and possibly into the stadium itself have persisted for months. In January, officials said adding bird-safe glass to the stadium could add as much as $60 million in additional costs to the project and potentially delay construction by six months. Clear glass is currently planned for the stadium, but bird activists say etched or "fritted" glass should be used instead and would cost only about $1 million, according to the Associated Press.

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On Friday, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which is overseeing construction, said it needs more time to assess how the stadium's design could be altered to protect birds. A film coating over the stadium's large glass doors was one possibility mentioned.

Critics of the stadium construction also say that the skyway would endanger birds, and that construction—which is 40 percent complete, reports the Star Tribune—is proceeding without addressing the safety issues.

“It’s hard for us to come here every month and just hear this list of millions more dollars being spent on this project,” Elise Morton, another bird advocate, complained to the five-person authority.

Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the MSFA, said studies on how to prevent harm to migratory birds are ongoing, according to the Star-Tribune. She also said a lawyer has advised the authority that it would not be subject to fines or violations of laws protecting migratory birds.

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Last month, Kelm-Helgen said the MSFA would test different film coatings that could make glass safer for birds. 

Also on Friday, the MSFA announced an additional $14.3 million in funding from private and team sources. The Vikings' total of the additional funding is $2.3 million, and Aramark, the stadium's food service provider, will contribute $10 million.

Mike Fiammetta

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