U.S. Bank Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings’ glassy new home in downtown Minneapolis, opened August 3, 2016. More than 64,000 soccer fans watched Chelsea beat AC Milan, 3-1, in an exhibition of European football.
The stadium, owned and operated by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, has been chosen as the site of the Super Bowl in 2018 and the NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2019.
Among the building’s design features is a massive wall of glass that bird and wildlife advocates, including the Minnesota Audubon Society, fear could be a “death trap” for birds that migrate along the Mississippi River corridor.
Concerns about bird-window collisions
Concerns about bird-window collisions were raised with stadium developers and city planners early in the construction process, wrote George Fenwick, president and CEO of American Bird Conservancy, and reasonable solutions were offered. Yet the response from the team and the NFL, he said, was “as frigid as the Minnesota winters.”
The glass wall went up exactly as planned, representing a defeat for bird and wildlife advocates, yet there’s at least this: A week before the match, the MSFA announced that bird-window collisions at the building would be studied over four migratory seasons by Audubon Minnesota, the National Audubon Society, the University of Minnesota, and Oklahoma State University.
The Vikings and the authority will each pay $150,000 to design and conduct the study, which will begin in the spring of 2017. Results will be released in 2019.
The MSFA and the Vikings have also committed to participate in Audubon’s Lights Out Program, joining other Twin Cities buildings in an effort to reduce collisions by minimizing light pollution during the spring and fall migrations.
Based on the planned study’s findings, researchers will recommend management actions to reduce bird-building collisions at the stadium. Migratory birds such as hummingbirds, thrushes, warblers, and sparrows migrate to or through Minnesota in large numbers and are known to be especially vulnerable to collisions.
“Window collisions are one of the leading causes of bird mortality, and they are largely preventable,” said Joanna Eckles, Bird-Friendly Communities manager for Audubon Minnesota. “This study will help fill in gaps in our knowledge and continue to improve our ability to generate and promote solutions.”
The Vikings will play their first game in U.S. Bank Stadium on August 28, an exhibition game against San Diego. They will play their first regular-season game the building on September 18, against the Green Bay Packers, their arch-rivals.
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