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Latest controversy with Vikings stadium: bird-friendly glass

Minnesota Vikings baseball

Development on a new Minnesota Vikings (NFL) stadium that will also host University of Minnesota baseball has taken an interesting turn: the city wants special bird-friendly glass to be installed, at a cost of $1.1 million.

As a replacement for the Metrodome, the new Vikings stadium will feature a baseball configuration and expected to be used heavily for high-school, small-college and Golden Gopher baseball in the winter months. Work is proceeding apace — we had a quick look at the construction while in the Twin Cities for the All-Star Game — but one potential problem looms, with the city of Minneapolis pressing the team to install bird-proof glass on the clear roof. From the Star Tribune:

Fueled by aviary advocates who have warned of mass bird deaths, the City Council passed a resolution calling for the use of special glass at the facility, which is in early stages of construction. The measure was effectively symbolic as the body overseeing stadium construction said Friday it has no plans to spend more money for the special glass.

“I believe this is a way to show the seriousness of the environmental issue at hand,” Council Member Linea Palmisano said before the unanimous voice vote. “It shows support for an important part of our ecosystem.”

The bird-friendly glass would add tiny beads to the mix: most people won’t notice them, but birds will and presumably not try to fly into the glass:

You can see the dots when you’re right up close, but for most of us … because our eyes work differently than birds’, it does not really hinder the experience,” Anderson said. The council supports fritted glass — vs. glazed or etched glass — because it is manufactured by the same company already supplying glass for the facility: Owatonna-based Viracon.

The issue: the price tag of $1.1 million. The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority says it doesn’t have the money for the glass upgrades, and the Vikings aren’t participating in the discussion. The move by the Minneapolis City Council is purely advisory: the lease and the design have already been approved. But there would be some PR value for the authority and the Vikings to address the issue: Audubon Minnesota says about 6,000 migratory birds — mostly warblers — die in downtown Minneapolis annually because they try to fly into glass-paned buildings, and with a Minnesota firm poised to pick up the contract, it could end up being a win-win for all involved.

RELATED STORIES: Metrodome demolition moves along; Metrodome roof comes down this morning; Metrodome roof to be deflated Saturday; On the auction block: Metrodome contents; Compromise reached on baseball at new Vikings stadium; New Vikings stadium could host Gophers baseball — if the numbers work; Adios, Metrodome; One anniversary not marked by MLB this year: Metrodome opening


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