Plans for new Minnesota Vikings stadium a bird deathtrap, environmentalists say

"We know the people of Minnesota do not want their money killing birds," said Matthew Anderson, executive director of Audubon Minnesota.
By Brooks Hays  |  July 24, 2014 at 1:47 PM
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MINNEAPOLIS, July 24 (UPI) -- The plans for a new Minnesota Vikings football stadium have been warmly received by fans. But fowl lovers are crying foul.

The Audubon Society and other bird-protecting environmental groups say the massive structure encased in glass will be a deathtrap for thousands of birds migrating along the Mississippi River. These groups have called on the Vikings organization and the regulators tasked with reviewing and approving the plans to augment the design and building materials, in order to minimize the risk to wildlife.

"We're talking about a billion dollar stadium here, and the cost to save perhaps thousands of migratory birds -- and make the Vikings a global leader in green stadium design -- is about one-tenth of one percent of that," explained Matthew Anderson, executive director of Audubon Minnesota.

"Hundreds of millions of dollars of public money is going to build this stadium, and we know the people of Minnesota do not want their money killing birds," added Anderson. "The Vikings recently approved spending millions and millions of additional dollars to make sure the stadium is 'iconic' -- surely they also want to make sure it's not a death trap."

Specifically, Anderson and his allies want builders to opt for a different type of glass, one that is safe for birds that might accidentally crash into the stadium.

The state has adopted guidelines for building with bird-safe glass, but Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the Sports Facility Authority, said the design process predates the new rules.

"One of the design goals was to create a building that was more connected and integrated with the community than the Metrodome had been," Kelm-Helgen said. "The ability to see in and out of the stadium was what led us to the design."

The Vikings and building contractors say they are working with the Audubon Society to develop a lighting system that will help alert migrating birds to the stadiums presence.

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