‘Fair Chance’ for Vikes’ Retractable Roof
Vikings executive Lester Bagley, who for years has been the franchise’s lead advocate on the new stadium, told Sports Headliners there’s a “fair chance” the new downtown facility will have a retractable roof.
The agreement reached this spring between the NFL club, the state and city of Minneapolis left the issue of a retractable roof undecided. Bagley said before the stadium bill was passed the Vikings tried to negotiate sufficient funding for a retractable roof but instead facility builders will have to see if it’s possible to have that amenity within the $975 million budget.
“We want to have, if possible, a retractable feature,” Bagley said. “Have the walls on the ends open to the downtown, to the plaza, or a roof, or window, or some retractable feature to kind of maximize the gameday fan experience.
“We have a $975 million budget and there’s a lot of things that have to be in the facility. It’s gotta be ready for baseball, soccer and NCAA basketball. So it’s gotta have all these other non-football elements that add to the cost and are going to drive that budget.”
If the stadium has a retractable roof it will most likely open and shut over only a portion of the facility — just the playing field. Bagley expects the issue to be decided in the next six to nine months after a stadium architect is hired and a design plan is finalized.
Whether a fixed roof or retractable roof facility is approved, the new building is expected to be impressive. “We need to build a world-class facility,” Bagley said. “The only anxiety I have left is we want to make sure that when this building opens that the public has the reaction they had when the new (Twins) ballpark opened: What a great facility. We want to make sure that it’s iconic. That it fits this market.”
Bagley also said the Vikings are already “getting in line” with NFL officials regarding a Super Bowl for the stadium. Minneapolis hosted the 1992 game and impressed league representatives with local planning and hospitality.
The Vikings are also considering the future of their training facility and executive offices at Winter Park in Eden Prairie. “It’s an okay facility but it by no means is NFL standard,” Bagley said. “It’s not nearly as nice as the Gophers facility.”
Bagley said the Vikings owners are considering various options including whether to keep their facility at Winter Park.