The Minnesota Vikings Might Soon Kill a Whole Lot of Birds

The Audubon Society is calling Minneapolis' new football stadium a death trap for avian visitors.

The multiuse Vikings stadium design. (Photo: Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority/Facebook)

Jul 24, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

While Minnesota Vikings fans excitedly await the opening of their team’s shiny new stadium, avian advocates are expressing concern—calling the glass-enclosed arena a death trap for birds.

The Vikings stadium is scheduled to open in the summer of 2016, and the Super Bowl is slated to be held there in 2018. According to Matthew Anderson, executive director of Audubon Minnesota, the team and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority refuse to use safer glass that could prevent bird collisions.

“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 1/10 of one percent of that,” Anderson said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”

Audubon Society projects that up to 988 million birds die annually from collisions with buildings, particularly with glass windows, in the United States. Anderson said that the new Vikings arena would feature about 200,000 square feet of glass.

The MSFA agreed to Audubon’s suggestion to point the stadium’s lights downward instead of up for bird safety. But the group—established to oversee the stadium’s construction and operation—said that there’s not enough budget to install bird-safe glass at a cost of $1.1 million.

“One of the design goals was to create a building that was more connected and integrated with the community than the Metrodome had been,” Michele Kelm-Helgen, MSFA’s chairperson, said in a statement. “The ability to see in and out of the stadium was what led us to the design that included the [glass] roof.”

The Audubon Society insists that state guidelines require bond-funded construction to prevent bird-window collisions.

“The Vikings recently approved spending millions and millions of additional dollars to make sure the stadium is ‘iconic,’ ” Anderson said. “Surely they also want to make sure it’s not a death trap. We’re asking them to change their minds and do the right thing.”