Vikings stadium: Architect ready for challenges

This is a conceptual drawing of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium from the firm selected in September as the designer. Dallas-based HKS Inc. beat out four competitors to draw up plans for the $975 million Minnesota Vikings' stadium that will be built in downtown Minneapolis.

John M. Hutchings has designed some beautiful new football stadiums. He was in the Metrodome this past Sunday and he did admit it had one certain charm.

"It was very loud," he said.

Hutchings is the head architect in charge of the design for the new Minnesota Vikings stadium. In recent years he has designed state-of-the-art football stadiums in Dallas and Indianapolis, which have been the sites of the past two Super Bowls.

Minnesota's new facility will be a multi-purpose stadium, much like the Metrodome. But Hutchings, who works for the firm HKS, wants the new stadium to look good and sound good. Retaining a high sound quality can be good for concerts, but can retract from the noise of a football crowd. That is part of Hutchings' challenge as he braces for the task of designing the stadium.

"We expect those challenges," Hutchings said.


As of now the $975 million stadium will be a permanent roof facility. The Vikings are expected to decide in the near future if they want to pay the extra cost to add a retractable dome. Hutchings said the multi-purpose facility will be able to attract more than 200 events a year.

"For the state that was a big factor," said Michele Kelm-Helgen, the chair of the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority, who was also in Rochester on Tuesday.

Hutchings was in Rochester as part of a public form, getting a handle on what fans would like to see in or as part of in the new stadium.

The stadium is expected to include shops on the inside, a place for Vikings lore, possible fan interaction attractions and more.

"It will be a fun process here," Hutchings said.

The stadium is expected to hold 65,000 fans for Vikings games. But like Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Hutchings will design the stadium with room for another 7,000 to 8,000 fans for an event like the Super Bowl. A Super Bowl would also be able to accommodate 2,500 media members.

The narrow concourses of the Metrodome will also be a thing of the past.

"It will be modern," Hutchings promises. He also notes "it will be a green stadium."


Aside from the two football locker rooms, up to four other locker rooms are expected for such possible events as NCAA Tournament basketball games. The Metrodome has been the site of a Final Four.

Hutchings and his team have plenty of work to do in the coming months. The plan is have the complete design of the stadium ready for the public to look at in March. Then the hard part begins, construction.

"We have an aggressive schedule," Hutchings said.

Hutchings said the stadium will be ready in time for the start of the 2016 season. Kelm-Helgen estimated about 7,500 workers will help construct the stadium, with most employees residing from Minnesota.

"The focus is on local Minnesota business and local economic benefit," Kelm-Helgen said.

Hutchings said many of the materials used in the stadium will be from Minnesota. He is also looking for possible ways to incorporate state resources into the facility, much like the Twins had limestone from Minnesota used at Target Field.

"It really focuses on using in-state products," Kelm-Helgen said.


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