MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minnesota Vikings are moving ahead with clear glass on their new stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

That’s the latest word from the Sports Authority, which is overseeing stadium construction.

This is despite concerns about possible bird collisions with the soaring glass stadium walls.

The Audubon Society predicts thousands of bird-glass collisions because the stadium sits near a critical Mississippi flyway for migrating birds.

But the Sports Authority building the stadium is very skeptical about that number, and it says glass production is well underway.

The Vikings and the Sports Authority say it’s too late to change the 200,000 square feet of clear glass on the new stadium, the most striking design feature on the iconic structure.

“That building was designed to see in and see out. Have a transparent roof and five pivoting glass doors. And we think that is fundamental,” Lester Bagley, with the Minnesota Vikings, said.

Team officials and the Sports Authority told a legislative oversight committee they’re going ahead with the soaring glass walls.

That’s despite concerns it’s a possible kill zone for migrating birds who could crash into reflective glass.

The Minnesota Audubon Society has documented thousands of bird deaths from collisions with downtown Minneapolis glass skyscrapers.

It says the stadium glass walls will reflect trees and grass.

“And in that first 30 to 60 feet, that’s where the birds will be flying.  If they get that reflection behind them, of the trees and the grass, they’re going to think that’s what they are flying towards and flying through. When in fact they’re going to hit glass,” Matthew Anderson, of the Audubon Society, said.

The Sports Authority rejected the bird safe glass.

They said this was because it changes the look of the stadium and the glass is already in production, and ready for installation soon.

“There’s over 50 buildings in Minneapolis, and St. Paul and Bloomington that have glass exteriors in significant amounts. And as far as I know, I don’t think anyone has ever tracked thousands of birds,” Michelle Kelm-Helgen, of the Minnesota Sports Authority, said.

The Sports Authority and Audubon Minnesota have already agreed on significant steps to prevent bird glass collisions, including turning off the stadium lighting during migration seasons and changing the type, and direction, of lighting.

Pat Kessler

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