German profit, Minnesota failure

Many questions surround Vikings stadium transparent roof


ThroughMyEyesnewKSTP, Channel 5, on November 3, 2014, reported the results of its six-month investigation into the transparent (see-through) material to make up 60 percent of the new Vikings stadium roof. They even sent a reporter to the manufacturer, Vectorfoiltec, in Bremen, Germany. Thus, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (on Germany’s western border) gets the steel for the stadium and Germany gets the see-through ETFE (ethylene-tetraflouroethylene) for the roof.

This will be the first NFL stadium with a transparent (see-through), ETFE, non-movable roof. This reflects the level of NFL involvement in decisions made for our stadium. We hope it works. If it saves construction and maintenance costs, while ensuring its use year round, it will be worth it for us and for future NFL stadiums.

We are the experiment. Traditional roofs (whether fixed, retractable or domes) can cost $50-$150 million more (although we haven’t been able to find out the actual cost of the Vikings roof). Builder HKS assures low maintenance and self-cleaning, thus costing less over the life of stadium.

However, there are issues KSTP raises that the building process will have to address:

• New: As ETFE is relatively new, not much research has been learned about it.

• Longevity: ETFE roofs are supposed to last 30-50 years. Will the Vikings roof? Who knows? Vectorfoiltec owner/inventor/President Stefan Lehnert said: “We don’t know the actual life span.”

• MSFA (Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority) chair Michele Kelm-Helgen could also not say, saying only that the warranty is for 15 years. She said after 15 years, insurance would pay to fix or replace.

• Cost over time: How much will insurance go up if the roof doesn’t last as long as hoped for?

• Germany vs. Minnesota: Luxembourg, steel, Bremen, Germany EFTE, and Minnesota

• Climate: still unclear regarding extreme climate conditions and disasters

• Hail: a weakness. A UM professor raised the issue of whether or not Minnesota golf-ball and baseball-size hail will penetrate the EFTE roof. It is assumed the material will hold. We will have to wait to see how well it holds.

• Vision line claim: to be able to see the downtown skyline. How, from roof, even with its tilt?

• Embarrassment: a tear in EFTE — the 6’ 4” 220-pound KSTP investigative reporter was invited to jump up and down on a demo spread of EFTE; a tear resulted.

This revolutionary roof with the revolutionary material from Bremen, Germany will eventually comprise 60 percent of the massive roof supported by specialty-forged steel from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. German workers will install the EFTE roof. And Minnesota workers?

When the time comes to make repairs, will we use Minnesota workers or will we have to import German workers to fix the people’s roof? Another question: Will this material be used on any of the vertical panels?

Germans are about to make a financial killing on Minnesota taxpayers. Ted Mondale’s MSFA, in the interest of full disclosure, should tell taxpayers and ticket holders what the real overall costs are of the people’s stadium.

We notice little talk of the steel being from Luxembourg. What is the plan if something goes wrong with the ocean-crossing shipping? How come no one is talking about the fact that such materials are not “Made in the USA?”

We assume, based on political ads leading up to the Minnesota elections this year, that this was important. How will Iron Range voters respond? I wonder what jobs could have been saved if stadium materials from Minnesota promises were kept instead of outsourcing them to Europe in order to carry out this experiment for the NFL?

Stay tuned.

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