Third in a multi-series
Half the cost of the newly opened Vikings Stadium, known as the “People’s Stadium” before its corporate branding, has come from the people’s money — taxes and related public subsidies totaling more than half a billion dollars. Now is the time to assess just what the people, especially Black people, have received for their money thus far, from groundbreaking to grand opening and beyond. Who has benefited most from the controversial project? Has the Black community shared in the benefits? This multi-part series will seek answers to these and related questions.
The new Vikings downtown stadium is nearly twice the size of the Metrodome, almost two million square feet and nearly 30 stories tall. Ed Reynolds and his staff are mainly responsible for keeping the giant structure clean.
“The expectations of cleanliness in the building are really off the charts,” the stadium’s cleaning service manager tells the MSR. It “is totally night and day from the Metrodome.”
Compared to the Metrodome, the new seven-level multi-use edifice has twice the number of restrooms (978), and the two 360-degree concourses are twice as wide. Besides the 66,200 seats, (seating can be expanded to 70,000 if needed), there are approximately 8,200 club seats within six club spaces, 131 individual suites that can hold anywhere from 10-24 fans, and 430 concessions locations.
“We really have to focus on the whole building,” notes Reynolds, who has over 15 years’ experience in large facilities management, including St. Paul’s Union Depot, two NFL stadiums (Tampa and San Francisco), and the old Metrodome, where he was cleaning services manager from 2009-2014.
“At the other place [the Dome], we were only responsible with the concourses, the arena and the outside. Now we’re tasked with all the Vikings suites and the clubs.
“This is the hardest job I ever had,” says Reynolds. “[It’s] a huge difference [because] the building is triple the size from where we’ve come from.”
His staff is “85 percent minority, if not 95 [percent].” Reynolds proudly points to an all-Black, four-person management team, 11 full-time daily workers, and 80 part-time employees. The group not only is responsible for the upkeep of the stadium, “but we are tasked with the parking lot and the part across the street,” he says.
“[There’s] no way I can do this all by myself. A lot of it goes to these guys and how they work, the dedication they put in daily. The commitment these guys have shown to open up this building is something I can’t put down on paper.”
After eight years (2001-09) as a Hennepin County facilities maintenance and operations mechanic, Reynolds moved to the Metrodome, then the home of the Vikings and the Minnesota Twins. “I took that route of working at the stadium and worked up the ranks,” he recalls. “I managed the building on a day-to-day basis and oversaw all the cleaning of the Metrodome.
“Once the stadium went down, I went to California and opened up [the new two-million square foot stadium in San Jose] for the San Francisco 49ers,” explains Reynolds. He then returned to the area and worked at the Union Depot in St. Paul. While there, he was in charge of the preparation for President Obama’s visit in February 2014.
Reynolds last year took an assistant cleaning services manager position at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stadium, where he supervised up to 130 employees for major events as well as post-events inspections at the stadium.
“When this job opened up, I was hoping [that] my résumé” would be attractive enough to be hired at the new stadium, says Reynolds. “I applied and was lucky enough to get the job.”
Reynolds likens the Vikings stadium to a newly built house, and he’s proud of the opportunity to help maintain it during its opening months since its doors opened in July. It’s a challenging responsibility nonetheless, he says.
“This is the hardest job I’ve had,” Reynolds reiterates. “And I think I can speak for [my staff]” as well.
Next: The new Vikings stadium’s economic impact now that it’s open.
First installment: Vikings stadium payoff: What’s the return on our investment so far?
Second installment: Minority workforce and subcontracting goals were exceeded
Fourth installment: Vikings stadium: Boosters see clear benefits where skeptics see more empty promises
Fifth installment: Vikings stadium payoff: Collaborators tout equity success in stadium construction
Sixth installment: North High victory Prep Bowl at Vikings stadium offered affordable look at facility
Seventh installment: 2019 Final Four planners aim high for diversity, inclusion
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.