New Minnesota Stadium will kill birds, Audubon protests

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GRN Reports

A kerfluffle over the ginormous glass wall on the new Minnesota Vikings stadium in the Twin Cities is picking up steam, with the Audubon Society saying the stadium’s a bird killer and the team owners refusing to modify plans for the wall.

Audubon has been asking the Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority for months to order a safer, more bird-friendly glass, and having been rebuffed is now collecting names on petition letters. The conservation group’s website indicates that more than 60,000 people have signed letters of protest.

Audubon says the Minnesota edifice, which will straddle a bird migration path and features 200,000 square feet of glass, will spell certain death for hundreds, if not thousands, of birds because the animals will not be able to see the glass. Birds migrating along the Mississippi River will fly right into it, seeing only an open interior through the glass.

The Vikings and MSFA have said they cannot change the wall, because the glass has already been ordered. They’ve also said that they want to preserve the open feel of the stadium.

Audubon, however, says the team has an obligation to the public to make the stadium more bird-friendly, and it wouldn’t cost that much.

“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 one-tenth of one percent of that,” said Audubon Minnesota Executive Director Matthew Anderson.

“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. The Vikings recently approved spending millions and millions of additional dollars to make sure the stadium is ‘iconic’ – 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.”

Last weekend, a group of protesters gathered at the site of the new $1 billion stadium, which is supposed to be completed by 2016.

Before the stadium’s plans were finalized, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minneapolis City Council both urged the Vikings to adopt Audubon’s suggestions for making the football stadium less of a threat to birds.

The MSFA did make some lighting changes, based on Audubon’s input, but the group still left the major problem in play.

“The huge expanses of glass, especially facing a new park, are a real cause for concern,” said Joanna Eckles, bird-friendly communities manager for Audubon Minnesota. “Our request was that they meet either the state requirement or the nationally recognized LEED standard for bird safety. In the end, they did neither.”

Nearly 1 billion birds are killed every year in the United States from collisions with glass office towers and other windows.

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