Sheet metal partners tackle challenges at the NFL’s newest stadium

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you:  Winning a contract to work on U.S. Bank Stadium—located in downtown Minneapolis and home of the NFL’s Vikings—wasn’t just any old job for SMACNA contractors MG McGrath Inc. Sheet Metal and Albers Commercial Kitchen Services. It was one that involved creating one of the largest and most unique structures in North America.  

“I’ve worked on some pretty cool jobs—from Target Field, home of MLB’s Twins, to the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium and the Xcel Energy Center, home of the NHL’s Wild—but nothing compares to this experience,” said Dewey Roschen, field superintendent for MG McGrath and a Vikings’ fan from “back when they played outside in the cold.”

“It was a really a neat thing for our apprentices and journeypersons to be there,” said Carl Zitzer, SMART Local 10 training coordinator. “To have the opportunity to be a part of anything that big is rare.”

 U.S. Bank Stadium features a black zinc façade and a fixed, slanted roof that is 60 percent transparent and designed to direct snow and runoff into 50-foot-high heated gutters installed 270 feet off the ground. Five 95-foot high pivoting glass doors beyond the lower-level seats on the west side allow fans to see the city skyline and open to the outside elements when the weather is warm.

“We needed to be creative when dealing with the building’s unusual curvature,” Roschen said. “We had to be creative in pulling in our swing stages with the use of ISA anchors and 180-foot boom lifts.” Roschen logged 8 to 10 miles of walking daily while on the project.  

MG McGrath worked on all of the 1.75 million square feet of finished surface in the building, including 420,000 square feet of exterior metal panels, and 6 miles of steel, blackened and clear-coated interior base (much like baseboards in a house), plus aluminum soffits, anthrazinc panels, and accent bands. 

Albers Commercial Kitchen Services devoted 26,000 man hours to the project, with workers installing custom components in the executive suites and stands, among other locations. The stadium includes six Suite levels, 8,200 Club seats, seven Club lounges, 131 suites, and a total seating capacity for more than 66,000 fans.

“Coming out of the recession in ’08, ’09, ’10, it was a bit of a relief for our contractors to see the stadium on the books,” said Matt Fairbanks, SMART Local 10 business representative. At one point during the project, the local celebrated full employment with 150 members at work.

“The stadium was a blessing,” agreed Vince Washington, a 54-year-old fifth-year apprentice. “Most of the theory I learned about in school I was able to experience at the stadium. There were light bulbs going off every day for me.”

In fact, according to training coordinator Zitzer, sometimes going to work on a project like this was “more fun that going to a party.” 

In addition to the stadium project, McGrath put architectural craftsworkers to work fabricating and installing The Horn monument at Medtronic Plaza, which is adjacent to the west entrance of the stadium. This contemporary art sculpture, weighing more than 38 tons and measuring 107 feet long by 25 feet high by 30 feet wide, represents the Gjallarhorn sounded prior to all Vikings games. It incorporates structural tube steel and plate steel framing, mirror finish stainless steel and painted metal panels and is embedded with LED lighting. 

Although the stadium has been christened—the Vikings beat the Green Bay Packers there on Sept. 18—and The Horn unveiled, SMACNA and their skilled craftspersons will keep busy in Minneapolis for the next few years. U.S. Bank stadium will host the 2018 Super Bowl, and the 2017 and 2018 summer X Games, and as a result, a significant amount of new development is underway, including the Wells Fargo Towers and nearby multi-family condominiums and restaurants.

“These are once-in-a-lifetime projects that mean a lot,” Fairbanks concluded. “We like to accomplish things. We can drive by the new stadium and tell our kids and our grandkids, ‘I worked on that.’”

 

The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) have a labor-management partnership that is more than 75 years old. The goal of these Partners in Progress is to maintain an effective cooperative effort that demonstrates their expertise in the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC), architectural metal, and industrial sheet metal markets. For additional information, visit http://www.pinp.org/.