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Audubon Society to deliver 77k signatures to guv calling for fritted glass on Vikings stadium

According to Audubon, birds like this Canada Warbler often perish when they collide with glass buildings.
According to Audubon, birds like this Canada Warbler often perish when they collide with glass buildings.
Bill Majoros on Flickr Creative Commons

UPDATE: While the bird-safe glass on the Vikings stadium is now a no-go, folks still haven't forgotten the bitter battle between officials and the Audubon Society. In spring of 2015, the Vikings announced personalized bricks for sale at the stadium, and Twitter had a field day coming up with cheeky messages to put on the bricks -- including bird-themed ones.

At about 10 a.m. today, the Minnesota Audubon Society will deliver a petition with about 77,000 signatures -- 6,000 or so of them from Minnesotans -- to Gov. Mark Dayton calling for the installation of fritted glass on the new Vikings stadium.

"'The People's Stadium' shouldn't be killing the people's birds," Matthew Anderson, executive director of Audubon Minnesota, tells us.

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The glass the Vikings plan to install on the new stadium's exterior isn't visible to birds, so, as we've covered here on Blotter, Audubon wants the team and/or Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority to pony up the roughly $1 million it'd take to pay for fritted glass that will save bird lives by allowing them to see what they're approaching.

But after 14 months of negotiations, officials from the team and MSFA pulled out of talks with Audubon last month, saying they didn't have a budget for the fancy glass. (See examples of local buildings with fritted glass here, here, and here.) That explanation, however, was belied by Zygi and Mark Wilf announcing last week that they'll spend $46 million of their own bucks to cover stadium construction cost overruns.

"[The Vikings] said on July 17 when they called our board member to say they weren't going with the bird-safe glass after 14 months of negotiations that it was because of [finances]," Anderson writes in a text message. "They then repeated that for weeks publicly."

But last week's developments show there's "plenty of money," Anderson adds. "They said it's a design (meaning aesthetics) issue though for last five weeks (until Friday) it was a [money] issue."

Audubon's petition, entitled "Don't fumble on bird safety," says:

The new Minnesota Vikings stadium is primed to become one of Minnesota's biggest bird killers unless quick action is taken. The Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) decided last week to use a form of glass that is extremely deadly to birds, rejecting calls to use safer types of glass that could save thousands of birds each year from fatally colliding with the stadium.

The planned building features nearly 200,000 square feet of glass (that's 4 football fields of glass walls!) and is sited near a major bird migration pathway along the Mississippi River corridor. This decision is a death warrant for birds. This is a billion dollar stadium, and the cost to save thousands of birds by using bird safe glass could cost about one-tenth of one percent of that.

I expect more from both the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. Please reverse course immediately and use safer glass for the new Minnesota Vikings stadium.

We touched base with Joanna Eckles, Audobon's resident glass expert, to get more information on the type of glass Audubon would like to see encasing the new Vikings stadium (glass installation work is set to begin early next year).

(For more, click to page two.)

 

"There is no one product that is 'bird safe glass' but what we've been talking about is an existing type of glass product called fritted glass," Eckles writes in an email. "It has a permanent pattern incorporated between the panes during production for reducing the sunlight that penetrates a building, especially a building with a lot of glass. These patterns have also been found helpful in preventing collisions."

Anderson says studies have shown that fritted glass reduces bird deaths from collisions by about 75 percent compared to non-fritted glass. He says those studies are supported by what happened at New York City's Javits Convention Center, which was recently renovated with fritted glass.

Javits "went from the most dangerous [building] on NY Audubon's monitoring route to only having a handful of birds found," Anderson writes.

Anderson cites the new Cowboys Stadium in Dallas as one example of an NFL stadium that features fritted glass, though he acknowledges stadiums that have gone that route haven't typically done so primarily to preserve bird lives.

Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.




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