Sign in to comment!

Fox News Weather Center

New Minnesota Vikings Stadium Designed to Withstand Harshest Winter Conditions

As shiny new sports stadiums sprout up around the country, featuring extraordinary and more innovative designs than their predecessors, oftentimes the structures are formulated with the weather in mind.

In July 2016, the Minnesota Vikings will unveil a state-of-the-art stadium, and as construction crews work throughout the summer on the team's palatial new home, the venue's design will come together with a focus on winter weather.

Minneapolis is well accustomed to harsh winters, and according to the Vikings, the stadium was designed specifically for the region's climate, as the building's slope was engineered to reduce snow and ice buildup.

In December 2010, the inflatable roof of the Vikings' old home, the Metrodome, memorably collapsed from the weight of 17 inches of snow and damaging high winds, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The new stadium's pitched roof will allow snow to slide off into catch basins and it will also have a unique snow melt system installed into the roof designed by Uponor North America, a company that provides plumbing and indoor climate and infrastructure systems for residential and commercial buildings.

The company manufactures the cross-linked polyethylene, or PEX, tubing which will be used in the stadium. Hot water that runs through the PEX tubes will raise the surface temperature of the roof, melting the snow before it accumulates, according to Joe Grubesic, the Midwest director of sales for Uponor.

"The stadium is designed to work in conjunction with catch basins lined along the outside perimeter to keep snow or ice from falling on occupants outside the stadium," Grubesic said. "The Uponor snowmelt system is designed to melt all snow or ice that accumulates within these catch basins."

Once the snow is melted, the water is removed through drains located within the catch basin. Other considerations such as wind speed and direction as well as ambient temperatures were taken into account when designing the system.

"If the snow is accumulating at a rapid rate, the system will accommodate that regardless of how much snow is falling," Grubesic said.

The project will consist of 70,000 linear feet of tubing across a 58,000 square-foot area and it's likely to be installed on the stadium by the end of June, he said.

Grubesic said the system being installed on the roof of a stadium is a unique application to their knowledge. The company has done work previously for athletic venues around the world on the field level, using a process of what's known as "turf conditioning."

Turf conditioning is the process where a similar system using PEX tubing is installed in the soil beneath the turf to retain an optimum soil temperature and prevent freezing below ground. Uponor says that this can promote superior field conditions by decreasing snow and ice buildup and helping to reduce the risk of athletes becoming seriously injured in all seasons.

Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, is just one of the venues where Uponor has installed this application.

"That's why you'll even see green grass at Lambeau in December and January," Grubesic said.

In NFL cities that regularly have warmer weather, stadiums have taken shape to either utilize or combat their local climate.

In Glendale, Arizona, the Arizona Cardinals' University of Phoenix Stadium glistens like a jewel in the Southwestern desert. The stadium, christened in 2006, features not only a retractable roof to keep fans sheltered from the heat, but the first fully retractable field in North America. The field is left outdoors until game day where it can get the maximum amount of sunlight and eliminate humidity problems inside the stadium.

Retractable roofs are a common feature to keep the elements at bay, but several pre-existing structures are currently getting a facelift that will help weatherproof their facilities.

As part of the modernization of Sun Life Stadium, the Miami Dolphins are building an open-air canopy over the existing seating areas to give shade and cover to fans so they can get relief from the hot, and often wet, Miami weather.

It's not just football stadiums that are looking to take weather out of the equation. The desire to keep weather from interfering with premier tennis matches has led to a remodeling of several of the top venues in the sport.

Starting in 2009, rain delays at the the famous Centre Court at Wimbledon were no longer an issue thanks to the completion of a retractable roof. Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, New York, home to the U.S. Open, is currently getting a roof of its own; construction is expected to be complete by 2016. To keep as much of an outdoor environment as possible, the roof will be closed only in situations where it's raining and not for extreme wind or heat, according to the tournament's website.

Additionally, the Associated Press reports that the French Open is looking to install a roof by 2019.