The Minnesota Vikings and the Mississippi River flyway’s new Bird-o-Matic

Received a lengthy press release from Minnesota Audubon yesterday critical of the final design for the new Minnesota Vikings stadium. Twin Cities and regional media have covered the story extensively the past 24 hours. The facility – or monstrosity, depending on your view of taxpayer-funded stadiums –  threatens birds migrating up the Mississippi River corridor, Audubon says.

Per the release, state guidelines require bond-funded buildings to protect birds from window collisions, yet the Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority last week rejected calls to use safer types of glass that could help prevent birds from flying into the stadium’s huge glass windows.

“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,” Audubon Minnesota Executive Director Matthew Anderson said. “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."

We’ve all seen the stats on how many birds die colliding with buildings every year, and this space went apoplectic last year when the Minneapolis City Council (led by a Green Party member) passed a plan to allow avian-grinding feral cat colonies within the city. So nothing much surprises me in Minneapolis these days.

But what’s especially irritating about this decision is that it compounds bad on top of bad. Minnesota citizens are on the hook for a half-billion-plus to underwrite ZygiWorld, yet the ballclub can’t spend the extra $1.1 million to create a bird-safe structure.

Multiple media sources have followed this bird story the past two years, but it appears the Vikings hoped this issue would fly south for the winter. Way back in December 2012, the Audubon release reminds us, the DNR had urged the stadium to incorporate bird-safe design into the building. A few months later, a special committee of the Minneapolis City Council specifically recommended that the stadium adopt Audubon’s construction suggestions. (The same city council that approved cat colonies.

How’s that for irony?!)

Audubon says its staff communicated with developers from May 2013 after the stadium design was publicly unveiled until April 2014, when they were told that another meeting would be scheduled before a July 15 decision on the type of glass. That meeting was canceled, Audubon maintains, and its staff learned July 17 that there would be no change in the stadium glass choice to protect birds.

In the Thursday, July 24 Minneapolis Star Tribune, Michelle Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the Sports Facility Authority, said the stadium design was started before adoption of state guidelines on bird-safe glass so it isn’t subject to those rules.

There’s a convenient loophole! God forbid the parties involved in constructing this NFL cathedral take the high road for the wildlife of the Mississippi Flyway. Like so many people in today’s society, what happens out-of-doors plays second fiddle to massive video screens and almighty profits. Witness the sportswriters in this town mocking this story ad nauseum the past 24 hours.

Kelm-Helgen notes that the MSFA has agreed to lights-out guidelines per Audubon’s recommendations.

“We are grateful that the MSFA will be incorporating some of our recommendations regarding lighting design and operations, but lighting is just one part of the problem” said Joanna Eckles, bird-friendly communities manager for Audubon Minnesota, in the July 23 release. “The huge expanses of glass, especially facing a new park, are a real cause for concern. 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.”

ICAST recap

Evy Gebhardt, the sales and marketing manager at Outdoor News, and I spent a couple days in steamy Orlando, Fla., last week for the 57th ICAST show. I wrote my print column about the annual International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades Show this week and promised to list the Best in Show product winners in this space.

The awards were presented on Wednesday, July 16, during the Chairman’s Industry Awards reception, sponsored by Minnesota’s own Rapala. Products competed in 24 categories for the “Best of Show” along with the overall “Best of Show” award. In 2014, more than 700 products were entered by 253 exhibiting companies.

Johnson Outdoors Watercraft Predator XL was voted by buyers and media as the most innovative product in the ICAST 2014 New Product Showcase Boat category and, ultimately, the overall “Best of Show.”

Other Best of Show winners included:

  • Freshwater Rod: Duckett Fishing, Micro Magic Pro.
  • Saltwater Rod: Shimano American Corporation, Terez Stand Up.
  • Fly Fishing Rod: G. Loomis, Inc., PRO4.
  • Freshwater Reel: Pure Fishing, Inc., Abu-Revo Beast.
  • Saltwater Reel: Pure Fishing, Inc, PENN Battle II Spinning.
  • Fly Fishing Reel: 3TAND, TF-70 Sealed Fly Reel.
  • Hard Lure: SPRO Corporation, BBZ-1 Rat.
  • Soft Lure: Okuma Fishing Tackle Corporation, Savage Gear 3D PVC Crab.
  • Lifestyle Apparel: Pelagic, 4TEK Fish Finder Boardshort.
  • Technical Apparel: STORMR, Fusion Bib.
  • Boating Accessory: Johnson Outdoors, Minn Kota Ulterra Trolling Motor.
  • Boats: Johnson Outdoors Watercraft, Predator XL.
  • Combo: Lew’s Fishing Tackle, American Hero Baitcast Combo.
  • Electronics: Johnson Outdoors, Humminbird ONIX 8SI.
  • Eyewear: Costa, Hamlin-580P Mirror Lenses.
  • Fishing Accessory: Lit-Industries, Lit Coolers.
  • FishSmart Tackle: Cuda Fishing Tools, Cuda Grip & Scale.
  • Fly Fishing Accessory: Plastica Panaro SRL, Fly Caddy.
  • Footwear: Columbia Sportswear, Megavent PFG.
  • Giftware: Helter Skeletons, Authentic Skeletal Articulation.
  • Kids’ Tackle: Zebco, Splash Combos.
  • Line : Pure Fishing, Berkley IronSilk.
  • Tackle Management: Engel USA, UC30-RH.
  • Terminal Tackle: Eagle Claw Fishing Tackle, TroKar TK619.
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