We had a chance, and we blew it.
U.S. Bank, our sports authority commission, and the owners of the Minnesota Vikings. — all of them passed on the chance to build the first major sports stadium using bird-safe glass.
In Milwaukee, however, the Milwaukee Bucks professional basketball team made the right decision. Milwaukee now has that honor.
Milwaukee has a new half-billion-dollar basketball arena that includes design features making the huge structure particularly bird-friendly.
This arena, located in the center of town, has large glass windows, like our stadium. The windows contain an almost invisible ceramic element making it less likely birds will be killed by flying into the windows. It’s known as fritting.
The news comes from the American Bird Conservancy (ABC). I saw the story in the electronic newsletter “Birding Community eBulletin.
Ordinary glass windows, like those used in U.S. Bank stadium, reflect the background, luring birds who see a continuation of habitat.
Fritting creates tiny lines visible to us only when we stand close. It does not interfere with overall transparency.
For birds, signals that the glass serves as a wall that should be avoided, accordingly to the ABC.
"The Bucks stepped up for birds in a way that no sports franchise ever has," said an official of the conservancy.
“No sports franchise ever” includes the Minnesota Vikings.
Bird-friendly features were incorporated early in the arena design process.
The designer, the firm Populous, was encouraged to do so by Bryan Lenz, at the time the director of Bird City Wisconsin, according to the ABC.
Persuasion by Lenz had impact with Bucks president Peter Feigin. He is an executive who paid attention, who could see over the top of his wallet.
Feigin is quoted as saying the decisive meeting on glass, following previous discussion, “lasted five minutes.”
Proponents of bird-safe glass here invested far more than five minutes, and got nothing but a study for the effort.
The Milwaukee arena, named Fiserv Forum, is hoped to be a model for other arenas, stadiums, and large buildings for many years. The Milwaukee Bucks have demonstrated that building a bird-safe structure is an achievable goal.
Think of the publicity Milwaukee and the Bucks will get. That model for the world to see could be us. But it isn’t.
“Surely no sports teams want to kill wild birds at their facilities,” said the conservancy. Wrong.
I have puzzled since the beginning of the bird discussion here why the Vikings, the authority, and the bank never saw the publicity opportunity. Or why it was seen and dismissed. Good press — what entertainment organization says no to that?
Using bird-safe glass at U.S. Bank stadium would have added a tiny amount to the cost of the building. That money could never buy the positive publicity, world-wide, that bird-safe glass would have offered.
Milwaukee should thank us for the opportunity we handed them on a glass platter.
(The study: a collaborative study of bird collisions with U.S. Bank stadium glass is underway. Results are expected in 2019. Someone will look at the numbers and decide what will or won’t be done. My question is, who decides.)