Eight months out from its debut, the new Minnesota Vikings stadium is already a star.
Since the Metrodome started coming down in January 2014, cameras have been televising the progress on the new stadium around the clock from various vantage points.
The cameras were set up by EarthCam, a New Jersey-based company that installs cameras on construction projects and tourist spots all over the world and posts images on two websites. Earthcam.com features views from landmarks like Times Square, the crown of the Statue of Liberty and Abbey Road in London. The earthcam.net site shows construction projects for roads, stadiums and bridges, including the new St. Croix River crossing.
The Vikings stadium construction is crazy popular.
Pages from the construction cameras have been viewed 10.7 million times since the cameras went up through November, according to EarthCam.
Lisa Kelly, strategic sales director at EarthCam and a New Brighton native, said the company has thousands of cameras telecasting throughout the world. Among all EarthCam cameras on all sites, the Vikings stadium is consistently in the top 25 viewed. Among the construction cameras, the stadium is in the top five.
The overwhelming majority of views come from the United States and Canada. Third in viewership is New Zealand, followed by Germany, Brazil and the Czech Republic.
Kelly said the stadium’s popularity has been a surprise because it’s more popular than any stadium they’ve ever documented, including the new ballparks for the Minnesota Twins, St. Paul Saints and the San Francisco 49ers new home, Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
The Vikings stadium is “architecturally very interesting,” she said, noting the “massive steel girders” and calling the project, where upward of 1,200 workers have been on site, “an amazing construction effort.”
EarthCam regularly puts together time-lapse video of the progress on U.S. Bank Stadium using the best shots, a popular feature. The sites also allow viewers to take a still picture of what they’re seeing to e-mail or post to social media.
The week of Dec. 21, viewers will get to see the final bits of precast “stadia” going into place. That’s the concrete to which the purple seats are mounted. Many of the seats are already in place and visible on the cameras.
Kelly said the Vikings have vigorously promoted the new stadium, set to open in summer 2016. It is almost double the size of the Metrodome it’s replacing.
From the moment the cameras turned on, the fans have been watching. The biggest day for viewership was the first day of the Metrodome’s demolition: Jan. 18, 2014.
Vikings communications director Jeff Anderson said the team wants to document the $1.1 billion project, the largest public-private effort in state history. “We decided early on we wanted to bring our fans into the construction process,” he said.
At every home game this season, the team has played a time-lapse video of the progress. If a camera trained on the site goes dark, the team hears about it from viewers.
“People are paying attention, and they’re interested, that’s for sure,” Anderson said.