New Vikings Stadium Comes With Accessibility Concerns

Updated: 10/16/2012 10:18 AM KSTP.com By: Mark Albert

From a pedi-cab drop-off zone, to concourses wide enough for a marching band, to a video monitor easily raised to avoid foul balls in baseball season, about 200 people passed along their wish lists during an open house with the architect of the new Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

Among the concerns raised was a perceived lack of inclusion by the disability community so far in the design process.

"When you design and construct to minimum standards, everybody suffers," explained Margot Imdieke Cross, accessibility specialist at the Minnesota State Council on Disability, in an interview.

Imdieke Cross told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS her calls to key leaders in the stadium process have gone ignored and no accessibility advisory committee had yet been established for the Vikings stadium, despite one in place during the design of nearby Target Field and the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

"We had not gotten any firm commitment yet," Imdieke Cross said before the start of Monday's Open House at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

After raising her concerns during the question and answer portion of the event, Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, for the first time seemed to offer just such a commitment on behalf of the newly-hired architecture firm, HKS Sports and Entertainment Group, based in Dallas.

"HKS does and will work with a disability consultant on this project," Kelm-Helgen told the audience.

In a session afterward with reporter, HKS representative Mark Williams did not expressly commit to having an accessibility advisory committee, but did add, "That's something that we typically do and I wouldn't see why we wouldn't do that on this project, as well."

Several more open houses are planned to gather community input, including one in Rochester as well as Duluth. Dates for those events have not yet been set.

Williams predicted the final designs for the stadium project would be unveiled sometime in the first quarter of next year.

Click here to learn more about the stadium plans.