U.S. Bank Stadium site of Super Bowl LII

Super Bowl LII, U.S. Bank Stadium and Stormwater Management

While most Minnesota Vikings signage will be removed inside U.S. Bank Stadium to provide a neutral venue for the 2018 Super Bowl game, some things won’t change — and that’s good for the environment.  

U.S. Bank Stadium (which was certified LEED Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council this past November) and its surroundings include many sustainable design featuresSome are readily visible, like the energy-efficient LED lighting, signage pointing out composting and recycling bins, landscaping that uses native trees and grasses, and easy access to mass transit via light rail and bus service. Some, like stormwater management practices, are less obvious but vitally important, considering the stadium’s proximity to the Mississippi River.

Fact is, most stormwater runoff from downtown Minneapolis goes untreated directly into the Mississippi River. It pollutes the river with road salt and other nutrients, sediments and metals. What’s more, in densely urban settings, storm sewer systems inundated by heavy rains can fail spectacularly. Modern development aims to relieve pressure on aging urban storm sewer infrastructure, not add hundreds of thousands of gallons of rainwater shed by impervious surfaces, like the stadium’s 240,000 square foot roof and its walkways, plazas and parking lots.  

What is U.S. Bank Stadium doing to reduce or treat runoff and help keep Minnesota’s waters clean? U.S. Bank Stadium collects all water runoff from the roof and diverts it to a retention system underneath the parking lot on the east side of the stadium. In the winter, the roof sheds snow into a giant snow gutter near the roof line that features a heating system to direct the melted snow through the stadium’s stormwater control system.

Underground, out of our view, the runoff is slowly released through the retention system into the surrounding soil, reducing the amount of runoff leaving the site, recharging the ground water supply and eliminating the need to pump excess runoff into the city’s storm sewer system.  Underground storage is needed because there is a limited footprint on the property itself for rain – and snow – to naturally soak into the soil.  

Water conservation efforts on site include low-flow plumbing, native plants and trees used in the landscaping surrounding the building that require less water, and a water-efficient irrigation system.  

One additional step could be taken – water for irrigation could be drawn from captured rainwater, as it is at other developments, instead of using municipal water.    

Adjacent to the stadium is The Commons, a 4.2-acre public park and green space featuring more than 20,000 square feet of porous material, including seven areas of permeable pavement and 120 permeable tree rings.  Stormwater and melting snow drains through this permeable surface and soaks into the soil, rather than running off or freezing into slick ice patches, as it would on traditional pavement.  

permeable pavement in Minneapolis

“The Commons is the centerpiece of the revitalization and redevelopment of the Downtown East neighborhood,” said Jacob Frey, Minneapolis City Council member whose Ward 3 includes the Commons. “The reduction in harmful stormwater runoff and water pollution is one of its many environmental benefits for the entire city.” 

U.S. Bank Stadium was built and operates with the intent of reducing its carbon footprint. With a focus on water reduction, waste reduction/diversion, energy efficiency, sustainable purchasing, and alternative transportation promotion. U.S. Bank Stadium aims to become a zero-waste facility, where 90% of all waste is either composted or recycled.  

All of these sustainability features showcase how well-planned downtown development protects the environment and responsibly manages our resources. U.S. Bank Stadium has been a shining example to Minnesota and the Bold North. With a vast national and international Super Bowl LII audience watching this weekend, U.S. Bank Stadium can be an example to the world. 

U.S. Bank Stadium with skyline reflection
Water in Motion is a consulting and design firm specializing in outdoor water management. We collaborate with other design professionals worldwide to deliver practical stormwater management and reuse solutions. Please contact us about your project needs.