Curtains, darkening panels unveiled for Final Four at U.S. Bank Stadium

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The Minneapolis Sports Facilities Authority unveiled its solution to minimize the natural light at U.S. Bank Stadium for the NCAA men's Final Four next month.

When figuring out how to darken U.S. Bank Stadium’s roof, it was quickly apparent you couldn’t just hang one big drape.

“Then as you take a look up here you see all the things you’d have to cut around,” said Michael Vekich, the chair of the MSFA.

The solution was both innovative and simple. Crews will take 300-foot long, 10-foot wide panels and slide them into place using the same kind of connecting hardware found on sailboats. They can be removed by pull them out by the other end.

“Easy up and easy down and so the use of sailing technology, keders and keder rails, became the solution,” said Vekich.

With one month to go before the Final Four, the MSFA showed off how their “darkening solution” worked on the glass walls at the end and all the way around the sides, too. The style compares to traditional theater curtains.

“It’ll be somewhere between 20 to 25 crew members to do the flip,” said Operations Manager Curtis Schmillen. “It’s about five to seven days to take it all up and about five to seven days to take it all down.

While operation was required by the NCAA for consistent lighting and no shadows, other events are already requesting it, too. The end curtains, just by themselves, will be a staple for better acoustics at concerts.

“As well as do other things, such as the NFL Draft, that takes a blackout drape as well, so this positions us well for the future competing on those type of things,” said Patrick Talty, the general manager of U.S. Bank Stadium.

As for the roof panels, they are expected to eliminate shadows, while still letting in natural light.

“It’s not a blackout solution, it’s a darkening solution,” said Vekich.