Blaine company working on Vikings stadium project

Pierce Pini & Associates, Inc. has had larger contracts, but designing the stormwater management system and landscaping for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium is the most visible the 10-year-old Blaine company has worked on, said business owner and president Rhonda Pierce.

Pierce Pini & Associates, Inc. Owner Rhonda Pierce (pictured) and her team are excited to be working on the Minnesota Vikings stadium project. This Blaine company will be focusing on stormwater management, grading and drainage and landscaping. Photo by Eric Hagen

Pierce Pini & Associates, Inc. Owner Rhonda Pierce (pictured) and her team are excited to be working on the Minnesota Vikings stadium project. This Blaine company will be focusing on stormwater management, grading and drainage and landscaping. Photo by Eric Hagen

Pierce grew up in Brooklyn Park and is a graduate of Park Center High School and the University of Minnesota. She is a life-long Vikings fan as are most of her employees and they are ecstatic to be involved with the construction of a new stadium.

Pierce said working on this project is melding her professional and personal lives because all her family members are avid Vikings fans. Her family had no fewer than 15 Vikings ornaments on their Christmas tree last year. Pierce’s husband has a Vikings tattoo.

When she posted a picture on her personal Facebook page of the sub-consultants gathered for a photo at the Jan. 18 Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority meeting, she had many comments and questions from her Facebook friends.

“Any little bit about the Vikings people are interested in,” Pierce said. “Professionally we love to work on projects that you get to read about.”

Everyone wants to know about the project, but she cannot share much at this point because the design is still under way. HKS Sports & Entertainment is the lead architect. Pierce said the schematic design is scheduled to come out in March.

Pierce Pini & Associates is part of two separate teams. The civil engineering team is being led by EVS Inc. and the landscaping team is being led by Oslund & Associates. The civil engineering team is now evaluating existing traffic flow and projects, the topography and what regulatory requirements must be met.

Pierce Pini & Associates’ main task will be to evaluate the stormwater management, grading and drainage, and landscaping for the new Vikings stadium.

Stormwater treatment in Anoka County looks much different than in downtown Minneapolis. Instead of massive, visible stormwater ponds, TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota and Target Field in downtown Minneapolis have underground stormwater systems.

According to a spring 2010 article by the University of Minnesota, its stormwater drainage system removes chemicals through a complex underground filtration system before releasing the treated water into the Mississippi River.

A system created by Rehbein Environmental Solutions, Inc. is beneath the grassy knoll on the south side of the stadium. Fans can congregate and media vehicles can park on this grass rather than a pond making the space unusable.

Target Field has a cistern system that is basically a large culvert built under the warning track that can hold up to 100,000 gallons of water. All the stormwater settles in the cistern system and then is filtered through the Pentair filtration system on-site. The water can be used to wash down the seating areas and the field. Unused water is put back in the cistern, according to Kevin Smith, senior director of communications for the Minnesota Twins.

Pierce said they are exploring underground stormwater system options. With the Vikings stadium being built on and near the current Metrodome site in downtown Minneapolis, it would not fit to put a large pond in space that could be used for more parking or game day experience areas.

“There are so many different ideas and options and proprietary methods that can be utilized for stormwater management now,” Pierce said. “It’s a very popular area to come up with new ideas.”

Pierce said surface features could include rain gardens or infiltration beds or permeable pavers that could integrate with an underground system. They are looking at water re-use and infiltration options for underground systems.

Pierce Pini & Associates has eight full-time employees and two part-time interns. It will have about three main people working on the project, but Pierce said everyone will have the opportunity to work on it in some form.

Some of the other major projects Pierce Pini & Associates has worked on or is working on include the Interchange project next to Target Field, which will be a hub for current and future rail lines and other modes of transportation, the St. Paul Union Depot renovation and the Biomedical Discovery District at the University of Minnesota.

Pierce also worked on the Guthrie Theater project before she and a business partner started Pierce Pini & Associates in 2003 and she continued working on the project with her new company.

Pierce Pini & Associates was one of 19 firms that the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority revealed would be working on the Vikings stadium during a Jan. 18 announcement. According to a Star Tribune article by Dee DePass, all but two of those companies are owned by women or minorities.

“It’s absolutely fantastic,” Pierce said. “We are really excited that they were very proactive in wanting to encourage that participation out of women and minority-owned firms.”

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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