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Birders want Kelm-Helgen gone over Vikes stadium glass

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Advocates for birds are calling for bird-safe glass to be installed at the new Vikings stadium. (Jon Collins/MPR News)

Updated 2:09 p.m.

Activists seeking the installation of bird-safe glass at the new Vikings stadium asked Gov. Mark Dayton to remove the chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority board. The governor released a statement on Friday afternoon saying that he believes Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen is "doing an outstanding job."

Despite protests, the board has stuck with its earlier decision install transparent glass at the $1 billion stadium. Advocates for bird-safe glass have argued that the transparent and reflective glass will lead to bird collisions.

Kelm-Helgen said at the board's meeting on Friday that the glass is already being manufactured and is slated for installation after the first of the year.

Members of Minnesota Citizens for the Protection of Migratory Birds said they met with Kelm-Helgen on Wednesday to again discuss their concerns. Group member Wendy Haan said at the public meeting that she was shocked by Kelm-Helgen’s lack of knowledge about migratory bird routes.

At the meeting, the board approved a number of changes to the stadium design. Haan said that shows there’s still time for a bird-safe glass to be installed at the stadium.

“We’re confused that the Vikings can make design changes, but the citizens can’t,” Haan said. “We thought this was our stadium too.”

The activists plan to give a letter to Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday afternoon asking him to remove Kelm-Helgen as chair. Advocates said the governor denied a request to meet with the group, instead urging them to take their concerns to the stadium authority board.

The authority has already committed to turning lights in the building off during migration season. Kelm-Helgen said she’s still willing to meet with birders to find ways other than replacing the glass that will address their concerns.