Local hobbyist creates replica of U.S. Bank Stadium

| January 25, 2018 | 0 Comments

Greg Kelly’s replica of U.S. Bank Stadium consists of 6,400 toothpicks. Its dimensions are 3 feet wide, 4 feet long and 13 inches tall.

Greg Kelly picked the perfect time to embrace the Super Bowl hype that’s engulfed the Twin Cities.

And, in the perfect way.

The California native who now lives in Minneapolis used his lifelong hobby to pay tribute to the Minnesota Vikings and its new home by building a replica of U.S. Bank Stadium out of balsa wood and toothpicks.

After building several replicas of local establishments like Swede Hollow Cafe in St. Paul and Taylorbird Tattoo in Minneapolis, the lifelong Catholic who attends Lumen Christi in St. Paul with his wife, Dana, decided it was time to step up his game.

“I thought, ‘OK, I’ve warmed up now. What am I going to do next?’ That’s the most difficult part of building a model — figuring out what you’re going to do,” said Kelly, 66, who owned a hobby store in California for more than four decades before selling it to his brother and moving to Minnesota in 2015.

“I like the stadium,” he said. “We drive by it all the time on the freeway. I thought, ‘This is really cool. It’s new, it’s in the news. The Super Bowl is coming up. The Final Four is coming up in 2019.”

He began the project last spring and estimates he spent 400 hours cutting, gluing and pasting about 6,400 toothpicks on the frame. The replica measures 3 feet wide, 4 feet long and 13 inches high. Though not his longest model building project, he says it was his most difficult. When he finished the stadium in the fall, after nearly seven months of work, he picked up the phone and dialed the Vikings’ corporate office.

“I said, ‘I have a model you may be interested in taking a look at,’” he recalled. “It just took one of their promotional persons to get interested, and then they took off with it.”

The model was put inside a glass case and placed on display in the concourse during the Vikings’ playoff game against the New Orleans Saints Jan. 14. Greg and Dana were offered tickets to the game, but had to decline because they both contracted the flu.

Greg Kelly works on his next project, a teepee, in the basement of his home in south Minneapolis.

For Greg, that is a small health issue in his life. The bigger one is prostate cancer, which reached Stage 4 four months after moving to the Twin Cities. He’s had ups and downs over several years of battling the disease, along with several treatments. He’s in the midst of another treatment now, and says it’s working well so far. Another “treatment” is daily prayers to St. Peregrine, a 13th-century Italian saint who was healed of cancer in his leg right before it was scheduled to be amputated.

Neither the cancer nor the flu, however, have slowed his model building, which continues with a teepee he is working on. If anything, the illnesses have spurred him on and created a grateful heart.

“As long as I have my eyesight and my hands to work with, I’ll keep doing it,” he said. “I’m very thankful to the Creator for allowing me to do that, especially after the medical setbacks I’ve had. I can appreciate it a little bit more.”

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Category: Local News