Vikings put more cash on the line for new stadium

10:44 PM, Nov 22, 2013   |    comments
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HKS Vikings stadium design

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings have committed to spend an extra $26 million, if needed, to preserve design elements in the new stadium.

That's in addition to the $477 million the NFL team pledged to the project at the time the state legislature approved the stadium bill. 

That number doesn't include the $15 million the team will spend to modify the TCF Bank stadium and rent it for two seasons while the new arena is under construction.

"Our interests was to retain the iconic design of the stadium and preserve the fan amenities that are so important," Lester Bagley, VP of Public Affairs for the Vikings, told reporters Friday.

Bagley said that made more sense than going back to the drawing board with the design, or losing some element that will distinguish the facility.

He noted that the new stadiums going up for the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Jets and Giants are both prices above the Vikings stadium, and they're open air plans.  Minnesota, on the other hand, is looking to pull off a covered stadium for less.

The stadium budget has some wiggle room, contingencies for surprises along the way or inflation. But the team wanted to make sure that no key features were lost, including the large pivoting windows that will open onto downtown Minneapolis.

Guaranteed Maximum Price

The news came on the same morning the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, also known as the stadium board, voted to approve a Guaranteed Maximum Price of $763 million in construction costs.

That's the price the general contractor, Mortenson Construction, is vowing to stay under.  Anything above that would have to be absorbed by Mortenson or, conceivably, picked up by the team.

"From our standpoint having Mortenson Construction come in with a guaranteed maximum price they basically today take the risk on cost overruns," Michele Kelm-Helgen, the stadium board chair said.

"We now have a budget. You're not going to see all these budget adjustments being made all the time."

Mortenson's senior vice president John Wood said now that the pricing pact has been approved, heavy equipment will begin moving onto the Metrodome's east parking lot as early as Monday.

Initial demolition will begin in the northeast corner of the stadium parking lot on Tuesday, and work its way counter clockwise across the entire footprint of the new stadium.

Wood said the Metrodome's fabric ceiling will be one of the first prominent features to disappear when demolition begins in earnest.

The formal groundbreaking ceremony will be Dec. 3. And some of the first concrete pours on the new footings and piers will be in January.

Luxembourg Steel

The high grade long span structural steel needed for the stadium's roof will be ordered almost immediately from a mill in Luxembourg. 

Wood said that small European nation is the only one that produces that grade of steel in the lengths and sizes required for the stadium's high tech translucent ceiling.

"It's kind of an unusual place, a small country in the middle of Europe, but they produce that steel and supply it all over the globe," Wood said.

But 7,000 tons of structural steel needed for the stadium will be milled in the United States.  There are no manufacturers of those steel beams in Minnesota, Wood said.

"That's why we need to get the mill order in immediately, so that we can be ready to start steel erection on schedule in August of 2014."

But virtually all of the subcontractors will be Minnesota-based companies, including Lejeune Steel of Minneapolis, which will order the steel and fabricate it and prep it for the project.

"The people at Mortenson are definitely focused on Minnesota companies, and Minnesota targeted businesses, both women and minority-owned businesses," Kelm-Helgen assured reporters.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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