by Howard Lestrud
ECM Political Editor
Skolt Scott, of Golden Valley, and David Gunderson, of Brooklyn Park, were in full Minnesota Vikings makeup Tuesday morning, Dec. 3, as they witnessed the groundbreaking for the new $975 million multipurpose stadium that will replace the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis.
These two Vikings football fans, part of Thee Viking World Order, are no strangers to other loyal fans and to Vikings management. The duo is part of a very active Vikings fan group and played a major role in lobbying for a new stadium by attending countless hearings of the Minnesota Legislature.
Gunderson calls himself Sir Gunnar and said he wears a different outfit and inscribes a different message on his face for every game and public appearance. On groundbreaking day, Gunderson said he had no message except to emphasize defense.
“We worked years to get to this point and now we can participate in a celebration,” Scott said.
The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority and the Minnesota Vikings, in partnership with Mortenson Construction and project associate Thor Construction, led the groundbreaking ceremony for the new stadium.
The event signifies the start of construction on the 65,000-seat, 1.7 million-square-foot facility, scheduled for completion in July 2016.
Vikings owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf accepted congratulatory wishes from many stadium supporters prior to taking a jaunt into the east side parking lot where two large earth-moving machines were placed as a backdrop for the groundbreaking.
A short program in a large tent on Metrodome property kicked off the activities for the day. The program aimed at thanking many of those responsible for the birth of a new Vikings stadium.
Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, called the stadium iconic, which seemed to be the word of the day as it was used by other principals: the Wilfs; Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak; and David Mortenson, president of Mortenson Construction Co. of Minneapolis.
Kelm-Helgen saluted the architectural firm of HKS Architects and said the general contractor, Mortenson, is the best stadium builder in the country. She said the stadium will attract thousands of workers from Minnesota, including minorities.
The new stadium will be the home for the Minnesota Vikings but also a location for high school and college sporting events, youth football, marching band competitions and Hmong New Year’s celebrations. In-line skaters who frequent the Metrodome will again be invited to use the new stadium facilities, Kelm-Helgen said.
Kelm-Helgen said it is possible that the new stadium will be the host of a Super Bowl, a Final Four or a national championship football game. She said the Vikings are finalists to host the 2018 Super Bowl. The stadium is also expected to be the home of music concerts and other special events.
Zygi Wilf spoke to the more than 1,500 during the pre-groundbreaking program, saying, “What a great day this is for everyone in Minnesota.”
He conveyed thanks specifically to the state of Minnesota, the city of Minneapolis, the Sports Authority, Gov. Mark Dayton, Rybak and to legislators Sen. Julie Rosen and Rep. Morrie Lanning for their work in getting the project approved.
“This team stepped up and got the job done,” Wilf said.
Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson said the day was “a dream” for him. He jokingly tempered his remarks, saying he was not looking forward to playing outside at TCF Stadium for two years until the new stadium is ready in 2016.
Mortenson said “it is a pleasure and enormous privilege” to build one of the biggest structures ever constructed in Minnesota history. He said the new stadium would be a world-class stadium and will be a lasting source of pride.
Mortenson said hundreds of stories will be told as the stadium develops. He quoted Winston Churchill: “‘We shape our buildings and they then shape us.’”
Rybak said the stadium project was “all about weaving it all together in an urban fabric.”
Dayton received a standing ovation as he was introduced. He has often been mentioned as the pushing force in the new Vikings stadium becoming a reality. Dayton again called the stadium the “People’s Stadium” and said it will result in economic revitalization for the state.
Construction of the new stadium will require nearly 4.3 million work hours and will involve 7,500 trades people from 19 different trades and hundreds of local subcontractors and supplies. In addition, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority and the Vikings have established a Targeted Business Program that sets an 11 percent and 9 percent goal for construction contracts for the project to be awarded to women- and minority-owned business enterprises, respectively.
A number of subcontracts have been executed in the past week, many of which are going to Minnesota-based companies:
• Ames Construction of Burnsville will complete mass excavation, utilities and demolition of the Metrodome, working with Frattalone Companies of Little Canada for demolition services.
• Veit Companies of Rogers will construct the drilled pier foundations.
• Lejune Steel Company of Minneapolis will provide steel fabrication for the new stadium, and Danny’s Construction, a certified women-owned business in Shakopee, will handle steel erection for the new stadium.
• Tarraf Construction, a certified minority-owned company from Eden Prairie, will be providing container services for excavation and demolition.
By the numbers
The nearly $1 billion multipurpose stadium, to be the home of the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League, is now under construction.
Lester Bagley, vice president of public affairs and stadium development, said the groundbreaking culminates 12 years of lobbying at the Capitol and 18 months of finalizing financing and construction contracts.
Interesting facts about the stadium:
• Seating capacity totals 65,000.
• 9,000 club seats and up to 115 suites will be available.
• There will be seven levels with two 360-degree concourses.
• High definition video boards will be at east and west end zones.
• Skyways will connect to adjacent parking ramps.
• Five pivoting glass doors will open to the west plaza.
• The translucent roof connects fans with the outdoors.
• There will be 1,200 HD flat-screen televisions.
• 1.7 million watts of sports lighting will be installed.
• 658 wheelchair and companion seating will be available.
• There will be 1.7 million gross square feet of new stadium.
• 18,812 tons of structural steel will make up the structure.
• 245,076 square feet of ethylene-tetraflouroethylene, or ETFE, material will be used for the stadium roof.
• 971,634 cubic yards of dirt will be removed over a four-month period.
• 434,029 square feet of metal panels will be installed on exterior facade.
• 102,486 linear feet of precast concrete stadia will support the seats.
• It will take 101,185 cubic yards of poured concrete.
• Five tower cranes will be utilized during construction, each ranging in height from 225 to 310 feet.
• It will take 4.5 million total work hours with 1,127 workers on site at the peak of project.
• There’s a 20 percent goal for the hiring of women- and minority-owned businesses and a 38 percent goal for hiring minorities and women workers to build the new stadium.
Howard Lestrud can be reached at [email protected].