A collection of Minnesota’s most powerful politicians and civic influencers converged on the field of U.S. Bank Stadium Friday for the formal opening of the $1.1 billion project.
About three dozen dignitaries sat on the stage, including Gov. Mark Dayton, team owners Mark and Zygi Wilf, stadium bill sponsor Sen. Julie Rosen, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, and U.S. Bank President Richard Davis.
U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar sat next to state Rep. Paul Thissen, who was House majority leader when the stadium funding bill was passed.
In addition to Mortenson Construction Co. executives, project manager Dave Mansell was on the stage. Mansell — the only person wearing jeans, a work shirt and a baseball cap — has been hailed as the genius who was able to oversee the 8,000 workers who have passed through the project since January 2014.
The Eden Prairie High School band opened the event with the national anthem, and master of ceremonies Paul Allen called for a moment of silence to honor former Vikings Coach Dennis Green, who died Friday of cardiac arrest at age 67.
From the permanent home of the team’s Gjallarhorn on a platform on an upper level next to Club Purple, Hall of Fame Coach Bud Grant said he tried to come up with a word for the building and settled on “awesome.”
He turned to current Coach Mike Zimmer for the first sounding of the horn. “Puff up your cheeks and blow,” Grant told Zimmer.
Team owner Zygi Wilf said, “This building is a testament for generations to come that Minnesota Vikings are Minnesota.”
The presentation included videos telling the story of the stadium, including one with celebrities from actor Josh Duhamel and Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn to the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns. “I think everybody knows the Vikings are on the rise. That’s what this stadium represents,” said Duhamel, a North Dakota native and Vikings fan.
Towns said he can’t wait to watch great college basketball in the building. The stadium is the site of the 2019 NCAA Final Four as well as the 2018 Super Bowl.
In his remarks, Mark Wilf thanked his parents, who are Holocaust survivors. His mother watched from the audience. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime project, and we wanted to get it right for all of you,” he said.
In his comments, Dayton thanked the seven Minneapolis City Council members who approved the project in a 7-6 vote. Among those who voted against it: current Mayor Betsy Hodges, who sat between Mansell and Davis, wearing purple.