The scene-stealer rolled in on a flatbed truck Monday to the set of the biggest production in downtown Minneapolis this summer.
The Terex Demag CC 6800 crawler crane will command the stage later this month when it's fully erect at 400 feet. The height is needed to lift the massive steel trusses to their resting spot about 300 feet above the ground, where they will hold up the roof of the new $1 billion Minnesota Multipurpose Stadium.
Only a few similar crawler cranes exist in North America. The crane's 8-foot-high base was being assembled Monday when the base of the crane, which holds the computerized control center, rolled in. The crane will take three weeks to put together, arriving in 69 trucks from a storage facility in Lakeville. Its pieces are assembled on the ground, then raised vertically, ready to pick up a 350-ton piece of steel.
"We're going to crank up the burner here pretty quick," site general superintendent Dave Mansell said of the project as he looked out over the 400 workers in the pit. By fall, at least 600 workers will be on the site. By spring, that number will nearly double.
The crawler crane — booked a year in advance by Mortenson Construction — is the biggest Mansell has worked with. It will be on the site for a year with a rental fee of more than $300,000 a month, said Mansell, overseer of all the workers on the site for 12 hours a day.
"I [have] never worked on a project this big, so it's all cool," he said.
The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority and Mortenson Construction held a news conference to showcase the arrival of the crane's pieces, allowing cameras and reporters to the edge of the site. For perspective, the stadium, set to open in 2016, will be 300 feet tall — about the height of the cranes on the site now.
Unlike the five big cranes already erected, the 6800 crane can move — at 1 mile per hour — like a military tank.
The husk of the stadium is starting to form, with the crane arriving through a concrete tunnel into the bowl of the construction site. The crane's placement has been meticulously planned so it won't collide with the five cranes already on the site.
"We're pretty confident we know what we're doing," Mansell said. "Not arrogant-confident, but confident."
And if the crane goes in the wrong place? "It won't matter, because I won't be here; I'll get the hook," Mansell said with a laugh. "It will be someone else's problem."
The five smaller fixed cranes already on the site are run by a worker who climbs up to the top in the morning and back down at night. (A bucket handles the duty when nature calls.) The 6800 crawler crane is run by a worker in its computerized operating booth 22 feet above ground.
Rain can't stop crane
Facilities Authority Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen called the crane's arrival a big day and said construction is 10 percent complete.
The stadium project is to be done in time for the Vikings' 2016 season.
Mansell wasn't as excited about the crane as he was about the weather. "It's a good day; it's not raining," he said.
But the downpours of late haven't been a problem. "More rain, you get more pumps. You can't wish it away," Mansell said with a shrug. "We're not sugar lumps. If you can fish in the rain, you can work in the rain."
Well, not entirely. Work on the cranes stops when winds hit 30 miles per hour and/or lightning fills the skies.
Local subcontractors LeJeune Steel Co. and Danny's Construction Co., an advanced steel erector, are managing the construction and operation of the crane.