The ceremonial groundbreaking for the nearly $1 billion Vikings stadium is now scheduled for Dec. 3, more than a month later than originally planned.
But the 65,000-seat stadium will still be ready for the 2016 NFL season, according to Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, the public body overseeing the massive construction project. “Absolutely,” she said Tuesday afternoon.
The date of the groundbreaking was released after the authority, the team and the project’s construction manager, Golden Valley-based Mortenson Construction, agreed on how to reach the $737.7 million “guaranteed maximum price” (or GMP) for the stadium’s total construction costs.
The authority will vote on the agreement at its meeting on Friday, and details won’t be released until then. In recent weeks, questions have surfaced over whether the maximum price will be reached, especially since some initial bids for construction work came in higher than expected.
But Kelm-Helgen said, “we’ve not made any design changes, no one will notice any significant changes” in the building’s design. And, she noted, the stadium will meet its predetermined budget. (Mortenson is responsible for any cost overruns.)
Also on Friday, the team is expected to close on its financing for the project, which totals $477 million of the $975 million total, Kelm-Helgen said. Vikings spokesman Lester Bagley said on Tuesday night that the agreement “is critical to keep the project on track. We’re happy we’re in general agreement, and we’re also excited about the groundbreaking and getting shovels into the ground.”
Once the team’s financing is assured, then the state can move forward with its bond sale to help pay for the public’s share of the stadium’s costs, Kelm-Helgen said.
“Friday is an important day for us to move forward,” Kelm-Helgen said. Construction materials, such as the structural steel and the ETFE polymer fabric for the roof, can then be ordered, she added.
The stadium will be built where the Metrodome is located on the eastern edge of downtown Minneapolis. The team will play two seasons at TCF Bank Stadium, while the Dome will be gradually torn down.
Mortenson spokesman Cameron Snyder said fencing will be erected next Monday around part of the site, and some excavation work will begin on the east side of the building. Some utilities have already been rerouted on the site.