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“It’s easy to demagogue against a project like this,” he said. “But demagoguery doesn’t put people to work.”
Stadium officials have said the project could employ as many as 7,500 workers, most from Minnesota, by the time the building opens in July 2016.
When the speeches came to an end, the crowd rose and headed outside to a rectangular pile of dirt for the official groundbreaking.
Against the backdrop of two excavators and a bulldozer, the Wilfs, Dayton and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak donned Vikings hard hats, grabbed gold shovels and scooped the first symbolic shovels of dirt.
“Hey, dig it Zygi, dig it!” a fan shouted.
Cameras flashed and drums pounded. Fireworks exploded nearby.
Site excavation work actually began Monday, when bulldozers, tractors and dozens of trucks scooped and removed 11,000 cubic yards of dirt.
That work will continue in coming weeks as the team plays out its final season inside the Dome. Crews will begin pouring concrete in mid-December. A month later, the Dome roof will be deflated and demolition will follow.
“It’s going to be pretty cool,” Keech said, looking over the scene as the festivities ended. “I hope to get back up here one or two times to get a few more pictures if I can.”
Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report. Richard Meryhew • 612-673-4425