Amid backlash, Vikings stadium developers explain imported steel buy

  • Article by: BRIAN BAKST
  • Associated Press
  • November 26, 2013 - 6:45 AM

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota stadium developers provided a fuller accounting of their upcoming steel purchase Monday after word of some metal being imported caused concern in the state's Iron Range.

The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority said that only 20 percent of the 18,000 tons of steel needed to build the new $1 billion Vikings stadium will come from Europe. In a statement, the authority said the high-grade steel for certain roof components isn't available from domestic mills.

Overall, steel consumes $82 million of the budget, but most of that covers costs to retrofit and erect beams. About $5 million of that steel will come from Luxembourg manufacturer ArcelorMittal and the remainder will be purchased from U.S. providers. The cost of steel that will come from domestic mills is $7 million, an authority spokeswoman said.

Taconite is mined in northern Minnesota, but milled into steel in other parts of the country.

The steel buy was first highlighted by the main stadium contractor in Friday's authority meeting, but specific details weren't released then. The Associated Press reported Saturday that the use of steel from abroad upset a former Democratic lawmaker who fought for an "American-made" clause in the 2012 stadium financing law. Former Rep. Tom Rukavina called it "sinful" to use imported steel.

Monday's statement from the authority said ArcelorMittal has an ownership stake in two Iron Range taconite facilities.

The soaring glass roof on the new stadium requires long, high-caliber steel trusses that aren't found in any U.S. plants, the authority said. U.S.-made steel will be used for supports on the stadium perimeter and roof elements that don't call for the higher grade.

Construction of the stadium is under intense focus because taxpayers are chipping in almost $500 million. It is a signature project of Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, who is standing for re-election in 2014. He has touted the development's potential for aiding the state and local economies.

"I always called this a jobs bill and those jobs are about to be realized and recognized and I'm excited about it," Dayton said Monday while describing the use of any foreign steel as "unfortunate" but "necessary."

Some work to prepare the stadium site has begun, with a formal groundbreaking set for next week. The new stadium will be built on the Metrodome grounds. That three-decade old building will be demolished after the Vikings play their final game in late December.

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