Stadium Q&A session ends with few questions

  • Article by: JANET MOORE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 10, 2014 - 6:23 AM

After an hourlong presentation by Vikings contractors to area residents, meeting ended quickly.

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Farhio Khalif, assistant secretary of the Minneapolis NAACP, asked that more East Africans be hired to work on the project.

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii • rtsong-taatarii@startribune.com,

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A meeting to update nearby businesses and neighbors on construction of the new $1 billion Vikings stadium drew perhaps 75 people Thursday night, but only a few voiced concerns regarding the massive project.

After about an hour, everyone bundled up and went home.

The question-and-answer session lasted less than five minutes after an hourlong presentation by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA), the public body in charge of stadium construction, with input from Mortenson Construction, the general contractor, and representatives from the team itself.

“I want to emphasize that we get that it’s a very important responsibility over the course of the next three years to be a good neighbor,” said John Wood, Mortenson’s senior vice president.

Several attendees urged the authority to closely monitor the project’s equity hiring goals, which call for 32 percent of the work to be done by minorities and 6 percent by women.

But Alex Tittle, the MSFA’s equity director, said that so far, 34 percent of the construction workforce has been composed of minorities, and 12 percent of women.

“We’re exceeding our goals,” he said.

To date, more than $120 million worth of contracts have been awarded for the project, which is expected to employ 7,500 workers in various phases.

Farhio Khalif, assistant secretary for the Minneapolis branch of the NAACP, urged the authority and contractor to hire more East Africans, in particular, especially after the devastating New Year’s Day fire in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, where many Somali-Americans live. “There’s lots and lots of money involved [with the stadium],” she said. “We’re here and we need to be part of this.”

Members of the authority and officials from Mortenson vowed to make the nearly three-year construction project — the biggest in Minnesota history — proceed as smoothly as possible, while acknowledging that some issues with dust and noise may very well occur.

So far, a huge hole on the Metrodome’s eastern flank has been excavated, a process that will continue through April. On Jan. 18, power will be cut off to the Dome, and the roof will deflate as a result. Once that occurs, the old stadium’s superstructure will be dismantled piece by piece.

Throughout the process, Mortenson will employ various methods to mitigate inevitable dust and noise.

But if any nearby residents were worried about the construction, no one said anything Thursday while meeting in an office building near the Dome. One person wanted to know the final day the Dome would be fully intact because he “wanted to fly over it to take a picture.” (He was advised that Jan. 17 would be a good bet.)

The entire area is about to be transformed, not just because of the new stadium, but also because of an adjacent $400 million development that is planned by private developer Ryan Cos. for the swath of mostly vacant land on the stadium’s western side.

A five-block area now owned by the Star Tribune will become home to two 17-story office towers for Wells Fargo & Co., as many as 400 residential units, retail shops and restaurants, a parking ramp and a nearly two-block park.

 

Janet Moore • 612-673-7752

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