Sid Hartman: Lester unsure of role with new stadium

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 25, 2012 - 5:43 AM

The longtime head of the Metrodome hasn't decided if he wants to continue into the Vikings' new building.

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Metrodome seen from the Star Tribune building, looking south

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Now that Ted Mondale has been named executive director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Authority, which will oversee the new Vikings stadium from conception to operation, he will have the advantage of working with most of the executives who worked for the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission that ran the Metrodome, including longtime Director of Facilities/Engineering Steve Maki, Director of Finance Mary Fox-Stroman and most of all the other key Metrodome employees.

However, at this point, Bill Lester, who has been executive director of the MSFC since the Metrodome was built, hasn't decided if he wants to continue in a position with the new stadium. And if he did stay on, he doesn't know what he would do.

Mondale said he and Lester have been discussing his future with the new stadium, or if there will be any, but a decision hasn't been made.

Mondale said there are a number of things in the works already regarding the new stadium, pointing out that the Metrodome is only 900,000 square feet but the new stadium will be 1.5 million.

"There's a set of contracts and [requests for proposals] that we need to get fulfilled to keep the project going," Mondale said. "We need to get in place a building owners rep -- that's someone who builds buildings like these and has that experience and can help advise us through the project.

"We have a number of other works -- the environmental impact statement, that takes about a year. And all of these things are getting to the goal of understanding what our program delivery is, understanding what the final project is, and hopefully in early fall, as early as possible, hiring an architect and design team, which basically designs the building down to the details."

After that, the next step is to be ready to go out and bid for construction teams and select a manager, and then hopefully break ground by summer or fall 2013.

They want an architect and design team selected by early this fall. Then, next spring or early next summer, they hope to select the construction firm once the architectural work is done.

Purchasing land is another obstacle.

"Obviously, you have an appraised price for the property and some of the parcels needed may be available, some of them won't, there may be some unwilling sellers. Where the stadium actually sits on, the land is going to determine what land we need to purchase," Mondale said. "We need to account for 2,500 premium parking spaces for the suiteholders, most of which would be connected by skyway to the building, and some, about 500, to the dedicated walkway."

Big advantage

Mondale pointed out that a big advantage going into the project is that a couple of years ago, the MSFC spent a couple of million dollars and a couple of years outlining what a new Vikings building should be. It also put in what they call "the program" in place -- showing they can build a modern stadium so they can accommodate for soccer, baseball and all the civic and youth sports events. And yes, Final Fours and Super Bowls, too.

"Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis was the model that was taken to develop the stadium plans and the stadium program plans that the Sports Facilities Commission and the team worked on for two years," Mondale said. "It was the model. It wasn't the best deal for the public, so our deal is very different, but it was the model for the building that we have fleshed out.

"The way this is structured is, the Vikings pay $1.3 for each one of their 10 games in rent, so $13 million a year," Mondale said. "That really, with a multipurpose stadium, the Vikings really, in their rent if you will, are going to be subsidizing youth sports and civic activities all across the state for the next 30, 40, 50 years. I think the way we set the structure up is going to keep the way the Metrodome has been such an asset for our entire state going forward."

When asked how long he anticipated the Vikings would be playing at the Gophers' TCF Bank Stadium, Mondale said Mortenson Construction, which built both TCF and Target Field, anticipated a year.

The new commission also will have the advantage of $12 million in the bank that will be transferred over to run the Metrodome until the Vikings move over to TCF.

Smith contract near

New Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague, asked about the progress of men's basketball coach Tubby Smith's contract extension, said: "Tubby and I sat down on Friday and we're literally at the point where we're just finishing up some details. I feel very good about it. I knew Tubby before I got here but we really had a great time together when we met at the end of the week, about talking about moving forward, talking about the coming year, which I think certainly there's some positive vibes about how we'll be."

They discussed a basketball building, which Teague indicated was a part of a master athletics facilities plan that will be discussed Thursday.

"We'll probably bring in an outside consultant that helps with these plans throughout college athletics," Teague said. "I've been involved with them at various places. We need to get our arms around the plan. You just can't continue to raise money for one-offs."

Jottings

• With linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who missed all of last season after hip surgery, still having problems and potentially not being ready for training camp, don't be surprised if the Vikings find a way to sign free agent E.J. Henderson, whom they want back but won't pay him near the $4.7 million he was paid in 2011.

• The Gophers football team has added a fourth recruit to its 2013 class: quarterback Chris Streveler from Woodstock, Ill.

• Outfielder Byron Buxton, the No. 2 overall pick in the baseball draft, has played two games for the Gulf Coast League Twins and is 0-for-8 with a strikeout. ... The Twins' top pick last year, shortstop Levi Michael, is hitting .223 with five doubles, three triples and two home runs in 60 games for Class A Fort Myers.

• Gophers track and field standout David Pachuta ran one of his career best times in the 800 meters at the semifinals of the U.S. Olympic trials, posting a time of 1 minute, 46.83 seconds, but he fell just short of advancing.

• Online sportsbook Bovada rates the Gophers 100-1 to win the Big Ten football crown. Michigan is 2-1 with Wisconsin 5-2, followed by Nebraska at 7-2, Michigan State 15-2, Penn State 12-1, Illinois and Iowa 20-1, Northwestern 35-1, Purdue 50-1, Indiana 65-1 and then the Gophers.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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