Now the real work can begin on the Vikings’ new stadium

  • Article by: RICHARD MERYHEW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 4, 2013 - 7:19 AM

As time runs out for the Dome, fans and dignitaries broke ground on new home.

 

Tuesday was a day to make purple and gold history, and Bill Keech wasn’t going to miss out.

So hours before dawn, the lifelong Vikings fan from Le Center, Minn., pulled on his long johns and favorite team jersey and hit the road with his son, daughter and daughter’s boyfriend for the 80-minute drive north to the Metrodome.

By the time Keech reached downtown Minneapolis, he was first in line for one of about 100 freebie tickets allowing a front-row seat at the 10 a.m. ceremonial groundbreaking for his team’s bold and glassy $1 billion stadium.

“Took a day of vacation,” the 51-year-old welder said as he shivered in the raw chill of a damp morning. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be here, and I made it.”

Keech got his ticket, and then some.

After VIPs from Gov. Mark Dayton to Vikings running back Adrian Peterson shoveled the first scoops of ceremonial dirt from the Dome’s back parking lot, Keech and other fans got a chance to pick up a gold shovel and fling some earth, too.

“Awesome,” Keech said afterward, sporting a broad grin.

A year and a half after lawmakers signed off on $498 million in public financing for the project, construction crews finally broke ground, signaling the start of an intense push to erect a multipurpose stadium that will replace the Dome and reshape the downtown skyline for a generation to come.

“I’m so excited to be here,” Peterson said moments after he received a standing ovation from the audience of about 500 people, all but 100 of whom were VIPs or invited to attend. “This is a special day that will definitely go down in Minnesota history.”

Tuesday’s festivities came two months later than originally planned and capped a tumultuous year for a project dogged by questions and controversy. Construction financing through electronic pull-tabs failed. The team’s plan for hefty seat license fees angered Dayton to the point where he threatened to undo the deal. When a New Jersey judge this fall ordered team owners Zygi, Mark and Leonard Wilf to pay nearly $85 million in damages to former business partners who sued them over a 1980s real estate deal, critics lashed out again, questioning the state’s due diligence of the Wilfs when the deal was cut in 2012.

But for a morning, anyway, most of those concerns took a back seat as dignitaries and fans gathered inside a heated tent to congratulate and celebrate.

“I think it’s fantastic,” said retired Vikings defensive lineman Carl Eller, a Hall of Fame player who was seated at a table with Bud Grant, the team’s retired Hall of Fame coach.

“There’s a great tradition here,” Eller added, speaking to the Vikings’ rich history, which dates back to 1961, when the team played at the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington. “And for former Vikings and old guys like me, it’s great to see the tradition continue on.”

The morning’s loudest ovation came before groundbreaking when Mark Wilf introduced Peterson to chants of “AP! AP! AP!”

The best line came when Dayton, the driving political force behind the stadium, joked that he felt a bit like Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier last Sunday after the team’s roller-coaster victory over the Chicago Bears. Dayton compared the challenge of getting the stadium project off the ground to the Vikings’ overtime comeback.

“I can’t believe it’s over, and I can’t believe we won,” he said to much laughter.

Dayton called the day “historic” and praised members of the Minneapolis City Council who, he said, put their political careers on the line by voting to commit city finances to the project.

  • Vikings stadium timeline

    countdown begins

    • Mid-December: Foundation work begins in the Dome’s back parking lot

    • Mid-January 2014: Dome roof deflated

    • February 2014: Demolition begins

    • 2014 and 2015 seasons: Vikings will play at TCF Bank Stadium while new stadium is built.

    • July 2016: New Vikings stadium opens; artist’s rendering of it at left

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Brooklyn 109 FINAL
Boston 107
Cleveland 98 FINAL
Orlando 89
Indiana 109 FINAL
Detroit 119
Milwaukee 107 FINAL
Atlanta 77
Houston 117 FINAL
Memphis 111
San Antonio 90 FINAL
New Orleans 97
Charlotte 75 FINAL
Oklahoma City 98
LA Lakers 98 FINAL
Dallas 102
Minnesota 102 FINAL
Denver 106
Philadelphia 93 FINAL
Portland 114
Phoenix 115 FINAL
Sacramento 106
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(15) Arizona State 1:10 PM
Duke
Miami-Florida 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close