Anyone who has spun by the northeastern section of the Metrodome (and certainly anyone who works near there) has heard the telltale clang and din of construction. It's the first tangible sign that the controversial $1 billion Vikings stadium is actually a construction project.
Most noticeable is the considerable hole that have been dug to make way for the new stadium's footprint. As John Wood, senior vice president for general contractor Mortenson Construction, noted Friday, the new stadium is quite a bit larger than the current Metrodome. "We're basically digging the basement for the new stadium," he said following a meeting of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Friday.
Beyond the Big Dig, electricity to the Dome will be turned off Jan. 18, and the roof will deflate soon after that. Within minutes, actually.
The roof fabric will ultimately be cut up and perhaps recycled, as was the case after it was replaced in 2010 when it caved in due to excessive snow mass. Once the power is cut off, demolition will begin immediately on the 32-year-old Dome.
In the meantime, 70,000 cubic yards of dirt have already been excavated from the property -- all told, some 850,000 cubic yards will be removed. Some of the soil cannot be reused, but the intention is to use as much as possible for cost-savings purposes. (Wood estimated that the savings could reach the $800,000 mark.)
The stadium authority on Friday approved a contract with 309 9th Ave. South LLC, an entity associated with the Wilf family (owners of the Vikings), to lease space the Wilfs own across from the Dome for soil storage for up to $60,000.
The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, the public body overseeing construction of the $975 million Vikings stadium, will meet Friday morning to discuss true construction costs related to the project.
This discussion over the "guaranteed maximum price" or GMP of the stadium was supposed to occur more than a week ago, but reports have surfaced about the authority and the Vikings being far apart in terms of what stays in the project, and what goes. Construction manager Mortenson Construction and architect HKS Inc. are also deeply involved in the negotiations.
The construction budget is $737 million -- and we've reported that bids have come in $20 million to $30 million higher than expected. On Friday, the public will learn more about the construction budget. Once the GMP issue is settled, a ceremonial groundbreaking will take place on Dec. 3, and the state will issue bonds to help pay for its portion of the project.
MSFA chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen said earlier this month that the stadium is still on track for a summer 2016 opening. That's in time for the 2016 Vikings season.
Janet Moore covers commercial real estate for the Star Tribune.
Key details in the construction of the $975 million Vikings stadium were expected to be hammered out by Friday, but now that deadline has been pushed into next week, or perhaps later this month.
The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, the public body overseeing construction of stadium, has been working feverishly with the project's general contractor, Mortenson Construction, and the team to reach the "guaranteed maximum price" (GMP) for the project.
But several bids from subcontractors have come in higher than expected, and other costs have increased, causing the stakeholders to further ponder how to make the $737 million construction budget work, said Michele Kelm Helgen, MSFA chairwoman, on Wednesday.
"We are still working through the process, and it’s pretty complicated," Kelm-Helgen said. "We have to take into account a lot of different factors and we're trying to get everything pinned down as best as possible.
"I’m thinking we’ll be finished next week, it could be following week," she said.
She said the overall timeline for the stadium -- which is expected to open in July 2016 -- is still intact. A ceremonial groundbreaking is will likely take place later this month.
Once the authority reaches the guaranteed maxium price, the Vikings will finalize financing for their part of the project, which totals $477 million, and the state can sell $498 million in bonds for its contribution.
John Wood, senior vice president for Mortenson Construction, said Wednesday that delaying the meeting to confirm the guaranteed maximum price will have "no impact" on the stadium's overall schedule.
For those of you interested in football stadium design, there's an interesting article today in the Atlanta Business Chronicle about the new $1.2 billion Atlanta Falcons stadium.
The design by Kansas City, Mo.-based firm 360 Architecture was approved by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority board on Tuesday.
Architect Bill Johnson described the design this way: "The eight-sided building will resemble eight wings of a falcon taking flight -- giving the building a sense of motion."
Unlike the proposed $975 million Vikings stadium, the Atlanta facility has a retractable roof, although the article points out that such roofs can be temperamental.
American Indian activists pushing to ban the broadcast or display of the Washington Redskins’ nickname and logo when the NFL team visits the Metrodome Nov. 7 have announced details of a rally leading up to the game.
Organizers of a campaign to “Change The Name, Change The Mascot” plan to gather at 4:30 p.m. on game day at the American Indian Movement’s national office at 1113 E. Franklin Avenue and lead a march to the stadium, where they will rally outside in the hour before Washington and the Vikings square off.
Former 10,000-meter Olympic Gold Medalist Billy Mills and Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum are among the scheduled speakers.
Details of the march and rally come just days after several American Indian activists, including AIM founder and longtime leader Clyde Bellecourt, asked the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which operates the Metrodome, to bar the broadcast or display of the Washington nickname in public places throughout the stadium on game night. Bellecourt and others have argued that the term and logo are demeaning, hurtful and racist.
The stadium authority, however, declined the request after its attorney advised it that blocking the use and display of the name and logo could infringe on freedom of speech.
“Change The Name” organizers also announced Monday plans for a two-day exhibit at the University of Minnesota that will display “the good, the bad and the ugly” of Native American imagery, said Richie Plass, the exhibit founder and a member of the Menominee/Stockbridge-Munsee tribes in northern Wisconsin.
The exhibit will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 5 and 6 in room 234 of Coffman Memorial Union.
A symposium on "Racism in Sports and Media" also has been scheduled for 1 p.m. Nov. 5 at Coffman's President's Room.