The Golden Gophers' home turf is being torn up to make way for a new heated football field for the Minnesota Vikings.
A "hydronic heated field" will replace the turf at TCF Stadium and "will ensure a safe playing surface" for the NFL teams, according to Vikings' communications director Jeff Anderson.
The NFL team will play at the University of Minnesota's football field for the 2014 and 2015 seasons while the $1 billion Minnesota Multipurpose Stadium is built on the site of recently departed Metrodome. The Gophers play football at their stadium in the fall, but the Vikings play into December and ideally, January. Upgrades are necessary to enhance the field and protect the stadium from colder weather.
The $6.6 million cost for renovations comes from the $1 billion budget for the Multipurpose Stadium being built by the Vikings and the state's taxpayers.
Other enhancements for the Vikings: increased storage space throughout the stadium, television platforms, heating in various areas, concessions upgrades on the concourses and temporary bleachers to accommodate 2,000 more fans. The total capacity at TCF Bank for the Vikings will be more than 52,000.
Last May, the university signed off on the upgrades as part of its lease agreement with the Vikings, which will pay up to $3 million a year to play at TCF Bank Stadium.
The renovations at TCF are expected to be complete in July.
Mortenson Construction of Golden Valley built TCF Stadium and is doing the renovations there as well as building the Minnesota Multipurpose Stadium.
Demolition of the Metrodome has been completed and the new stadium seems to be quickly taking form. The first horizontal slab of concrete was poured last week. The new facility will be nearly double the size of the Metrodome.
Progress on the site is visible daily to drivers passing in and out of downtown from the east, as well as on an Internet camera.
Construction will be moving upward and become more visible as the weeks pass.