Mortenson Construction showed off the 90 percent complete Minnesota Vikings stadium Tuesday with a tour minutes after an upbeat announcement of a resolution with the state over $15 million in disputed costs on the $1.1 billion building.
Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA), told reporters that a deal had been reached with general contractor Mortenson after months of closed-door negotiations. She expects the board to vote on the settlement at Friday’s regularly scheduled meeting. The details of the arrangement will then become public.
“There will be a number,” Kelm-Helgen said Tuesday. “It’s not finalized yet. But there will be a number hopefully Friday.”
With that, she, Mortenson general superintendent Dave Mansell and Lester Bagley, Vikings executive vice president, led a tour for dozens of reporters through the building that is nearly double the size of the Metrodome it replaced.
Two-thirds of the purple seats are in place. Video boards hover above each end zone. Some concession areas, suites and clubs are also completed. The signature five pivoting glass doors on the west end of the building have been installed, and the roof was finished late last year.
“We’re over the hump of any big stuff that’s gonna jump out and bite us,” Mansell said.
By April 8, all the seats will be in, he added. “We’re right on track for where we want to be,” he said.
The stadium is the largest public-private project in state history. Team owners Mark and Zygi Wilf are paying about half the cost, with taxpayers paying $498 million. Disputes continue over the public park in front of the stadium, lack of tailgating space and signs on the adjacent Wells Fargo towers, but overall construction has been unfailingly on pace — despite the death of a worker in a fall last summer — the cause of which has not been disclosed.
Still to be done: the playing field. Eric Grenz, Mortenson construction executive, said the drainage is now being installed for the field. Asphalt is expected to go down in April — depending on the weather. “We’ll start rolling out the carpet, the turf, in early May,” he said.
Mansell said they’re working on punch lists — the final details with the architect. Several places and have “punched out,” been completed and sealed off, Mansell said.
The target date to finish the project is July 15, Mansell said, adding that the project could be done early and then, “it’s adios muchachos.”
Vikings preseason starts in August, but the first event in the new building may be a concert — either the previously announced Luke Bryan event or a rock-and-roll act that is on the verge of being announced, according to Kelm-Helgen.
Behind the scenes, there was also progress on costs.
Mortenson and the MSFA have been in discussions for more than a year over who should pay for design changes that the contractor said were not part of the original bid.
Although the $15 million is a small percentage of the project, Mortenson’s decision to file for mediation was highly unusual for the Minnesota company and a public sign of a fractured relationship with the MSFA.
If mediation had failed to yield an agreement, the next step would be binding arbitration.
The dispute caused concern on the job site, especially for subcontractors who feel the fiscal squeeze tighter than the larger Mortenson. Last summer, two subcontractors sent written pleas to the MSFA for a settlement, saying they were on the verge of bankruptcy. Mortenson then paid the subcontractors itself rather than wait out the mediation.