The largest public-private construction project in Minnesota history has surpassed equity hiring goals in terms of minority-owned businesses and workers.
That was one of the updates Friday at the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) meeting, barely more than two months before the building opens for a soccer match Aug. 3.
The MSFA, which has overseen construction, also got an update from Executive Director Ted Mondale about enhancements to smaller details, because the major components of the building are completed from the roof and pivoting glass doors to the turf, seats, and purple and gold carpet in suites and clubs.
The Vikings put in an additional $2 million for items that include a $14,000 game clock in the coaches’ office and a welcome sign near the pedestrian bridges, but there was no money for bird-safe glass.
The team is paying for more than half of the $1.1 billion project. Taxpayers in Minnesota are covering $498 million of what will be a state-owned building operated by SMG with the Vikings as the main tenant.
Alex Tittle, project equity director, provided a breakdown of workforce goals regarding hiring through the end of March.
In terms of minority workers, the project has exceeded the goal by 4 percentage points, hitting 36 percent of the workforce. Women make up 9 percent of the workforce, 3 percentage points above goal.
He also broke the numbers down by ethnicity. Hispanics made up the largest portion of the minority workforce at 12.9 percent. Blacks were close at 12.6 percent. Six percent of the workforce was American Indian, 2.8 percent was Asian-Pacific Islander and “other” were 1.6 percent.
Tittle said the project included 377 workers from “targeted ZIP codes,” parts of the city with higher concentrations of poverty.
The numbers also were above the aggressive goals in terms of minority- and women-owned businesses. The project sought to have 9 percent of the former and 11 percent the latter. Instead, 12 percent were minority-owned businesses, accounting for $108 million in work, and 16 percent were women-owned, doing $138 million of the work.
Tittle called diverse hiring a “true legacy” of the project that should continue with the employees finding similar work.
MSFA member John Griffith told Tittle: “This is huge; very very well done.”
Eric Grenz, Mortenson Construction executive, gave an update on the project, showing interior and exterior shots that looked finished but for the lack of furnishings. He pledged that the project would be completed without surprising “major issues.”
Mondale had said earlier in the meeting that there probably will be an unwelcome surprise after construction was complete. There’s “never been a building opened without” something going wrong that no one foresaw, he said.
Grenz countered: “I’m not sure who your experience is with, but I’ll leave it at that.”
Some 900 workers remain on the site.
The board heard again from bird conservationists concerned about the glassy building’s proximity to the Mississippi River flyway. Advocate Ann Laughlin said the board has failed to find a solution in 17 months of conversations.
Laughlin and others have repeatedly asked the Vikings and the MSFA to use bird-safe glass, something with a textured surface that birds would be able to see before smashing into it.
Michele Kelm-Helgen, MSFA chairwoman, has previously said the agency is looking into applying a film to the glass after construction. On Friday, she said she expects to have a plan to present at the meeting in June.
The plan will be the outlines of a study to determine whether birds crash into the glass. “We’re going to do a study to see if we have a problem before we decide what to do,” she said.