Taylor Swift will be long gone and the 2023 Minnesota Vikings season will be over before the first $15.7 million phase of U.S. Bank Stadium's upgraded security fence is in place.
In addition to a briefing on the 8,000 mirrored disco ball cups, 40,000 concert souvenir cups and 92,000 bottles of water ordered for this weekend's two sold-out Swift shows, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) signed off Thursday on a contract for the new perimeter.
MSFA Chairman Michael Vekich said approving the upgraded perimeter was a big deal, given that it had been contemplated for years. It didn't become public, however, until last year and only in the most recent session did the Legislature and Gov. Tim Walz agree to pay for the project at the seven-year-old, state-owned building.
The MSFA approved the first phase on a unanimous vote, setting a $12.8 million guaranteed maximum construction price with Minneapolis-based JE Dunn Construction. The MSFA already has paid design and consultant fees for the project outside the construction cost.
Project managers Brett Dunlap and Alan L'Esperance said the construction set-up will begin next week with surveying and logistics. Dunlap said the contractor expects to be "very nimble around the Vikings schedule," meaning construction won't happen during home games.
The project will replace the gray chain-link fencing now in place with a black 8-foot fence that can't be climbed around three-quarters of the building. The building's main entrance, the western face with the outdoor plaza and glass doors facing downtown, won't be part of the first phase.
In addition to the permanent anti-climb fencing, upgrades will include additional cables, gates, crash-prevention bollards and in-ground wedge barriers that can be lifted and lowered as a barrier to vehicles.
The next phase will cost much more, estimated at $48 million, that has yet to be designed for the building's main entrance. "The challenge for that phase will be funding it," Vekich said.
Minnesota Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley said, "The precedent's been set in terms of Phase One being funded."
The $1.1 billion stadium was constructed with a combination of private and public money and opened for the Vikings' 2016 season. By the end of this month, the state will retire $377 million in outstanding bonds, using an overflowing cash reserve of electronic pulltab revenues to retire the debt on the public share of building.
Under the 2012 legislation to build the stadium, the state covered $348 million and Minneapolis was to pay $150 million with the Vikings' owners paying the rest. It was to be paid off in 2046.
The new fence will upgrade the building's perimeter security level to K12 under Department of State anti-terrorism threat levels. That means the perimeter can stop a 15,000-pound vehicle traveling at 50 miles per hour. MSFA executive director Ben Jay said the standard is "what we're trying to maintain."
MSFA Board Member Sharon Sayles Belton asked whether JE Dunn was concerned about supply-chain problems with the construction materials potentially delaying the project. Dunlap and L'Esperance said no.
The meeting was held at a downtown Minneapolis law firm because the public is contractually barred from U.S. Bank Stadium for the week while Swift's crews prepare for her shows Friday and Saturday nights.
Aramark general manager Jenifer Freeman gave the update on the preparations that in addition to the bottled water included ordering 400 cases each of chicken tenders and ready-to-drink cocktails.
Freeman said Aramark is "executing our largest menu to date" in the suites for the show with bottled water expected to be the most popular menu item as it has been at other venues for Swift shows.
Sayles Belton asked, "Is the show sold out?"
The answer was yes.