The upcoming NFL season will be the last the Minnesota Vikings will play in the Metrodome, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority announced Thursday.
The Dome will be razed after the 2013 season, likely in January or February of 2014.
The new stadium’s architect, HKS Inc., and newly-named builder, Mortenson Construction, met Wednesday and settled on the demolition timetable, said Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the stadium authority. The Dome needs to be torn down to make way for the new stadium.
The timing means that the Vikings will play two seasons — 2014 and 2015 — at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.
Although the official announcement was little surprise — the stadium authority and Vikings have said for weeks that the team most likely would play two seasons at TCF Bank — both wanted to wait until a builder was hired before making a final decision. The team and authority hired Mortenson last week to oversee construction of the $975 million project, which is scheduled to open by July 2016.
Kelm-Helgen said Mortenson and HKS were in “firm agreement” that the Vikings play only one more year at the Dome in order to simplify the construction of the new building in a relatively tight, downtown setting.
“Trying to have a construction site so close to existing buildings gets to be very expensive from a construction standpoint and is fairly risky from a liability standpoint,” Kelm-Helgen said.
Lester Bagley, a Vikings vice president, said the team has been working with the University of Minnesota on reaching an agreement to play on campus for two seasons.
“We have a handful of issues we’re trying to resolve and we’re trying to close those out as quickly as we can,” Bagley said. “Part of that would involve some capital improvements to the facility.”
Ground breaking for the new stadium is tentatively scheduled to take place in October, in the heart of the Vikings 2013 season, on property just east of the Metrodome.
John Wood, Mortenson’s senior vice president, said early work will involve relocating “some significant underground utilities.” He said crews also will begin working on the foundation system and concrete substructure.
The 31-year-old facility, which was home to the Vikings, Twins and University of Minnesota football team when it opened, could be razed one of two ways — piece by piece or by using explosives.
“It seems from what we have looked at to date that it’s more than likely going to be a more traditional, piece-by-piece approach,” Wood said.
He said that as the building is demolished in a “sequential and clockwise manner,” construction of the new stadium’s walls “will start to follow immediately behind it.
“There’ll be a lot of new construction activity going on while the Metrodome is still being demolished,” Wood said.
Over its lifetime, the Metrodome has been host to thousands of sporting events. Besides serving as the home field for the Vikings, Twins and Gopher football team, the facility has hosted a Super Bowl, two NCAA Final Four tournaments and a Major League Baseball All-Star game.
The Twins won two World Series championships — in 1987 and 1991 — playing at the Dome before moving to Target Field in 2010.
In addition, thousands of local college, high school and amateur baseball teams have used the facility in late winter and early spring to get a jump start on their seasons.
-- Richard Meryhew