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Vikings kick in $48.6M more as costs rise for stadium

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Vikings kick in $48.6M more as costs rise for stadium
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

By Doug Belden

St. Paul Pioneer Press

MINNEAPOLIS — The new Vikings stadium is now officially a billion-dollar project, after the team announced Friday it’s kicking in an additional $48.6 million to plug a budget gap caused by rising costs and design changes.

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Among the items to be funded with the new money: improvements to the massive pivoting doors, additional duct work for the upper levels of the stadium and a “beverage conduit system” that delivers drinks to concession stands instead of having workers lug kegs around.

The additional $48.6 million from the team, added to the initial project cost of $975 million, brings the new project budget to $1.024 billion.

Earlier this year, the Vikings announced they were putting in an additional $2.5 million for more escalators and TVs as well as some video-related changes. Friday, the team added another $19.6 million to that amount and also transferred $26.4 million of what had been contingency money into the project budget.

Under the new arrangement, the Vikings are now paying $525.6 million of the total project cost, with the public share remaining at $498 million — $348 million from the state and $150 million from the city of Minneapolis.

In large part the cost increases reflect changing plans and/or more detailed engineering since the maximum price was set last November, said John Wood, senior vice president with Mortenson Construction.

That price was based on initial design documents, said Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. The complete construction documents were done in early May, and the authority, Mortenson, the Vikings and the stadium architect have been engaged since then in trying to either cut things or add more money.

“There’s been a lot of behind the scenes battles,” said Lester Bagley, Vikings executive vice president.

Knowing the public contribution was capped at $498 million, and wanting to preserve the signature pieces of the new stadium and enhance fan comfort, the team decided to kick in the extra money, Bagley said.

He didn’t rule out future team contributions if necessary, but he said he doesn’t anticipate they will be needed.

Kelm-Helgen said the authority has $21 million in a contingency account to use for future unanticipated expenses.

Wood said the price for steel came in higher than budgeted but that the bulk of those costs were absorbed through Mortenson’s contingency fund.

Despite the additional money, officials said they would not be switching to the “fritted” glass that nature advocates have requested as a way to reduce bird collisions with the structure.

They said they had taken other steps the groups recommended but that the fritted glass produces a murky view that did not fit with their design goals.

The new stadium is scheduled to open in downtown Minneapolis in 2016 on the site of the Metrodome, which has been razed.

The team is playing at the University of Minnesota for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Manager hired

Also at Friday’s meeting, the stadium authority announced it was hiring Pennsylvania-based SMG as the third-party operator and manager of the new facility. The firm will be in charge of booking acts for the stadium on the 350-some days it is not being used for Vikings football.

AEG, which performs similar services at the Target Center, was a finalist but was not selected.

Under the contract, SMG will pay the authority $2.75 million prior to the opening of the stadium for marketing and other costs.

Once the stadium opens, the firm guarantees it will bring the authority annual income of $6.75 million, increasing by 2 percent a year.

After that level is reached, the firm gets the next $500,000 as its fee, Kelm-Helgen said. Any money above that is divided between the company and the authority, she said.

The contract goes for 10 years after the stadium opens, with an option to renew. SMG manages four NFL stadiums and has had stadiums host Super Bowls. The new Vikings stadium has been picked to host the Super Bowl in 2018.

Brick plaza

The authority also announced it is seeking proposals to offer the public an opportunity to buy commemorative bricks at the new stadium.

Kelm-Helgen said she doesn’t know how many bricks will be available or at what price, but it would likely be a way for fans to get their names recorded on the plaza outside the stadium. She said it is not expected to be a significant money-maker for the project.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.

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