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Vikings stadium finished ahead of schedule

A view of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium, with downtown Minneapolis in the background, shows it is nearly completed. U.S. Bank Stadium was turned over to the state on Friday, June 17, 2016. (Minnesota Vikings photo)

Contractors handed the new Minnesota Vikings stadium over to the state Friday, six weeks earlier than planned.

Construction of U.S. Bank Stadium is considered "substantially complete," so main contractor Mortenson Construction gave the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority a large key during the state board's June meeting. The symbolic handoff means all but some detail work is completed on the $1.1 billion stadium.

Mortenson had planned to turn it over July 29.

"U.S. Bank Stadium was designed with the fan experience as the No. 1 priority, and to accomplish this milestone ahead of schedule is a testament to the talent and dedication by so many," said Vikings owner and President Mark Wilf.

Groundbreaking for the stadium, replacing the Metrodome, came on Dec. 3, 2013. The first event in the facility will be an Aug. 3 soccer match, followed later in the month by country and rock concerts.

The Viking's first National Football League game will be Aug. 28 when they host the San Diego Chargers in a noon pre-season game. The Vikings' biggest rival, the Green Bay Packers, come to the stadium for a nationally televised Sunday night game on Sept. 18, the first regular-season game there.

The ribbon cutting will be July 22. The next two days fans may tour the facility, but need free tickets. See www.usbankstadium.com for more information.

The new stadium, where the Metrodome stood, joins the Twins' Target Field baseball park and the University of Minnesota football team's TCF Bank Stadium as new sports venues in downtown Minneapolis. The Vikings played on the university field the past two seasons after the Metrodome was torn down.

The new stadium is 1.8 million square feet with seating for up to 70,000 under a permanent roof. However, more than half of the roof is clear, allowing sunlight to cover the field. Five massive pivoting glass doors open toward downtown Minneapolis, also allowing the outside in.

"Mortenson took building the largest transparent roof in North America and the largest operable doors in the world in stride, and succeeded." Chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen of the facilities authority said.

The Vikings say the seats will be the closest in the NFL.

Giant Minnesota-made scoreboard-television monitors are at either end of the field, and 2,000 high-definition sets are around the stadium.

More than 8,000 workers constructed the building.

"The stadium stands as a testament to the dedication, expertise, and hard work of so many in the local construction industry," said John Wood of Mortenson Construction.

The first sports event will be an AC Milan vs. Chelsea F.C. soccer match on Aug. 3 as part of the 2016 International Champions Cup. Ironically, the Vikings made a bid to host a new major league soccer team in the Twin Cities, with games to be played at the new stadium, but another group won that right and plans a new St. Paul stadium.

A few days after the soccer contest, country singer Luke Bryan makes music on Aug. 19. The next night, rock band Metallica stops at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The stadium was sold to state lawmakers, who approved government funding for nearly half of the cost, as the future home of major national sports events. Even before opening, the facilities authority booked the 2018 NFL Super Bowl and the 2019 NCAA men's Final Four basketball tournament.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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