- Minneapolis has issued a certificate of occupancy for the Minnesota Vikings' new $1.1 billion, 65-000-seat U.S. Bank Stadium to the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority six weeks earlier than expected, The News & Observer reported.
- While the MSFA and the Vikings are free to move in, general contractor Mortenson Construction said that work on finishes and punch list items will continue but will be completed prior to the venue's first event — a soccer exhibition match on Aug. 3 — and the Vikings' first game of the season on Aug. 28.
- Mortenson said the early finish on the stadium will allow its new tenants some additional settling in time while it shifts from the construction phase to "ongoing operations," according to Finance & Commerce.
Mortenson, a seasoned sports facilities builder, delivered Target Field for the MLB's Twins club two months ahead of schedule in 2010. Officials called the Vikings stadium's relatively smooth construction process "a true team effort" and said 8,000 workers have put in more than 4 million hours so far.
Although the stadium has come online ahead of schedule, it has had its share of bumps along the way. In August of last year, two roofers fell from a height of 50 feet while working on the stadium roof, and one died. Both men worked for Berwald Roofing Co., and local news coverage soon after the fall revealed that Berwald had racked up nine previous safety violations in the preceding years, most for workers not wearing safety harnesses or not protected by guardrails.
And then came the birds — or bird advocates, to be more precise. Advocates from the Audubon Society continue to argue that the 200,000 square feet of glass affixed to the stadium, in combination with the many trees planned for the grounds around the facility, will draw birds from the Mississippi River flyway and cause them to crash into the glass and die.
Yet another hurdle that Mortenson and the MSFA cleared to finish the project was a $15 million dispute over change orders. According to industry buzz, Mortenson usually likes to handle these kinds of disagreements in private but went into mediation with the MSFA over the matter. After more than a year of back and forth, the MSFA agreed to put more than $16 million in escrow for Mortenson to cover any extra expenses.
Mortenson is constantly adding to its portfolio of high-profile sports venues, either individually or as a joint venture. The contractor was hired to build the new $1 billion Golden State Warriors arena in San Francisco, the $300 million Minnesota United soccer stadium and the $524 million Milwaukee Bucks arena.