By Brian Johnson
Dolan Media Newswires
MINNEAPOLIS — A lawsuit pending before the Minnesota Supreme Court that challenges the constitutionality of the planned bond sale for the Vikings stadium project could affect remaining subcontractor bids for the $975 million project, according to the chairwoman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority.
Michele Kelm-Helgen said Friday that about $363 million worth of contracts, nearly half of the project’s $763 million construction budget, remain to be let for the new downtown Minneapolis stadium.
“Any kind of cloud hanging over this can affect the kind of bids that we get, can affect the way people look at this project,” Kelm-Helgen said Friday. “It’s important that we get this resolved.”
Allen Troshinsky, Mortenson Construction’s director of operations, said the construction team will have to wait to find out how the lawsuit affects bids.
“We don’t have another bid package coming out for at least two months,” he said.
As of Friday, the bond sale had not been rescheduled. The good news, Kelm-Helgen said, is that the Minnesota Supreme Court appears to be moving quickly to make a ruling.
Three Minneapolis residents, including former mayoral candidate Doug Mann, filed the lawsuit. The filing prompted the Minnesota Management and Budget department to postpone the planned Jan. 13-14 bond sale.
Kelm-Helgen said the bond sale money is needed to pay contractors and to close on acquisitions of adjacent properties that are necessary to meet some of the stadium’s parking needs.
The property acquisitions also tie in with plans for the $400 million Downtown East mixed-use development next to the stadium site.
The MSFA is scheduled to close on the acquisitions Jan. 23.
In court papers, the authority said delays in the bond sale could jeopardize the planned July 2016 opening. The MSFA and MMB have asked the Minnesota Supreme Court to dismiss the lawsuit.
Meanwhile, the stadium project team is getting bigger.
The newest subcontractors are: St. Paul-based Harris Cos., with an $86 million contract for mechanical work, including pipefitting and plumbing; St. Paul-based Berwald Roofing, with a $3.5 million contract; and “Build 23,” a joint venture of St. Paul-based Gephart Electric and Fridley, Minn.-based Parsons Electric, with a $58 million contract, Mortenson reported Friday.
Maplewood, Minn.-based MG McGrath was hired for $27.4 million to furnish and install exterior metal panels for the new stadium.
So far, the project team has awarded about $400 million in contracts, including about $100 million to women- and minority-owned firms. More contracts will be finalized in the next few weeks, Troshinsky said.
“There’s about a dozen that we have gotten to the point where we have selected, made recommendations, and now it’s going through the approval process,” he said.
On the construction side, about 160,000 cubic yards, nearly 20 percent of the 850,000 total, of dirt have been removed from the project site, Troshinsky said.
Crews are also getting started with “drilled piers,” the deep foundation that the building will rest on. Work has started on seven of the 330 piers that eventually will go in, Troshinsky said.
Next week, crews will start to erect the first of five tower cranes, and the demolition of loading docks will begin.
“Physical changes to the building will begin to be noticed within the next week or so,” Troshinsky said.
Interior demolition of the 31-year-old Metrodome is progressing, including the removal and resale of seats. Little Canada-based Frattalone Cos., the demolition contractor, will reuse or recycle more than 90 percent of “everything in the dome,” including the roof, which will be cut up and reused as tarps, Kelm-Helgen said.
“It’s really already a shell of a stadium,” she said.