Mortenson: Arden Hills Stadium Can Be Open By 2015

Despite a recent report from the Metropolitan Council that described the proposed timeline as "aggressive" and "unrealistic," Mortenson said it has "complete confidence" that the proposed Vikings stadium in Arden Hills can be built by 2015.

Minneapolis-based M.A. Mortenson Company on Tuesday sent a letter to leaders of the Metropolitan Council and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (MSFC) defending its stance that a new Vikings stadium can be built in Arden Hills by 2015.

The letter, signed by Senior Vice President John Wood, was distributed to Met Council Chairwoman Susan Haigh, MSFC Chairman Ted Mondale, Governor Mark Dayton, several legislative leaders, Ramsey County commissioners, and Vikings' leaders.

Mortenson was initially retained by the MSFC to provide a cost estimate and planning consultation for re-construction of the Metrodome, and was subsequently asked to provide input in developing a plan for Arden Hills.

Mortenson's letter comes about two weeks after the Met Council released its Stadium Proposal Risk Analysis, after being commissioned by Dayton in August to evaluate the $1.1 billion Arden Hills proposal-which would put a multi-purpose stadium at the former Twin Cities Army Ammunitions Plant site.

The report stated that cleanup of the property involves significant uncertainties and described the Vikings' and Ramsey County's proposed schedule-which would have the stadium up and running for the 2015 season-as “aggressive” and “unrealistic.”

Wood wrote that Mortenson agrees that the overall schedule is aggressive, but “the design and construction schedule is very adequate to deliver the stadium by the 2015 NFL season opening,” and the firm has “complete confidence that this can be achieved should the project be approved by the Minnesota State Legislature and governor this fall and the regulatory approval and permitting process be completed promptly.”

Mortenson also pointed out that moving forward with the new stadium project would create much-needed construction jobs in the state and have a significant positive economic impact.

“We will support every effort to move this project forward at the earliest opportunity,” Wood wrote, adding that Mortenson is prepared to supply any further input that the Met Council might need from the company.

The Met Council report said that a 2016 opening date for a stadium in Arden Hills is more realistic than 2015, and said that it could be opened in 2017 “in a worst case scenario.” It estimated that a one-year delay from 2015 to 2016 in opening the stadium would cost $46 million-and the project's developers should expect at least a one-year delay.

Dayton reportedly hopes to call a special Legislative session to begin on November 21 to address the Vikings stadium issue. The current Arden Hills plan calls for the Vikings to pay $407 million, Ramsey County to cover $350 million, and the State of Minnesota to pitch in $300 million-which leaves about $39 million that hasn't yet been allocated, according to the Met Council report.

Following the release of the Met Council report, Minneapolis officials re-joined the stadium debate, stating support for three downtown Minneapolis sites. But the Vikings told Minnesota Public Radio that the team is still focused on the Arden Hills plan. Vikings owner Zygi Wilf shared his thoughts on the stadium issue in the cover story in the August issue of Twin Cities Business.