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Volume 24 No. 132


Despite its limited experience as a builder of NFL stadiums, Minneapolis-based firm Mortenson was selected by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority as the general contractor for the Vikings’ $975M stadium project. The decision was made public Friday morning during the MSFA’s monthly meeting in Minneapolis. Mortenson locally is the dominant sports builder, constructing new facilities for the Twins, Wild, T'Wolves and Univ. of Minnesota. Nationally, it has built one NFL stadium -- Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. Hunt Construction, by comparison, has built 14 NFL stadiums -- two with operable roofs. Mortenson teamed with minority firm Thor Construction and project officials said that the strategic partnership was a big reason why Mortenson won the job over a joint bid by Hunt and local builder Kraus-Anderson. The Mortenson-Thor team will be paid a fee of $12.5M, representing 1.7% of total construction costs. Mortenson Senior VP John Wood said that the firm originally proposed a fee of 1.95%. MSFA Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen said that Mortenson’s contract terms ultimately reduced the risk to state taxpayers funding a majority of the project costs. Contract terms call for Mortenson to have the Vikings stadium ready to open by July 1, 2016. The stadium will be constructed on the site of the Metrodome. Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said that team officials anticipate '13 will be the Vikings' final season at the dome. The Vikings expect to play two years at the Univ. of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium before moving into their new venue.

UNLV's effort to build a 60,000-seat domed stadium has a $360M commitment from Majestic Realty but is "facing stiff opposition from one of Las Vegas' biggest resort companies,” according to Alan Snel of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. MGM Resorts Int'l, which owns “10 major hotel-casinos on the Strip," earlier had pledged $20M to the UNLV project "but on Wednesday issued a statement opposing" the $900M venue. The statement read, "We cannot support the current UNLVNow concept, as it has grown too expensive for our community to support. We continue to support an on-campus stadium for UNLV that is appropriately configured and responsibly financed.” Sources said that Majestic Realty President & Chair Ed Roski has agreed to pay $360M, or "no more than" 40% of a $900M total expense. UNLV College of Hotel Administration Dean and project head Don Snyder said that the school “hopes to establish a special taxing district covering the campus as a way to pay some of its share but is still searching for more public funding options and is looking at ways to trim the project's cost.” Snyder said that UNLV with no final funding plan in place has “canceled a Feb. 22 workshop at which the Board of Regents was to discuss the project.” He added a regents vote “scheduled for the end of the month has been shelved.” Snyder said, "It's a big project. It's a complex project. It's more important to get it right than to be tied to a certain date or time line." He said that he is “comfortable" with the 40%-60% private-public split. He noted other "major campus facilities were built in the same way” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 2/14).

HOPPING OFF THE TRAIN: In Las Vegas, Paul Takahashi reports the Nevada Resort Association and Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority also “tempered their endorsement” of the project. The LVCVA, from which stadium officials are planning to seek $125M, said that its "first priority would be refurbishing the Las Vegas Convention Center, not funding the stadium.” Snyder said, "This certainly slows us down and sets us back. But it's not unusual in a project of this magnitude and complexity." Takahashi noted further delays “in the cost and funding projections for the stadium could derail the bill in the budget-sensitive Legislature.” If lawmakers “fail to pass a bill this session, it could stall the stadium's construction for another two years” (LAS VEGAS SUN, 2/15).

In L.A., Rong-Gong Lin II reported the L.A. Coliseum Commission is "suing its former auditor for more than" $11M, alleging that it "failed to detect errors in financial statements between 2007 and 2011, a time when alleged corruption ensnared the taxpayer-owned agency." The suit, filed Thursday in L.A. Superior Court, claims California-based SingerLewak's "incompetent auditing and accounting services effectively protected the corrupt former employees and promoters." The allegations refer in "part to how a manager allegedly received" about $2M from rave companies to "help them stage the dance concerts at the Coliseum and adjacent Sports Arena" (LATIMES,.com, 2/14).

POWER PLAY: A BUFFALO NEWS editorial states the Sabres' plan to "significantly upgrade the team’s proposed hockey destination on the waterfront is worthy of support and the tax incentives being requested." The HARBORcenter project would "draw not only hockey and figure skating enthusiasts, professional and amateur, but also will be available for city schoolchildren and local organizations." This is the kind of "out-of-the-box thinking that will benefit downtown and add value to Erie Canal Harbor" (BUFFALO NEWS, 2/15).

THE NAME GAME: In Atlanta, Doug Roberson reported Fifth Third Bank and Kennesaw State Univ. have agreed to a 10-year, $5M deal that gives the bank "naming rights to KSU Stadium, where the football team will play" beginning in '15. Fifth Third also will "receive sponsorship recognition at the KSU Convocation Center, Bailey Field and Stillwell Stadium, in addition to being the 'official bank of Kennesaw State'" (, 2/14).