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Volume 20 No. 42
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Vikings’ long road provided plenty of practice for architects

Don Muret
Expect the competition to design a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings to be a three-horse race between AECOM, HKS and Populous.

Over the past 10 years, those three architects have done the most design work on a new stadium for the Vikings and retrofits at the Metrodome. A $975 million facility will be built on the dome site after Gov. Mark Dayton’s signing of a stadium finance bill last week.

In 2009, HKS, designer of Cowboys Stadium and Lucas Oil Stadium, completed the “Metrodome Next” study for the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission for a $954 million project state lawmakers then killed the following year.
AECOM and Populous, respectively, completed design work in the past for the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, operator of the Metrodome, and the Vikings.

AECOM, formerly Ellerbe Becket, designed CenturyLink Field in Seattle and renovations to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and Lambeau Field, two projects tied to premium-seat upgrades that have helped the Saints and Packers generate more revenue in smaller markets.

Populous’ most recent NFL projects include University of Phoenix Stadium, a $375 million makeover of Arrowhead Stadium, master plans to improve Bank of America Stadium and Ralph Wilson Stadium, and a study in Atlanta to build a $948 million stadium for the Falcons.

HNTB and 360 Architecture are two other national firms with NFL experience that could bid for the Vikings job.
On the construction side, Minnesota builder Mortenson, general contractor for the MLB Twins and University of Minnesota stadiums, is the prohibitive favorite.

Three years ago, Hunt Construction and Turner Construction, builders of multiple NFL facilities, partnered with Kraus-Anderson, a Minneapolis contractor, to compete for the Metrodome Next deal. The commission selected Mortenson to team with HKS for the study.

Turner has not made a decision on a potential joint venture in Minnesota, said Dale Koger, vice president and general manager of Turner’s sports group. The same is true for Skanska USA, said Tom Tingle, Skanska’s senior vice president and national sports director.

As part of the stadium bill, a new Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority will be formed to run the new stadium. The authority and the Vikings will jointly select the stadium’s designer and builder.

ON TARGET: The Minnesota stadium bill was a blessing in disguise for AEG, the developer of Farmers Field in Los Angeles, where the Vikings were a candidate for relocation before getting their financing deal done.

The bill contains millions in public funding to pay for a renovation of city-owned Target Center, which AEG Facilities operates for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

AEG was always pushing for the Vikings to remain in Minnesota due to the firm’s vested interest in the state’s major league sports facilities, said Tim Leiweke, AEG’s president and CEO.

The city is using hospitality taxes to pay for arena upgrades that could cost $150 million. “My guess is there is going to be some equity contribution needed out of the Timberwolves … and out of us,” Leiweke said.

Don Muret can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @breakground.