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Volume 21 No. 1
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Turner choosing not to compete for Vikings stadium job

Don Muret

A leading builder of NFL stadiums will not pursue the job to construct a new $975 million facility for the Minnesota Vikings. Turner Construction, general contractor for the San Francisco 49ers’ $1.2 billion stadium under construction in Santa Clara, has decided not to compete for the Vikings deal, said Dale Koger, vice president and general manager of Turner’s sports group.

“There are other opportunities running concurrent with the Vikings’ procurement that appear more viable and attractive to us,” Koger said.

Over the past 16 years, outside of the 49ers’ project, Turner has built new stadiums in Philadelphia, Seattle, Denver, Cleveland and Charlotte, and done major renovations at NFL venues in Kansas City, Chicago, Green Bay, Washington and Jacksonville.

In Minneapolis-St. Paul, Mortenson dominates the sports landscape. The locally based contractor built Target Field, TCF Bank Stadium, Xcel Energy Center and Target Center for the Twins, Golden Gophers, Wild and Timberwolves, respectively. As a result, Mortenson, which competes nationally for sports construction jobs and built the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, is considered the prohibitive favorite to win the Vikings job.

HKS has done preliminary renderings for the new stadium in Minneapolis, where builder Mortenson has worked on all recent major league projects.

Under those circumstances, deciding whether to compete for the project is a tough call to make for general contractors operating outside of Minnesota, considering their expenses can run from $100,000 to more than $250,000 for the overall pursuit of an NFL project.

Officials with the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, the group managing stadium development in conjunction with the Vikings, say there will be a level playing field for selecting a construction manager.

For example, they point to the joint decision to hire HKS as the stadium architect in a market where Populous designed Target Field, Xcel Energy Center and TCF Bank Stadium.

“There is no slam dunk for Mortenson,” said Jennifer Hathaway, the authority’s spokeswoman.

Four years ago, Mortenson and HKS were selected separately to provide a cost analysis of the “Metrodome Next” study tied to a $954 million renovation of the Vikings’ current home. Those decisions were made by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, the Vikings’ landlord.

Mortenson won that job over a joint venture of Turner, Hunt Construction and Kraus-Anderson, a local firm. The study went nowhere after Minnesota legislators defeated two stadium bills before passing a new bill in May.

Hunt, a builder of 14 NFL stadiums, is evaluating its options and will wait until the proposal on the Vikings’ project is issued before making a decision, said Ken Johnson, Hunt’s executive vice president and division manager.

The same is true for Skanska USA, said Tom Tingle, the firm’s senior vice president and national sports director. Skanska built MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, the NFL’s newest facility, plus NFL stadiums in Nashville, Houston and Atlanta.

Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ vice president of public affairs and stadium development, said, “Just like the architect selection, the construction manager selection will be a fair and open process.”

The authority was scheduled to meet last week to discuss the process and timing of the construction manager’s selection, Bagley said.

> PHISH FARM: Kroenke Sports Enterprises generated concert-related income beyond the typical revenue streams during Phish’s three-night stand at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park over Labor Day weekend.

Kroenke Sports, owner of the Colorado Rapids, set up a temporary campground on six soccer fields next to the MLS facility. Camping fees were $180 to $200 and there were a little less than 4,000 campers, said Dave Jolette, Kroenke Sports’ senior vice president of venue operations.

Food vendors paid a small fee to feed campers, and the Rapids provided lawn bocce, flying discs and other games for Phish Heads to pass the time between shows.

“We have created a nice comfort level for those fans that pull in Friday at noon,” Jolette said. “They have green grass to play on all day long.”

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