Celebration goes on at Vikings' new stadium, despite storms
ST. PAUL -- U.S. Bank Stadium construction superintendent Dave Mansell felt pretty good about pulling off the project when he first reviewed the plans.
ST. PAUL - U.S. Bank Stadium construction superintendent Dave Mansell felt pretty good about pulling off the project when he first reviewed the plans.
Then he looked at the steel structure for the mammoth building and, as he put it, “just went, ‘Oh, (blankety-blank).’ ”
The challenge proved surmountable: On Thursday, after nearly two years of construction and more than 11,000 tons of steel, he and stadium officials celebrated the placement of the building’s final beam.
The girder in question was signed end-to-end by construction workers, team personnel and other visitors. The actual placement was delayed by lightning and stormy weather. Lead contractor Mortenson Construction said it plans to raise it Friday.
A crowd of about 1,400, including many ironworkers, was on hand.
“I think it’s safe to say that this is the largest crowd that’s been in this facility so far,” said Mortenson senior vice president John Wood.
Wood tempered the celebration with a moment of silence for Jeramie Gruber, a construction worker from Northfield who died after falling from the stadium roof Aug. 26.
Team co-owner and president Mark Wilf said he and his family - brother Zygi was also on hand - had sought since buying the team “to build a world-class stadium in Minnesota to deliver the best fan experience in sports.
“We believe we are nearing that point,” he said.
The stadium is scheduled for completion in July 2016.
Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said that when she first got involved in the project, “we were looking at spreadsheets.”
The now-cavernous building in downtown Minneapolis “is way more fun,” she said.
Smith said it was appropriate for the Vikings’ new home to celebrate a construction tradition that originated in eighth-century Scandinavia. In some tellings, homebuilders placed a tree branch atop the completed structure to appease forest spirits for taking the wood.
In that tradition, the final beam at U.S. Bank Stadium was topped with a Christmas tree, along with an American flag.
The historical Vikings would raise the final beam “and then they would move on to the next community and continue wreaking havoc,” Smith said, “which is what we hope the Vikings will be doing with Detroit in just a couple of days.”