Tim Yotter/VikingUpdate.com

U.S. Bank Stadium dispute over money settled

The stadium authority for U.S. Bank Stadium and M.A. Mortenson have settled a dispute surrounding cost overruns, putting a dark cloud in the construction history behind them.

One of the main underlying issues that has been an ongoing thorn in the side of the construction of U.S. Bank Stadium may have finally been addressed with a peaceful resolution expected to come from it.

On Friday, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority reached an agreement with M.A. Mortenson Co., the contractor for U.S. Bank Stadium, to agree to earmark money to cover cost overruns in the project due to changes made from the initial design plan.

The MSFA met in a closed session Friday and, by a 3-0 vote, appropriated funds that were placed in contingency for the inevitable change orders that come with a project as massive as U.S. Bank Stadium.

The Minnesota Vikings weren’t technically involved in the claim for mediation first requested by Mortenson, but, as the primary tenant and often the lead in proposing upgrades as opposed to cutting corners, there was no denying that, to make peace and amicably complete the project, the Vikings would be intrinsically involved.

 The settlement calls for $16.25 million to be moved from the project contingency fund to cover claims that are already in excess of $15 million. The Vikings are reportedly adding $5.5 million to cover the costs deemed as the result of the team seeking to upgrade the project.

The Vikings contribution is based primarily on regulations the NFL will be imposing on all stadiums, including walk-through metal detectors at entry gates and technology improvements and upgrades to the plaza portion of the project outside the stadium.

The latest contribution brings the Vikings’ financial commitment to the project to $592 million – $115 million above the $477 million agreed upon when the Minnesota State Legislature approved the stadium bill – while the state contribution has remained the same as it was when the bill was signed.

The agreement reached Friday will continue to allow the MSFA to have a project war chest, because there is the projection that more change order claims will be coming in the final five months of construction that could be in excess of $10 million. Aside from the Vikings’ contribution to cover the change orders, there remains $13.5 million in the MSFA contingency fund to cover potential cost overruns that may occur between now and the July construction final sign-off date.

The money has been placed in escrow and, when the construction is complete, Mortenson can decide whether it wants to accept or reject the amount in the account – either ending the project at that point or continue the dispute into the binding arbitration process.

At the current time, the climate is that all sides are currently happy with where the settlement agreement stands and the hope is that the majority of the change orders that resulted in cost increases to the original scope of the project are over.

While the $16.25 million transfer by the MSFA may seem enormous, it represents just 1.5 percent of the total project cost and the feeling is that it will refocus efforts on completing the project with the budget remaining without further significant project changes.

SATURDAY NOTES

  • Every draft prospect who has ever tested positive for drugs can thank Dallas second-round defensive end Randy Gregory for potentially putting them under the microscope next week at the Combine. The NFL announced Friday that Gregory would be suspended for the first four games. Translation: after failing a drug test for marijuana at the Combine, he failed three drug tests since becoming a member of the Cowboys – the first two resulted in fines and the third (fourth overall) resulting in a suspension.
  • For Rams fans who hate Stan Kroenke for his role in taking NFL football away from St. Louis, they aren’t alone. Apparently, the Los Angeles Rams are looking to rid themselves of St. Louis players on the roster as well. On Friday, the Rams announced that veteran faces of the St. Louis Rams franchise – DE Chris Long, LB James Laurinaitis and TE Jared Cook – were released for salary cap reasons. Apparently the same compassion given to fans by Kroenke is being exercised with his high-priced employees as well.
  • Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland said this week that he expects to be drafted by the Packers, who are in need of inside linebacker help. However, they’re not alone and the current belief is that, if Ragland is going to follow former Crimson Tide player Eddie Lacy (a.k.a. Feast Mode) to Green Bay, the Packers will have to trade up to get him. 


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