The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

November 23, 2013

New Vikings stadium will have foreign elements

MINNEAPOLIS — Backers of the $1 billion Vikings stadium regularly tout the project as an economic driver that will boost the state's construction industry and rely heavily on Minnesota-derived materials.

Construction planners showed last week that those goals are easier stated than achieved.

For instance, take the steel that will make up the stadium skeleton and hold up the translucent roof. State lawmakers made clear they want northern Minnesota's Iron Range to be a major player.

"To the extent practicable, the authority and the team must ensure that the stadium be built with American-made steel that is made from Minnesota iron ore," the law approved in 2012 reads.

But Mortenson Construction executive John Wood turned a few heads when he told the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority that some high-grade steel will be imported from Europe, particularly the long beams that will hold the roof up. He said officials were placing an order with a Luxembourg manufacturer that is a global provider of the extra-strength steel.

Wood said after the authority's meeting that the 7,000 tons of steel that make up the perimeter can be drawn domestically, but even that will probably have only small traces of Minnesota in it.

"Minnesota doesn't mill steel. It produces taconite pellets used in the steel milling industry. It actually does not produce directly structural steel used in buildings," Wood explained. "The majority of structural steel used in buildings all over the country is produced from scrap. There isn't a direct connection between Minnesota taconite and a piece of steel you are going to find in any building structure."

Former state Rep. Tom Rukavina, a Democrat from Virginia pressed for the Minnesota ore provision and said it contributed to the vote for the bill. He's annoyed that the building requires an overseas shipment.

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