Jay Loffler's career started below ground but has gone up.
The really impressive measurement of Loffler's career, however, is not elevation but duration. He's been with Ames Construction of Burnsville, Minn., for 35 years.
Check out images from the new Vikings stadium taken during a media tour that was given on October 20.
Loffler is one of approximately 650 construction workers currently calling the new Vikings stadium construction site his daily workplace.
"It's been a real treat for myself," Loffler said during a recent phone interview. "I've worked for Ames all these years, and to have Ames put me in position to do that work for them is great."
The location has been Loffler's place of work twice before. He was a laborer during construction of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, which opened in 1982, and returned earlier this year to remove the building after its power was shut off for the final time on Jan. 18. Loffler worked his way up from shoveling and maintaining a compressor that helped the crew jackhammer the dugouts of the facility that hosted the Vikings for 32 seasons (and Twins for most of that time). Loffler also helped work on the practice fields at Winter Park, where the Vikings have been headquartered since 1981.
Loffler returned to the downtown site this year to help with the deconstruction of the building in a way that allowed nearly 90 percent of its materials to be recycled and is operating an excavator backhoe on the current project.
"It's kind of shock and awe to see," Loffler said. "Thirty years ago I was part of building this and now it's coming down and now we're building a new facility in the same spot. I was mostly doing the same thing I was 30 years ago, but my part was actually operating the equipment and doing the finesse work to put everything to grade for the footing excavation and the rock."
He said the deconstruction phase presented unique challenges, and the construction of the future home of the Vikings has quickly progressed.
"I think the construction process is easier because the demolition, there's so much rebar," Loffler said. "You've really got to be on top of your game to watch that rebar because it will jump out and bite you like a rabid dog if you're not careful."
Loffler was born in Des Moines, Iowa, but has made his home in Maple Grove for the past 25 years. He said workers have been committed to keeping the plans of Minnesota-based Mortenson Company on schedule and taking pride in the process of building what will be the state's largest sports venue. It is scheduled to open in July 2016.
"It's a daily thing for me because things are getting built so fast," Loffler said. "I guess an old timer told me to take pride in your work, and that's what I've always strived for, to take pride in my work and when I go home at night say, 'Job well done.' I'm a small part of what's being built."
Concrete has been rising, steel has been soaring, and the renderings that Loffler and others have seen depicting the bold, innovative design become closer with each day on the job.
Loffler's first-hand knowledge, acquired through years of hard work and experience, will help him appreciate the finished product that much more.
"I think with the way it's designed, with all the glass, it's just going to be a diamond for Minneapolis, a focal point for the Twin Cities," Loffler said.