MINNEAPOLIS — U.S. Bank Stadium has experienced its first epic handoff.
It wasn't Teddy Bridgewater to Adrian Peterson on a Vikings game day.
Instead, it was Mortenson Construction symbolically handing the keys to the state-of-the-art venue to the Vikings and Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority on Friday morning to celebrate the "substantial completion" point of the 1.75 million square foot facility.
"The building is yours to occupy, use and play football," said Mortenson Construction Senior Vice President John Wood.
The "substantial completion" point is an industry term when all the major work is completed. Some details and cleanup remain, but the milestone for the largest public/private construction project in state history was reached six weeks before the deadline.
"Today's achievement is an incredible feat by HKS, Mortenson Construction, the MSFA and the Vikings, as well as the hundreds of subcontractors and thousands of Minnesota men and women who worked on this project over the last two and a half years," said Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf. "U.S. Bank Stadium was designed with the fan experience as the number one priority, and to accomplish this milestone ahead of schedule is a testament to the talent and dedication by so many."
Wood credited HKS architects for "designing a truly remarkable building" through talent and ingenuity. He said the execution of those ideas occurred via the skills and craftsmanship of 8,000 construction workers, including 1,300 at a time during the peak of the construction process. He said the work wasn't quite 24-7, noting that Mortenson employees' families gave birth to 14 children during the course of construction.
The bold design of the $1.1 billion venue features complex geometry and an innovative roof design to handle the extremes of winter. The use of clear ETFE on 60 percent of the roof, as well as five of the world's largest pivoting doors on the west wall of glass, gives the venue an outdoor feel bathed with natural sunlight.
The project, on which ground was broken before the final game at the Metrodome in December 2013, resulted from a symphonic collaboration led by General Superintendent Dave Mansell.
Wood said Mansell is, "One man, who in my view, stands apart and is singularly responsible for making today's achievement happen" because he is "unquestionably the leader of this project." Mansell began scheduling the building in his head in December 2012 and led the process with use of a 4D computerized scheduling model.
Modest but with a Midwestern pride, Mansell enjoyed the project reaching the milestone while crediting team members.
"It's good, you know, a lot of people did a lot of great things to get here," Mansell said. "Not just me. It's good for the morale and everybody around, the Vikings and Authority can move into the building and get situated instead of doing it the day before they open. It makes it easier on us and them, and that's the reason to do it."
Mansell maintained confidence that the project could and would be completed on time.
"I believe scheduling is the most important thing on this project," Mansell said. "We've had some great schedulers, great attitudes. The devil is always in the details, and we create a very detailed CPM schedule. We live by it. We execute it, we do it every day and we maintain it. We don't just stick it on the shelf. We're really on schedule of where we expected to be."
Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren said people he meets around the country are surprised to learn that U.S. Bank Stadium has risen from the recycled rubble of the Metrodome so quickly and is nearly twice the size of its predecessor.
"To think that all that has happened since December 2013 is absolutely unbelievable," Warren said. "It's a special relationship, partnership to come together from a collaborative standpoint and do something unique. This will become the front porch of Minnesota. We're proud to have this done.
"Ownership and staff are excited," Warren added. "It's been incredible what Mortenson, Thor, HKS and the [MSFA] and Vikings have done. I say this as a compliment to true Minnesotans. They've done it with style and grace and in an expedited manner."