Stadium set to ‘go vertical’ by January

The $30 million spent on the stadium so far has gone to the contractors as well as design needs and an impact study.

Having spent roughly $30 million so far, the University can now expect its new football facility to actually resemble the beginnings of a stadium within the next two months.

Mortenson construction workers finished installing the last of 2,200 metal pilings which will serve as the base for TCF Bank Stadium on Friday. By the end of next month, the steel frame of the stadium should begin to go vertical.

“Piles really form the foundations of the building,” Brian Swanson, stadium project manager for the University, said. “In late January, the stadium will start coming out of the ground.”

The pilings are roughly 40 feet long and are installed through a drilling process, as opposed to a traditional pile-driving procedure. Once in place, they are filled with concrete.

Swanson said the drilling method is quieter and allows workers to quickly get the pilings in place. He estimated a single piling takes 10 minutes to install.

Cold and snowy weather have been prevalent throughout the work, but Swanson said construction was on schedule and so far had not been affected by the conditions.

Mortenson senior vice president Paul Cossette agreed.

“We plan for the kind of winter weather we have coming up,” he said. “It’d sure be nice if we had a little less snow, as far as construction goes, but it really doesn’t slow things down.”

Some workers, however, said a 16-inch layer of frost did present some challenges in getting the pilings into the ground.

The final piling was installed later Friday than originally anticipated.

To get to this point, the University has spent just more than 10 percent of its estimated $288.5 million stadium-building budget. Mortenson, the general contractor for the project, has been paid a little more than $15 million to date, according to nine University invoices since March.

Mortenson, in turn, uses some of its funding to subcontract the work, Cossette said. He said roughly 90 percent of the project is being subcontracted.

The remaining $15 million spent by the University has gone to various design and infrastructure needs. Included in this was an environmental impact study.

With workers scurrying across the 20-acre snow-filled site from 6 a.m. to dusk, Swanson said he is excited about a fall 2009 opening.

“The project is going remarkably well,” Swanson said. “We’re on time.”

TCF Bank Stadium is expected to have roughly 50,000 seats, with room for a possible expansion.