U seeks to study stadium site

Than Tibbetts

University officials began searching for a consultant to complete an environmental assessment for the proposed site of an on-campus stadium this month.

They met with potential consultants Thursday to discuss the project and visit the proposed stadium site. Representatives from two dozen companies attended the meeting.

The University must complete two studies – an environmental assessment worksheet and an environmental impact statement – before construction of the stadium can begin.

The Board of Regents approved $1.5 million in December to pay for the environmental study.

The companies will submit bids, and the University will award the contract Feb. 3, according to University documents used in the bidding process. University officials would not speculate on the bids and said they wanted the companies to come up with their own numbers.

Minnesota law requires a public hearing to disclose the findings of the environmental studies. A tentative schedule shows that public meetings will be held in February, April and October, according to the documents.

Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, said it is important for the University to start the environmental studies because it will keep the stadium plan on track for a fall 2008 opening.

Cleaning the stadium site could prove to be a costly venture for the University. The proposed site was formerly occupied by an asphalt plant, a bulk petroleum facility, a creosote facility and a rail yard.

The University has estimated it will cost $17 million to prepare the proposed site for stadium construction.

University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg has said the University might consider suing the site’s former occupants to recover some of the cost of environmental cleanup.