ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Leader of new Vikings stadium says it will be a money-maker for Minnesota

MOORHEAD, Minn. --The $1 billion Minnesota Vikings stadium remains controversial even as contractors are more than halfway done with its construction. But Michele Kelm-Helgen, who is leading the stadium project, came to Moorhead on Thursday to fo...

1709365+050715.N.FF_.STADIUMTALK.JPG
Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, speaks Thursday, May 7, 2015, at Kegs & Issues hosted by The Chamber at D-S Beverages in Moorhead.Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

 

MOORHEAD, Minn. --The $1 billion Minnesota Vikings stadium remains controversial even as contractors are more than halfway done with its construction.

But Michele Kelm-Helgen, who is leading the stadium project, came to Moorhead on Thursday to focus on the positives.

The chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority said the stadium will be an "unbelievable, iconic" facility and a big moneymaker for the state.

ADVERTISEMENT

"There is not going to be another building like this in the country, or in the world," Kelm-Helgen said at an event hosted by the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.

The stadium will replace the old home of the Vikings, the Metrodome, which Kelm-Helgen referred to as an ugly building resembling "a big spaceship."

"It never generated any economic activity around it," she added.

The new, sleek-looking, glass-covered stadium will be different, she said. It will have an openness that Kelm-Helgen believes will inspire plenty of interaction with the neighborhood.

But while the glass may be chic, it is also the source of one of several controversies to plague the stadium in recent months.

Some worry that unsuspecting birds will fly into the glass and die. Kelm-Helgen said she is working with the state's Audubon Society on a possible solution.

Another stadium-related storm came when House Republicans and board members of Kelm-Helgen's own Sports Facilities Authority accused the authority of inefficiency, saying the jobs of Kelm-Helgen and the authority's executive director were redundant, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported in March and April.

And this month, critics complained that a $6 million bridge near the new stadium should be paid for by the Vikings rather than by taxpayers, the Star Tribune reported.

ADVERTISEMENT

The stadium's funding--the cost is about split in half by the public and the football team--has been a hot issue. But Kelm-Helgen said the stadium will bring in revenue through renting out space and spurring economic activity in the area.

"The team's going to make money," she said, "but I guarantee you--so is the state of Minnesota."

She said that $800 million in private investment is happening near the stadium and that more than 900 people are working at the site as of March.

The Vikings will only use the stadium 10, or a few more, days a year, she said, which will pay for 70 percent of operating costs. The stadium would be used for other sports, performances, and other events the rest of the year, she said.

"We want to bring people into this facility every day," she said optimistically. "No other stadium is going to look like this."

What To Read Next
Get Local

ADVERTISEMENT