Contaminated land just another issue for Vikings stadium

Another day, another potential obstacle to the proposed rectractable-roof stadium for the Minnesota Vikings in Arden Hills.

With four days left before the state legislature adjourns from their current session, Zygi Wilf faces a fourth-and-long to get a deal done. As it stands, the Vikings could head into the 2011 season – the final year of their lease at the Metrodome – without a home secured for the future.

The latest problem, as the Minneapolis Star Tribune reviews in fine detail, is the fact that the 430-acre proposed site for the stadium is one of the “most-polluted” grounds in the entire state. The former home of a U.S. Army munitions plant is filled with hazardous substances, including mercury, lead, solvents, PCBs and more. Just where you want to fire up your grill for tailgating, right?

Per the report, the Army has spent $200 million to clean the area already but the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says more work needs to be completed to make the site viable. As part of the $1 billion package to build the stadium, $18 million has been budgeted to continue cleaning the area. That’s just a base-line figure before soil tests are completed. Who knows what the actual price tag for cleaning will be.

“That's a risk on the project,” Ted Mondale, the Minnesota sports facilities commissioner, told the Star Tribune. “But I have researched this and have every reason to believe that the ($18 million) number is right.”

Obviously, it would be a win for Ramsey County because the contaminated land would finally be cleaned completely. But there are no guarantees and who knows what a cost overrun would mean. There’s already more than $130 million not accounted for in necessary roadwork.

There is a real risk with contaminated water at the site and with 65,000 fans showing up for games, you could expose a lot of people to dangers if it’s not completely cleaned. While it’s not a deal breaker, it’s another hurdle for a plan that doesn’t look like it will get to the finish line in time.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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