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West Plaza shows stadium deal’s gray details could cost taxpayers green

These handsome folks totally look like they can pitch in for what's been estimated as much as $1.2 billion.

These handsome folks totally look like they can pitch in for what's been estimated as much as $1.2 billion.

The West Plaza area, an often-overlooked chunk of real estate in the stadium cluster that's squeezed between the Viking’s new stadium and a public park that's really not public, must meet the design "standards required" for a NFL franchise.

Only the Vikings know what aesthetics will float their Nordic boat. What is known is that the plaza's design will cost $400,000.

That's a new charge.

Finance & Commerce scribe Brian Johnson was aces last week, reporting a little-known development involving the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) and Vikings stadium architect HKS.

The authority agreed to pay the Dallas firm an additional $400,000 to design the West Plaza.

The plaza could grow in size and cost if the authority or the Vikings are able to lease or buy a portion of the Hennepin County Medical Examiner block that sits to the southwest.

It was budgeted, design fees included, at $5.4 million. But that was before the latest charge.

The new outlay is in addition to the $34 million HKS is already getting paid as the stadium's architect.

Earlier this year, the project hiccuped when the authority and architect disagreed over whether or not the initial $34 million design fee included the plaza.

The authority said HKS was on the hook for the plaza's design as part of the stadium plan. The designer said it would do it only for another $700,000 to $800,000.

The authority said no thanks and opened the plaza's design work up to other bidders. That forced HKS to suddenly become magnanimous enough to cut its original fee in half.

The announcement greased the wheels for a continued mutually-beneficial relationship between the entities, while taxpayers feel the aftershocks of what's fast becoming the biggest fleecing of taxpayer dollars to build a stadium in American history.

“Moving forward on that is really key and having HKS involved keeps it connected to the stadium and that’s good,” MSFA chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen told Finance & Commerce. “Having a price that was more affordable for us is good for the authority."

But will it be good for taxpayers? Likely not.

According to a MSFA memorandum, $350,000 of the new architectural fee will come from the stadium development budget. Another $50,000 will come from the Vikes.

So City Pages posed a question to authority spokeswomen Jennifer Hathaway: Will that 350k be added to the project's total cost, or will something else get shorted?

Hathaway says the money will come from a budget for "additional design services."

In bureaucratese, this apparently translates to “we’d prefer not to answer that question.”

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