- Associated Press - Friday, June 3, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Minnesota Vikings can pick up the keys to their new home six weeks early.

The city of Minneapolis issued Friday the certificate of occupancy for U.S. Bank Stadium to the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, a month-and-a-half before the project agreement date. The MSFA, the public agency overseeing the $1.1 billion venue, will be able to move in ahead of schedule and give the Vikings and other stakeholders time to get settled before the gates open for good.

To satisfy the certificate of occupancy, city and state inspectors had to approve all mechanical and safety systems in the space of roughly 1.8 million square feet from fire alarms to toilet flushing. Finishing touches will continue throughout June.

Mortenson Construction senior vice president John Wood said he expects the certificate of substantial completion to be obtained in the coming weeks and all punch-list tasks to be finished before the first event, an Aug. 3 soccer exhibition between European clubs Chelsea FC and AC Milan.

Prior to that, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place July 22 and free public open-houses will be held the following two days. The first Vikings preseason game at the 65,000-seat stadium is Aug. 28 against San Diego.

The general contractor based in the Minneapolis area has handled dozens of sports facilities, including Target Field for Major League Baseball’s Twins on the other side of downtown. The ballpark opened in 2010, and construction was completed there more two months ahead of schedule.

“We’re obviously very proud of that,” Wood said, adding: “We’ve had just an unbelievably confident committed group of all of our partners.”

The groundbreaking ceremony was held Dec. 3, 2013, roughly month before the Vikings finished their final season at the Metrodome on the same site. According to Mortenson, more than 8,000 workers have logged a collective 4 million hours on the project to date.

“It’s a true team effort,” Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said.

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Online:

AP NFL website: https://www.pro32.ap.org and https://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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