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Decision to use foreign steel for new Vikings stadium draws criticism

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The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority is explaining its decision to buy about $5 million in foreign steel to help build the new Vikings stadium, The Associated Press reported.

The move to import steel caused concern in Minnesota's Iron Range and sparked criticism from at least one former Democratic lawmaker. The stadium's main contractor Mortenson Construction revealed the steel buy during Friday's MSFA meeting, but didn't detail specifics.

The AP said the buy from Luxembourg manufacturer ArcelorMittal upset former Rep. Tom Rukavina, who fought for an "American-made" clause in the 2012 stadium financing law.

"To the extent practicable, the authority and the team must ensure that the stadium be built with American-made steel that is made from Minnesota iron ore," the law states.

According to the MSFA, about 20 percent of the 18,000 tons of steel for the Vikings stadium will come from Europe. Explaining the purchase, the MSFA said the high-grade foreign steel, which will be used for certain parts of the stadium's roof, can't be found in any U.S. plants.

The president of the Minnesota Iron Range Association, Craig Pagel, told WDIO that it is "very unfortunate that it wasn't designed so that all of it could have come from the United States."

"Maybe there's something the architects could have done differently, but at this point that's what it is," he said.

In a statement Monday, the MFSA said ArcelorMittal has an ownership stake in two Iron Range taconite facilities.

The AP said about $82 million of the stadium's billion-dollar budget is allocated for steel, most of which covers costs to retrofit and erect beams.

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