Digging for new Vikings stadium starts at the Metrodome

They’re burnin’ diesel over at the Metrodome this morning.

Just after 8 a.m., a shovel started peeling back the blacktop in the northeast corner of the parking lot, ahead of tomorrow’s formal groundbreaking ceremony. American Engineering Testing was on hand to start collecting soil samples, as well.

The digging marks the start of months of excavation as Mortenson Construction gets ready to pour the foundation for the new Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis. The official groundbreaking isn’t until tomorrow morning, but with just over 940 days left before the new stadium is scheduled to open, there aren’t many days to spare.

If all goes as planned, crews will starting pouring concrete foundations in about six weeks — about the same time that electrical crews are expected to cut power to the Metrodome, deflating the roof and marking the start of demolition of the 31-year-old stadium.

Its replacement is scheduled to be finished in July, 2016, with a total construction cost of $763 million.