Recently, a Star Tribune poll showed that Vikings fans prefer Minneapolis over Arden Hills by a small margin. One of those plans frequently discussed, but never in great detail, has been the Farmers Market site west of Target Field. Last week, SavetheVikes.org obtained a copy of the proposed plan by Albersman, Armstrong & Lambrecht and we’d like to share it with you, the fans.
(Please note: this is not an endorsement of the site over Arden Hills. We are presenting the information and letting the fans make their own decision.)The first thing that designer Bruce Lambrecht pointed out was “In Arden Hills, there is only one form of transportation available to get to the stadium-your car. With the plan we’ve proposed along the west corridor you will be able to tailgate, railgate and trailgate.” What Lambrecht means is that you can drive, bike, take the Light Rail or bus to a game under his proposal.
The Farmers Market plan is bold and it takes on more than just the Vikings stadium. It presents the idea that Minneapolis can be centralized along “The Corridor”.
San Francisco has the Pier, New York has Times Square, Chicago has the Mag Mile, Miami has South Beach and Minneapolis would have “The Corridor”.
The corridor would start where the proposed west metro rail line comes into Minneapolis and intersects with the city’s bike paths. Key, when you consider that the majority of Vikings fans live in the West and Southwest Metro. First stop on the corridor is the “Sports and Entertainment district” where fans could party, tailgate, railgate and trailgate between Target Field, Target Center and the proposed Vikings stadium-north of Mary Jo Copeland’s homeless shelter which will remain intact, avoiding a PR disaster.
The existing farmers market would be moved two blocks north where the G&K Services Depot currently sits.
The corridor would then continue through downtown on the existing Light Rail line through the “Business District”, “Arts District”, and the “Medical, Housing and Educational District”. The Medical, Housing and Educational District will replace the existing Metrodome site, which answers the question of what to do when the final tenant leaves the dome (More on that later).
Minneapolis Mayor R.T.Rybak called SavetheVikes.org founder Cory Merrifield a few weeks back expressing his desire to see the Vikings stay in Minneapolis and that any of the three proposed sites (Metrodome, Linden Ave and Farmers Market) are great sites. Governor Dayton has since asked Minneapolis to narrow it down to one site, and soon.
For now, here are some quick comparisons between where the Vikings play now and where they could end up.
Cost:Arden Hills-$1.19 Billion Farmers Market-$1.1 Billion Metrodome site-$900 million
Size:Arden Hills-150 acres Farmers Market-33 acres Future development Metrodome site-22 acres
Parking:Arden Hills: 22,000 parking spots/majority tailgate capable Farmers Market: 14,600 Parking spots/6,600 tailgate capable Metrodome: 12,600/7,000 tailgate capable
Governor Dayton and the Legislature took the sales tax option off the table a few weeks back which has changed the framework of a deal as we have known it for the last three years. The first thing it does is take away the leverage that Ramsey County has as a host community. If contribution is state wide without input from a local partner then the State now negotiates where the stadium is going to go-but they still need the Vikings to agree, who have reiterated their commitment to the Arden Hills site.
The other change occurring from taking away the local partner tax is that it puts the State on the hook for now finding $650 million on their own. The Vikings, Legislature, Governor and fans all agree that we won’t be using general tax fund dollars or a tax that could be put to a referendum. That leaves existing revenue streams not tapped by the general fund or expanding gambling via Racino, electronic pull tabs or a Vikings scratch off.
This Farmers Market plan put forward a bold idea to create the MEC-Metropolitan Entertainment Commission. The idea behind the MEC is to do away with some of the dysfunction that makes stadium deals hard to do and keeps professional sports teams from leveraging cities and states against each other. Think of it as the Metropolitan Airport Commission, but for sports. It will keep our existing facilities profitable, minimize redundancies and create a funding model that prevents us from having to have this debate every 20-30 years.
The MEC could pool dollars from existing facilities and tax revenue from those facilities (user based fees) to maintain and build sports and entertainment facilities. All of which, is accountable to the Legislature. It would have ownership over the following facilities:
- Target Center
- Target Field
- Minneapolis Convention Center
- Metrodome/Mall of America Field
- Xcel Energy Center
- Midway Stadium
- Proposed Vikings Stadium
In phases, this plan would collect a pool of private funding and merge it with unencumbered existing revenue streams.
This plan, as great as it sounds does have two challenges. First, it is counting on the Vikings contributing $400 million for a Minneapolis stadium, something Zygi recently told the Associated Press he would not do for any site but Arden Hills. Secondly, it still needs $180 million from the State of Minnesota (Racino, anybody?!) But that is considerably less than the current need of $650 million in public dollars and the $180 million is on par with what was given by the public for the Twins new stadium at Target Field. None of this needs a tax increase or a referendum!
Optimistically speaking, if we can get this plan to work what then do you do with the Metrodome? All tenants will have left; the dome costs $10-12 million annually to operate, with the Vikings paying for most of that. It is not financially self supportive without a major tenant.
Enter the Farmers Market plan by Albersman, Armstrong & Lambrecht which would turn that site into the Metrodome Medical Campus.
Currently, the University of Minnesota is one of the top research facilities in the world, and they don’t have enough space for their research and students’ needs. But if you were to take the Dome site which sits along the Light Rail, giving students and researchers a home base between the U of M campus and HCMC where Med students intern, you can fix that problem. By creating research facilities, dorm rooms, clinics and more you have made a struggling end of downtown a bustling business and educational area in dire need of restaurants and retail-something that end of downtown Minneapolis sorely lacks.
Even the folks in the Elliot Park neighborhood can agree that is a better neighbor than a stadium or night clubs.
Strong feelings persist on both sides of the stadium location debate, but this plan does pose some interesting questions and a good plan “B” in the event Arden Hills cannot work as a site. Here is the plan in its entirety for you to decide as a fan where you would like to see the Vikings play for the next 30 years.