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Minneapolis' mysterious third stadium site plan spearheaded by Downtown Council

A map of the proposed Vikings stadium site behind the Basilica.
City of Minneapolis
A map of the proposed Vikings stadium site behind the Basilica.

The mysterious third site [PDF] in Minneapolis for a proposed Vikings stadium — behind the Basilica of St. Mary along Linden Avenue — will come into clearer focus next month.

Sam Grabarski, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, confirmed to MinnPost that a detailed proposal for what he called a "stadium district" in that area will be part of his group's "Minneapolis 2025" plan, to be published Dec. 14.


"We're not talking too much about who's behind it," Grabarski said.

Neither is anybody else.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak's spokesman, John Stiles, claimed he did not know which city business leaders were pushing that site, even though Rybak referenced it as one of three options in the city after an Oct. 27 meeting with Governor Mark Dayton.

City Council President Barb Johnson said she couldn't provide any names, either.

Grabarski offered a few sketchy details.

The stadium would sit on a 41-acre site, with two other parcels of 19 and 13 acres used for parking and tailgating.

That's a lot smaller than the 260-acre stadium parcel at the old U.S. Army ammunition plant in Arden Hills, so a local architecture firm Grabarski declined to identify is giving the site a once-over to make sure a stadium will fit there. (Finance and Commerce reports that the company is AECOM Technology Corp.)

The district would include a pavilion large enough to hold ancillary events for — get this — a Super Bowl, with perhaps an amphitheater and outdoor athletic fields, Grabarski said.

Xcel Energy and the city own most of the land. Interstate 94 runs by the site, which isn't far from where Lyndale and Hennepin Avenues intersect.

Sam Grabarski
Sam Grabarski

"It emerged during some planning, having to do with traffic patterns and transit routes," Grabarski said. "It became more and more obvious about how traffic flows in that part of downtown. We put two and two together, and began to see that it could be an excellent site for the football stadium as part of a larger district of sports and development."

The Linden Avenue site figures to be at least as costly as the Farmers Market one ($1.03 billion), slightly cheaper than Arden Hills ($1.11 billion), and more expensive than a Metrodome renovation ($895 million). Here's a comparison of the Minneapolis sites. [PDF]

The Vikings, of course, don't want to hear about any site besides Arden Hills, which Ramsey County commissioners proposed on Thursday to buy from the federal government for no more than $30 million.

Dayton hasn't favored any particular site, and it remains to be seen whether the state Legislature will take up a stadium bill in a special session before it reconvenes on Jan. 24.

That does not deter Grabarski, who noted three major projects included in the "Minneapolis 2010" plan 15 years ago — a new Twins ballpark, the central library and the Guthrie Theatre — all got built in different places than where they were proposed.

"I've been involved with all kinds of plans at all kinds of sites," he said. "It's far from finished."

* * *

On another stadium front: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was in San Diego on Wednesday and Thursday stumping for a new stadium for the Chargers, who are among the teams in the Los Angeles mix. Replace "San Diego" with "Minneapolis" in this San Diego Union-Tribune story and see how familiar the quotes and reader comments sound.

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Comments (6)

Very mysterious. Alls I know is they better not screw up the bike path.

"We're not talking too much about who's behind it," Grabarski said.

Some football programs demand a billion dollars, some demand your children. In either case the people making the demands/requests are withholding details that may impede their requests. I would think that Michele Bachmann and all those other phony "Christians" would be as upset about how much our society gives to "big time" sports as it does to the government. I guess I shouldn't be surprised because big time sports help make billionaires and the phony Christians like them.

If a stadium can fit on this Linden site, then it is a much better choice than Farmers' Market. I believe the Farmers' Market site is an incredible redevelopment opportunity waiting to happen and will blossom once Southwest LRT goes through there. The Royalston Station area plans look great. Putting a Vikings stadium in the Farmers' Market area would be an inefficient use of that space and a waste of public dollars on a site that would not otherwise require that much public investment (aside from LRT). The Linden site is also (slightly) closer to the downtown core and next door to the massive "A" Ramp. The property acquisition of Linden would be much easier than Farmers' too since Linden is pretty much the city and Xcel energy. Now all that remains is the tiny problem of funding the darn thing...

I'm all for a new stadium--as long as the taxpayers aren't stuck with the bill. Any new and enhanced revenue streams should be used to restore basic services. And last I checked subsidizing billionaires wasn't on that list.

Why does any unit of government - city, county, state - continue to discuss this project with an organization that still refuses to open its books to public review?

How do we know that the Wilfs don't have a spare billion just lying around gathering dust and interest?

It's a private business owned by a billionaire. Once again, in case he didn't hear it the first time, or the second, or the third: build it yourself, with your own money, or apply for a loan from a bank.

We've already seen the corruption of the DFL and Republicans when they passed the exemption against a vote in the Twins legislation.

Built it yourself, or pack up and leave.