By Alleen Brown
1956: Southdale, the nation’s first enclosed shopping mall opens in Edina.
1982: The Twins and Vikings move from Bloomington’s Met Stadium to the Metrodome in Minneapolis.
1985: The Bloomington Port Authority buys the vacant land. They consider using it for offices, condominiums, a convention and visitors’ center or a mixed-use retail and entertainment center.
1986: Retail and entertainment win — the Ghermezian brothers sign on to develop the world’s largest shopping and entertainment site. The brothers had just completed the third phase of the enormous West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada.
1987: Shopping center developers Melvin Simon and Associates become stakeholders in the Mall. The Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association later becomes the third partner in the project.
1987: Neil Laughinghouse is elected mayor of Bloomington, in part because of his criticism of the Mall. He isn’t the only protester. Groups like the Dump the Megamall Committee tried to stop the Mall from opening.
June 14, 1989: Melvin Simon and Associates, the Ghermezian’s Triple Five Group and the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association break ground at the Mall. A squadron of F-14 fighter planes flies overhead while a band plays the ”1812 Overture.”
1991: Two workers are killed in construction accidents while working on the Mall. In response, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry’s Occupational and Safety Health Division fine two contractors tens of thousands of dollars.
October 1991: An investigation finds that Bloomington did not properly monitor and enforce building codes during the Mall’s construction. Officials blame the Mall’s “fast-track” construction plan, in which parts of the Mall were constructed while other sections were still being designed.
Pre-opening: Local retailers worry about the Mall’s impact on their businesses. To stave off any negative impact, Southdale, Eden Prairie Center and Rosedale renovate and expand. Minnesota’s native department store, Dayton’s, builds larger stores in Southdale, Ridgedale and Rosedale malls. Downtown Minneapolis launches a marketing campaign and starts the now-annual Holidazzle parade during the holiday season.
Aug. 11, 1992: The Mall opens with 71 percent of its space leased and 330 stores, including Nordstrom, Macy’s, Bloomingdales and Sears as anchors. Despite a recession, the Mall’s opening is successful.
February 1993: Three people are shot at Camp Snoopy after a confrontation over a jacket. The injuries are not serious. One of those arrested claims the dispute was gang-related.
June 1994: The now Dallas-based North Stars hockey team sues the Mall, claiming that the Mall owes it more than $700,000 for use of the adjacent Met Center’s parking lot. Mall representatives say that when the team left the state, they arranged to rent the parking lot from the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission.
April 1994: The Mall’s Chapel of Love hosts its first wedding.
June 1996: Underwater World, now Underwater Adventures, opens.
1996: The Mall enacts a curfew for youth under 16. On Friday and Saturday nights after 4 p.m., any child caught in the Mall without an adult over 21 is escorted out by either security or a roaming team of “Mighty Moms and Dedicated Dads.” The year before the policy started, 300 incidents involving teens were reported. A year later, there were two.
1999: The Ghermezian brothers’ Triple Five of Minnesota files a lawsuit against fellow Mall stakeholder, the Simon Property Group, after the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association sells half of its 55-percent share in the Mall to the Simon family without informing the Ghermezians.
March 1999: The Minnesota Supreme Court rules that the Mall is not a public space with First Amendment rights protection. The decision overturns a Hennepin County District judge’s ruling that a group of activists’ rights were violated when they were arrested for passing out leaflets near Macy’s. Supporters argue that the Mall received public funding and, despite its private ownership, serves as a “town square.”
May 1999: Farrah Mohamed is stabbed to death by her estranged boyfriend, Sadiq A. Hussein, after leaving her job at Filene’s Basement in the Mall. Hussein is later sentenced to 25 years in prison.
October 2000: “Mall Masters at Mall of America” airs on the Gameshow Network.
March 2001: The Mall closes for 10 hours after fugitive Anthony Zappa is spotted on the premises. Zappa is wanted in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa for burglary, vehicle theft, flight from law enforcement and being a felon in possession of an automatic weapon. He escapes. He is arrested a month later in Montana after kidnapping a 17-year-old girl.
December 2001: The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) and the Mall finalize a deal to trade the 53-acre Met Center space, owned by MAC, for the Mall’s 33-acre Kelley Farm property.
September 2003: The Triple Five Group wins its lawsuit against Simon Properties. The Ghermezian brothers are awarded half the Mall’s profits from the past four years and the opportunity to buy 27.5 percent of the Mall from the Simon family, raising them to majority stakeholder and managing partner. An appeal transfers the disputed 27.5 percent to a partnership between the dueling stakeholders.
July 2004: Bloomington enacts the metro area’s first smoking ban, hurting many of the Mall’s fourth-floor entertainment venues.
August 2004: Ikea opens on the site of the former Met Center. It is the first step in Phase II development.
December 2004: The light rail opens its Mall stop.
November 2006: The Ghermezian brothers’ Triple Five Group becomes the sole owner of the Mall. The previous August, the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association announced it would either sell its stake in the Mall or buy out its partners. The former prevails and the Simon Property Group bows out as well. For about $1 billion, the Mall’s original visionaries take over.
February 2007: The Mall files a lawsuit against the owners of the Water Park of America for copyright infringement. Wirth Companies, owners of the water park, accuse the Mall of targeting them because of plans to open a water park in Phase II of the Mall. The suit is eventually settled and the park keeps its name in exchange for a fee.
March 2008: Nickelodeon Universe opens, taking over Camp Snoopy’s former home. (The Mall had to drop the Snoopy theme in 2006 after it failed to come to a licensing agreement with the park’s former manager, Cedar Fair. Between 2006 and 2008 it was known as the Park at MOA.)
May 2008: For the second year in a row, legislators deny the Mall state funding for its Phase II. Instead, they authorize the city of Bloomington to raise local taxes, which could include a special sales tax for the Mall area.
October 2008: Despite an economic crisis, the Mall reports a 5 percent increase in sales from a year before.
This report is part of a special MinnPost project done in coordination with the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Alleen Brown is a senior journalism and global studies student at the University of Minnesota.