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Why does the Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome have a label?

mall of america field
It’s extraordinarily weird that one of the only brands you can find on a downtown building is an ad sold by a private company to another private company for an ad that appears on a publicly financed and publicly owned building.

Why do the vast majority of downtown buildings NOT have large signs advertising the businesses that reside within, while the Hubert H Humphrey (named in his memory) Metrodome has one on its roof advertising a mall in a Minneapolis suburb?

If Minneapolis is going to allow advertising on downtown buildings, shouldn’t they put businesses who actually reside in downtown Minneapolis ahead of ads for businesses outside the city?

A few years ago, I did the Segway tour out of St Anthony Main and listened to question after question from people who wondered which businesses occupied the towers in downtown Minneapolis. People honestly don’t know which businesses are contributing to make Minneapolis’ core such a strong and vibrant downtown due to the lack of logos on buildings. Those businesses deserve the recognition that a certain dough boy doesn’t.

Which is why it’s extraordinarily weird that one of the only brands you can find on a downtown building is an ad sold by a private company to another private company for an ad that appears on a publicly financed and publicly owned building.

As I see it, both policies are too extreme. We should allow private businesses to promote themselves on privately financed buildings. And, we should not allow private businesses to sell advertising to private companies on publicly subsidized buildings (unless the revenue goes toward paying back the subsidies).

Is that too much to ask?

This post was written by Ed Kohler and originally published on The Deets. Follow Ed on Twitter: @edkohler.

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Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Kevin Watterson on 09/05/2013 - 11:28 am.

    If I remember correctly, the name “Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome” is proscribed in law. How then the Vikings got away with selling naming rights to its field and making announcers refer to the stadium as “Mall of America Field” is a little baffling. Legally I suppose I can see how they only named the field instead of renamed the stadium, but practically it had the effect of renaming the stadium to every broadcast audience that watches games of its major tenant. I wonder if anyone ever explored the potential for legal action that could take a portion of what the Vikings receive and put it toward Metrodome maintenance or funding the new building. One thing is for sure: The new law wasn’t going to have a similar naming proscription or a ban on outdoor advertising. That is valuable revenue for the team.

  2. Submitted by Rod Loper on 09/05/2013 - 11:37 am.


    Poor HHH and his memory. Civic memory has been corporatized
    and sold off everywhere but it is particulary enedemic around sports.
    Thanks for calling attentiion to this disgrace.

  3. Submitted by Elsa Mack on 09/05/2013 - 12:05 pm.

    Downtown Buildings

    Aren’t most downtown buildings known by the names of companies inside them? The Target building, the Wells Fargo building, the IDS, the Dorsey building, the Capella building, etc. etc.? I suppose you might mean buildings like Block E and City Center… might be hard to sell naming rights for those eyesores…

    • Submitted by Ed Kohler on 09/05/2013 - 04:04 pm.

      @Elsa, the buildings are often referred to by their tenant’s name, but it’s not clear to people looking at Minneapolis’ skyline which businesses are in those buildings outside of the Mall of America, which is located inside of the HHH Metrodome, apparently.

  4. Submitted by Chad Davis on 09/05/2013 - 12:20 pm.

    Yeah, wow. That is just soooooooooooo extraordinarily weird.

  5. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 09/05/2013 - 01:26 pm.


    The only thing that gives naming rights to the Metrodome value is it’s association with the Vikings, more specifically the mention of the sponsors on Vikings TV broadcasts. The naming rights of other buildings are worthless because they aren’t mentioned on national tv.

    The best way to think of the Vikings and Twins Stadiums is as giant tv studios. The people who go to games are props in a TV broadcast. That’s especially true with the vikings.

  6. Submitted by Sheldon Mains on 09/05/2013 - 02:01 pm.

    Names on downtown buildings

    I actually like our sign ordinance that prohibits corporate names on the downtown buildings. It makes for a much more pleasant skyline. But it only applies to the core–(so the mill-district buildings have names at the top. I think it should apply to every building in ALL of downtown–including the NE/SE businesses and the West Bank

  7. Submitted by Donald Larsson on 09/05/2013 - 08:02 pm.

    This space available!

    Actually, given the number of people who walk around with corporate names and logos on their t-shirts, caps, etc. that THEY have paid for, we could all be much more aggressively entrepreneurial and generate lots of income by selling naming rights to almost everything. Just imagine:
    –the Scotts Turfbuilder Lawn at ____________ Bryant Avenue
    –the Mazda asphalt paving on the 4400 Block of Hennepin Avenue
    –the forehead sponsored by Inkworks Tattoo Parlor
    –the Mississippi River brought to you by __________ Barge Company

  8. Submitted by Bob Quarrels on 09/06/2013 - 02:11 pm.

    Sign ordinance is a good thing

    I’m with you on the football stadium, but we do not need logos on tall buildings. Compare Wells Fargo Center in Minneapolis with their tower in St. Paul, once pretty good architecture now marred by a crummy logo clamped onto it. If you can’t remember which corporation is in which tower, either come downtown, ask someone or look at a bloody map. Our downtown looks pretty great when viewed from, say, one of our lakes at dusk. Sticking a giant Target commercial on the top of their building along with a few more backlit logos will diminish that.

    On the stadium, we all know on game day, it’s [name of shopping mall] Field, and when the roof collapses or Vikings’ management complains about its inadequacies, it’s the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

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