Minneapolis’ Linden Avenue stadium proposal includes amphitheater, art garden, plaza

The plaza view of a stadium rendering for the Linden Avenue site.

The plaza view of a stadium rendering for the Linden Avenue site.

None of Minneapolis’ ambitious stadium plans are binding, set in stone or even guaranteed to reach the right sets of eyes.

Of the 40 people who turned out for the latest briefing at Tuesday’s meeting of 2020 Partners, a North Loop development group, no one represented the Minnesota Vikings, or even the city of Minneapolis.

But on the same day that the Ramsey County Board approved a $28.5 million price to buy land at the old U.S. Army munitions plant in Arden Hills for a Vikings stadium, 2020 Partners offered more information on two potential Minneapolis stadium sites — a familiar one at the Farmers Market, and a newer one along Linden Avenue behind the Basilica of St. Mary.

The latter — narrated by architect Mic Johnson, design principal of Minneapolis-based AECOM/Ellerbe Becket  — offered the first visual details of the little-known Linden Avenue site in advance of its inclusion in the Downtown Council’s “Minneapolis 2025” plan. The details did not include a price tag. “Those are being developed by others,” Johnson said.

But what’s the point? If the Vikings are to be believed, Arden Hills is the only site under consideration, because of the wide swaths of land available for parking and commercial development.

Johnson said he can’t just show up at Winter Park and present his proposal to the Vikings. They have to invite him, he said, which doesn’t figure to happen while Arden Hills remains a viable site.

Chuck Leer, a Minneapolis developer and chairman of the 2020 Partners steering committee, said the public deserves a bigger voice in choosing the stadium site, since the public will foot most of the bill.

“We love the Vikings, but at the same time you have to be looking at it as a public investment,” he said at the meeting. “When you put in most of the money, you get to have a say in how it’s shaped and formed. It has to work for the Vikings, obviously, but it has to work for the public.”

Later, Leer added: “We’re trying to woo the Vikings to stay. We don’t think they have seen the opportunity because it has never been developed to this extent. We would hope they have an open mind. And we think, frankly, there are better opportunities for real estate development in the core of Minneapolis than there are in the outlying areas.”

Actually, both presentations required stretches of imagination.

Neither contained a unique stadium design.

Leer, who pitched the Farmers Market site, used a mockup of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, which fit perfectly on the 34-acre footprint. Johnson’s PowerPoint showed an ambiguous domed stadium shaped somewhat like the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

“It’s just an image,” he said.

Johnson has shown these images to various politicians, including City Council President Barb Johnson, but this was believed to be the first public viewing. Plans include a retractable-roof stadium across 33 acres, an outdoor amphitheater, a plaza across Interstate 394 similar to Target Plaza, an art garden, a 2,500-space underground parking garage, and a narrow band of tailgate parking along the Linden Yards railroad tracks.

In terms of transportation infrastructure, both the Linden Avenue and Farmers Market sites would be served by the planned Royalston Avenue station along the proposed Southwest Corridor light rail line.

“This is just high-level, 30,000-foot kind of concept,” Johnson said. “It helps everybody understand and evaluate that particular piece of ground.”

Curiously, Johnson said, AECOM did not undertake this for a client; the firm developed this on its own after studying downtown transportation issues for another project.

“We can’t do any more without a client, without the Vikings,” Johnson said. “We can shape the site, but at some point, it has to be about what the Vikings want inside the stadium and how that begins to shape the architecture of this building.

“What we’re asking is not an audience with the Vikings. We’re looking for a conversation on how this can make us a great city.”

It takes two to have a conversation. Until further notice, stadium advocates in Minneapolis remain one significant voice short.

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by David Greene on 11/16/2011 - 10:23 am.

    If Zygi wants to do development with the stadium, why not make a deal that includes all three Minneapolis sites? They are all prime for redevelopment, have lots of public investment in infrastructure, parks, plazas, etc. nearby and will be the focal point of a modernized transit system.

    We only need one site for the stadium. Zygi can redevelop the other two.

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/16/2011 - 11:01 am.

    Imagine how great it would be to have the amphitheater, the plaza, and the garden- without a big damn stadium mucking it all up. And it wouldn’t cost a billion dollars to do it.

  3. Submitted by Matty Lang on 11/16/2011 - 11:15 am.

    The players, staff, and execs could all take the SW line in from Winter Park on game day. If they really “need” a multi-million dollar parking lot for tailgaters the Vikes can self-finance one in Eden Prairie at Winter Park and the tailgaters can drive there and take the train for the game.

    Wilf could even develop some hotels and restaurants around Winer Park where game day revelers could have a meal and then rent rooms to sleep it off before their drive home. I’m on board this plan contingent upon my additions as stated above along with the plaza over 394 being included.

  4. Submitted by Dan Landherr on 11/16/2011 - 02:24 pm.

    Re: #3 Matty Lang

    “Whiner Park” is a terrific malaprop.

  5. Submitted by scott cantor on 11/16/2011 - 02:56 pm.

    Just make sure that the plaza and amphitheater are big enough to accommodate a Super Bowl. And an Olympics. And a Universal Expo, Olympics, and Super Bowl at the same time. I mean, we’re thinking big here, right?

    That aside, the one key missing piece of the puzzle is this: if the new stadium is near existing commuter ramps AND a proposed light rail stop, just how are the Vikings supposed to rape fans on parking?

  6. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 11/16/2011 - 10:30 pm.

    In this case, it takes more than 2 for a conversation. The city wants to talk to the Vikings, and eventually the Vikings may eventually want to talk to them, but the public wants no part of this conversation. At the most, the public has this to say: build your playpen yourself, or find another city that is willing to pay the required ransom. There is far more to life than the NFL.

  7. Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 11/23/2011 - 09:14 pm.

    Let the owner of the team build it himself. Enough of this crap.

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