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Mayor Rybak touts ‘Purple Path railgating’ to boost downtown on Vikings game day

Minneapolis will host “enhanced” tailgating, complete with at least 16 food trucks, for Sunday’s game with the 49ers.

rt rybak

MinnPost photo by Karen Boros
Mayor R.T. Rybak reveals the city’s ‘Purple Path’ plan to blend
tailgating and food trucks.

The mayor is going to buy somebody a beer this Sunday. But that’s just a small part of the plan to get more people to come downtown Minneapolis on a Vikings game day.

You are invited — even if you don’t have tickets to the noon game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Tailgating — rebranded as “railgating” along a “Purple Path” — will be allowed at parking meters and in some parking lots, with at least 16 food trucks open for business along the light rail tracks and Fifth Street. The “path” runs from the Warehouse District to the Dome.

“Let’s paint the town purple,” said Mayor R.T. Rybak on Wednesday.

Noting that the area around Green Bay’s Lambeau Field only comes to life on game day, he said: “Because we’re Vikings fans, we’re going to do it a whole lot better than any cheesehead ever could.”

The food trucks will be open for business from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. along the Fifth Street light rail tracks between Fifth and Portland avenues. Some are planning new breakfast menus for those who arrive early. Food truck owners will be paying for portable potties and the cleanup afterward.

“People who ride the rails should have as much fun as people who drive a car,” said Rybak, who pointed out that there will soon be two light rail lines coming into downtown Minneapolis. “Railgaters, you belong, too, and we’re giving you a whole new experience.”

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There will not be trucks selling beer. Rybak said that the idea of beer sales introduced a layer of complex issues that city staff was unable to untangle on short notice.

“There are a lot of places to get beer in this town,” Rybak said.

If you’re looking for the mayor on Sunday, you’ll find him in the railgate area before the game.  He plans to watch the game at Brothers Bar & Grill in the Warehouse District.

“I’m going to buy a beer for the person who comes in with the most outlandish Viking outfit,” said Rybak, adding that winning the beer would require more than a hat with horns.

food trucks

MinnPost photo by Karen Boros
Food trucks will be open for business from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. along the Fifth Street light rail tracks between Fifth and Portland avenues.

The mayor said those involved will be paying close attention to the impact of 16 food trucks on food sales at the Dome and in downtown restaurants and bars. The idea is to bring more people downtown and increase sales for everyone.

“If this is a rip-roaring success, we’re going to try to expand it,” he said.

Stadium planning

The selection of architects for the Vikings stadium is “probably the biggest decision” facing the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, the group’s chair, Michele Helm-Helgen, said earlier this week.

On Monday, she addressed Minneapolis’ Stadium Implementation Committee, a group of citizens and elected officials appointed to advise the Authority.

Noting that five “capable and competent” architectural firms are competing for the work, she said, “The public needs to know and understand who these firms are.”

The Stadium Implementation Committee is studying how the stadium design and planning will affect area stakeholders.

“We are taking the time we need to make the right selection,” said Helm-Helgen adding that Authority members are in the process of studying the five proposals. She expects a decision “within the next couple of weeks.”

All five bidders have connections with local architectural firms, which will act as local partners during the building process, she told the committee.