Yes. Although we are academics and we spent more time reading through investment prospectuses and development plans than watching Sports Center, we are well aware there is no left field in football. However, after the lackluster performance of the Purple and Gold last year, Mr. Wilf and Co. may want to look to their peers on the other side of downtown (the ones who do have a left field). Despite the sluggish start for the Twins (there is still time!), one thing is certainly not subpar about Minnesota sports currently, and that is Target Field. By any standards, the eight acres that only five years ago was a parking lot, is now one of those landmark buildings that represents the identity of the entire state. All good buildings, businesses, ideas, etc. start somewhere, with someone, and even though everyone probably has had thousands of big ideas, few people get to see them realized. That is the hard part about great ideas, plainly put, it’s really hard to turn them into anything. The men who came up with the idea for Target Field, Bruce Lambrecht & Dave Albersman spent years working on moving the Twins to, what is now Target Field. (for that story click here). lucky enough for the Vikings, the same two men are fired up and at it again. Lets just hope the Vikings, and the politicians who are responsible for this decision, decide to pay attention.
Proposed Stadium at the Farmers Market Site, courtesy of Bruce Lambrecht
The similarities between the Viking’s current situation and the Twin’s search for a new home are eerily similar. The Vikings have, for several years, voiced concerns about playing in the Metrodome, and were fairly clear that they were not interested in renewing their lease at the Metrodome. The “fairly” was clearly removed on December 12th, of last year when this happened… During the offseason several plans have emerged, and sites proposed for development of a new stadium. Recently, the talk has been narrowed down to three sites, (1) Rebuilding on the current Metrodome property, (2) A stadium in Arden Hills, a suburb 10 miles north of St. Paul, and (3) Developing a site near Target Field, on what is now a series of small buildings, storage facilities, and the Minneapolis farmers market. Mr. Lambrecht and Mr. Albersman are the driving force behind the third option, and have begun the same arduous process that the probably swore they would never start again. Each of the three site has positives and challenges, and will undoubtably require a great deal of planning and foresight if anyone is going to become nearly as successful as Target Field.
The first major battle, and the one that causes the strongest emotions is who, how, and what will pay for this project. Two recent studies looked at the total cost of developing, building, and creating the infrastructure necessary for the project, Finance & Commerce reports,
An analysis from the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission says the “hard and soft” construction costs for the Metrodome and Arden Hills sites are about the same – $825 million for the dome site, $859 million for Arden Hills. However, the Arden Hills location would require up to $339.5 million in highway, parking, pedestrian access and utility improvements, which brings the total price tag to $1.2 billion, the analysis said. By contrast, the Metrodome location needs a far more modest $29.9 million in such improvements, for a total cost of $895 million. Also on Tuesday, Gov. Mark Dayton released the findings of a separate analysis that says it would cost up to $240 million for the transportation improvements needed to accommodate the Arden Hills location. Dayton said any state contribution to the project would be capped at $300 million – including the cost of road improvements.
“I support the project in either location up to that amount,” Dayton said. “If one project is more expensive than the other, the Vikings are going to have to make up that difference unless the local partner does.” To read the entire story click here
Although the Farmers Market site was not included in this study, Mr. Lambrecht has provided estimates that would place the total cost of the site in the same range as the Metrodome. It is also important to note that at this point in the search for a new Twins Ballpark, Mr. Lambrecht’s parking lot was barely even in consideration. The key behind Mr. Lambrecht’s plan is the same as it was for Target Field, in that an accessible urban sports venue is valuable to everyone in the state, even those who could care less about football. Mr. Lambrecht was right the first time, and has since quieted almost everyone of the many critics, who thought a new Twins stadium was too expensive, the site was too small, and any other reason imaginable. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope he is able to repeat history, and make lightning strike twice in the heart of downtown Minneapolis.
This is the first in a series of stories about this topic, which is sure to dominate headlines in the sports, real estate, local/metro, and front page of the states newspapers (if anyone still reads them…) Check back for more.