They're going to build another Mall of America. Next to the first one. It will be bigger. And I still won't be able to find pants in my size.
Really. There will be 16 Big 'n' Tall Shops, but not one "Napoleon's Wardrobe" for the small 'n' short set. Perhaps someone will fill the gap, though; there're lots of opportunities for new retail options.
I went to the MOA on a rainy afternoon to see what they're lacking, and I'll tell you this: They're not lacking a huge electrical sign advertising lice removal, because it's the first thing you see when you come out of the amusement park. It's not often you find a big tourist attraction blaring out ads for personal vermin.
Anyway, here are some things you cannot get at the mall today:
Frosting by the Bucket (from the folks who brought you That Ole Gravy Trough).
A Segway Jousting Track.
A kiosk that sells mace so you can properly react to those other kiosks guys who shove moisturizer right in your face as you walk past.
There's no place where you can walk up the counter and say: "I want a monkey. And it better be fresh." Maybe someone ran the numbers and figured that the market wasn't there, the rent was too high, or Wal-Mart had that one sewn up — I mean, 87 cents per pound and they come in cute jumpers, how can you compete?
And so on. The new MOA won't just have more stores Stores STORES — it might have a water park, which must be dandy news to the water park on the other side of 77. Maybe it'll have a life-size replica of one of our 10,000 lakes, which will be shut down in 2017 because it has milfoil and zebra mussels. (Someone forgot to take them out of his board shorts. Hey man, it happens.)
They could combine the aquarium and water park by adding sharks to the wave pool, but that would probably put the "Sue" in "Tsunami."
There will be more movie theaters, so if you miss "Iron Man 5" at 1:15 you can catch the 1:20 or the 1:25. They will have rocker-back seats widely spaced with vibrating massage units and catheters and table service and IMAX and a special row with a trench so pedicurists can work on you while a 147-foot-tall Robert Downey Jr. lifts a 6-yard-wide eyebrow and says something quippy.
There might even be work on the freeway entrances, which were carefully designed in accordance with one simple idea: Let's make it as hard as possible to find your way to the worst parking ramps ever.
They're building 8,000 new spaces to accommodate the expected 20 million additional visitors, which sounds like a prescription for fistfights and weeping, but I'm sure they know what they're doing. I tell myself that every time the floor of the ramp bounces up and down while I'm crossing it. Quickly.
Predictable carping aside, the expansion is good news. The MOA brings in tourists, provides jobs and geysers out tax money. The idea of an MOA that's twice the size is truly astonishing, and the sheer density of retail options will produce a gravitational pull like a neutron star. People will try to drive to Rosedale and their car will be sucked in reverse until it ends up at the MOA.
Bonus: Other malls will be able to sell themselves as intimate, cozy experiences. Southdale: when you really want to be alone.
But: MOA's getting $250 million in tax breaks. The money comes from the Fiscal Disparities Program, which uses nonresidential tax receipts to assist communities that don't have a strong tax base. It's the first time they've used the money to support an enormous private enterprise.
Surprised? Really? When you have a pot of money dedicated to One Thing, it's a matter of time before it gets applied to That Other Thing.
Someday Legacy money intended for the arts will be applied to the Target center overhaul, because if you slow down the film of basketball players it's kinda like ballet.
Cigarette tax money will fund light rail because smokers tend to light up a heater while waiting for the train.
Gas tax money ends up paying for bike paths. Fiscal Disparity money goes to Vikings stadium because … NEVER MIND … WE'RE GOING TO BUILD IT … OK … SHUT UP!
The sponsor of the tax-break bill, who by peculiar coincidence represents Bloomington, was quoted in Janet Moore's Strib story thus: "Bloomington is the biggest giver to the fund, and the money is redistributed to everyone else but us."
That would seem to be the point of the Fiscal Disparities Program, no? Well, MOA II will have more "luxury shops," which might double the number of stores people from those more … disparate … communities can shop.
Or at least watch other people buy things.