Study touts Vikes near Target Field

Bruce Lambrecht, who owns land nearby, says the area beats the Dome site on nine of 10 points.

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A real estate investor says putting a Vikings stadium near popular Target Field and the Minneapolis Farmers Market would make a "sports and entertainment corridor" that would take advantage of the area's ample parking, transit and nearby eateries and watering holes.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune file

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The man who envisioned Target Field in a scrubby downtown Minneapolis parking lot thinks the area near the Farmers Market is far and away the best site for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium.

Real estate investor Bruce Lambrecht on Monday rolled out an analysis of the Farmers Market site that he says has it thumping the odds-on favorite Metrodome site on every front save one: land acquisition costs.

The result, he said, would be a "sports and entertainment corridor" that would take advantage of the area's ample parking, transit and nearby eateries and watering holes.

Lambrecht owns land near the proposed site but not on it.

The study, prepared with the help of Minneapolis urban planner David Albersman, comes as division intensifies over where a Minneapolis stadium should be and as legislators debate how much public money, if any, should be used to help pay for one.

City consultants say the Farmers Market site, which has seen growing interest from business leaders of the Downtown Council, could cost three times as much as the Dome site to buy, prepare and build infrastructure. Mayor R.T. Rybak and City Council President Barbara Johnson back the Dome site as the most cost-effective, owing to years of city investments.

"It's cheaper," Johnson said. "And if people want to see this thing get done in a time-sensitive fashion, the Dome site is the place."

In an effort to unite on a single site, Ted Mondale, chair of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, soon will release his own analysis on bottom-line costs of the possible stadium sites, including the former munitions plant in Arden Hills pushed by Ramsey County.

"The numbers need to be scrubbed, and it's in the interest of the state and localities to do this thoroughly," he said.

A stadium bill has been introduced at the Legislature that leaves the stadium site open to a local government partner willing to foot a third of the cost of an estimated $900 million roofed stadium. So far, no partner has stepped forward.

The plan released Monday didn't include a financing proposal. Lambrecht and Albersman said they hope their plan will jump-start interest and attract support from Hennepin County, the only viable west metro local partner.

Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein, who backed the county's sales tax for Target Field, called it "an interesting proposal" and said he agreed Farmers Market is the best stadium site because of its "synergy." But Stenglein said it was too early to know if the plan might sway county support.

Board Chair Mike Opat, who hadn't seen the plan, said the county's budget remains the top concern.

Familiar face in stadium wars

County officials have seen Lambrecht before on stadium matters. In the 1980s he led a group of 70 investors in buying North Loop property used as a parking lot. By 1999, as the Twins lobbyied for a new park, Lambrecht was promoting the nondescript lot with a spectacular skyline view as perfect.

Using Albersman's plans for how a ballpark might look there, Lambrecht's vision caught on. After a legal tussle over the land's value, Hennepin County paid Lambrecht's group more than $28 million for the property.

Lambrecht doesn't own land in the 47-acre site he has mapped out for the Vikings stadium. But he owns property on the other side of Target Field and would stand to benefit from improvements made in the district.

The site he's pushing would not include the Sharing and Caring Hands charity for the poor and homeless run by Mary Jo Copeland, who says she would fight efforts to take her property.

Her husband, Dick, got a look at the plan Monday. "What I like about it is that it doesn't include us, and it reinforces how big this land is and that they don't need us at all" to build a stadium, he said.

In their analysis, Lambrecht and Albersman faced off the Minneapolis sites in 10 categories. They said the Farmers Market site beat the Dome in nine.

The Farmers Market site would provide more parking that's closer to a new stadium than would the Dome location, the analysis contends, promises more than twice the number of potential rail connections and is much closer to a large mass of bars and restaurants than the Dome.

"If you're going to spend a billion dollars in downtown Minneapolis, this is the place to spend the money," Albersman said.

Kevin Duchschere • 612-673-4455

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