The possibilities offered by two potential Vikings stadium sites in downtown Minneapolis were outlined Tuesday night before business and civic leaders at a meeting of the 2020 Partners, a downtown stakeholders group.
Chuck Leer, a longtime developer who chairs the group, showed a “flyover video” of a stadium placed on the Farmers Market site, west of the Twins ballpark. The stadium, fronting Lyndale Avenue and Interstate 94, would connect to the Target Field area via an elevated walkway. The farmers market currently on the site would be relocated to the north side of the stadium, alongside a “trailgating” area for fans.
For illustration purposes, Leer used a replica of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to show how a stadium might fit on the 34-acre site. Leer is representing a number of property owners interested in selling to make room for a stadium.
“We think it’s an ideal site in terms of city building,” Leer said.
Architect Mic Johnson of AECOM (formerly Ellerbe Becket) presented a different plan centered on Linden Avenue, just south of the Farmers Market site. His proposal locates a new stadium at the corner of Interstates 94 and 394, across the freeway from the Basilica of St. Mary. He said the 33-acre site would be better than the Farmers Market neighborhood because it’s an industrial area (most of it belongs to Xcel Energy) and has better connections to downtown. Under his plan, 5,050 tailgating parking spots would be linked to the stadium area by freeway bridges.
“It’s about connecting to the city. It’s not about letting the city get bigger,” but stronger, Johnson said.
Leer said that the Vikings didn’t respond to an invitation to attend the presentation. Team officials have said they’re focused only on the huge Arden Hills site, a shuttered ammunition plant in Ramsey County.
The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission also was invited to make a pitch for the Metrodome site, Leer said. But officials said they were unable to attend.
Sam Grabarski, head of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, is expected to announce soon which sites downtown business leaders will get behind for a new stadium should the Arden Hills plan fail.