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Lileks: New Vikings stadium is just an omen of things to come

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS
  • Star Tribune
  • February 20, 2014 - 8:38 PM

A big chunk of the Metrodome fell down ahead of schedule. Surely I’m not the only one who hoped someone threw a yellow flag and shouted OFFSIDES. The Metrodome was penalized 5 tons; some chunks were reinstalled, and they had to replay the demolition.

You might worry they’re behind schedule now, and the first game in the new facility will start two hours later. I don’t think the schedule’s that tight. But it reminds you anew: Too bad they didn’t blow it up.

Of course, you can’t; given its design, it wouldn’t collapse on itself like a defensive line of a team we need not name. The walls would just fall outward like a big concrete flower that blooms and dies. Still, they could have tried. Fill the Dome with a billion popcorn kernels, set it on fire and let the roof Jiffy-Pop its way to a glorious eruption. Firefighters with hoses connected to vats of melted butter! Helicopters dumping rock salt! It would have been a spectacular conclusion to a big dumb bowl no one really loved. Blowing it up would have given it a last blast of panache.

Granted, things might have gone wrong.

1. Someone intercepts the detonator, runs it all the way to Target Center

2. Too much explosives are used; next day’s news: “It was like a hailstorm of blue seats,” says Edina man; IDS says window replacement will take months; Maple Grove man struck by seat from nosebleed section gets nosebleed.

At least it would be over. A thrilling fusillade of gut-punching concussions, and the Dome would be erased from the Earth, exhaling a gust of dust that rolled through the streets like the ghost of playoff hopes. Better than the fate it suffers now: clawed apart, segment by segment, rubble tumbling into a thicket of tangled metal. A slow humiliation, ugly and demeaning.

It will be gone, and no one will miss it, because hey! New shiny big great cool stadium GO VIKES and so on. The plan for the surrounding area will revitalize an area of downtown that makes a graveyard look like the farmers market on a weekend. I’m not saying it’s underused, but I park my car in a lot that has a 1960s Schwinn bike chained to a rack with snow piled over the pedals. The last time anyone rode it to work, the town had four newspapers.

There are two proposals for a tower by the new stadium. Any guesses? Right: hotel or housing. Just about everything downtown is one or the other these days. The market is still hot — stories always talk about empty-nesters who live in the suburbs who suddenly decide to relocate downtown.

Dagnabbit, I’m sick of having a place I can call my own, with a plot of ground for mowing and sowing. I want to live 20 stories up and be able to walk to the Guthrie. But dear, you hate theater. I didn’t say I wanted to go there, just walk to it. Stick out my tongue. It’s ugly.

It’s great to read about a 15-story building here, a six-story condo over there — anything that adds life and population to the core of the city benefits everyone, because A) it means that the core doesn’t turn into a Scary Murder Hole where no one dares venture, and B) those empty-nesters free up housing for people who want to leave the city because they’re tired of SHOUTING WHEN THE PLANES COME OVER.

Or they work in the ’burbs. Or they just want to live in Eden Prairie, OK? Some people like to live on a cul-de-sac. It’s not morally synonymous with “war criminal,” and if that means they don’t have walking access to a cafe that drizzles artisanal vinegar over Belgian cheese for $9 a pop, they can live with that.

But there are lots of people who want to live downtown. The commanding views, the glittering skyline unfurled outside the window, the moment when you stand on the balcony with a glass of wine and think, “I am glad I don’t have to mow the lawn, and if the wind would just tousle my hair slightly this would be just like the picture in the brochure.” If that’s the case, then it would be grand to go for broke and build something enormous while the market’s hot.

Seize the future: an office/hotel/residential tower that’s taller than anything else in the world. One hundred and seventy stories. Of course, whenever anyone starts the world’s tallest building, it’s a sign that the market has peaked and a crash is inevitable, but at least we’d get something out of it, rather than a handful of modest towers and the nickname “Stumpytown.”

You reel back in shock, but the IDS is our signature building. It would be rude to exceed it. Fine. Make it look identical to the IDS, just three times the size. Sure, the elevator ride from the uppermost apartments would take forever, but they’re empty-nesters, retired. They have time. If they leave the apartment at 8 a.m. they can make it down to the stadium by kickoff. It’s at 2, not 1. Another chunk fell off back in ’14.

 

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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