Above: Flickr photo of Eataly Chicago from edenpictures
Updated at 9 p.m.
"No man's land” was among the phrases that that came to the mind of one City Council member Tuesday when asked to describe the area now envisioned for an MLS stadium.
The stadium aims to transform an area just west of Target Field that most people likely haven't visited, except for a weekend stop at the nearby Minneapolis Farmers Market. But its prominence is only likely to grow if a Southwest light rail station is built along Royalston Avenue.
Former UnitedHealth Group CEO Bill McGuire was mum on the details of the stadium plan Wednesday, but said the Farmers Market would play an integral role.
“We love the farmers market and we think there’s an inherent tie of the multi-cultural nature of that farmers market and soccer," McGuire said.
McGuire presented a more detailed plan, including renderings, to the Central Minnesota Vegetable Growers Association board on Monday night. The group runs the market, which operates on city-owned land.
Association spokeswoman Sandy Hill said his vision involved a modernized Farmers Market and an indoor restaurant concept beside the stadium similar to Eataly in Chigago – which would feed off food from the farmers market. It also included parking ramps, she said.
Above: A slideshow of the area around the proposed MLS stadium.
“It still had our three remaining sheds, but more glorified to fit with the modernness of the whole design," Hill said.
Whether they would request public help to build the stadium are ancillary development remained unclear Wednesday. “We haven’t decided how to do this yet," McGuire said.
Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Tom Bakk have already stated their opposition to public aid. Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat, who has aided the effort, said their comments were premature.
“Some of the comments from other public officials are disappointing in that there hasn’t even been an ask yet and people are already suggesting that they’re unwilling to listen," Opat said. "Which I think is unfortunate.”
Mayor Betsy Hodges declined an interview about the project. She and council member Barb Johnson said in a joint statement that the announcement was exciting.
"We appreciate their willingness to invest in our city," the statement said. "As we have previously stated, we believe a new stadium would be best financed with private resources.”
Council Member Kevin Reich, who voted for the Vikings stadium, said the city had initially assumed MLS would go to the Vikings stadium.
“I guess it’s an OK site," Reich said of the Farmers Market site. "I think they see some synergies with the farmers market. It’s certainly an area of town, kind of like what downtown east used to be, it’s kind of a no man’s land. Maybe this could revitalize it.”