The Minnesota Vikings have reached agreement with two downtown neighborhoods over expansion of the zone for game-day tailgating, but the issue could turn into a bargaining chip at City Hall.
The Vikings desperately want approval of the expanded zone so they can approach parking lot owners. But that approval, and the team's desire to rename Chicago Avenue in front of the stadium could get held up as leverage for things the city wants from the football franchise
The Vikings also want to rename several blocks of Chicago as Vikings Way. But the city would like the team to pay for a more decorative look for the street. So there likely will be more bargaining ahead that affects the speed with which the city addresses tailgating. The zone expansion potentially could require three stops at the Planning Commission, the City Council's Zoning and Planning Committee and the full council.
The neighborhood-approved proposal for an expanded zone adds only four parking lots with 584 spaces, according to a map provided by Vikings management. That's atop the 645 spaces the business has identified as potentially available in the current zone where tailgating is allowed.
But more than one-quarter of those spaces are in a full-block lot owned by Thrivent, a church-affiliated financial services company that hasn't disclosed what conditions it would place on a parking deal with the Vikings.
The Vikings said they'd like to secure 500 to 800 spaces for tailgating fans. Although the football firm has said it's willing to run tailgating operations for lot owners or have owners or their hired operators do that, those lot owners still need to commit to meeting city requirements for the lots to become available.
The Vikings have been been pressing to expand the tailgating zone for several years, but now the firm is only six months from the first kickoff in the stadium now nearing completion.
The Elliot Park neighborhood agreed to a modest two-block expansion of the zone, but the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association added about a dozen blocks east and west of the stadium. That association Tuesday night removed several blocks from the Viking proposal to buffer residents of two condo buildings along S. 2nd Street,
Tailgating is limited to holders of a class A parking license that costs from $355 to $1390 annually, depending on lot size, That entitles a license holder to obtain an additional license to sell alcohol. City regulations require lot owners to pick up their trash for a distance of 300 feet around the lot, provide trash containers and provide one portable toilet for every 50 people. Grilling on charcoal or propane fires is allowed, but not wood-burning fires. Tailgating is prohibited in parking ramps.
The team has portrayed tailgating as an important part of going to a game for the minority of fans who engage in it. But some residents of the increasingly residential Downtown East neighborhood have complained of noise, litter and public urination.