Setting up an event tent in a Minneapolis park has gotten expensive -- as much as $10,000. And though the price hike arrived just months ahead of the Republican National Convention, the Minneapolis Park Board denies there is any connection.
The board approved the increase late last year. Fees that ranged from $20 to $60 last year run between $50 and $10,000 this year, Superintendent Jon Gurban said Tuesday.
Gurban said the fee increase has no tie to the convention, though several reports and blogs have speculated on one.
The fees were increased as part of the 2008 budget to put Minneapolis on par with other major cities, including New York, Chicago and Dallas.
"We had been undervaluing our park system in terms of generating income," Gurban said Tuesday. "The Republicans can think it's aimed at them, but we're nondiscriminatory. It's an across-the-board increase."
So what do the Republicans have to say?
"The city of Minneapolis, from the city leaders to the parks, have been great to deal with," said Jeff Larson, CEO of the local host committee for the convention, which runs Sept. 1-4 in St. Paul.
Most groups, particularly nonprofits sponsoring a returning event in the parks, were allowed to negotiate a 2008 fee with park staff, said Dawn Sommers, a Minneapolis parks spokeswoman.
Gurban said the price for a smaller tent will remain around $60.
"But if you use a big hospitality tent, that could run upwards of $10,000," Gurban said. "That's OK. You're getting this billion-dollar asset and you're getting exclusivity for it. You have to pay for it."
As of last week, no park permits had been issued specifically for a convention event, Sommers said. The GOP has until Aug. 1 to reserve space.
"I'd like to think we'd see the list of space they want by this time, so we could be free to release the rest for others," Gurban said.
Terry Collins • 612-673-1790