Reporting Jason DeRusha
I just got back from a week in Chicago, and many things about my trip make me love the Twin Cities even more. I don’t know how well I’d deal with all that Chicago traffic, for example. And it would take me years to eat my way through all the great restaurants. (Check out The Whistler for drinks and Longman & Eagle for dinner!)
But I think Minneapolis deserves a Millennium Park.
Chicago opened the park in 2004. It cost $475 million, and taxpayers paid for most of it ($270 million). The rest came from business leaders and private donations.
It features crazy public art, like the so-called “bean.” My kids couldn’t stop walking around and seeing their reflections inside it.
The park is 24 acres of some of the most valuable real estate inside Chicago. The process of building it was messy. But Chicago went big: they decided “we need to make a statement,” and it works. People love this park. Tourists flock to it. It’s a gathering space, and place of tremendous pride.
Where’s our downtown place like that? I know they considered a park at Block E, but the land was seen as too valuable to take off the tax rolls. That’s turned out well.
I know in a time where budgets are tight and people are hurting — it seems crazy to build a park like this. But our business community has done quite well over the past couple years. Maybe if we build the Vikings a stadium, they have to build us a Millennium Park. We deserve it.