Reporting Pat Kessler
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The look of downtown Minneapolis could be completely transformed in 15 years. The Downtown 2025 Plan, put together by the Minneapolis Downtown Council, calls for 10 major changes to make the area a destination to live, work and visit.
They aim to transform Nicollet Mall into the greenest urban street in the country. The plan also calls for “upping” the arts and entertainment along Hennepin and First Avenues, sustaining green infrastructure along the riverfront and incorporating more transportation options.
Another major focal point is a new Minnesota Vikings stadium and completely overhauling the current Metrodome site by turning the area into a lake.
By Minnesota standards, a small lake — more like a pond, with residential development around it.
Business leaders are planning a future downtown that includes the Vikings, even if the future doesn’t look like that now.
The ambitious plan proposes tearing down the Metrodome and moving the Vikings to a “sports entertainment district” near Target Field.
They proposed one of two sites — at the Farmer’s Market or behind the Basilica at Linden Avenue.
“Imagine a renovated Target Center, new public gathering places, a Vikings stadium and a new transportation exchange, all working in concert with Target Field,” said John Griffith with Target Corporation, and who is part of the Minneapolis Downtown Council.
The problem is that the Minnesota Vikings don’t want to be in Minneapolis. They’ve got a stadium deal in Arden Hills.
It also conflicts with the mayor of Minneapolis, who told a stadium hearing last week the Metrodome is the city’s preferred site.
“There’s confusion and we don’t have a lot of time. We have no time,” said Lester Bagley, spokesman for the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings say there are too many unanswered questions about the new downtown stadium sites to make them viable sites.
It’s not clear who owns the land, how much it costs, how much clean up is needed and how to get 65,000 fans in and out.
“Those answers have to be gotten now. We’re down to the last couple of weeks of having a solution on a Minneapolis site, if there is one,” said Lester Bagley.
But Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who pitched the Metrodome site to the legislature, says he supports all three stadium sites in Minneapolis.
“I think all three are great. I prefer the Metrodome. I think they think all three are great. They prefer it on the west side of downtown. The city was asked for our choice, we said the Metrodome and I think the fact that it’s $200 million makes it a lot more appealing too,” Rybak said.
But top business leaders who came up with the Downtown 2025 Plan think a Vikings stadium near Target Field is the best location to jump-start development on that side of downtown.