By Mary McGuire

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Ahead of next year’s Super Bowl, a battle over billboards in brewing in downtown Minneapolis.

Minneapolis city leaders are considering an ordinance that would expand the area where these so-called dynamically lit billboards can be put up. Currently, they are restricted to specific areas in the downtown portion of the city.

That has some residents concerned about how the change could transform the area.

Advertisements for everything from hardware to ride-sharing, large billboards have become part of the landscape along Hennepin Avenue in recent years.

City dweller and chair of the downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association Joe Tamburino wants to keep it that way.

“If this passes, this is Pottersville from ‘It’s A Wonderful Life,’ because you are going to have flashing signs saying ‘drink liquor’ or ‘go to this go-go club’ or something like that. It is not going to be good for our neighborhood,” he said.

City leaders are debating whether or not to expand the area where the lit-up LED signs are allowed, ahead of the estimated 1 million people who will travel to the bold north for the big game come February.

The new ordinance would allow for signs around the stadium and along parts of Hennepin and Washington Avenues.

“Part of the reason why we live downtown is we like all the people who come visit. It is just fun,” Tamburino said. “But it is also a neighborhood and you don’t want to have ‘drink tequila’ or all these crazy ads flashing you when you leave your building or when you look out your bedroom window.”

On the other side of the argument, several advertising companies expressed their support of the change this fall, arguing the billboards add a modern energy and vibrancy to the area.

With just 42 days until Super Bowl 52, Tamburino claims the neighborhood association was never asked to give their opinion about the possible changes.

“This has been in the cooker since July of 2016,” he said. “No one, absolutely no one has notified us.”

The city planning commission is expected to discuss the ordinance again in early January; it could then go before City Council for a vote.

The neighborhood association plans to talk about the ordinance at their community meeting on Jan. 2. Tamburino said he hopes members are able to express their concerns to the planning commission before any permanent changes are made.

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