Minnesota Vikings Stadium Proposals

Arden Hills Muntions Plant. http://www.mpr.org

Ok, If we’re going to give government subsidies to yet another multi-billion dollar business — in this case the National Football League — we might as well do so in a manner that will deliver the broadest public benefit for our investment, right?

A proposal to build a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings in Arden Hills, Minnesota, seem terribly misguided.  In this plan a half-cent sales tax in Ramsey County is planned to cover $350 million and the State of Minnesota will kick in another $300 million.  The team contributes $417 million.

Ok, fine.  Let’s just forget the arguments about whether or not this is a good idea in an era of underfunding government and cutting public services for non-billionaires and live with reality.  This issue will move along and eventually in all likelihood the Vikings will get a stadium that is mostly public-subsidized.

So if this is the way things are going to be, why be some blasted stupid about it?

The proposal to build a stadium in Arden Hills is more appropriate for the 1970s than it is for the 21st century.  Haven’t we yet learned something about land use?  What about economic benefit.

Look at Minneapolis, the most talked about alternative, for example.  In Minneapolis many important pieces to success already exist, most notably its central location and existing infrastructure.  But there is more.  The proposed sites in Minneapolis are surrounded by communities and businesses that will both support a successful stadium and benefit from it.

The best argument for Arden Hills so far has been the ample space to build parking lots.  That doesn’t strike me as very enlightened reasoning.  Parking lots?  Really?

In Minneapolis hotels exist within walking distance of the two proposed sites; bars, restaurants, and retail already exist to serve and be served by a new stadium; and people live and work in the downtown area.

Pot-holed highways surround the Arden Hills site.  There is no core business center.  Expecting one to follow a football stadium is a pipe dream.  Don’t forget that we already have a surplus of office and retail space…and is anyone paying attention to the housing market?  The idea that a new stadium would somehow anchor smart development isn’t very smart thinking indeed.

Will the Smiles be as Bright in Arden Hills?

Plus that infrastructure issue looms pretty large.  We have invested a great deal in making our downtowns accessible urban centers.  Smart money would go to reinforcing those investments.  Am I right or wrong?

Moving people from the southern metro to Arden Hills will require routing thousands of cars — there is no mass transit or light rail serving that area –through an extra 10 miles of choked freeways.  This is hardly convenient.

And the economic impact of what would essentially be a “commuter stadium” is lessened as people pack into their cars, fight traffic, and head straight home rather than take the option to stay for restaurants, bars, and shops that can be found downtown.

If we are going to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into a major facility like this, let’s make it as smart of a public investment as we can make it.  Building a stadium away from the businesses and communities that can benefit from it seems shortsighted and irresponsible.  Let’s do this right.

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