More than a new Stadium

Posted by Jeffrey Johnson

Dear Governor Dayton.

There has been much discussion statewide concerning the construction of a new venue used primarily by the Minnesota Vikings football team. To this discussion I would like to add my small voice to make some suggestions.


Minnesotans have a great opportunity not only to keep the Minnesota Vikings Football team here but greatly improve our State by providing jobs on both the short and long term, improving our Transit and Mass Transit infrastructure but improving the Great Minnesota Get Together, preserving our heritage and creating new traditions, as well as looking to improve everyone’s recreational and hopefully physical and mental outlook.


Allow me to explain.


There have been several locations suggested as possible locations for a new stadium, including Arden Hills, the current location of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, near Target Field, and Golden Valley; however there is one location that I am surprised that no one is mentioning, just south of the Minnesota State Fair Grounds situated between Como Ave and the rail line. The location south of State Fair Grounds is currently owned as a mix of private property and Minnesota State Fair grounds trust.


There are disadvantages to building at this location, the increased cost to purchase the property owned by the private entities, infrastructure work to support moving people and vehicles into and out of the venue and the lack of opportunities to build and construct privately owned secondary venues (restaurants, bar and grille, hotels). Construction could create hassles for the Minnesota State Fair during the Construction. This includes loss of parking and loss of access. The leadership of the Minnesota State Fair has not been enthusiastic about construction on or near the State Fair Grounds.


Just as there are some disadvantages there are a greater number of advantages to building a venue in this location that cannot be over looked. The dates for the Minnesota State Fair are well known in advance construction schedules and project dates could be organized to actually benefit the State Fair. Imagine building an improved parking structure and Mass Transit Station starting in September after the conclusion of the State Fair and prepared for the next year’s State Fair.


Construction of a not only a Stadium but a series of parking structures, both lots and ramps, could be used not only for 10 to 12 football games a year and a handful of other events but almost year round in conjunction with the University of Minnesota, Minnesota State Fair, the current location of the St. Paul Saints baseball team, and other activities on or near the fair grounds.


With 30,000 parking spaces used on average of 30 times a year (900,000) vehicles with an average parking fee of $15, plus 6,000 parking spaces used daily with an average parking fee of $3 this would generate $13.5 to $14 million a year more than a standalone stadium in a remote location would. That amount generated in parking is almost enough to cover $788 million in bond payments if put into a trust that generates 5% interest.


Construction of a light rail and other mass transit infrastructure could be used for multiple events. This includes the State Fair, events at the Stadium and events at the State Fair Grounds like the annual Car Show. A light rail line could link the University of Minnesota Campuses currently served by the Campus Connector Bus, plus provide parking support at remote locations such as the University of Minnesota Huron Parking Complex. Mass Transit infrastructure, such as a Bus Terminal could support parking at other remote lots for the same events.


Building a venue on a location other than the current location of the HHH Metrodome will require spending on infrastructure, such as improvements for traffic of 30,000 or more cars and other vehicles per event, the location south of the Minnesota State Fair Grounds would provide the benefit that there is already a right away used by the University of Minnesota Campus Connector and other bus service that could be expanded to handle traffic in and out of the location that goes beyond the 10 events at other locations.


Using the location south of the State Fair Grounds allows the State Fair to actually grow without creating additional problems. For example a plaza near the Stadium and Parking could easily house dozens of new booth locations including maybe a relocated Porky’s Drive Inn which could be used for Friday Night Hot Rod Shows in addition to the State Fair.


A great opportunity presented by the location south of the Minnesota Fair Grounds would be the space to build other facilities at the same time or in the near future. A 20,000 seat Soccer/General Use Outdoor Stadium, a indoor long track speed skating facility, plus retrofitting some of the buildings and facilities located on the Minnesota State Fair Grounds. Beyond location we as a State need to think about funding a people’s stadium.


Do we really just want to fund the one Stadium or use the funds to support other venues as well. Including retrofitting the Target Center in Minneapolis, a Baseball Stadium for the St. Paul Saints Baseball Team, the Duluth Huskies Baseball Team, a Soccer (or Futball) venue for a Professional Soccer Team, and dozens of other Recreation Facilities. Minnesota really has the opportunity to set the stage for future funding if we do this right. Rather than just funding a Stadium we could fund a Trust Fund that could be self funding for decades that provides the ability for the State to build and construct Sporting and Recreation Venues, purchase Downhill Ski areas, support Golf Course, support Wilderness areas, and build venues for other potential sporting events, including making a bid at bringing the Olympic Summer Games to our great state.


If my numbers are correct just using the revenue from Parking and $30 Million a year from the Minnesota Vikings in rent for the Stadium, as well as revenue from the Minnesota Timberwolves Basketball Team and others you could create a fully funded Trust Fund that not only pays for a stadium and renovations to places like Target Center in Minneapolis, but a fund that could be used to pay for improvements to State Parks, build an Outdoor Amphitheater for the Minnesota Orchestra, build a facility for a new Professional Football Team and support Olympic Sports.


Very Respectfully Jeffrey M. Johnson