$70M Rooftop Golf Plan Putters Along

$70M Rooftop Golf Plan Putters Along

A long-simmering $70 million golf plan putters along.

New apartment buildings are popping up all over downtown Minneapolis, and work has begun on the $975 million Minnesota Vikings stadium. There are plans for new office complexes and hotels.

But have you forgotten about the $70 million “golf entertainment facility” atop two government-owned parking ramps? Its proponents haven’t.

In December, the Minneapolis City Council voted to grant Downtown Rooftop Golf exclusive development rights for two years. Kate Brickman, spokeswoman for Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, says that Hodges thinks the golf plan is a “great concept.”

The concept has been around since 1998, but had been stuck in the rough. The idea calls for combining an enclosed for-profit driving range and a nonprofit youth center on top of the city-owned Hawthorne Transportation Center (at Ninth Street and First Avenue North) and Ramp A near Target Center. The latter is owned by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

There will always be skeptics. “Golf is a tough business right now. There aren’t any new golf courses being built, at least in Minnesota,” says Tom Ryan, executive director of the Edina-based Minnesota Golf Association, who notes that he does not know the details of the downtown proposal. Ryan says that new housing development is pushing out suburban courses, such as Parkview Golf Club in Eagan.

Elwyn Tinklenberg, MnDOT commissioner under Gov. Jesse Ventura, is a consultant to Eden Prairie-based Downtown Rooftop Golf. He says that the backers hope to start construction in 2015 with a goal of completing the project in late 2016. Tinklenberg argues that the apartment boom is luring new residents who would be drawn to adjacent golfing.

David Mooty and Tim Thompson are co-managing partners of the group touting the project. Mooty, a former lawyer, owns Prestwick Golf Club in Woodbury. Mooty recalls that in the late 1990s, they also looked at the vintage Minneapolis Armory as a potential venue.

“I think everybody loves the concept,” says Mooty. “The question, of course, is how are you going to finance it? That will be the challenge for us going forward.”

—Burl Gilyard