Group Pitches New Vikings Stadium Plan: “The Corridor”

A new proposal-called "The Corridor" by its authors-calls for building a new Vikings stadium at the Farmers Market site, redeveloping the Metrodome site as a "medical campus," and establishing a new governing body to oversee the region's sports and entertainment facilities.

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A group that has been advocating for the development of a Vikings stadium on the 34-acre Farmers Market site in Minneapolis' North Loop neighborhood on Friday delivered their proposed plan to Governor Mark Dayton and state lawmakers.

But the pitch for the $1 billion project comprises more than just a new home for the purple and gold: It calls for a redevelopment of the Metrodome site as a “medical campus” and the establishment of a new entity to oversee how the region's sports and entertainment facilities are paid for and operated.

The group putting forth the plan includes David Albersman, president of urban planning consultancy Albersman & Armstrong, Ltd.; Mark Oyaas, managing partner of public affairs consulting firm Neerland & Oyaas, Inc.; and Bruce Lambrecht, president of Investment Management, Inc. Lambrecht was also part of an investment group that owned the land on which Target Field was built, and his company owns several North Loop properties, although it doesn't own the Farmers Market parcels.

The group calls its proposal “The Corridor”-which refers to its intention to leverage planned and existing light-rail transit that connects other facilities like Target Field and the Metrodome. “It speaks to the synergies of a sports and entertainment district in Minneapolis utilizing all of the transportation and transit infrastructure the public has already paid for,” the group wrote in a letter to Dayton.

The plan's backers claim that the solution also “provides a means to come to grips with the ongoing crisis management that continually clouds efforts to enhance the state's sports infrastructure” by forming the Metropolitan Entertainment Commission (MEC), a new governing entity that would be modeled after the Metropolitan Airports Commission.

The group is calling for the creation of an MEC task force prior to the regularly scheduled legislative session to consider governance, operations, and financing options.

Stadium talks appeared to reach a standstill earlier this week, after some legislative leaders said they would oppose a special session to address the issue-something for which Dayton had previously advocated.

The group suggests that the Farmers Market site is superior to the Metrodome in several ways, partly because it provides better freeway access, space for parking, and access to bars and restaurants. It proposes a redevelopment of the Metrodome site to include a “medical campus”-which could include a University of Minnesota medical school, a satellite location for the Mayo Clinic, or specialty clinics. The group says the site's proximity to the university and the Hennepin County Medical Center make the campus an attractive option.

The plan's developers have been advocating for the Farmers Market site despite the Vikings' support for an Arden Hills plan. Other plans have recently been floated by Minneapolis officials, who said they would back the development of a new stadium at the Farmers Market, Metrodome, or “Xcel Energy” sites, likely financed by a citywide sales tax increase.

Putting the project cost at $1 billion, the proposal includes an example finance plan with an estimated $520 million in private funding-from teams, owners, and corporate sources-and $480 million in public funding, which would include parking revenue, a refinancing of the Minneapolis Convention Center's debt, and the sale of the Metrodome.

The group that made its pitch on Friday says the MEC could “capture and consolidate the multiplicity of taxes and related publicly-generated revenue that could amount to $300 million”-trimming the necessary state contribution to a “manageable” $200 million. The group's plan, including renderings of the proposed development, can be downloaded here.

Twin Cities Business' August issue included a feature story on Vikings' owner Zygi Wilf's take on the stadium issue, as well as a historical look at Lambrecht's push for a sports and entertainment “corridor” in Minneapolis' North Loop neighborhood.