Super Bowl Will Highlight Stadium's Surrounding Urban Development

Urbanists and planners might consider looking at the development outside U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Super Bowl Sunday. Gone are the vast parking lots surrounding the Metrodome, replaced with mixed use and a popular park, the Commons.
February 4, 2018, 7am PST | Irvin Dawid
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"[F]ootball fans returning to the city to watch the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles compete in Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4 are not likely to recognize the area, now known as East Town [formerly Downtown East or East Downtown]," writes freelance journalist, Joe Gose, in the Square Feet column of The New York Times on Jan. 23. 

The Metrodome, a walled-in colossus that dominated the barren landscape from 1982 to 2014, has been replaced by U.S. Bank Stadium, which opened in 2016. The roughly $1.1 billion bright and transparent edifice, designed by HKS architects, features a mostly clear, steep roof and has been likened to a Nordic long house, a Viking warship and an ice shard formation.

New offices, apartments, hotels, restaurants and a 4.2-acre park known as the Commons have replaced the parking lots. In all, more than $2 billion in private and public investment has been injected into East Town, according to the East Town Business Partnership, an organization that promotes the roughly 120-block district, which is bordered generally by the Mississippi River, downtown and three interstates.

About five of the original 15 blocks of parking lots still remain, said George Sherman, principal of Sherman Associates, a developer in East Town. “I doubt if there will be any that haven’t been developed in the next two to three years.”

Over half of the original $975 million cost of the stadium came from of state and city funds. Opponents pointed to Metrodome's failure to generate economic development, a reason in itself to avoid providing plentiful parking for stadium events.

The Commons park played a prominent role in encouraging developers to invest in the area.

“When we first looked at the opportunity, we thought there was too much land — there was going to be a great new stadium, but there was nothing to prevent the area from being another sea of surface parking,” said developer Mike Ryan. “But having a major public green space at its core is the reason developers want to be there.”

As for Minneapolis reaping an economic windfall from the game, "economists say its overstated," writes Kevin Draper, a sports business reporter for The New York Times, on Jan. 29.

Getting to the game

East Town and the stadium are served directly by Metro Transit's Blue and Green light rail lines and bus lines, with connecting light rail service from Northstar Commuter Rail. "Ticket holders who buy a $30 'game day' pass will get a nonstop [light rail] ride from a security screening area directly to U.S. Bank Stadium for the game," wrote Sam Newberg, a Minneapolis-based urbanist and Planetizen contributor, on Nov. 19, 2017.

For more reading in Planetizen on the East Town development, see:

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Published on Tuesday, January 23, 2018 in The New York Times
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