Ship Out of Water: Minneapolis puts sustainability on hold for football season

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Ship Out of Water: Minneapolis puts sustainability on hold for football season

This April, the City of Lakes will have the first Water bar in the world. Yes, that’s what you just read – a bar specialized in tap water will open its doors in the Minneapolis hipster district Northeast. Even for water-rich Minneapolis — its very name originates from the Sioux word for water, mni — it will be a sparkling experience and further strengthen the local pride with regard to its environmentally-conscious reputation.

 

 

But another, much bigger grand opening event this summer will most certainly make hearts race faster — both in excitement and anger. You guessed it, it’s the new Vikings football stadium inauguration in July.

 

Dan

Dan

The US Bank Stadium is replacing the former Metrodome in the Minneapolis landscape, and with its transparent ship shape certainly a better fit than the closed off fortress that was the the Dome. While fans probably can’t wait to blow their horns in their new arena, the taxpayers ask themselves what else could have been achieved with $498 million they had to cough up for the building.

 

The $1.027 billion price tag was divided between the $577 million covered by private funds and the remaining provided by public funds. This significant amount of money is divided between the city of Minneapolis ($150 million) and the state of Minnesota ($348 million), of which Minneapolis is, of course, also a part. In addition to this sizeable investment, the city must contribute $7.5 million to annual operating costs.

 

But that’s not it. The costs for Minneapolis can also seen from another perspective. Imagine what the 1,000 workers present on a daily basis and the 1,500,000 labor hours devoted to the monster project so far could have otherwise achieved.

 

Screenshot taken from usbankstadium.com

From usbankstadium.com

 

Screenshot taken from usbankstadium.com

From usbankstadium.com

 

The comparison to the Metronome shown above is an attempt to impress, but it also shows how much more space will now serve the exclusive interests of the Vikings with only eight home games a year (it’s still too early to talk about playoffs in Minnesota). There are now 6 major sport facilities within a radius of 1.2 miles, with the $545 million Target Field (baseball) of 2010 and the $303 million TCF Bank Stadium (college football) of 2009 being the costly recent additions.

 

Now, the proponents of the stadium insist that the venue will attract businesses to the area and spur investment, but so far most of the investments were made for office space, hotels, and high-rise condos, and little has been done to help the existing residents and businesses.

 

Another feature has been added to the stadium that is supposed to benefit the whole population of Minneapolis: The Downtown East Commons Park. This two-acre large mixed-use complex has a $22 million price tag and is planned to be finished by 2018, adding the green space that has been lacking in downtown Minneapolis.

 

A new park is almost always good news for a city and the community, but the Downtown East Commons park will only be good news on a restricted number of days – exactly 82 days. The reason behind this ridiculousness is that the MSFA (Sports Facilities Authority) and the Vikings have exclusive access for their events in the park on game days and the days before and after and the the long winter in Minneapolis rules out the time between November and April.

 

Tony Webster

Tony Webster

It is difficult to understand why a city as progressive as Minneapolis is investing so much time and money in projects that clearly don’t benefit the population as a whole, not to mention those who need it most. When you visit the official website of Minneapolis, you have easy and complete access to the data that relate to its sustainable policies. This sets Minneapolis apart from the other cities we have written about here. The city website is not an empty nutshell since Minneapolis is indeed very active – the city of lakes is the US leader (San Francisco is second) in green building according to the Green Building Adoption Index 2015. We’ll see if they maintain that standing once this stadium factors in

 

The US Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis and the promise of the business boom that will occur once the billion-dollar project is finished might satisfy the fans and the business elite, but how does this exclusive project fit in the post-carbon transition that is marketed on the city website? It is time for cities to review their policies towards sports infrastructure and think of more sustainable and inclusive solutions. We’d be happy to meet with citizens and city planners over a glass of artisanal tap water in Northeast to discuss some other ideas next time we’re in town.

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