Let the "stick it to Rick" epilogue to this stadium debate begin (wait, I see that it's already underway). I'm ready. I've got it coming.
But I feel about as bad as a weatherman who forecast rain and got sun. As I've said many times before, predicting stadium politics is a lot like meteorology: you will be wrong on a regular basis.
So here I am, wrong, and still with a fair amount of consolation. That's because I'm among the celebrators that A) the Vikes are locked up for the foreseeable future, and B) the whole ugly mess is behind us (almost). My property taxes will probably go down (they'd better), and at least I won't be paying for this stadium -- at least not directly -- probably.
I think it was clear in my previous post that I would have voted against this plan only because I thought a much better one was available. And I predicted its demise over and over because, at pretty much every step of the way, I thought this scheme had so many liabilities that it would have large blocks of legislators lining up to eagerly vote against it. To me, it was a waste of precious time.
Nope. I was wrong.
But what we've just witnessed was the impossible made possible. All the stars aligned just right -- and not by accident. No, this was done through the skills and determination of a very small band of legislators, who somehow managed to overcome incredible odds and even brought more than enough of their cohorts along. You have to appreciate and applaud the abilities of anyone who could thread this particularly tiny needle, and I come away mightily impressed by Sen. Julie Rosen, who appears to have provided the fuel on which this happened.
Not expecting someone like her to grit her teeth and do what had to be done was perhaps my chief mistake.
But I also underestimated the role of fear in this decision. Though clear eyes could see that the odds of the Vikings leaving any time soon were infinitesimal, neither legislators nor their noisy constituents always see with clear eyes. They can be easily spooked. And deliberative bodies tend to amplify fears. (I don't think this represents speaking out of turn. Many, many speeches, especially in the House, revealed that plain old fear of losing the Vikings was the primary motivation among those who supported the plan.) I discounted these things, thinking that there were cooler heads holding the reins.
Boing. I got it wrong.
I also erroneously thought that this process would be informed by its two immediate predecessors. I consider that the funding and siting of both TCF Bank Stadium and Target Field represent triumphs of the legislative process and of urban planning. They are models for how a very messy process can come out with exceptionally positive results. That cannot be said for this plan in either siting or funding. (It will take a decade or more to find out whether I'm wrong in believing that the Metrodome site is a truly lousy place to put a new stadium. The verdict on the funding may come sooner. I'm sure that, if I'm wrong again, you'll tell me.)
I forgot that, when it comes right down to it, each stadium debate is its own unique animal. The players are all different, the economic conditions are all different, the levels and quality of desperation are all different. And just like so many other things in life, past performance is not indicative of future results.
Some of you thought that I was hopeful that this plan would fail. And to a degree, I was. I think a major opportunity has been missed by not leveraging the large investments already made on the other side of downtown. I say this as a citizen of Minneapolis, and not as a sports fan or politics-watcher or failed stadium prognosticator. We could have, and should have, done better.
But this is not the first such opportunity missed, nor will it be the last. And it certainly isn't fatal to the future of downtown Minneapolis. Here's hoping that the same can ultimately be said about the near-billion dollars (when financing costs are considered) that the city has now committed to -- well, soon is likely to commit to -- spending.
In fact, I'm very curious to see what the Vikings can do with a billion dollars. Can they build the best stadium in the NFL? Will they? Can they build a great team to play in it? Will they?
I sincerely hope so on all counts.
And though you may think this hypocritical, I mean it sincerely: Skol Vikings!
"You talk about the magic, the aura, but what really makes a stadium is the fans. Concrete doesn't talk back to you. Chairs don't talk back to you. It's the people who are there, day in, day out, that makes the place magic."
– Bernie Williams
Explore the Site
Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3037 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Looking up toward Sixth Street.
The Puckett atrium fireplace is just barely visible at the far left.
The equivalent spot on the model.
The Northstar station at night
A view straight on of the Pro Shop area and ticket windows (just barely visible). The piers you see beneath the plaza are already almost completed (see final photo).
The glare problem.
These stairs will go up to the centerfield pavilion.
World Series trophies on display at left
This view is from the roof of a warehouse which stood where the A ramp is today. The HERC is now located where the tracks turned north (toward the top).
Many people will approace the park from this direction and it's a pretty great first glimpse. It features all the design elements in modestly condensed form, and still manages to look like a ballpark (instead of something else).
Doors directly to the concourse, and a view of the stands beyond
A slightly different elevation drawing, again viewed from Fifth Street, with some labels. (Click to enlarge.)
Looking back toward the ballpark from Third Avenue and Fifth Street. Again, the track configuration is now clearly visible.
Reverse view, now looking down Sixth toward the park. The Met Stadium flag pole will be right there!
Don Swanson, left, in-coming commander of the Richfield American Legion, and Joe Kennedy, right, out-going commander, are pictured with the Legion's new flag pole, which once stood at old Metropolitan Stadium. (Click to enlarge.)
I took this picture from the Overlook at great personal risk, because everything Thome was hitting was landing out that direction.
Sharing and Caring Hands, as viewed from the ballpark site about a block away. Note transaction in progress in the shadows.
A trailer village has sprung up to the south.
Spring of 1982 (click to enlarge greatly -- can you pick out Kent Hrbek?)
The east wall of the building looks like it will be the first part completed. These are probably supports for the plaza, and they hug the very edge of the site.
Click to see the full-size image.
Two concepts here remain in the final design. First is the oddly-shaped pavilion in center. Second is the section just above the right field fence. In the current design this section will hang over the field by a few feet. The original doesn't do that, but you can see that the concept goes way back in the planning.
A sign that your mall is all but dead: roped off escalators. (This is at about 4:00 PM on a weekday.)
More flowers, more pennants.
Limestone still dominates the Seventh Street walkway from a pedestrian point of view. But brick take over as you move upward -- a concession to cost, no doubt.
Wind veil install from across Seventh
From about two blocks away you can finally get an idea of what it looks like. Just to my left (but out of view) was a valet parking stand where a limo was idling.