Twins Stadium: Strike 4?

In baseball parlance, it would be scored as a stolen base. Last Wednesday the Strib picked up the wonderful news that was first reported in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal the week before, and then by the Minneapolis Observer and Skyway News: Whole Foods is coming to downtown Minneapolis! All of the above stories mention the fact that the new Whole Foods will join two planned Lunds locations to give the urban core three upscale grocery stores. (Optimists cite this as another reason the downtown housing boom will continue.)

What the stories don't mention is that the proposed Whole Foods site, 2.4 acres of prime real estate that's been home to Luther Automotive Group's Jaguar dealership since 1964, has been coveted by the Minnesota Twins as a backup location for a new ballpark. Some within the organization have preferred this parcel at Washington and Hennepin Avenues over much ballyhooed sites like the riverfront proposals in both Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Of course, the leading contender--and most logical location--is the so-called Rapid Park site, a parking lot abutting the Target Center parking ramps. Ballpark junkies, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, and a majority of Hennepin County commissioners have thrown their weight behind the location, noting that transit, parking, and scenic views of the city are all built in. Stadium advocates have nicknamed the area "Twinsville." But that was before the owners of the site, Rich Pogin and Bruce Lambrecht, said they were thinking about selling it to condo developers, after stadium plans showed no signs of life this legislative session.

Recent conversations suggest that many Warehouse District businesses are holding out hopes that some kind of Twinsville will be revived at Rapid Park. But the news of the Whole Foods plan is seen as another sign that the rally to bring a new baseball stadium downtown is stuck in a never-ending seventh-inning stretch.

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