What would downtown look like without the Metrodome? [IMAGES]
The city's 2003 plans imagine a Metrodome-less downtown.
The Metrodome, in its current form, has become an afterthought in recent weeks as Gov. Mark Dayton and Mayor R.T. Rybak push for the Vikings to stay somewhere in Minnesota.
Though one Rybak proposal imagines an $895 million renovation of the Metrodome, it seems obvious that the 'Dome's days as an NFL stadium are numbered. Will the city load up the 30-year-old venue with dynamite? And if it does, what will downtown look like without the stadium?
The city has a plan on the books examining that very question, the Downtown East / North Loop Master Plan, which came out in 2003. In a plan designed to "encourage renewed interest in living, working, and shopping in downtown Minneapolis," the city considered the increasingly likely scenario in which the Minnesota Twins and Vikings no longer needed the Metrodome.
The Department of Community Planning and Economic Development's plans focused on expanding light rail and laying the framework for a baseball stadium near the site that eventually became Target Field. It also analyzed two scenarios for the space around the Metrodome: one where it stays intact, another where it disappears from the map.
In the latter, planners noted that the Metrodome's demise would "offer an excellent opportunity" for new housing and businesses, as well as a brand new central park.
"The six block area should be redeveloped as a new downtown neighborhood with high-density mixed-use and residential projects," reads a section in the land use plan. "In such a scenario, the City should take full advantage of this opportunity by organizing new development around a new 'central' park that includes a lake and new recreational fields that would serve nearby residents."
The report goes on to suggest that new retail districts should be located around the light rail near the Metrodome.
The new business and residential area, depicted along with the open grassy area and lake, would look something like this:
Even in the sections where planners assumed the Metrodome's continued existence, they pointed out the massive stadium's unfriendliness.
"While the Metrodome and [Hennepin County Medical Center] generate a great deal of pedestrian traffic," the report stated, "the character and utility of sidewalks in this area is less than optimal. The existing combined roadway... feels more like a racetrack than a city street."
The document goes on to suggest that friendlier pathways might stimulate business.
"Removal of concrete barriers and chain link fence, reducing the driving lane widths to calm traffic, and inserting a raised and planted median will provide a more welcoming entry to Downtown from the east and offer a greater sense of connectedness between Downtown East, Elliot Park, and the Downtown Core," the report said.
Reached by phone last week, current city planner Beth Elliot emphasized that the 2003 mock-up was a "planning document."
"What the plan did say was that the Metrodome should stay," Elliot said, "but there was an alternative scenario if it did go away."
A couple of plans are still floating around the Vikings, including the idea of selling the Metrodome to team owner Zygi Wilf and letting him rebuild on his own dime, which would preserve the Metrodome site as a sports monument.
If those plans don't work, you could be looking at what downtown Minneapolis, sans Metrodome, will look like in just a few years.
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