Confusion and concern over control of new Minneapolis park - KMSP-TV

Confusion and concern over control of new Minneapolis park

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The new Vikings stadium continues to quickly progress as does the Ryan Companies Development down the street from the site. But the public park that was a major selling point is still a work in progress. The reality of the city’s first new park in a generation is getting very complicated.

Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, a major architect in the deal wrote a editorial in the Star Tribune saying after he left office “they negotiated another agreement that shocked me”. Rybak continued saying the agreement “essentially gives them the right to privatize the space for much of each autumn.”

Some reports have extrapolated those numbers to say the park could be off limits for 118 days, four months out of the year. The head of the Sports Authority says all the estimates are greatly exaggerated and that the public will still have free access to the park, no matter the event.

“It’s not privatizing the public, it’s a public body programming the park,” said Michelle Kelm-Helgen of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. “We’re talking about Hmong New Year, marching bands, monster truck shows even if they don’t have a ticket.”

The Vikings are able to program the park for all 10 game days with set up before and after and the Sports Facilities gets to program the east side for another 40 days.

Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson says people forget, the only reason there is a park is because the Sports Authority is buying the land, financed in part by the Ryan Development and new Wells Fargo Headquarters and she says if people pay to rent out the park for festivals, that’s good for everyone.

“If the sports authority makes money, it decreases the amount it takes to subsidize the sports authority,” said Johnson.

The Vikings have already added another million dollars for the parks development. That still leaves them $5- $6 million short. The Sports Authority is confident corporations will step up. If the Vikings get a major league soccer team, they will get an additional 10 days to program activities on the eastern half of the park.

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