More unrest in area surrounding new stadium

Property adjacent to the Vikings’ new stadium is becoming a point of controversy.

Anyone who has been on the east end of downtown Minneapolis where the Metrodome used to reside can see the flurry of activity at the construction site. If you haven’t seen it in a while, it’s an eye-opener. Things are taking place.

The flurry of activity isn’t confined simply to the development of the new Vikings stadium. There are big-time politics involved that have led a former governor to do an op-ed piece in the state’s largest newspaper advocating the State Legislature attempt to re-open its commitment to the stadium project – despite reality dictating that the horse in question has long since left the barn.

It’s not the stadium or bird-genocide glass that is the source of the latest Downtown East unrest, it’s an adjacent property that is causing and Eastside dustup.

Ryan Companies is a major construction firm in Minnesota and has several projects ongoing on land surrounding the new stadium site, including a parking lot on the corner of Fourth Street and Park Avenue. A small strip of property owned by the city was put up for bids. Some envisioned a high-end hotel. Others viewed an upscale apartment complex. Ryan proposed a mixture of both. Given the work Ryan was doing immediately adjacent to the property, the city accepted Ryan’s bid of $5.6 million.

In the interim since the bid award, Radisson Hotels pulled out of the project. Without the high-end hotel chain in place, Ryan is now saying it can’t fulfill the bid commitment. A report from Minnesota Public Radio Wednesday estimated that the Ryan offer for the property would drop to approximately $3 million.

If that happens, the Vikings may end up purchasing that property. Lester Bagley showed up at a public hearing saying the Vikings would offer $4.6 million for the property without any options of contingencies. It would be a straight land purchase.

Had Minneapolis and state officials not stepped in to shoot down an agreement the Vikings reached with Ramsey County to have no state dollars involved in a new Vikings stadium, not only would the stadium likely be complete by now, the contaminated soil that still sits under the abandoned military munitions plant and wouldn’t continue to threaten the local aquifer of groundwater.

At that particular property, there isn’t a buzz of development. It remains largely the same as it was before political power and influence choked out the plan and effectively forced the new stadium to be built in the same location in the same underdeveloped area on the east side of downtown Minneapolis.

This likely won’t be the last non-football related argument that happens with the development of the park and businesses/housing that are components of the stadium project. But the animosity about how the final vision will end up likely won’t end any time soon either.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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