The Minnesota Vikings and their partners working at U.S. Bank Stadium met with local media on Wednesday to discuss transportation and parking around the team’s new home. The new stadium stands in the same spot the Metrodome did a few years ago, so the hope is fans understand how to still get around, but there are also some new features being implemented.
One of those was the use of taxis, buses and the new transportation apps such as Uber and Lyft. Each of these will have designated parking areas outside of the stadium so that all the fans do not get congested when they are trying to leave the stadium. The partners also have been talking with Uber and Lyft to have designated pick-up areas in hopes that it helps ease the congestion of traffic.
“We’ve been working with Uber/Lyft. The ride-share program has become very popular in Minneapolis, something that’s used a lot, obviously, across the country and so we actually are partnering with them and we geo-fenced the stadium,” explained SMG general manager Patrick Talty. “So the pin, as you know when you press your Uber it drops a pin where you’re standing. The pin will be dropped (in the designated area south of the stadium) for our major events. When we turn it on you may be on the other side of the facility and your pin won’t drop there, it’ll drop back over (in the designated area). That’s actually a feature Uber/Lyft has and we’ve been working in partnership with them, so that we don’t have Uber drivers driving around, trying to find people and people getting confused, ‘Where do I go?’ And that kind of thing.”
It is also becoming a must for the staff at U.S. Bank Stadium to know where all the different pickup areas around the stadium are located, so they can help all the guests get to where they need to with ease.
Another feature highlighted, which they also felt would ease congestion around the stadium, was investigating where all the season ticket holders are driving from, what major highways they will be taking, which percentage is coming from which direction and then created parking based on those numbers - hoping the season ticket holders are a good sample size for everyone who will be attending games and other events.
They broke the area around the stadium into four zone parking areas. That makes it so that the percentages coming from all the different directions can head straight into the zone closest to them, instead of driving all around the stadium and city looking for some place to park.
For example, if you are coming to the stadium from 35W North, there will be a designated area not too far off the highway you should park in, the same as if you came from any other direction. The hope is that everyone stays in their designated areas, so there aren’t a bunch of people driving around the stadium looking for parking or a way to get out. Instead, everyone can get in and out of their parking areas quicker.
“In each of those zones, looking at the percentage breakdown of how people approach the stadium, and looking at the highways and how they’ll actually approach the downtown, we have excess parking in all those zones for people to achieve,” Talty said. “So what we will end up doing is we will tell people if you’re coming from a certain direction you can park in this zone, we can give you a list of all the available parking lots in that zone. ... Then, obviously, getting back out of the stadium will be very easy because they’ll be in the zone and then go back out the same way they came.”
There will eventually be an interactive website that people can use when heading to Vikings games or any other event at U.S. Bank Stadium. They will log in, type in where they are coming from, and the website will give them a list of the available parking lots in their zones. It’s not going to tell people where exactly to go, just the list of the lots that are located inside the specific zones. It will also show them the rates of the different parking areas.
The area has 32,000 parking spaces surround the stadium within a 20-minute walking radius, not including private lots. Officials believe that will be more than enough space, especially when taking into account that a lot of people will be taking taxis, Uber/Lyft, city buses, biking to the games, or even taking the light rail.
The light rail is a very unique feature that U.S. Bank Stadium has at its disposal, as it’s not something all the NFL stadiums possess. A lot of fans will utilize that form of transportation when the Vikings played at TCF Bank Stadium or the Metrodome and that is expected to continue after their move, especially with a designated stop placed at the new stadium.
One problem with the light rail station at TCF Bank Stadium is that all the fans had to cross the tracks in order to get to the stadium. That just added to the chaos and congestion of everything, so a solution was made at the Vikings’ new home. There was a walking bridge built over the tracks so that fans are able to get over safely and quickly, while also leaving open rails so the trains can keep moving.
Another new feature that is being implemented is buses to take people down a couple stops on the light rail after the game or event wraps up at the stadium. That way people will not need to wait in the long line that will form at the U.S. Bank Stadium stop. They can move to other places up and down both the blue and green lines and catch the train there.
“As the trains fill up, and the trains have gone, there is backup metro transit staging,” Talty explained. “So metro transit will actually have buses available that they can then load and get people further out onto the blue and green lines, at the further stations, knowing that more people will ride them in than there is on the exit because everyone wants to leave at one time.”
Most aspects with this new Transportation Management Plan is still finalized and everyone involved with it understands there are going to be some things will have to tweak. But they feel as though they are in a good place with it right now and are confident that it should work.
“This is a living, breathing document,” Talty stressed, “so as we go along, the city, us ... and all the consultants will be evaluating this, evaluating its success and making changes as we go along. Not only with the development in downtown, but also how people approach the stadium. If more people start to ride metro, and different things like that, this plan will able to be changed and morphed and address those which you need.”
He also stressed that it is important for everyone attending events at U.S. Bank Stadium, whether it be a Vikings game, concert, or something else, to be informed about where to go and what to do, with information provided on the stadium’s or the Vikings’ websites.