Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Soccer stadium pitched as development tool

Karlee Weinmann//June 5, 2015

Soccer stadium pitched as development tool

Karlee Weinmann//June 5, 2015

A Major League Soccer stadium in downtown Minneapolis could drive development in neighborhoods north of the site that have historically struggled to lure investors, City Council Member Jacob Frey said Wednesday.

The Minnesota United FC facility, a $130 million effort financed by the club, would sit northeast of the Minneapolis Farmers Market, east of Interstate 394 and west of Target Field. The facility would reshape the area after several stagnant decades.

Already, hotel developers have approached the club’s top brass with interest in building out the area should plans for the 18,500-seat stadium go through, Minnesota United President Nick Rogers said at a Wednesday community meeting.

The proposed site is just across I-394 from the “Near North” neighborhood. Several neighborhoods frequently linked with the area’s development struggles are a mile or two north of there.

“Just putting in a soccer stadium there will not be a magic bullet to cure a lack of investment,” said Frey, who hosted the meeting. “I would like to see a revamp of that area.”

Central to the project are upgrades to more easily connect the stadium site to downtown, plus transit options to support fans and improve accessibility. Plans for the Southwest Light Rail Transit line, slated to run from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie, include a nearby station.

The Farmers Market would stay in place, alongside parking structures to accommodate fans. Better infrastructure would be a value-add that makes the area more alluring, like the new St. Paul Saints ballpark aims to do in downtown St. Paul’s Lowertown area.

“Hopefully that [soccer stadium] would spur some additional investment from the city and others,” Rogers said. “Our hope is that this would be a catalyst for redevelopment of this entire area.”

City officials haven’t yet taken a stance on the project, which would give the team breaks on property taxes and taxes on construction materials. Total tax abatement would run between $3 million and $4 million, according to estimates, but the city says it wouldn’t incur any out-of-pocket costs.

Minnesota United would match the existing property taxes on the site – around $340,000 per year – but would not pay taxes on the value added by the stadium.

Tax abatement for the soccer club is a lightning-rod issue at city hall as officials grapple with stadium fatigue between the$1 billion Vikings stadium under construction and the $545 million Minnesota Twins ballpark completed in 2010.Both parks received public funding.

But state Rep. Raymond Dehn, DFL-Minneapolis, urged community members at Wednesday’s meeting to consider the upside.

“The government steps up in many, many ways to enhance these types of investments that spur many, many other things,” Dehn said, comparing the economic development upside of a stadium to projects like Shutterfly’s $60 million expansion in Shakopee. Shutterfly is eligible for up to $1.5 million in tax relief from the city and Scott County.

The stadium project is expected to create 1,900 construction jobs. The facility would employ 300 to 400 permanent workers likely staffed locally and according to a diversity plan, city officials said, to ensure the project’s payoff reverberates throughout the city.

“What I see is an exceptional opportunity to bridge that gap between a successful downtown, a successful North Loop and north Minneapolis,” Frey said. “We do need to make sure investment bleeds farther north and a big part of that is the infrastructure and connectivity.”

Top News

See All Top News

Legal calendar

Click here to see upcoming Minnesota events

Expert Testimony

See All Expert Testimony