The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board staff hopes to piggyback on any legislative stadium bill to score a Lowry Hill stadium of its own, said Superintendent Jon Gurban.
Not a Vikings stadium or Twins stadium; nothing that big. Gurban wants to resurrect the old Parade stadium that once stood north of the Walker Art Center and was the showplace for Friday night high school football games. The hope is, if legislators can find hundreds of millions for pro facilities, they might find an as-yet-to-be-determinded dollar amount to serve kids and other local athletes.
Gurban floated the idea Jan. 12 during a City Council Intergovernmental Relations Committee meeting, as part of the Board’s preliminary 2005 legislative agenda.
Gurban said the plan called from something smaller than the old 15,000- to 20,000-seat stadium and would have artificial turf to support multiple sports. The stadium would create another “sense of place for our city” and a “community gathering spot,” he said.
Gurban said senior staff developed the “concept plan,” one the Park Board itself had not yet seen let alone approved.
It drew a strongly negative reaction from City Councilmember Lisa Goodman (7th Ward), who represents the area. She had seen neither “hide nor hair” of the plan, she said.
Goodman questioned whether the Park Board had talked to the surrounding neighborhoods: Lowry Hill, Loring Park or Bryn Mawr.
Gurban said the Park Board would take it to the neighborhoods “as the plan comes together.” Goodman questioned whether it could get any community input if the Park Board was reacting to fast-moving, behind-the-scenes legislative proposals.
Gurban said “it wasn’t our intention to ram anything down the throats of the neighborhood,” but Goodman seemed unconvinced. She said her constituents would want to participate in the planning.
After the meeting, Gurban said Goodman had “blown things out of proportion.”
Staff was preparing the Parade proposal in case an opportunity surfaced during the session, he said: “To me, we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t anticipate it.”
Regardless of legislative action, staff would present the Parade plan to the Park Board in February or March, Gurban said. If staff got the go-ahead, it could then present the idea to neighborhoods.
Asked how he could get community comments if the Legislature was moving on a stadium bill, he said: “It does compress it.”
Parade Stadium is a potential site for the Cirque du Soleil to perform when it comes back to town. “That is part of what is driving this conversation,” Gurban said.
A bemused Councilmember Scott Benson (11th Ward) took the stadium plan in stride.
“Do they think there is going to be money lying around after they have a stadium bill?” he asked after the meeting. “I am not sure what they are thinking. It doesn’t seem well conceived to me.”