Monthly Archives: August 2014

Minneapolis park board says site next to Vikings stadium isn’t a park

The following article by Nick Woltman was published in the August 7, 2014 issue of the PioneerPress.

Minneapolis park board says site next to Vikings stadium isn’t a park


Twin Cities developer Ryan Cos. unveiled plans Tuesday, May 14, 2013, for a $400 million mixed-use development adjacent to the planned new Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis. Ryan is buying five blocks from the Star Tribune Co. for the project, which will include office space, retail, housing and a public park. Images courtesy Ryan Cos.

The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board voted on Wednesday to wash its hands of a park — known informally as The Yard — planned as part of the massive Downtown East development.

The board voted 6-2 to adopt a resolution removing itself from The Yard’s development, maintenance and operation, saying the space “does not truly qualify as a public park.”

One board commissioner abstained from the vote.

As a result of a lawsuit filed late last year, the city of Minneapolis had planned to turn The Yard over to the board following its construction by Minneapolis developer Ryan Cos. Ryan and the city worked together to spearhead the Downtown East project.

The nearly two-block park would abut the new Vikings football stadium.

The Park Board cited the use agreement between the city, the Vikings organization and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which gives the Vikings and the MSFA control of The Yard for at least 60 days each year for game-day activities. That could stretch to as many as 90 days when event set-up and tear-down are included, said Liz Wielinski, park board president.

The board would have to cede the park to those purposes on the allotted days.

The Park Board, which has authority over the city’s public parks, was not a party to the use agreement.

“Call it whatever you want, but it ain’t a park,” commissioner Anita Tabb said during the 90 minutes of debate before the vote. “And it certainly ain’t public.”
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Tevlin: The Yard has a home, just not a mission

The following article by Jon Tevlin has been published in the August 10, 2014 issue of the StarTribune.

Tevlin: The Yard has a home, just not a mission

Photo: Ryan Cos
Ryan Companies proposes a $400 million redevelopment of five blocks now dominated by surface parking lots between the downtown central business district and the new Vikings stadium.

In June, the Trust for Public Land declared that Minneapolis and the Twin Cities had the best public parks in the country. Better than New York. Better than Boston. Better than Sacramento, Calif.

Then, earlier this week, the Metropolitan Council said the metro’s parks attracted 47 million visitors in 2013, an increase of 3 percent from the previous year. We love our parks.

Finally, on Wednesday, the Minneapolis Park Board got together to decide whether they wanted to take on the city’s newest and perhaps most visible park project, a sweet piece of land smack dab in downtown, adjacent to the new Vikings stadium and the eventual towers for Wells Fargo.

It could be the crown jewel of parks, an oasis between the river and Loring Park.

The Park Board responded: “It ain’t a park, and it certainly isn’t public,” said Commissioner Anita Tabb in rejecting control of the space.

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The following article by Steve Brandt and Eric Roper was published in the August 7, 2014 edition of the StarTribune.

Park officials punt ‘the Yard’ back to city

Minneapolis leaders want an inviting and profitable space near new Vikings stadium.


Photo provided by Ryan Companies

Minneapolis city officials are scrambling to figure out how to run and finance a massive downtown park after the park board pulled out of the project Wednesday night.

The Minneapolis Park Board voted 6 to 2, with one abstention, to not be involved in “the Yard,” which will sit in the shadow of the new Vikings stadium and be surrounded by new offices and apartments on the east edge of downtown.

Leaders of the already cash-strapped parks department are concerned by the lack of money to build and run the nearly two-block, multimillion-dollar city park. They remain skeptical that it can raise enough rental income when the Vikings and Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority are already claiming a large share of days.

“It ain’t a park, and it certainly ain’t public,” said Commissioner Anita Tabb in explaining why she felt park system involvement wasn’t right. The board rejected by one vote a proposal by immediate past President John Erwin to continue negotiating in hopes of getting a financial deal and a park that would be both more public and better financed.

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The following article by Ben Johnson was published in the Southwest Journal on August 6, 2014.



Photo provided by Ryan Companies

Despite concerns over usurping its authority over parks and desire for more green space in area, cost, commitments to Vikings, MSFA deemed too much to bear.

Tonight the Park Board passed a resolution stating it will not be involved in the development, maintenance or operation of the 3.4-acre park planned as part of the Downtown East redevelopment under construction next to the new Vikings stadium.

Commissioners all agreed the operations and use agreement for the park does not meet the Park Board’s standard for a public park, and that the costs associated with building and maintaining it were not realistic.

However, Commissioners John Erwin (At-large) and Jon Olson (2nd District) argued allowing the city to take ownership of the park sets a dangerous precedent, threatening the Park Board’s authority over all city parks. Erwin proposed to table the resolution and direct Superintendent Jayne Miller to continue to try to work something out with the city.

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The following item was presented at OpenTime at the August 6, 2014 Park Board meeting:


When the news of The Yard was first released, the public was led to believe that they were getting a leafy green park for public enjoyment.

But what the public and the MPRB did not know at the time was how controlled the park would be by the Vikings and the Sports Authority.

Now that it is known that the Vikings and Sports Authority would have significant control of The Yard, the MPRB can not accept the land for a public park and is justified in deciding to terminate further discussions regarding The Yard.

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch







Park Watch has learned that the City has issued the following statement regarding the Park Board’s proposed resolution regarding termination of discussions with the City about The Yard:

“The City will continue to work on plans to develop the Downtown East park independent of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. This includes developing a capital plan to create the park, an operating plan to fund ongoing operations and possibly a conservancy to run the park.”


This is Park Watch’s comment in response to this statement:

It is the Park Board’s responsibility to develop, budget for and manage the parks in Minneapolis,

While the judge said that the Park Board must own all parks in Minneapolis, the fact is that the Park Board does not have to accept any land offered to it as a park. If the City would attempt to take possession of “The Yard” and create a park, it would be usurping the Park Board’s authority in violation of the City Charter and using public monies in competition with the Park Board.

MPRB to Vote on Terminating Discussions with the City Regarding The Yard

MPRB to Vote on Terminating Discussions with the City Regarding The Yard

At the August 6, 2014 Park Board meeting, The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will be voting on terminating discussions with the City regarding The Yard. Here is the Resolution:

Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board Resolution 2014-259

Resolution Removing the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board from the Development, Maintenance and Operation of the “Downtown East Urban Park” and Releasing the City from Further Discussion with the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board Regarding Ownership, Development, and Operation of the Space

Whereas, The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) was created by the Minnesota Legislature in April 1883 and has the authority to manage and operate park facilities;

Whereas, The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) is the steward of Minneapolis parks;

Whereas, In December 2013 the City of Minneapolis approved the Downtown East Development which included a two block parcel with 1 full block and 2/3 of the second block designated a public park near the new Vikings Stadium with specified terms;

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Park Board pushes for larger tax levy increase in 2015, referendum next?

The following article by Ben Johnson was published in the July 29, 2014 issue of the Southwest Journal.

Park Board pushes for larger tax levy increase in 2015, referendum next?

Scheduled 2.9% increase won’t cover 2015 budget; referendum considered to address long-term neighborhood park funding shortfall

Park Board commissioners are warning the scheduled 2.9 percent increase to its 2015 property tax levy will leave a projected $1.3 million budget deficit, resulting in painful cuts to programs and services next year.

Minneapolis has a 2 percent levy increase penciled in next year to help fill gaps in the Park Board’s operating budget. A separate, 0.9 percent increase will be added to that to fund the second year of an eight-year reforestation program, which was created to replace trees lost to the Emerald Ash Borer and severe storms.

The 0.9 percent tree levy will likely be left alone, so now the Park Board is focusing on convincing the public and the mayor’s office, which releases its preliminary budget Aug. 15, that doubling its planned operating levy increase to 4 percent is the only way to maintain essential services.

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