Unrealistic Expectations for The Yard

Park Watch Comment: On August 26, Park Watch submitted to the Star Tribune a commentary letter regarding an August 18 Star Tribune editorial supporting the Yard.  Park Watch looked for but did not see any other public opinion letters responding to the editorial.  We believe that the editorial needed reader comment and were disappointed when our letter went unpublished.
Therefore, we are posting it here on Park Watch for those who are interested to see.

Editorial Pages
Minneapolis Star Tribune



We are writing to express our disappointment with the StarTribune’s recent editorial “Full Speed Ahead For The Yard, ” which was characterized by false and misleading statements.  Here are some of our comments.

The editorial’s comparison of the Yard to Millennium Park is false and misleading.  Millennium Park doesn’t have a NFL football team associated with it as does “The Yard”;  Millennium Park does not have to be shared with a major league sports team which has priority scheduling.  The Vikings and MSFA have both priority scheduling and FREE USE of the Yard and capture ALL proceeds from concession sales.

The fact is that the Yard, unlike Millennium Park, is really two entities.  One entity is what it will be when there is a Vikings or MFSA event using it.  Probably lots of tents and concessions or maybe just one very large tent covering the entire area.  The second entity will be whatever the Park Committee’s vision will be, subject to the restrictions placed on its design and use by the Vikings and the MSFA.  The reality is that these restrictions will have a major impact on the expectations being generated.

The editorial asserts that there is ambiguity about who can own and operate parks in Minneapolis.  That is a false assertion as there is no such ambiguity.  Minneapolis has an acclaimed park system and an independent park board which was established specifically to create and operate public parks for the citizens of Minneapolis.

In his Hennepin County district court ruling on December 20, 2013 Judge Dickstein completely rejected the City’s claims that it had authority to acquire or operate parks, squares or plazas in the City.  Specifically Judge Dickstein stated “the Court rejects the City’s argument that the Council has power, concurrent with the Park Board to purchase, devise, maintain and operate city parks.”

As for lack of green space downtown, isn’t Gold Medal Park green space?  And, while it is privately maintained and controlled, it was created for public enjoyment without cost to Minneapolis taxpayers.

We believe that, before charging ahead with the Yard as the editorial urges, the City has a responsibility to first conduct a feasibility study regarding the Yard and to also let the taxpayers know all the details of the funding for the Yard.  Accordingly, on July 1,  Park Watch submitted a Data Request to the City Clerk’s office requesting detailed information regarding the financial arrangements with the Vikings and the MSFA.  We are still waiting for those documents to be available.

Arlene Fried,
Co-founder of Park Watch
Harvey Ettinger,
Member of Park Watch