Local communities mostly oppose proposed stadium

Emily Johns

Minneapolis community organizations are weighing in on the stadium debate with the University’s Board of Regents.

These community organizations, many of which were present during Memorial Stadium’s heyday, almost unanimously oppose the proposed stadium.

Tuesday evening, the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association approved sending a letter to the regents opposing a stadium plan at the Huron parking lots – and the conditions under which it would be built. The neighborhood association listed four major objections.

One of its main concerns is traffic. Blaine Johnson, a University Law School student who has lived in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood for three years, said he believes the traffic would be too much for the area to bear.

“(Sen. Paul Wellstone’s) memorial wreaked havoc, and that was only 20,000 people,” he said of the memorial held in Williams Arena on Oct. 29.

The neighborhood association also opposes the stadium because of concern about litter, noise and parking problems in adjacent neighborhoods.

The association also said the stadium does not represent the best use of land. The Metrodome area can deal with the demands of a stadium, it says, and could simply be improved.

“People think there are better locations,” Johnson said.

The Prospect Park East River Road Association, representing the neighborhood closest to the possible stadium site, plans to take action shortly before the regents meet in December.

“(The neighbors) are presently having difficulty seeing any positive effects that the new stadium would have on the neighborhood,” said Steve Cross, the group’s former president. “No one sees how a football stadium could reasonably be justified as leading to ‘advance the University’s fundamental academic mission.’ “

Not everyone surrounding the University agrees, however. Many neighboring business associations would welcome the customers a stadium could bring to the area.

Skott Johnson, president of the Dinkytown Business Association, said the stadium would benefit Dinkytown not only with revenue, but also because people miss the game-day feel a stadium once brought to the area.

“I loved hearing the marching band go down University Avenue,” Johnson said. “It was a great Big Ten feeling.”

Johnson said he worries about the influx of people on game days but ultimately believes it won’t be a problem.

“I think we’re smart enough to figure out traffic issues,” he said.

The Southeast Como Improvement Association sent a letter in September to the University’s community relations director Jan Morlock stating its opposition to the stadium.

Besides requesting an Environmental Impact Statement before moving forward, the letter lists the direct negative impacts the group says a stadium will have on the surrounding Southeast Como neighborhood.

“We will have increases in noise, litter, public drinking and parking problems. These are already at an intolerable level in our neighborhood,” the letter states. “In addition, we anticipate that the presence of the stadium will result in business expansions of liquor establishments.”

The letter also calls the University’s priorities into question, stating “A modern professional stadium surrounded by parking ramps will easily be the single largest building ever built, or ever likely to be built on campus. What does this say about the University’s priorities?”

A Minneapolis City Council resolution published Oct. 25 requested the Board of Regents and the University directly consult with the city and the Marcy-Holmes, Southeast Como and Prospect Park neighborhood associations while making a decision.

The resolution, written by City Council member Paul Zerby, 2nd Ward, requests these neighborhood associations be involved both in deciding whether to build a stadium and in governing one if it were built.

The regents will vote on the stadium issue during their December meeting. Regents executive director Ann Cieslak said the board is considering holding a public forum prior to the meeting.

Emily Johns covers the metropolitan area and welcomes comments at [email protected]