Building A Mixed Use, Neighborhood Stadium

When I was a junior in college, I studied abroad in Oslo, Norway. I lived in a student housing village a distance away from campus, nearer to the vast woods in the city’s backyard than to the bustling center. The closest landmark to my flat was Ullevål Stadion, the national stadium and home to Vålerenga IF, the local Tippeligaen side. I walked past the stadium every day when traveling to and from it’s eponymous T-Bane stop, where I rode the metro to school.  On gamedays with the window open you could hear the roar of the crowd when a goal was scored.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Ullevål in particular, and stadiums in general in the past week, after our local soccer team, Minnesota United FC released their funding plan for a downtown soccer stadium near the farmers market. As both a card carrying member of the team’s supporters group and an advocate for urban amenities, I would love the proposal to come to fruition. And I believe ultimately it will. But the United proposal has been tied up in political debates about public subsidy. The team plans to buy the land and build the stadium privately, but requested the same tax relief granted to the Vikings and Twins stadiums. Most significantly, this would mean exempting the team from having to pay property taxes on the stadium.

The property tax break would total between $1.5 –  $3 million a year, depending on who’s estimate you trust. Given the obscene amounts of cash the state, county, and city have splashed on other stadium projects, (or, say, a pedestrian bridge) it’s absurd that politicians have decided to stand firm in refusing a pocket change subsidy for a soccer stadium. Yet complaining about the audacious cynicism of politicians is as useless as complaining about Minnesota’s April weather. It’s also not an affirmative argument for anything. The deal offered by Minnesota United may well be the best stadium deal the state has seen in decades. But does that make it a good deal?

Reviewing arguments against stadium subsidies

Yesterday, on the Minnesota soccer blog Northern Pitch, I published an interview with Neil deMause, a journalist who covers the topic of public stadium subsidies on his blog Field of Schemes. Unencumbered by Minnesota political concerns, Neil makes a compelling case that public subsidies for stadiums of any stripe are a waste of money for government. Much of what he says is well known among urbanists, but it’s worth repeating here:

From an economic standpoint, stadiums do not generate much new activity; stadium jobs are seasonal and low paying, and they compete for entertainment dollars from locals instead of attracting visitors from other places.

From an urban planning standpoint, stadiums are poor development anchors, as they remain unused for most of the year and have huge ancillary requirements; especially parking.

Then there are the trade offs. Stadiums tend to be built on disused industrial land, bringing with them the promise of development. But would that development have occurred otherwise? That question could fairly be asked about the new Vikings stadium, which has been intrinsically linked to the Ryan Co. Wells Fargo development. But are the new offices and apartments really being built because they derive value from the Vikings Stadium? If not, then might it be fair to say that something like it would’ve been built anyway? And if that is true, then why are we wasting a huge block of soon-to-develop downtown land on a tax-exempt stadium that will be used to capacity 8-10 times a year?

These are tough but necessary questions to answer for anyone who supports this soccer stadium development. To address them, it’s important to make a comprehensive case about why this stadium could be different. We already know it’s a much better deal financially than normal. But it’s also important for the stadium design to sell itself. Few stadiums are created equal. Wrigley Field is the heart of a vibrant neighborhood, and a stadium like Wrigley would be well worth subsidy. Meanwhile Tropicana Field in Tampa is an aesthetic and developmental disaster that you’d hope wouldn’t be allowed even if privately funded. So the two key questions are: what could a Minneapolis soccer stadium provide in terms of development that wouldn’t occur otherwise? And how best to design the project to reach those aims?

A Master Plan For A Neglected Neighborhood

One of the key aspects of the soccer stadium debate surrounds its likely location. In this sense, the United proposal shares much in common with those that came before. Target Field was planned for the underdeveloped North Loop. TCF Bank Stadium was planned for the moonscape east of the University that could boast only an Arby’s. The Saint Paul Saints’ CHS Field replaced the miserable Diamond Products/Gillette building that had stood athwart any eastward expansion of Lowertown. Finally, the new Vikings Stadium will replace the Metrodome in windswept Downtown East. In each of these cases, stadiums have targeted underused industrial land, and have usually been packaged with promises to spur development in these areas. It’s hard to say for sure if it’s all worked, but the North Loop is now rapidly filling in around its ballpark, while the Green Line-fueled new urbanism on Washington Avenue is creeping towards the Gophers Stadium.

Minnesota United FC’s proposed home is in a corner of downtown that is increasingly being called the west loop. This part of town is notable only for the Minneapolis Farmers Market with the rest of the land occupied by low slung industrial buildings. It’s unsurprising that the area is so neglected. It is bounded to the west by I94, to the north by Olson Memorial Highway, to the east by the seven-lane-wide 7th Street, and to the south by the rail lines. However, the proposed Royalston Station of the Green Line extension will soon provide direct access to the area, and stadium plan critics, such as Mayor Betsy Hodges, have argued that the nearby plots will be ripe for transit oriented development (TOD) in the near future, stadium or no stadium.

Aerial photo of proposed West Loop stadium site

Aerial photo of proposed West Loop stadium site

I’m less confident. Despite the appearance of transit over a decade ago, Downtown East has not developed much. The Blue Line-enhanced intersection of Lake and Hiawatha, surely a prime location for TOD, remained undeveloped for a decade as well. This is because the presence of transit alone is not enough to spur TOD growth, locations must also have amenities to offer. Why should developers invest in the barren west loop when better opportunities exist in downtown east, along University Avenue, and in leafier districts along the Green Line extension?

This where stadium proponents must make their case. In addition to building the stadium, Minnesota United FC has committed to an as yet unspecified plan to renovate and improve the farmers market. The plan is not to place a stadium down, free of context, but to build a stadium into the area’s fabric (such as it is) and to actively improve the district’s main existing amenity.

The stadium plan could (and should, I think) also include a commitment to build at least some TOD immediately. Among the United ownership group is the Pohlad Family, who own the Twins and United Properties. A promise to develop nearby mixed use apartments to compliment both the stadium and the farmers market would improve the offer significantly. All of this would turn the stadium plan from just a stadium plan to a neighborhood plan. The idea of packaging a village into a stadium plan isn’t a unique idea, in fact it’s something of a trend, But what United have the ability to propose is better than the plans considered in other cities, thanks to the presence of transit, the farmers market, and a major local real estate developer already in the conversation.

A Mixed Use Stadium

A stadium plan that doubles as a neighborhood master plan could solve issues stemming from the often late and inadequate development response to stadium constriction. But it doesn’t eliminate the problem inherent in stadiums: they take up a lot of space and are rarely used. Here, I come back to my experiences in Norway.

Ullevål Stadion is not built in a dense city center, nor does it have a neighborhood around it. In fact, it’s hemmed in by a highway, a traffic circle, and the metro line. But I think its design nonetheless offers a compelling model for a stadium that can actually be a spur to development and an asset to the neighborhood it serves.

What distinguishes Ullevål, at least to my knowledge, is that it is a mixed use stadium. Aside from hosting domestic and international soccer matches, the building is home to a  hotel, the national football museum, and the offices of the Norwegian Football Association, the Norwegian Olympic Committee, and several other national sports organizations. That’s not all. The exterior of the stadium is lined with year-round restaurants and shops—even a florist. I frequently stopped by Ullevål’s ICA supermarket because they carried pints of Ben and Jerry’s, which were an essential food item as the Nordic winter settled in.

Ullevål’s model addresses one of the key reasons why local stadiums tend to be anchors around the necks of neighborhoods instead of anchors that bind it together. Stadiums are almost never built for any use besides gameday or special events and concerts. But why should that be the case? Ullevål shows us that it can be done in a different way.

ullevalshopping

Ullevål Stadium, Oslo

 

Minnesota United FC should take notice. The stadium will be bounded by streets that would be the lifeblood of a new neighborhood. The key one is Royalston Avenue, which will soon have the Green Line LRT running down its heart. The soccer stadium should take advantage of this by using the ground floor of the stadium facing Royalston as retail space. It’s not hard to think of likely tenants: a soccer bar, a sporting goods store, a bottle shop, a gym. But Ullevål’s model tells us that the space should be calibrated to accept whomever is interested, including tenants that might have no connection to sports. Perhaps a gardening supply store might see a benefit to close proximity to the farmers market. Or an upscale restaurant like Saint Paul’s Heartland. And of course, a supermarket that complements the farmers market would be a tremendous benefit for a neighborhood isolated from the the Gateway District Whole Foods and the Loring Park Lunds. Surely there’s space under the stands for even something as large as that?

Setting A New Standard

There’s no doubt that Minnesota United FC is being held to a much higher standard than any other professional sports stadium built in the Twin Cities. I suspect that’s largely because politicians think (probably rightly) that they can score points by taking a principled approach soccer, a sport that cannot yet boast the constituency of pro football, to whom they capitulated.

That’s unfair, but it also means that United has an opportunity to set a new standard by which stadium deals will be judged. Overall, that might be a good thing for the Twin Cities and municipalities across the United States. The ownership group for Minnesota United is wealthy, but it’s also local. The principal owner, Dr. Bill McGuire, has shown himself to be philanthropic and civic minded in the past, most famously in the creation of Gold Medal Park. This is an opportunity to cement that reputation. With smart design and visionary planning, McGuire and his co-investors could create a genuine stadium plan that benefits themselves, the team, and the city all at once.


Streets.mn is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

, , , ,

28 Responses to Building A Mixed Use, Neighborhood Stadium

  1. Monica Millsap Rasmussen
    Monica Rasmussen April 22, 2015 at 11:57 am #

    I’ve often thought about where the best place for a stadium would be and what the benefits for the surrounding neighborhoods might be. One thought I’ve had would be to not develop in “neglected” neighborhoods as you cite here, but develop in neighborhoods that already have some promise. Would that create increased market value and then lead to other development a little further away in the surrounding “neglected” neighborhoods because property would be cheaper than near the stadium, but still be near enough to be desirable? For example, I tried to convince the Saints and the City of St Paul to locate the Saints Stadium at the Midway bus barn site. I had a plan for them to use land wisely, putting any desired parking under the stadium and of course the Snelling-University area has historically been one of the most accessible areas in Saint Paul from many parts of the metro area, so likely more transit, biking,and pedestrian use to access the stadium than most areas. I also worked into the plan what I called a community gathering area, which I guess could have morphed into what the author here calls a mixed use stadium that is used by the neighborhood when games are not happening. My thought was that the Snelling-University area, unlike areas further east and the downtown areas, were also thriving in terms of affordable housing, less foreclosures than most areas, denser than much of Saint Paul, and stable businesses with later evening hours than downtown, both small and large, making the area attractive at the beginning for a crowd like what a stadium would attract. It would have seemed natural that the development would continue further out from the area as the Snelling-University seems like a hub for residential-business mix already, and has been a desirable location for businesses for at least the past 15-20 years.

    Alas the Saints told me that the city really wanted them in Lowertown, so we’ll see if that stadium will revive anything more than the Xcel Center did for Saint Paul or the Dome did for that area of Minneapolis. I haven’t taken the time to research much, but I also wonder if any stadiums recently built in the country were built in areas similar to the Midway, that were growing (instead of dead) and what the effect was on the neighborhood and surrounding areas?

  2. Sean Hayford Oleary
    Sean Hayford Oleary April 22, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

    Ullevaal Stadium is not something I would have ever expected to see written up on Streets.mn! I’ve spent several summers in Oslo and a year of my tweens living with my parents in the married student housing section of Sogn Studentby (Student Village — residential campus associated with university).

    Although you’re right that this is, technically, mixed-use, it mainly shows to me that a stadium still creates a miserable pedestrian environment. This is the street frontage adjacent to ground-floor retail at Ullevaal.

    I’m also skeptical that there would be enough traffic (of any modes) to support this intensity of retail on the Farmer’s Market site. Ullevaal Stadium is indeed bordered by a highway, but it benefits from high visibility and two points of access for the eastbound highway. Although not immediately in a neighborhood, it’s within easy walking distance of medium-density Ullevål Hageby (garden city).

    And perhaps most important of all: the 1400 students who live at Sogn Studentby have to walk right past the stadium and retail to get to the metro system, the main access to the university.

    Not to say that it’s not a bad idea to mix uses to take advantage of the most-of-the-year uselessness of stadiums in Minnesota. But I think a better strategy is offices or something in separate buildings using the parking structure. (Which I believe is happening with the new Dome?)

    • Adam Miller
      Adam Miller April 22, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

      I have this crazy fantasy that they will not build any additional parking for this soccer stadium (really, they shouldn’t).

      • Alex Schieferdecker
        Alex Schieferdecker April 22, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

        Guaranteed there will be a small lot for buses and VIPs. There always is. I just hope they make it small and around the back of the thing.

    • Alex Schieferdecker
      Alex Schieferdecker April 22, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

      Sogn was my home as well.

      I think Ullevaal isn’t a great pedestrian environment simply because of it’s somewhat isolating location. I certainly have problems with the stadium. But the key takeaway for me was the fact that a stadium could host a ton of other uses, it didn’t just need to be a stadium.

      I think you bring up a good point in questioning whether the west loop could sustain enough traffic to make retail on this scale worthwhile. But I think that if that area were fully developed, it could easily do so. An easy way to cross Olson and 7th would help a great deal as well. Worth a study, I think.

  3. Adam Miller
    Adam Miller April 22, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    I’m a bit agnostic about the subsidies they’ve requested, although I don’t think I’d say property tax exemption in perpetuity is “pocket change.” I was mildly surprised that they were rolled out as they were.

    I kind of expected them to announce something along the lines you are describing, where the ownership group would request support for a redevelopment plan beyond just the confines of the stadium, which would perhaps give elected officials a bit more cover to support it.

    Regardless of the finances, I think you’re exactly right about what should be done. Go ahead and build a stadium, but let’s make it part of getting started on creating neighborhood and make sure that the stadium is an active part of it.

  4. Alex Cecchini
    Alex Cecchini April 22, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

    Couple thoughts:

    – I think $1.5-3m is a bit low for property tax estimates. $150m value (30 for land, 120 for the stadium) comes out to $6.3m on the city’s estimator. Several other buildings downtown in that range of assessed value come out in the $6m tax range as well.
    – Continuing down that line, would ownership of the stadium/lot and any tax breaks extend to other redevelopment? Obviously we haven’t seen any details, but it’s not difficult to imagine. Especially if the stadium itself were built as mixed-use.
    – I’m not against a stadium on this site, and there are certainly benefits to the Farmer’s Market redo. But the site is 1,500 feet from Target Field, roughly the same as the nucleus of redevelopment in the North Loop. What benefits (beyond a major initial investment that includes residents or office workers) does a stadium here provide to other properties that TF doesn’t already provide?
    – I wouldn’t underestimate the value the Blue Line (and coming Green Line) gave to the Mill District redevelopment. Much of that area is less than a half mile from the DTE station. Combining that with the river made it the natural choice for development first, with more apartments/condos jumping Washington as developable land becomes more scarce

    My personal view is that the proponents should be asking the city to commit to infrastructure improvements (beyond the stipulated SWLRT improvements from the MOU). More connections to downtown, a commitment to better Olson Memorial Hwy & 7th St designs, etc. Things everyone (not just stadium users and owners) benefit from, but make the area just about as desirable as the N Loop. I’d even be okay with a partial (<20%) property tax break for a certain number of years.

    • Wayne April 22, 2015 at 3:37 pm #

      If they need infrastructure improvements they should be assessed for it and pay for the needed upgrades themselves.

    • Scott Shaffer
      Scott Shaffer April 22, 2015 at 10:01 pm #

      “Despite the appearance of transit over a decade ago, Downtown East has not developed much.”

      I’d second Alex’s point. The Mill District simply didn’t exist in 2004, There were five continuous blocks of surface parking lots along the north side of Washington Avenue, from 10th Avenue to 5th Avenue. Now it’s great and getting better! http://imgur.com/CkLkPX6

  5. Brian Quarstad April 22, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

    Monica, McGuire’s group thought the bus barn site would be a great location but from what I understand, was turned down because it’s not what they ideally saw fit for that area. I suppose but don’t know for sure, that it was the Met Council who turned them down. I spoke to councilman Russ Stark about this briefly once and he too indicated that he didn’t see that as an idea spot for a stadium. I’ve heard your concerns for the bus barn site before and know it doesn’t always match up with what the city and the Met Council has for that location. I’m not stating an opinion on whether or not it should have gone there. I’m just letting you know that the MN United group did actually look at that location and were more or less shut down.

    • Monica Millsap Rasmussen
      Monica Rasmussen April 23, 2015 at 7:00 am #

      Thanks, Brian. I had no idea that MN United considered the Midway. Maybe since funding is now up in the air, a citizens campaign to move it to the Midway would be helpful. I know I’m not the only one who thought the Saints should have moved there….

  6. Wayne April 22, 2015 at 3:32 pm #

    Taking that land permanently off the tax rolls is a terrible idea. That area will get redeveloped eventually and generate plenty of tax revenue and I fail to see how another stadium would somehow generate enough tax revenue via other means to offset the loss of property taxes on that land and any possible development there. Especially when it’s probably eventually getting a light rail station right next door. If they don’t want to build a stadium on their own dime and pay their damn taxes like everyone else, they can bugger off and someone else will build something next to a shiny new transit station. Someone else who WILL pay their taxes.

    Speaking of which, I’m very disappointed in Amazon for trying to cut a tax deal in Shakopee. Enough with the garbage tax breaks to big business–this is why we can’t have nice things or pay too much on an individual level, because we keep giving all the tax breaks to sports teams or corporations that don’t need them because we’ve got FOMO about whatever crappy deal they’re proposing and how it might be the only thing to come along for a while. Get some confidence, Minnesota, and start telling these greedy scumbags to pay their own way.

    • Jim April 22, 2015 at 3:50 pm #

      That’s a nice dream. But we’re battling other states. Texas hands out $19 billion a year in subsidies. MN about a quarter billion. Most of the other states that dole out big subsides are in the $4 billion a year range. MN does pretty well in that sense. I’m all for level playing fields. But that’s something that needs to be addressed at the federal level.

      • Walker Angell
        Walker Angell April 22, 2015 at 5:20 pm #

        Is Texas going to pay the piper on that? These subsidies allowed Rick Perry to crow about all the jobs he’s brought to the state but where do they plan to get money down the road to maintain their infrastructure? Financially they may soon look like California or Detroit.

      • Wayne April 23, 2015 at 8:25 am #

        Except companies already want to do business here because there’s a market for them to make money in and they know it. When they ask for tax breaks they’re just being greedy because they wouldn’t have done the legwork to consider something like a DC here if they didn’t think it would make them money with or without the tax break. If they seriously make business plans that only work with a tax break they need to reevaluate how they do business.

        And I’d rather not participate in a race to the bottom with Texas, because as someone else mentioned their gravy train will run out eventually after their short term planning comes back around to bite them.

        Regarding the specifics of the stadium site, cheap underutilized land so close to downtown and a light rail station will easily be developed into something that will generate far more tax revenue than whatever scraps are left from another awful stadium deal. I don’t think you’d have to wait too long once the SWLRT opened.

        • UrbanDoofus April 23, 2015 at 9:50 am #

          Agreed. Aren’t these guys all capitalists? Why the need for government assistance? Whatever happened to these guys running around chanting “WE BUILT THIS?”

          Let us stop bowing to billionaires. We don’t need to get in their way, but we also don’t need to give them anything. They are doing fine, and will continue to do so.

    • Adam Miller
      Adam Miller April 22, 2015 at 4:32 pm #

      I’m less certain about that “eventually.” If I get time, I’ll take some pictures and do a post about obstacles to redevelopment in this area. Preview: they are many.

  7. Matt Brillhart April 22, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

    I’m still not convinced that 501 Royalston is the right site, even within the “West Loop” area. What if instead the stadium were placed on the current Farmers Market land, up against the freeway viaduct, and the Farmers Market was moved more proximate to the LRT Station on Royalston.

    That way, the stadium is pushed directly adjacent to the ugly viaducts (can have its ugly/service side facing Lyndale). The stadium then acts as a buffer for the rest of the neighborhood, separating it from the ugly, noisy freeway viaduct. By NOT putting the stadium up against the viaduct, I think it is quite foolish to expect any of that land to redevelop into anything meaningful that will generate higher tax value than what exists today.

    Also, there’s a bunch of parking under the viaduct itself, while perhaps not appropriate for tall tour buses, could work quite well for VIP/valet, etc. and help prevent additional surface parking from being built. Street View: http://bit.ly/1Ff5aOy

    • Adam Miller
      Adam Miller April 22, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

      Who owns the Farmer’s Market?

    • Alex Schieferdecker
      Alex Schieferdecker April 22, 2015 at 7:38 pm #

      Not a bad idea, but I haven’t ever heard that being discussed.

    • Alex Cecchini
      Alex Cecchini April 23, 2015 at 9:54 am #

      100% agree. Those viaducts aren’t going anywhere soon (unfortunately, though that should certainly be on MnDOT/Minneapolis long-long-range vision). The area underneath is heavily underutilized most of the year (empty, staging/materials storage for MnDOT, parking for peak events, etc).

      I believe the City owns the Farmer’s Market land (at least, that’s what the county’s site says). You’d think this could be a big negotiating chip for them. The stadium proposal (what loose details we know) talks about reworking the market design anyway.

    • Justin Merkovich April 23, 2015 at 11:07 am #

      +1000

      In my opinion, this deal should be nuked if the stadium is NOT located at the current Farmer’s Market site. Push this use to the LEAST desirable chunk of the West Loop and put all of the “good stuff” (TOD, new Farmer’s Market, mixed-use/housing, etc) nearer to the transit stop.

      Locating a stadium at this armpit doesn’t have to preclude the author’s idea.

      This is why architect’s get paid the big-bucks (ahem). Ring the east side (Royalston/downtown) side with the active types of uses that are being described. Put the “car stuff” on the west side/viaduct side, maybe put up a parking ramp on the surface lot across from Int’l Market Square for Joe Public and the VIP stuff under the viaducts, create safe crossings to the stadium and I could get behind this whole idea.

      • Adam Miller
        Adam Miller April 23, 2015 at 11:35 am #

        While I agree that it makes sense to put the stadium against the viaducts, let’s not get too excited about the desirability of the other side either.

        Olson Memorial Highway and an overbuilt 7th Street aren’t exactly people-friendly and might actually be worse then Lyndale and the raised 94 for people.

        And while there is no reason that Sharing and Caring Hands, Mary’s Place and the city public works facility across Royalston can’t be good neighbors, but will developers be wary of them?

  8. Julia April 22, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

    I wish stadium proponents would stop coming back to the “other pas stadium is worse” argument. No one is out to get soccer. We know more about the lack of economic benefit from stadiums for cities. Citizens and local politicians are perhaps are less complacent after seeing how stadium owners treat community requirements/requests. The economic climate has changed and urban trends/common sense/data are showing us we have more and better options besides groveling at the feet of multi-millionaires for the honor of paying for their properties. That kind of past-was-bad-justifies-future-bad-choices thinking is what keeps us from embracing best practices and being proactive instead of reactive. We’ve made mistakes. That doesn’t mean we have to keep making them.

    The stadium you shared is similar to the only kind I feel I could support, in that the usage appears to take into consideration the fact that it continues to exist even when games aren’t being played in it. Sean’s link to other views of the frontage are highly disturbing to consider CHOOSING in 2015 for development like that anywhere near downtown Mpls. But let’s pretend we did it better. I still have qualms about
    1) creating giant monoliths that block streets and have relatively low usage 99% of the time. Even this stadium seems to introduce dead space into a cityscape and that’s really not a good thing. I’ve frequented this area with probably more regularity than most in Minneapolis since I was a child. As it is, it has potential for strengthening Minneapolis; as a stadium, we are locked into a situation of losing that potential for questionable abstract gain and known financial loss.
    2) what is the connection (physical, conceptual) to NoMi? How does this proposed redevelopment serve to connect NoMi and downtown through vibrant transit, biking, and walking routes? What keeps this from being more dead space that, along with the highways, isolates NoMi from the rest of the city?

    • Alex Schieferdecker
      Alex Schieferdecker April 22, 2015 at 7:43 pm #

      I’m with you on the fact that stadium deals are bad, but politically, there’s no doubt in my mind that soccer is a convenient target for politicians. Its constituency isn’t large and it’s the last party to the table here. I doubt, (though it would be nice) that the legislature has finally realized the error of their ways. I think they’re just scoring points.

      Your arguments, however, are well taken.

      I was hoping to address #1. in this article. To a pedestrian, a stadium shouldn’t be much different from a big office tower. But the experience on the ground floor is much different. Does it need to be that way? I don’t think so.

      With regards to #2, I know that some early plans took a look at some treatments of Olson, including a traffic circle. I can’t speak to how seriously changes are being considered, but I wholeheartedly agree with you that they should be.

      • Janne Flisrand
        Janne April 23, 2015 at 8:51 am #

        Might it be worth noting that soccer’s constituency is also more immigrant than baseball or football?

  9. UrbanDoofus April 23, 2015 at 8:50 am #

    Interesting note on Wrigley Field: they did request some $500 million in tax payer assistance to renovate the stadium, with the usual threats to move. They were denied, they stayed,and the world went on. They ended up putting $300 million of their own money in for renovation, which will raise their annual revenue, and likely contribute more in sales taxes. A win win.

    I’m not sure that I think any subsidy for a stadium makes sense unless there is something more to it; if you cut us property tax deal for ten years, we will build some housing and do some real place making. Building a stadium isn’t neighborhood building, it’s building a stadium.

    I would personally love to see the stadium put where the farmers market currently is so it sits against the viaducts, but I recognize that may not be a reality. The IMS condos seem to sit just fine up against a highway. To me, the bigger blunder would be erecting a stadium, and some housing, and nothing else.

    I also wonder if maybe that area shouldn’t deemed an “entertainment zone,” which more lax noise restrictions to allow for music clubs and bars, fire breathing carnival rides, etc etc.

  10. Justin Merkovich April 23, 2015 at 11:08 am #

    +1000

    In my opinion, this deal should be nuked if the stadium is NOT located at the current Farmer’s Market site. Push this use to the LEAST desirable chunk of the West Loop and put all of the “good stuff” (TOD, new Farmer’s Market, mixed-use/housing, etc) nearer to the transit stop.

    Locating a stadium at this armpit doesn’t have to preclude the author’s idea.

    This is why architect’s get paid the big-bucks (ahem). Ring the east side (Royalston/downtown) side with the active types of uses that are being described. Put the “car stuff” on the west side/viaduct side, maybe put up a parking ramp on the surface lot across from Int’l Market Square for Joe Public and the VIP stuff under the viaducts, create safe crossings to the stadium and I could get behind this whole idea.