How Much is 11th Avenue Worth?

The newest description of the Minneapolis Vikings Stadium proposal is that it will be constructed “at or near” the the existing Metrodome site. There has been discussion of the possibility of building a new stadium slightly east of the existing dome, which would allow the dome to continue to be used during some or all of construction. The major benefit of this option, as reported by the StarTribune, is that we might be able to avoid spending about $150 million, the amount of additional expenses and lost revenue the Vikings will incur by having to play 3 seasons at the U of M’s TCF Stadium (of course, these costs are certainly questionable).

The only problem is that there are already things just east of the dome where the new stadium would be built. There has been a lot of discussion about potential impacts to the 511 building, a major communications hub for the entire region, and the Xcel Energy substation. The one thing I don’t really hear much talk about, is 11th Avenue. The new stadium is proposed to be constructed right on top of 11th Avenue.

Preliminary sketches place the stadium squarely on top of 11th Avenue, which would have to be removed between S. 4th and 6th Streets.

So what about this idea? Is 11th Avenue expendable? How much does the east-of-the-dome proposal have to save before it’s worth it to give up 11th Avenue?

11th Avenue S

We could easily quantify the traffic impacts. It would be a fairly routine traffic impact study to determine the impact of diverting the approximately 8,000 vehicles per day that currently use this street onto other roadways (or if the trips would disappear). Bridge Engineers could tell us the cost of removing the now unnecessary 11th Avenue Bridge (or not, if we decide it’s still useful despite not connecting to any through roadways).

But how do you quantify the value of the 11th Avenue streetscape, or I should say, the potential streetscape, since it’s currently not much to look at? If 11th Ave still existed after the construction of a new stadium, we would  have the opportunity to transform 11th Avenue into something attractive, and perhaps even more useful.

How do you quantify the value of further disruptions to the downtown street grid? I like to think that we’ve learned some lessons from previous projects that have disrupted the grid (like the existing Metrodome, or freeways, for example) about the value of connected roadways, and I hope we try to limit the locations where we unnecessarily remove existing roadway links. What impact will removing 11th Ave S have on the Elliot Park neighborhood to the south, which already feels a little isolated from other parts of the city due to the network disruptions caused by the construction of freeways?

There are still many unanswered questions about this proposal (including whether we should be building a new stadium at all), but what about this idea of removing 11th Ave S?

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9 Responses to How Much is 11th Avenue Worth?

  1. David Levinson
    David Levinson February 23, 2012 at 4:59 am #

    As they said when they invented the telegraph: does the Mill District have anything to say to Elliot Park?

    One of the questions is would 9th Avenue (Carew Drive/Norm McGrew Place) be re-extended? I am guessing not. How about Chicago Avenue, does that become normal again? (I assume 10th Ave remains disconnected).

    One of many problems is the avenues are numbered here, rather than named, and thus there is no one to speak for them. If we called it Rybak Avenue, (and named the others after ex-mayors and future ex-mayors) clearly he would not want to eliminate it.

    The whole idea is terrible for this and other reasons. Clearly Rybak has learned nothing from his tenure as mayor about the value of street networks.

    And shouldn't Chicago Avenue with both HCMC, Children's and Abbot Northwestern etc. be renamed "Avenue of the Doctors" or something, like 3rd is Avenue of the Arts. Does Chicago have an important "Minneapolis Avenue?" [there is one in Franklin Park near O'Hare, but not in the city proper].

  2. Andrew February 23, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    I'm of the opposite mind. 11th Ave is a stub there that doesn't appear to carry much traffic and has these strange staircases to the nothingness of the empty sidewalk. The Dome is already so much a superblock I don't feel like it would matter cutting 11th Ave.

  3. Ethan Fawley February 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    I'd also note that 11th Avenue carries a not-insignificant 540 bicyclists a day (I assume not included in your 8,000 vehicles)–a number that is likely growing. Any change in route would probably push some of those bicyclists about 3/4-mile out of their way since Chicago Avenue was rebuilt without bicyclists in mind and nearest bike facility is Park/Portland.

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke February 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

      this is true. this is one of the best bike routes to from the stone arch, west bank, and points South.

      in general, though, superblocks are bad; lots of connections / corners is good.

    • Mike Hicks February 26, 2012 at 3:42 am #

      Hmm. Well, isn't the space currently occupied by the Metrodome planned to be turned into a plaza? As long as bikes are allowed to traverse the plaza, they shouldn't be overly impacted (though even the modest detour of going around the new stadium will probably be annoying to some).

  4. Froggie February 24, 2012 at 7:31 am #

    I disagree with Andrew. 11th Ave is one of only a handful of streets that both cross I-94 and fully connect between Washington Ave and Franklin Ave. As such, it serves a collector function, and closing it would create a very noticeable impact on the street grid.

  5. Joe February 24, 2012 at 9:27 am #

    From what some little birdies have told me, 11th Ave would likely not be closed, but a portion of the stadium would be built over it. Depending on your opinion of such things and how it is actually accomplished, it could potentially be a worst of both worlds scenario.

  6. Reuben Collins
    Reuben Collins February 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    @Joe – I had read that somewhere as well, but couldn't find a source to link to when I was writing this post. The source I read and can no longer find used the word "tunnel", but that could have just been a journalists interpretation of engineer-speak.

    You're right, it really depends on how it would be accomplished. It could be no big deal, or it could be some sort of terrible tunneled monstrosity.

    Either way, it seems unnecessary since the existing dome site is plenty big enough on it's own and TCF is a perfectly appropriate place for the Vikes to play in the mean time.

  7. Matt Brillhart February 29, 2012 at 6:31 am #

    Everything I've heard suggests that 11th Avenue would be retained. The upper concourse of the stadium would hang over the road, but main structure would remain west of 11th Avenue. The road would have to be closed on game days due to rules about proximity, terrorism concerns, etc

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