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?