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April 15, 2006

A few years ago, the Twins were in last place and statistically eliminated from the playoffs by early September. The Minnesota Twins then announced plans that they would like to build a temporary stadium in the parking lot of the Mall of America to build support for outdoor baseball. The idea never worked out, but it got me to thinking about the metro dome parking lot. Chicago, Denver, Foxborough, Houston, Milwaukee New York and St. Louis have all built or planing to build new stadiums in the parking lots and site of their current stadiums. When the Combined Football / Baseball stadium where replaced in Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Seattle, two new stadiums where built on the previous stadium site. In Cleveland, Chicago and Seattle, games were played at alternate locations as their stadiums were rebuilt at the same location of their old sports facility. With an extension on Riverside Ave., the site is about 700 yards from the U of M campus. Other cites see the importance of there public stadium sites. It is a bad idea to abandon the centrally located Metrodome site with its existing access to parking, freeways and public bus and rail transportation. Sportsapolis© incorporates the existing Metrodome site.

Back in 8th grade, our science instructor Mr. Miller at Grass Junior High School led the class to the on campus observatory. I remember hearing that this building was donated to the old Sibley High School campus by a local home builder - Rodger Sprealing - to inspire students. Astronomy was not interesting to me, but this building was: a concrete block building with a wood and fiberglass roof that moved sideways under the power of a garage door opener. With the roof repositioned onto a trestle located on the north side of the building, the telescopes inside could be used.

What if the Metrodome had a roof that slid sideways off and could be shared by two stadiums?  That idea was my spring board to designing a new sports facility. I am not a big sports fan, but over the years, I have done a lot of sketching and dreaming for this new sports facility project. These Copyrighted  drawings provide a clear illustration of my ideas.

After you buy a car, do you start shopping for a newer car just to beat inflation? Or do you plan to get your moneys worth out of you current car?  At 24 years old, the Metrodome is the youngest professional stadium to be considered for replacement.  The suburban Pontiac Silverdome was 26 years old when the Lions returned to Detroit. Just like buying a car, a lot of careful planning should go into replacing a stadium and impulsive decisions should be avoided.

The 2004 Stadium Screening Report to Governor Tim Pawlenty states, “Both the Twins and Vikings are important community resources that should be retained.  Presenting separate bills for each sport runs the risk that one team will be left behind and ultimately lost.”  The current three stadium bills on the table this legislative are vulnerable in three areas: First, this procedure is at risk for leaving a team behind in the Metrodome.  Second, the residents of Anoka and Hennepin counties are not unified in support of funding a large part of a regional building project; the possibly of legal challenges of a new county stadium sales tax are unknown.  Third, with the large combined price tag of the three proposed stadium developments; who is to step in if a developer, team owner or county runs into possible trouble? In 1994, the owners of Timberwolves and Target Center were in finical trouble. The government stepped in to cover their debts.  To successfully replace the Metrodome, I believe that sound leadership and financial support is needed from all public and private parties involved.

The design focus of the Sportsapolis© is to replace the Metrodome on its own site with a new state of the art facility. It would bring all existing Metrodome functions into a new inspiring building and be a new source of state and city pride. Gophers, Twins, Vikings, Rollerblading, High School Sports and many local and national events should continue to call downtown Minneapolis home. I believe that the $68 million Metrodome is a great money saving building, but it not made to last forever. As Stated in the Metrodome 2004 Community Report, “It is the only public stadium in the country that does not rely on a continuous tax subsidy.” If the sports teams continue to work together, tax dollars could continue to be saved with Sportsapolis©.

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