So, I realize that I'm some sort of traitor/heretic/antichrist or something around here for not being immediately enthralled with the sheer superior awesomeness of the Arden Hills stadium site (woo hoo! suburbs!!). But as no one in a position of any authority is doing much to convince fans that a downtown site could be both quite appealing from a fan perspective and quite lucrative from a team perspective, I thought I would sketch out what I see when I look at the possibilities for a combined dome/Strib/armory stadium site.
As will quickly become apparently, I'm not architect, and I haven't got any graphic arts skills, but hopefully I can do enough to give you an idea and then you can all proceed to cursing me for questioning Arden Hills.
That said here's my crude rendering of what could be:
Outlined in blue is the footprint of a new stadium on the Strib parcel of land. To the naked eye, it looks bigger than the footprint of the dome, not including the dome's parking area, and about comparable to the total dome site overall (I think it's actually 25 acres compared to 20). Not being an architect, I don't know if that's enough space for a modern stadium with wide corridors and nice concession spaces AND more seating, but my guess would be that it can be done with a combination of a sub-ground-level field and steeper seating areas. That's one definite question mark.
But one advantage is that area across the street to the south, where the Minneapolis Armory (outlined in green) sits largely unused (or actually just used for indoor parking). The building has a lot of history and some interesting architecture that could be incorporated into the new building across the street. It could also be used as a arrival point and fan entertainment complex, kind of like they try to do with plaza in front of the dome today but better. There could be concessions, entertainment and the Vikings HOF (maybe even a Minneapolis sports history "museum" as the Lakers played here back in the day).
The whole thing could be connected directly to the stadium by a broad skyway over 5th Street (outline in red) and therefore act as a major entrance hall for the stadium too. The light rail already runs down 5th, so below the skyway you could have a light rail station that's covered and could feature more platform space than is currently available at the dome (or target center & field). The Armory is also adjacent to a municipal parking ramp to the west that's on the skyway system, so you just need one more (also in red) to connect the whole thing into downtown, including lots of parking, restaurants, bars, and entertainment. And the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility (i.e., jail), which would make for a very short and convenient game-day commute for the Chris Cooks of the world (I kid!).
The other areas highlighted in green are the existing light rail stop and plaza and a portion of the Strib space that is likely outside the usable stadium footprint. These could be used as additional outdoor fan experience spaces or otherwise as Wilf sees fit.
As for tailgating, take a look at this:
That's the view looking north from 6th Street at the armory, and that's a medium sized surface parking lot. This is the most speculative part of my "plan," as I don't know who owns this lot or the ones on either side of it (all of which are highlighted in red on the map above), but this look like prime potential tailgating and pregame partying space to me. It may not be enough capacity for everyone who wants to tailgate, but it can serve some of them AND be tied into the fan entertainment space inside the Armory (that means bathrooms, people). I also really like the image in my head of a beautiful new stadium looming behind and tying in with the Armory's architectural style.
All of this can be done while the Vikings continue to play in the Metrodome and therefore don't lose one red cent of revenue like they would building on top of the existing site.
Which brings us to the last opportunity, which is the 20 acres or so that is left after you tear down the dome. I think what happens to it can largely be left to Wilf's preference, but at least one option that should be popular with readers of this site is as a place for parking and tailgating that could be linked directly to 35W. For efficiency sake, I would personally want to think about whether that's at least a 2-3 story structure with tailgating and maybe some park space on top, but that's thinking about it from a fan perspective.
From a business perspective, Wilf might prefer to build something else more profitable there. A hotel and entertainment complex. Mixed used residential and retail. I'm sure he can come up with lots of money making ideas.
So, to summarize, I think this sketch offers (1) a much improved fan experience, (2) better ties to existing parking and transit infrastructure and downtown entertainment, (3) at least some prime tailgating, with the option of more at Wilf's discretion, (3) the possibility of direct freeway access, and (4) the opportunity for some profitable real estate development.
So there it is. Now you can all tell me why Arden HIlls is vastly superior.
EDIT: I guess I should have asked that if you're going to vote that you don't like it, it would be great if you could give me a few words explaining why in the comments.
How much do you hate it?
More than can be expressed in words (4 votes)
A whole lot but we'll leave the pitchforks and torches at home (1 vote)
It's okay but it doesn't excite me (9 votes)
I like it, but not as much as Arden Hills (14 votes)
I like it and think it could work (3 votes)
Fire. The wheel. Beer. Salted and cured meats. After those, this is the best idea ever (4 votes)
35 total votes