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When Vikes move back downtown there'll be less space for tailgating

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You can't go home again, the saying goes.

The Vikings will soon return to downtown Minneapolis after a two year hiatus to allow for construction of their new home, U.S. Bank Stadium. But there's been so much new development on the eastern end of downtown, football fans should not expect to see the same neighborhood that surrounded the Metrodome.

One side effect of all the new parkland, condos, office towers and hotels: not so many parking lots for tailgaters.

City: "significantly smaller tailgate area"

Minneapolis has been working on a new "footprint" for the part of downtown that will be open for pre-game (and post-game) parties.

After two years of talks with neighborhood and business groups and the Vikings, city officials say there's a consensus on a new tailgating map. A committee approved it on Tuesday but the full city council has not voted yet. (The yellow boundary would be the new tailgating zone.)

Some of the real estate near the Mississippi River would be taken out of play for tailgaters. Land closer to Interstate 35W would be added but the net result is a smaller tailgate area an analysis from city staff says, with only eight parking lots open for revelers.

Vikings: "a great tradition"

As recently as February the Vikings were optimistic about expanding the tailgate area. Lester Bagley, the team's executive vice president of public affairs and stadium development, cited the great tradition and history of tailgating that dates back to Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington.

Bagley said in an article on that surveys of fans showed "a strong interest in maintaining those game-day gatherings."

But at the same time Bagley noted $1 billion worth of other development is underway around the new stadium and said there just aren't as many surface parking lots as there used to be.

The Vikings say three acres of green space leading up to the stadium's main entrance will be a good fan gathering place, and some of the plazas around U.S. Bank Stadium could be, too.

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