Minneapolis scrambles to find management plan for 'The Yard'

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Throughout planning phases for the new $1 billion Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis, city leaders have envisioned a lush wide-open public park, a two-block oasis of green in the middle of new development projects.

But now they are scrambling to figure out who is going to manage and pay for it.

"Call it whatever you want, but it ain't a park," said Anita Tabb, one of nine commissioners on the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the Pioneer Press reports. "And it certainly ain't public."

At a meeting Wednesday night, the board voted to wash its hands of the project known affectionately as "The Yard," saying that the city's financially strapped parks department was worried about the cost of maintaining the park, estimated at roughly $2 million to $3 million a year.

The only real revenue option would be to charge fees to groups to rent the park for events and programs, but commissioners doubt that will raise much money, given that the Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority already have claimed a number of days for events, the Star Tribune reports.

The board's action effectively dumped the project back in the city's lap, and there are no easy answers for the City Council. At one point in development plans, a judge had ruled that the city itself doesn't have authority to create and manage parks, which is how it wound up in the hands of the parks board.

Now what? Planning for the park will continue. The Star Tribune and Pioneer Press report that plans are underway for the drafting of proposals for a new conservancy group to manage the park.

The Yard

The park would be adjacent to the new stadium, in the middle of a new $400 million development project known as Downtown East being overseen by developer Ryan Companies. That project would include two office towers, which will be occupied by Wells Fargo, as well as restaurant and retail space.

City leaders and developers have viewed The Yard as key to that project, which marked its ceremonial groundbreaking in May. The Downtown East project is expected to be completed by spring of 2016, three months ahead of the stadium.

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