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Photos: Design plans released for downtown park near Vikings stadium

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The much-discussed park that's being proposed for downtown Minneapolis near the new Minnesota Vikings Stadium is easier to visualize now, after the designers released their first detailed renderings of the space at a public meeting Wednesday evening.

The park, formally known as the Downtown East Commons, will take up several blocks in front of the stadium. The design for the $18 million project includes different elements to encourage different types of activities:

  • A "great lawn" that can seat several thousand people for outdoor events
  • A shallow artistic water "plaza" that will feature water sprays in the summer. It could be replaced by an ice skating rink in the winter
  • A pavilion that can house various indoor activities such as fitness classes
  • Outdoor areas for activities like bocce ball, art installations and children's play equipment
  • A cafe and patio

Tom Fischer, the dean of the University of Minnesota's College of Design, praised the plans for the new park.

“This is landscape architecture at its very best, from one of the top design teams in the world," he said in a news release. "The Commons will become a destination for people across the entire region, something we can all share.”

Now that the vision for the park is more concrete, the city and park officials believe they will be able to make progress on raising money to pay for the project, MPR News reports.

A private non-profit organization is leading the fundraising effort. Its goal is to raise up to $22 million to pay for construction and park operations in future years, according to MPR News.

But the Star Tribune notes the fundraising effort is made more difficult because of a provision in the contract between the city and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Authority, which oversees the Vikings stadium, that prohibits commercial naming rights for any portion of the park.

The MSFA and the Vikings wanted that provision because a corporate sponsor for the park could potentially conflict with the naming rights for the stadium itself, according to the Star Tribune.

The Vikings have said they will contribute $1 million toward the park if it isn't named after a corporate sponsor.

But some city officials believe the team should put up more money for the park, the Star Tribune notes, because the contract allows the Vikings and the MSFA the right to use the park at least 80 days per year.

The project leaders are asking members of the public for their feedback on the new design ideas, which you can provide here.

Met Council gives green light to stadium bridge

The Metropolitan Council gave its OK Wednesday to keep pursuing a plan for a $6 million pedestrian bridge that would link the nearby light rail station with the new Vikings stadium.

FOX 9 reports the decision means staff can start negotiating with the Vikings and Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority over final proposals.

According to the Star Tribune, the council will decide later whether to fund all or part of the project. The paper says some council members took issue with public money being used to pay for the bridge.

But supporters argue it's the safest way for light rail commuters to cross over Chicago Avenue to the stadium.

The plan has been the target of criticism in recent months.

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