Target Field: Revitalizing Downtown Minneapolis with Baseball, Transit

Since opening in 2010, Target Field has been more than just a ballpark for Minneapolis. It has become a shining example of the impact an urban site, strategic design and an integrated approach to development can have on a city. Now, Target Field is the impetus for transit development. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune wrote on September 12 in this article about the new transit hub adjacent to Target Field, dubbed “Minnesota’s version of New York City’s Grand Central Terminal.”

As the designers of Target Field, it feels like a tremendous step toward enhancing the urban revitalization that drove both the site selection and design. By investing in more than just transit (the new facility will feature retail, parking, a public gathering space, the Metropolitan Transit police headquarters and office space) Minneapolis and the Minnesota Twins are extending the original goals of Target Field- to create a new center of development in the city that connects the North Loop neighborhood to the downtown core in the most meaningful and lasting way possible.

One of the incredible things to watch after the ballpark opened was the way the people of Minneapolis and visitors alike took to the public transit incorporated into the design. Their adaptation was swift and impressive. Ridership of the LTR far exceeded any expectations or projections; fans could be seen everywhere biking and walking to the game, enjoying all Minneapolis had to offer before, during and after the games. Metro transit now transports more than 23 percent of attendees to the game, as opposed to less than 10 percent prior. The addition of the ballpark has also impacted residency in downtown – in 2000, downtown had only 1,500 residents. In 2010, the area had more than 4,300 residents and continues to grow.  In addition, more than $18.6 million in sales and use taxes have been collected from ballpark tickets and purchases since opening. In the first year alone, $36 million in new construction permits were issued within 5 blocks of the stadium.  Planning continues for additional private and public investment in the area.

It’s easy to see the ballpark plays an integral role in the continued success of public transit in Minneapolis as well as the development of the surrounding areas. I believe the adaptation of transit can be telling of development to come. Minneapolis is in the midst of a transformation that has done more than just change a city… it’s changed an entire community’s mindset. With easy, convenient transit, suburbanites abandon their automobiles in favor of a more sustainable method of transportation.  Transit becomes an extension of the experience created at the ballpark.  Fans of all demographics travelling together in their Twins gear to root for their favorite team.  Citizens have seen that they can travel easily by light rail, bike or commuter train to downtown and the ballpark has been a catalyst for this change in behavior. A city that had little to no public transit before is now a leading example of the impact public transit can have on a community and the accompanying development. Expected to be completed prior to July 2014, when Target Field will host the MLB All Star Game, the new transit station and public plaza will be an exciting – and important – step forward for the entire city.

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