Sunday, July 10, 2011

Quite a Redevelopment Story

The Newark Air Force Base, circa 1993.
I work at a place that used to be an Air Force base and, before that, was the site for the never-begun Heavy Press Program.  It's a redevelopment of a redevelopment.  Our Port Authority has quite a redevelopment story to tell.

The Bloomington Port Authority in Minnesota has quite a redevelopment story to tell too.  Wow does it.

This past vacation with my family, we visited the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.  I recalled that the old Metropolitan Stadium, home to the Harmon Killebrew-era Minnesota Twins, used to stand there in suburban Minneapolis.  Frankly, I'm more interested in old ballparks than I am in malls, but it was a family trip after all.

One of several coasters in what used to be the outfield of Metropolitan Stadium.
Quite by accident, though, I discovered how close to the baseball action we really were.  Home plate for the old stadium sat in the midst of today's Nickelodeon Universe, an indoor amusement park.  I found the bronze marker that noted its exact location. 

When the now-already-replaced-for-baseball HH Metrodome was built, the Twins and Vikings moved away.  The Bloomington Port Authority bought the old stadium site and the largest mall in the United States opened in its place a decade after the stadium was lost.

Think about it.  Stadiums and malls are pretty similar, really.

Malls, like baseball stadiums, need good access.  The highways, I-494, I-35W, and State Route 77, converge on the site where the Metropolitan Stadium once sat.  There's even bus routes and light rail that converge there along with the nearby international airport.

Malls and stadiums need big parking lots too.  A suburban stadium, like the old Metropolitan Stadium, had a big one.

Hotels.  Both stadiums and malls need nearby hotels.  The mix of stuff in Bloomington shows that's true.

The Mall of America will soon hit its twentieth birthday. It's a huge place, but, from this visitor's perspective, has been a huge success.

My family is proof of that success.  I dropped more money at the Mall than I would have at a Major League Baseball game.

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