Twin Cities Venue Debate

St. Paul, Minn., city officials are studying whether two taxpayer-financed developments will siphon business away from the area’s established venues and are pondering what to do about it.

Plans to build a $1.5 billion stadium with convention facilities in nearby suburban Blaine for the Minnesota Vikings would compete with the $85 million RiverCentre convention hall downtown and the Minneapolis Convention Center. The market is also served by the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul and the Target Center in Minnesota.

The Mall of America in Bloomington proposes to build a 6,000-seat performing arts center as part of a $1 billion expansion project, which could detract from the 5,500-capacity Roy Wilkins Auditorium, according to the Pioneer Press. Anschutz Entertainment Group is the company that would build the mall’s PAC.

City leaders are reportedly concerned about the use of taxpayer money to finance venues in an already crowded market. A study commissioned by the city concluded the mall arena would significantly increase competition for concerts, the paper said.

“The regional discussion has to happen or we’re going to cannibalize ourselves,” Ann Mulholland, mayoral chief of staff, told the Press.

Both the Vikings and Mall of America projects could use property tax breaks and other subsidies to help pay the hefty price tags.

Dana Warg, AEG senior VP of facilities, told the paper the arena would fill a niche in the Twin Cities area by offering comedy acts, children’s shows and performers such as James Taylor at the reserve-seating facility.