Vikings stadium planners hope they can afford to plug into skyway system

The Star Tribune’s Eric Roper today says the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority — and by extension, state taxpayers — may be picking up the tab on the much-touted skyway connection between downtown Minneapolis and the new Vikings stadium.

The skyways from nearby parking ramps to the stadium are a must — they’re required by the Vikings and are already included in the project. That does NOT include a connection to the central business district, though.

Ryan Cos. rendering

But the proposed $400 million Ryan Cos. development, with Wells Fargo as a possible tenant, could finally offer an all-weather walkway between the state’s largest indoor space and downtown Minneapolis’s central business district.

Generally, skyways are funded by the properties they connect, according to Minneapolis city spokesman Matt Laible.

“Sometimes that’s two private building owners splitting the cost, and sometimes there’s a public cost.  It varies depending on the location and situation,” Laible said.  For example, public funds could be involved if a city parking ramp is part of the skyway plan.

Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chair Michele Kelm-Helgen said a skyway connection from downtown to the stadium is a worthy investment. She says the skyway would help lure big events like the Final Four and the Super Bowl by connecting other entertainment, dining and retail to the stadium without forcing fans to brave the elements in January.

She has a caveat: the only public funding available for skyways is what’s already earmarked for the stadium, by the state and the team.

Kelm-Helgen says there won’t be additional money coming from taxpayers, other than what the MSFA has already committed.

“The fact of the matter is whatever we do, we have to do within our budget,” she said. We have a budget for parking, and land and plaza around the stadium.” She says the $975 million set for the project is the limit. “Whatever we have to do has to fit within that budget… If we can get a skyway connection that goes to the downtown, that would be a huge benefit for the stadium.”