Will the Stadium Be Cool?

We wondered how the “people’s stadium” will avoid becoming Metrodome II. Project overseer Michele Kelm-Helgen answered.

Q: An entire generation has suffered through the Metrodome. Please tell us you can do better.

Michele Kelm-Helgen: The Metrodome really scrimped on the public spaces: the hallways are claustrophobic, too few bathrooms, zero connection to the neighborhood. The people’s stadium is all about protecting those public spaces and making sure they work.

Frankly, the term “people’s stadium” scares us. In trying to please everyone, might you end up pleasing no one?

MK: A project of this size and magnitude only comes along once in a lifetime, so it’s important to have a public process. When we get an architect on board, we’ll invite people to give design ideas. People give me ideas all the time, and a lot of them are really good.

Really? You know what Ayn Rand would say.

MK: I know, and you’re going to pay as much for crappy design as good design, so believe me, we’re going to make it good. We’re looking at examples like the Denver stadium, which has a lot of energy and development around it, and the new Giants/Jets stadium in New York, which is the latest and greatest.

Being political runs in your family, right?

MK: My grandfather chaired the Minnesota Democratic Party when it merged with the Farmer-Labor Party in the ’40s. Roosevelt asked him to do it. Hubert Humphrey would drop by the house. My daughter is now the press secretary for Amy Klobuchar.

All this diplomacy isn’t going to drag out construction, is it?

MK: That’s the good thing about public projects: you better come in on time and under-budget. Four years. That’s it.

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