Ben Stark, Staff Writer
I visited Chicago in Oct. 2016 and stayed a block away from Wrigley Field. The World Series environment was amazing. We echoed “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” on the roof of the apartment building. Last Sunday, even late into the fourth quarter of the Vikings game, I was holding out hope for a chance of that environment here in Minneapolis.
Yet, instead of fans from across the state pouring into downtown Minneapolis, locals will be avoiding the area. For those who use Metro Transit, this will prove difficult. Many routes go straight downtown, and most transfers occur downtown. There are only a handful of routes that connect surrounding neighborhoods to each other.
Members of the Minneapolis City Council are aware of these transportation issues. Newly elected council member Steve Fletcher, from Minneapolis’s third ward spoke with me about his plans. He is committed to working with Metro Transit to connect neighborhoods in his ward, which includes 10 neighborhoods. During our conversation, he used Northeast and Dinkytown as an example. If you live in Northeast, you cannot take a bus directly to Dinkytown. Instead, you have to wait for a transfer at Hennepin and University. According to Fletcher, more transportation options between neighborhoods will help connect communities. This reliance on the Downtown stop as a Metro Transit hub is keenly felt this close to the Super Bowl.
There are an estimated one million visitors expected to arrive in time for the game, and Metro Transit is making major route changes in preparation. Most lines will be rerouted; some will be cancelled completely. In order to ride the Blue Line on Feb. 4 between the Mall of America and Downtown, riders must have a Super Bowl ticket as well as a thirty-dollar game day pass. The Green Line shares these restrictions but only from Stadium Village to Downtown. Alternative bus lines will be made for transportation the day of the game.
Most fans who travel to the game will stay in Minneapolis the entire week prior. All hotels in Minneapolis have a four-night minimum over Super Bowl weekend. This makes the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee’s lives easier, but it doesn’t help residents who work or live downtown. Many companies are encouraging their employees to work from home next week. Due to the high volume of tourists and changes to Metro Transit, there are bound to be transportation issues –– even without a blizzard dropping a foot of snow.
From an environmental standpoint, mass transit is more sustainable than driving. Although Minneapolis is known as a bike-friendly city, most commuters do not bike in the winter months. Reliable public transportation is a great way to reduce Minneapolis’s carbon footprint year-round. When the chaos of the Super Bowl subsides, city planners will go to work creating a city that works for its residents. Until then, buckle up.
This article first appeared in the Friday, January 26, 2018, Edition of The Echo.