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Downtown East park may be booked up by Vikings, stadium

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David Brauer, writing in the Southwest Journal, says the new park planned for west of the new Vikings stadium could theoretically be restricted from public use for as much as half the weekends of the year, if the Vikings, the stadium authority and a potential Major League Soccer team set up shop in the space. That's according to the use agreement signed by the City of Minneapolis, the Ryan Companies (developer of the site) and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority.

Brauer amplifies concerns raised by former Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak in an op-ed that ran last week in the Star Tribune. He concedes the public will have rights to the park for at least 247 days a year, discounting the days that the Vikings and the MSFA have dibs on: "But you could also say losing full use of a “public” park on 26 of 52 weekends (if the Vikings use all their dates that way) is a ridiculous price — especially since the Vikings paid a mere $1 million for that right," writes Brauer, noting the NFL team's voluntary contribution to the project.

More importantly, he says, that could undercut millions of dollars in other contributions needed to finish out the park -- beyond the plain grass surface the deal calls for now.

"Will it be easier to get businesses to pony for construction knowing the Vikes can grab even more of the best dates? If things get increasingly desperate, how much more commercialization will creep in? I wish I could say I was shocked it’s come to this," Brauer writes.