May 12


Vikings Site in Arden Hills – Initial Traffic Assessment

By Mike Spack

May 12, 2011

Traffic at Proposed Vikings Stadium Arden Hills

The Minnesota Vikings professional football (American football) team has honed in on a site in Arden Hills, MN.  You can read about the agreement with Ramsey County in the Star Tribune here (you can also hunt around the newspaper and other news sources for opinion pieces).  I'm very curious to see the traffic study that gets done for this (Mr. Wilf – we're available if you'd like our help with the traffic study). 

Below is a map that shows the location.  At first blush, the site appears to have very good freeway access from Interstates 35W and 694.  But if you look a little closer there are significant limitations for anyone trying to get to the site from the south or west (i.e. the majority of the fans).  Everyone from those directions will be forced to use the I-35W/Co Rd 96 interchange to get to the game. 

I hope they can get an off ramp built at Co Rd H, but that interchange doesn't have that move now because of the difficult weaving areas that are caused by Highway 10 and the close proximity to Highway 96.  I haven't looked into it enough to know if that's even feasible, but I assume Mn/DOT has.


Below is a scan of the conceptual site plan from my morning paper (I haven't been able to find this anywhere online – guess that's why I still get an old fashioned hard copy).  According to the team's website, the site will have about 21,000 parking stalls. 

One inbound lane can bring in about 2,000 vehicles per hour if the lane is unimpeded and traffic is rolling at a good clip (so we're being generous with this number, but it's a round number to use).  So, if we're trying to get the 21,000 fans into the site in a very chaotic 2 hours before kickoff, we better have 6 lanes of traffic rolling into the site.  The plan below is very conceptual, but I don't see that kind of access being provided. 

I hope the Vikings get a traffic engineer involved pretty soon with the site planning.  Unlike the current Metrodome site, there's no Light Rail Transit line to feed in the fans or the existing parking ramps available throughout downtown Minneapolis.   Since the site is a blank slate, the Vikings need to create all of the infrastructure to make this work.  At least there isn't much conflicting traffic for fans to contend with on a Sunday morning.




  • I decided to ponder the idea of using trains to get people to and from the site, because it is already connected to the Twin Cities freight rail network. I think a few short Northstar-esque commuter routes could be built into the site relatively inexpensively, and could shuttle in several thousand riders from existing Northstar stations, the current Amtrak station in St. Paul, and the St. Paul Union Depot (set to reopen in late 2012). I’m not quite sure how many trains could run, or how many people they could carry, but I figure it’s at least worth investigating.
    Anyway, more about the idea is here:

  • The wisdom of building huge infrastructure for 8-10 Sundays a year is pretty questionable. Building any sort of mass transit to the site is an interesting intellectual exercise, but I don’t think the cost/benefit would make any sense. The roadway infrastructure has more potential to be used on non-game days.
    Although I think they would want to figure out some type of busing system from area park and rides.

  • I would like to ditto the wisdom of Mike (above) in saying that adding expensive infrastructure of 8 to 10 Sundays a year is pretty questionable – especially considering that the large site will be a virtual monopoly with little or no positive economic spill-over.
    It’s likely the parking rates will be similar to Dallas Cowboy stadium ranging from about $65 to $100 per car. Similarly, there will likely be bus surcharges for park & rides to the stadium.
    These charges will represent a great deal of money – all of which will be controlled by the Team and not reinvested into the local economy.
    Furthermore, these infrastructure additions are likely to spur additional development.

  • We had an interesting project working on the Cowboys traffic for their new stadium in Arlington. We were actually working for the City, in order to spur the Cowboys into doing their part. Some of their original models essentially had traffic magically appearing at their borders. I think it worked out pretty well in the end, given the limits of the site and competition with the neighboring Rangers Ballpark. It was very interesting being in the City’s EMC during the first events and watching it all unfold (and using some of our contingency plans)
    At least here, the stadium has been relatively successful in bringing in other events (concerts, soccer, high school football), so it is used much more than 8-10 days per year. Is it worthwhile, not to me, but the general citizenry has disagreed in both direct taxing referendums and continuing support of politicians who made the other decisions. There are several good reports out now on the lack of net economic gain from these developments.
    It was humorous, in the first meetings on the stadium traffic, the Cowboys insisted that proper scheduling would keep them from having events on the same days as the adjacent Rangers Ballpark (which whom the Cowboys share some parking). We did scenarios looking at that contingency anyways, and sure enough with the Rangers playoffs that year, there was a dual event that had to be accommodated.

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    Mike Spack

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