Minneapolis Armory

Downtown - North Loop - Mill District - Elliot Park - Loring Park
writruth
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Re: Minneapolis Armory

Postby writruth » June 7th, 2012, 2:17 am

Minneapolis has an abundance of outstanding entertainment and sports amenities. But one of the few things our city sorely lacks is a flagship tennis training-and-tournament facility that could host national amateur and professional tennis tournaments. The Armory, if retrofitted with a sliding roof, state-of-the-art broadcast facilities, stadium seating, locker/training rooms etc. could become the centerpiece of a world-class tennis venue.

The abundance of available adjacent land (including the Star-Tribune site) could be used to build 20-30 outdoor public auxiliary courts, a pro-shop, a tennis-themed restaurant and an interactive tennis history museum with the Armory serving in the center as a Stadium Court. Such a facility, modeled after The US Tennis Association's facility in Flushing Meadows, Queens, would establish Minneapolis as the nation's premier Midwestern tennis hub.

Each July, during the annual Aquatennial celebration, the eyes of the professional tennis world could be trained on an annual, two-week Minneapolis tournament. It could serve as a mini-major, and if given enough support, over time, could grow in prominence to become the most important tennis tournament between Wimbledon in London and the US Open in New York.

Local corporate sponsors like Target Corp., Cargill, United Health etc. could easily contribute to make the prize money sufficient to attract the world's top tennis professionals. ESPN, TNT, CBS, The Tennis Network etc. would broadcast during the two-week tournament, providing excellent national and international exposure for Minneapolis. Scheduling the tournament during the Auatennial would create an awesome synergy and add vitality to the downtown core.

Imagine having tens of thousands of tennis fans drawn to the east side of downtown for two weeks each July. The rest of the year the facility would be open for public court rentals and could host the annual Big 10 and NCAA National Tennis Championships as well as the State high school matches and tournaments.

Area hotels would be filled, restaurants and bars would likely gravitate to the area to meet the demand of the tennis complex and since it would be in close proximity to the new People's Stadium, it could in essence create something like the Sports District hoped for had the new stadium been built closer to Target Field. Proximity to LRT lines would make it easily accessible to users and fans from all over the metro area and new parking ramps, to be built for the new Peoples Stadium, could accommodate this new National Tennis Center - except on Viking game days.

In the Winter the roof could remain closed and the floor divided into 3-4 courts available for public rental. Depending on demand, inflatable domes could be added to cover enough of the exterior courts during the winter months if needed.

Obviously, such a development requires bold vision and an investor with deep-pockets willing to take on the risk. However, given the dearth of tennis facilities in the metro area, this could be a winner for the City, the east end of downtown and breathe new life into a wonderful architectural asset.

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Le Sueur
Landmark Center
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Re: Minneapolis Armory

Postby Le Sueur » June 7th, 2012, 3:31 am

Regional tennis tourney sounds great, I think you're right it would take some serious $$$.
Local corporate sponsors like Target Corp., Cargill, United Health etc. could easily contribute to make the prize money
I find this funny only because I watched testimony by some of the aforementioned during the recent stadium debate.

For anyone who's still looking, here's the link to the walk around inside the Armory from the Strib:

http://www.startribune.com/local/minnea ... 75615.html

Video has both current video from inside as well as some nice stills from when it was in use.

4-d
Metrodome
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Re: Minneapolis Armory

Postby 4-d » June 7th, 2012, 7:47 am

Thank you for posting that video.

You tennis stadium idea is awesome. That is one of the most unique ideas I have heard on this board in a while and I find it inspiring. The Twin cities has, in my opinion, an under-served population of tennis players but if there was a way to tap into the growing tennis market nationally, I would think that we should go for it.

You described well how it could fit in with the national tennis scene by pairing it with the Aquatennial, and I think that that is a good angle.

Stupid thought about it though. Parking. If the adjacent lost to the south became tennis courts and the lots to the north running up to the Metrodome v.2 are a park, now there may not be enough parking to fill the need that is created while having a national tournament... Just a thought that I am sure can be resolved, especially with the new ramps for Metrodome v.2.
^ 4-d

Konante
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Re: Minneapolis Armory

Postby Konante » June 7th, 2012, 7:53 am

writruth wrote:But one of the few things our city sorely lacks is a flagship tennis training-and-tournament facility that could host national amateur and professional tennis tournaments. The Armory, if retrofitted with a sliding roof, state-of-the-art broadcast facilities, stadium seating, locker/training rooms etc. could become the centerpiece of a world-class tennis venue.
Although the history of UrbanMSP is quite short, that is its greatest post to-date, IMO. Very cool idea.

NickP
Union Depot
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Re: Minneapolis Armory

Postby NickP » June 7th, 2012, 4:05 pm

I agree. I think the Tennis Facility would be brilliant.

Didier
Capella Tower
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Re: Minneapolis Armory

Postby Didier » June 8th, 2012, 12:20 am

I like the big-thinking tennis court idea, although the plan writruth laid out is exaggerating the possibilities, namely the "tens of thousands of tennis fans drawn to the east side of downtown for two weeks each July."

With a proper facility, good marketing and a good draw, it's definitely not impossible that Minneapolis could hold a successful tournament as part of the ATP or WTA tour. There are several tournaments like this that already exist in July both in the United States and around the world. But the length and scope of what Writruth is describing is essentially a Grand Slam. The post also considerably overestimates the potential demand for high school state tournaments and college tennis. Frankly, using any downtown land outside of the armory for outdoor tennis courts would be a colossal waste of prime real estate, especially when Baseline and other local clubs can more than adequately host those college and youth tournaments now.

That said, a more modest, multi-use facility inside the current Armory space is a different story. For tennis, you could set it up with one court in the middle for big matches, or a couple courts side by side for tournament play. It could be configured to host a stop on the Jose Cuervo beach volleyball tour. In the winter it could have an ice hockey rink and host a USHL junior team or even an AHL team. A lot of people don't know this, but Minneapolis hosts the US Open racquetball tournament, which is huge. The convention center is slated to host a massive youth volleyball tournament in a couple years. None of these are huge draws, but if there was some sort of multi-use facility confined within the current armory, and it was heavily subsidized, there are possibilities.

mulad
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Re: Minneapolis Armory

Postby mulad » June 8th, 2012, 6:27 am

Yeah, I was thinking yesterday that combining tennis and volleyball there might be a good idea. Anyone know where existing tennis tournaments happen in the state today? I'm guessing they must be held at some of the college campuses around the Twin Cities (and possibly outstate).

Didier
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Re: Minneapolis Armory

Postby Didier » June 8th, 2012, 7:56 am

There are tons of very nice tennis clubs in the metro. The U of M has its Baseline Tennis Center, which is right next to the women's hockey arena there. The state high school tennis tournament used to be at Northwest on Hwy 100, but it looks like its not at Reed Sweatt in Minneapolis. For volleyball, the Gophers play at the Sports Pavilion and I think the state high school tournaments are at Xcel.

The problem is that, as I said earlier, if the conversion was simply to upgrade the Armory into a simple 5,000- or 10,000-seat arena, it would just be repeating resources we already have in the Barn, Mariucci, Roy Wilkins etc. The concept of a retractable roof is what makes it unique (but also a dream).

It should also be noted that, outside of Gophers volleyball occasionally, events like this don't draw massive crowds. For example, USA Swimming holds the Minneapolis Grand Prix here every fall and it routinely includes the biggest names in the sport. Michael Phelps-Ryan Lochte is going to be one of the biggest stories of the Olympics this summer, but the U's aquatic center wasn't by any means packed to see them last fall, and almost all of the fans were local swim teams and parents of swimmers. USA Gymnastics also held its national championships in St. Paul last year, and it did OK, but only the final day of the women's competition got anywhere close to 10,000 people.

I'd love to see more events like this in Minneapolis — I think we should be bidding for more world figure skating championships and world gymnastics championships etc. — but I just wanted to be realistic about what you can expect from these Olympic-sport events.

Wedgeguy
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Re: Minneapolis Armory

Postby Wedgeguy » June 9th, 2012, 8:36 pm

THe Armory is a historic building so you will have a hard time being able to modify the roof. You might be lucky for some skylights, demoing any of the roof's structure will be a BIG NO. They will need all the historic tax creds they can find to make anything in an update there work.

Nathaniel
Metrodome
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Re: Minneapolis Armory

Postby Nathaniel » June 10th, 2012, 11:20 pm

It's hard to imagine a tennis facility in downtown occupying the Armory and being financially or socially viable.

If we progressed with this idea, we'd essentially be creating yet another single-use building dedicated to a specific sport, probably heavily subsidized by taxpayers, that would attract maybe 5 large weekend events a year. There are better uses for this land that don't require additional subsidies.

go4guy
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Re: Minneapolis Armory

Postby go4guy » June 11th, 2012, 8:28 am

Maybe a better location for a tennis center would be the area currently occupied by the city impound lot along the Cedar Lake Trail. That whole area is a little off the beaten path, but still close enough to all the action. It would be on a SWLRT stop. And even though I know there is talk of grand development there, I just dont see it happening. Too many more desirable places to develop for residential and commercial.

writruth
Nicollet Mall
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Re: Minneapolis Armory

Postby writruth » June 11th, 2012, 11:26 am

Go4:

Interesting you mentioned the impound lot area. It was the first location I thought of that could be ideal for such a tennis facility. Not only, as you mentioned, would it be on the SW LRT route, it would be another connective link between downtown and The Walker Art Center. Besides the transit advantages, there is a pristine strip of greenery, with beautiful trees etc. that would make this "emerald corridor" an outstanding, serene locale. There is ample acreage to build restaurants, a tennis museum, courts etc.

However, the economic and political will to build a "Stadium Court" aka another sports stadium, is the downside of the plan. The same economic and political hurdles would exist for building such a facility at the Farmers Market site near Target Field.

The Armory, however, is an existing structure. And although, it would require a large investment, a private owner, perhaps even Zygi Wilf, might be able to pull it off. I don't see the same likelihood of that happening at either of the other mentioned locations if they have to pony up some $100 million to build a stadium court from the ground up.

Aside from those impediments, it's true, the impound lot area and sites near Target Field both offer some tantalizing opportunities.

Didier
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Re: Minneapolis Armory

Postby Didier » June 11th, 2012, 2:01 pm

Nathaniel wrote:If we progressed with this idea, we'd essentially be creating yet another single-use building dedicated to a specific sport, probably heavily subsidized by taxpayers, that would attract maybe 5 large weekend events a year.
You're totally right, and to be sure the tennis idea is just conjecture to keep us busy, but the reality is that this is a weird building and pretty much anything that happens to it will likely be heavily subsidized by taxpayers and not all that useful.

Wedgeguy
Capella Tower
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Re: Minneapolis Armory

Postby Wedgeguy » June 12th, 2012, 2:37 am

That happens alot with old architectual gems! Why there are tax credits for reuse.

MotorCity2TwinCities
Nicollet Mall
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Re: Thrivent Blocks

Postby MotorCity2TwinCities » January 15th, 2013, 2:09 pm

It would be great if the huge lot in between the sexton and the armory were developed! I can't stand that surface lot, it's like an invisible barrier to the city.

sushisimo
Landmark Center
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Re: Thrivent Blocks

Postby sushisimo » January 15th, 2013, 2:47 pm

Does anybody have info on the condition of the Armory? (Tried to find an Armory thread). This is my number one choice for a rehab, but I'd have to think that its use as a parking garage isn't doing this building any favors.

mattaudio
Stone Arch Bridge
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Minneapolis Armory

Postby mattaudio » January 17th, 2013, 9:10 am

It seems like everyone has the idea to turn it into a marketplace of some sort. Ideas?

mulad
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Re: Minneapolis Armory

Postby mulad » January 17th, 2013, 9:12 am

Not a marketplace of ideas, though.

min-chi-cbus
Capella Tower
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Re: Minneapolis Armory

Postby min-chi-cbus » January 17th, 2013, 9:35 am

Something about what you just said sparked an idea......what if Minneapolis created some kind of formal gathering place, like a market, where people could network with one-another and exchange ideas and maybe even coffee -- in person? A "marketplace of the mind", if you will. It would be person-to-person and business-centric, but open to anyone who wants to be a part of it in the same way other markets are, and instead of exchanging goods and services people could exchange ideas, network, listen to speakers, etc. It could be industry-specific (like technology), or non-specific so as to truly be a "marketplace".

Obviously the idea is vague and not inspiring on its own, but it could be developed into something great by someone who is more imaginative than I! Plus, I think it'd be a first.

sdbroom
Block E
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Re: Minneapolis Armory

Postby sdbroom » January 17th, 2013, 9:59 am

I always thought it would be a good movie/tv/music production studio space.


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