UPDATE: Gov. Mark Dayton has taken the proposed Vikings stadium sites near the Basilica off the table. Father John Bauer, rector of the Basilica of St. Mary, said in a statement on Jan. 24 that he was “pleased” with the decision and “very grateful for (Dayton’s) leadership on this challenging issue.”
“We met with the governor and expressed our concerns about potential development,” Father Bauer said. “His actions indicate that he listened to our concerns and also recognized the value of the work that we do.”
Father Bauer called on parishioners and community members to contact government officials to voice concerns about two proposed Vikings stadium sites near the Basilica, particularly the Linden Avenue site some 300 feet away.
Dayton and city officials collected feedback and formal proposals regarding the Minneapolis sites, which includes the Farmer’s Market site, for a 48-hour period ending Thursday, Jan. 12.
Father Bauer wrote a letter and emailed parishioners stating that while he wants the Vikings to stay in Minnesota, a nearby stadium could negatively affect the Basilica.
It could impact parts of the community the church serves, he said.
“I am concerned that nothing hinder us from serving the greater Minneapolis community, or prevent people from continuing to make the Basilica their spiritual home,” he wrote.
The congregation of more than 6,300 households is made up of many people from the larger Twin Cities metro area and suburbs. Traffic flow and parking, Father Bauer said, is already challenging.
“The addition of the stadium would make this even more daunting,” he said, for Sunday liturgies as well as regular events and activities.
Father Bauer said the proposed sites could affect significant revenue streams such as the charter school the Basilica rents out.
A Linden Avenue site would affect the Basilica’s largest fundraiser, the Basilica Block Party, eliminating the main stage site. The event money goes toward restoration and maintenance on the Basilica, which is a site on the National Historic Register.
Father Bauer said the construction also could impact or possibly “harm” the historic building.
“Stadium construction may well cause additional structural damage to our historical buildings,” he said.
Since the 1990s the Basilica has done long-term maintenance and preservation work, Father Bauer said, and ongoing efforts continue.
Bauer: feedback ‘very positive’
Father Bauer said since publishing the letter, he’s heard feedback that is “generally very positive.”
He has talked with legislators, city officials and others involved in the process.
“We’re trying to cover the bases on this,” he said. “Except for the Vikings, no one has contacted us. The Vikings have been very gracious about our concerns.”
The Vikings have not advocated for one particular site, and Father Bauer said the team seemed to have a “willingness to listen to other opinions.”
He added that no one who is advocating for the Minneapolis sites has contacted the Basilica.
Moving forward, Father Bauer said if a nearby site is chosen, he would want to get involved in the planning process.
“People are expressing concerns, and they know that at this point we don’t want to be an obstructionist,” he said. “We want to be a voice at the table.”