Commute Times from Metrodome vs. Arden Hills Vikings Stadium Proposal

If you were going to build a business in Minnesota that relies upon 60,000 people coming to visit you once a week for 8 weeks, where would you put it?

Perhaps in a location with easy access to all major highways, with plenty of parking, and lots of transit? One might thing.

But, if you could put it out in a distant suburb, you could profit from everyone having to drive, then park in your lot. Better yet, you may be able to get the public to subsidize the majority of the costs for construction and road upgrades. Quite a deal, if you’re willing to be a welfare queen.

What difference does 10 miles from the center of our metro area with poorer access to highways and transit really mean? I’ve attempted to illustrate that with some maps that look at commute distances over a fixed time from both locations.

First, driving from the Metrodome vs. the Arden Hills site:

30 Minute Commute Range from Metrodome vs. Vikings Arden Hills Stadium Proposal Location

The red markers represent the stadium. The purple circle is a 30 mile radius from that point, but the green polygon is the more important variable. That’s an estimate of how far you can realistically expect to drive within 30 minutes from each point.

So, to read this, take a look at what communities fall within the green polygon with the Dome site vs. the Arden Hills site. As I see it, there are some winners and losers here:


City – Population
Otsego – 14,215
Oak Grove – 8,388
St Francis – 7,298
Elk River – 6,785
Isanti – 6,150
Lindstrom – 4,016
Stacy – 1,493


Burnsville – 35,674
Apple Valley – 21,818
Lakeville – 14,790
Prior Lake – 25,220
Shakopee – 9,941
Mound – 9,623
Chaska – 8,346
Carver – 7,284
Chanhassen – 6,359
Delano – 5,367
Elko / New Market – 4,110
Excelsior – 2,330

Of course, the real losers from a drive time perspective are everyone south of the proposed stadium location. Especially those who were able to take transit such as the LRT, North Star Rail, or one of the many buses that service downtown Minneapolis. To get a feel for that, here is a breakdown of transit based commute distances achievable within one hour, according to

30 Minute Transit Distances from Metrodome vs. Arden Hills Vikings Stadium Proposal Site

[UPDATE: Peter H. pointed out in the comments that the Mapnificent visualization above is not based on weekend transit patterns.]

Clearly, there are some transportation advantages to placing a stadium at the intersection of the state’s major highways, along the current LRT, the next stretch of the LRT (to downtown St. Paul), and next stretch of the LRT beyond that (through the western ‘burbs to Eden Prairie), and the Northstar rail, and future rail plans, and dozens of bus routes.

Or, we could provide over $600,000,000 (plus interest) to subsidize the relocation of a business to a distant suburb where the transportation plans are to build 21,000 parking places, and enhance the roadways to handle peak traffic 8 days a year.

Out of Town Visitors

Where are the largest concentrations of hotel rooms in the Twin Cities? Count the red dots:

Twin Cities Hotels

– Downtown Minneapolis, walkable to the Metrodome
– Bloomington, near the Mall of America (on the LRT to the Metrodome)
– Downtown St. Paul, (soon to be on the LRT to the Metrodome)
– Eden Prairie (next to be on the LRT plans)
– St. Louis Park (express bus lines to downtown Minneapolis)

Many of those locations offer hotel shuttles or are on the LRT, which means that those visitors to our community don’t have deal with the time and expense of renting a car. Now, move the stadium to a car dependent location far from where they are staying and their costs (time and money) of attending a game skyrocket.

12 thoughts on “Commute Times from Metrodome vs. Arden Hills Vikings Stadium Proposal”

  1. What are those population numbers? Only the number of people within the polygon? Because they’re nowhere near accurate if it’s for the entire cities listed.

  2. @Bill, they are the cities that shift in/out of the polygon based on the two stadium site locations. Citydata (which I believes pulls from Wikipedia and popped up higher in search results) was my source for population numbers.

  3. Ed,
    I’m not convinced that the change is a big deal in terms of the population of cities surrounding the proposed-stadium site. Mostly because people will drive a few hours to go to a game when they have tickets (growing up in west-central MN, I know this).

    However, the transit map is convincing enough for the majority of people going to these games. Being able to park at MOA or at any Park-n-ride and get to a game without having to pay $10-20 for parking on top of an expensive ticket is just too much. Besides, the area around the proposed-site would be completely jammed with traffic for a few hours after a game even with the proposed updates to roads in that area.

  4. @Dez, considering that Vikings game attendance is pretty darn steady regardless of the quality of the product put on the field, I agree that an extra 10 miles of driving each way won’t be a deal breaker for many.

  5. For the transit map, did you have it set to Sunday, at noon? I got much different results when I ran it with those settings.

  6. @Peter H, ah, nice catch. I missed that setting. I’ll update the post.

    With that in mind, I don’t think Mapnificent will be able to recreate a game day situation, since buses will probably not change schedules for the game, but they certainly can and do add capacity to the trains in/out of downtown to accomodate planned spikes in demand.

  7. @Ed Vikings fans are loyal. Never saw an organization equivalent to pushing to get a Twins stadium built.

  8. @Rat, there is no question that Vikings fans are loyal. They are many times more loyal to the Vikings than the Vikings franchise is to them. You don’t see Vikings fans asking Wilf for money, but we do see Vikings fans begging for money on Wilf’s behalf. That’s one strange form of loyalty, but loyalty nonetheless.

  9. Maybe they know that the lifeblood of the Vikings’ franchise is not the owner. The lifeblood flows through the fans. They’ll be the ones in the stands, not merely Ziggy Wilf and his rich friends. They wouldn’t fill a stadium. You just see this as a gift for a rich man. I don’t know how you feel about rich people. Large companies and wealthy people seem to make you suspicious or distrustful, or cynical — pick your term. But those people know how they feel about the Vikings.

  10. @Rat, I’m not suspicious, distrustful, or cynical about rich people or large companies, although I could see how you may think that. I am cynical of rich people and large corporations who profit from public subsidies they don’t need at the expense of people who really do need help.

    Personally, I don’t think the role of government is to subsidize the NFL. They’ve figured out a way to extract billions in public subsidies through fear by threatening to move teams. I have to give them credit: They are really good at it. Just look at the number of pawns they manage to rally in support of welfare checks for the rich at a time when the poor are struggling, are roads are in need of serious repairs, and our classroom sizes are growing.

  11. According to the 2010 Census:

    Burnsville: 60306
    Apple Valley: 49084
    Lakeville: 55954

    I think it’s time you changed your source.

  12. I checked Citydata. It lists Apple Valley as 50,018, Burnsville as 59,180, and Lakeville as 56,071. Shakopee is 34,662, Chaska is 24,545, Chanhassen is 24,106 (numbers are listed here: Some of your other numbers were spot on with Citydata so it makes sense that that was the source but I have no idea where the numbers for some of the largest south metro cities came from since they don’t match anything on Citidata or Wikipedia (Citydata’s numbers don’t match Wikipedia either).

    I’m more surprised that you didn’t catch it considering that you’re a Twin Cities resident and you usually catch the details, plus I think the higher populations of the losers would help your argument.

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