October 17, 2012 by Sarah M
By Nick Halter
Warehouse District bars have been working this fall on a plan to close off traffic on two city blocks to allow for Vikings game day parties, where patrons can go from bar to bar without tossing their drinks.
But Minnesota state law is preventing that idea, at least for now. State law does not allow patrons to bring a drink from one bar to another, a central part of the plan.
The idea is to close off 1st Avenue between 4th and 6th streets. For bar geographers, that means the streets with Brothers Bar and Grill, Loon Café, The Imperial Room, The 508 Bar & Restaurant and others.
Joanne Kaufman, executive director of the Warehouse District Business Association, said patrons would be able to buy commemorative cups and use them at participating bars, where the cups would get them drink specials.
Kaufman said the idea formed after the city began allowing “railgating” closer to the Metrodome, where food trucks now line up on game days.
“It’s something that we would love to see happen. We were all excited about the idea, and then we discovered it just was not logistically possible, at least not this year,” Kaufman said.
Kaufman said the block parties aren’t likely to happen this season, because changes are needed to state law. She’s not sure if it ever will come to fruition.
“The purpose of it was to encourage people to visit businesses in the Warehouse District as the start of the Purple Path, because to be perfectly honest, the railgating close to the Metrodome has had a negative impact to some of our businesses on game days.”
The Purple Path Kaufman speaks of is a new idea brought forth by Mayor R.T. Rybak in September. That was when he announced the railgating plan, and said he wanted a path to connect the west side of downtown with the Metrodome, and later, with the new Vikings stadium.
Rybak said he asked the Warehouse District to come up with ideas, and that’s where the block party idea came from. The third-term Mayor said he is still looking for new ideas for the Vikings game day experience.
“There hasn’t been city in country that’s really done an urban game day, and we’re resolved not to do what other cities with downtown stadiums have done, which is to line them with parking lots and only have tailgating,” Rybak said. “We’re fine with tailgating, but we want to have this be something that really adds excitement to downtown and helps existing businesses.”