U.S. Bank Stadium provides ideal locale for X Games
MINNEAPOLIS — Come rain or shine, X Games Minneapolis will go on.
That factor played a sizeable role in bringing the four-day sporting event to the Twin Cities. After three years just outside Austin, Texas, organizers were looking to change things up.
Heavy rains and strong winds put a damper on X Games Austin 2016, forcing delays and rescheduling throughout the event. Tim Reed, vice president of X Games for ESPN, said it was time to make a move.
"A few years ago, we were starting to look at new opportunities and cities because we knew our deal with Austin was about to end," Reed said. "Things got a little expedited just because of the weather challenges we were having in Austin. With it being June, we had the storms, the heat, the weather and our events outside being exposed. So, we were already looking into new cities, and the weather pushed us along."
Reed also said moving from the outskirts of a city to an urban environment was a big priority.
Enter U.S. Bank Stadium and Minneapolis.
"We knew Minneapolis was a place we were looking at," he said. "We take a lot of factors into account, including venue and what the location looks like around the city. Clearly from our choice, we preferred Minneapolis... we're just fired up to bring it to life."
Minneapolis' East Town neighborhood renovations in the past couple years, culminating in the opening of the $1.2 billion sports stadium, was a big advantage in landing the X Games, said Brent Foerster of Meet Minneapolis, an organization that recruits events to the city.
"(U.S. Bank Stadium) represents, for them, what is ideal," Foerster said. "They've had issues with weather in the past, so being indoors takes care of that issue."
The venue doesn't just put a roof over the heads of the athletes. The outdoor amenities were big draws too, as The Commons park across the street from the stadium will host several concerts and interactive displays for visitors to enjoy.
"We're very excited to be back in a downtown, urban environment, with all the conveniences that urban environments provide to us, our fans and our sponsors," Reed said. "I think we're all fired up to get this thing going."
Among those conveniences are built-in traffic plans to accommodate increased light rail traffic, mass transit, bike trails and newer transportation options like Uber and Lyft, and several other attractions in a compact downtown entertainment zone.
"The city has a lot of great assets for these kind of events," Foerster said. "We have a great downtown that is growing and always getting better. Nicollet Mall is great. Our transportation and light rail is fantastic for events like this.
"And from our side, U.S. Bank Stadium was built to be a multipurpose stadium. This fell right into that category, a fantastic fit."