|Uncovering the Dome by A. Klobuchar
||[Feb. 4th, 2011|11:33 am]
It's very rare that I read about local issues or history, so this was a bit of a departure for me. I got this book as a Christmas gift from my brother, who managed to get a copy in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the Metrodome.
An interesting factoid is that the book is the senior thesis of a sitting US Senator.
Now, the book itself. I'm not sure whether knowing it was a student work influenced my thinking, but there were definitely passages where it felt a little thin or rushed. Some sections that could have been fleshed out better, and used more supporting quotations or citations.
Which is another way of saying that the material was interesting enough that I wanted more of it. The book vacillated by chapter between the descriptions of events and political theory. The descriptions are supplemented with a few quotations, and interviews with various people that were involved in the process...though not necessarily everybody, especially the host of tight-lipped mayors, governors, and team officials that were involved. The description chapters were also very quick reads, as Klobuchar managed to keep together a story that took more a decade to play out in real time. I'm no longer much of a political scientist, and certainly not a political science historian, so I won't attempt to evaluate the validity or novelty of Klobuchar's theories, though they were certainly interesting.
The other thing that was interesting about the story was that it was a local story, for my home town(s). The Metrodome is (at least for now) a fixture of the Minneapolis skyline. I have spent years with it either immediately adjacent to, or within site of, my commute. It never occurred to me to question how it came to be there, though I've grumbled about the traffic and take advantage of the game myself.
Also, I am a Vikings fan. While I generally don't agree with massive public projects that benefit sports teams, it was unusual to realize that I did definitely "take their side" in the story of the debate. I wanted the Metrodome to be built, and was surprised to realize how unpopular the project was during most of the stages of it's planning and construction.
The postscript, written in 1986 (book was 1983), though only a page long, added a lot to the story. As it turns out, the central opponent to the Minneapolis site, the suburb of Bloomington, used the land from the old stadium to build the Mall of America, though that project that was still being debated and planned when the postscript was written. realizing the interconnected nature of those project was a bit of a surprise.
I'd be very interested to see a current, or at least much later, postscript or study on the book's material. One of the key concepts with public projects of this scale is the idea of the "public interest" and the "economic benefits" that the stadium would bring. Neither of these could be evaluated adequately when the project was being finished. Now, however, we might have enough information to answer those key questions. Did it work?
Also, there have been several stadium projects in Minneapolis in the last few years, and the Metrodome is now ironically called "Mall of America field", the home of (only) the Minnesota Vikings. At the same time, there is again talk that the Vikings, after seeing the new stadiums for the Twins and Gophers (and having played in the latter, for that matter), want a new stadium of their own. Will Minnesota be able to duplicate the success of the Metrodome (a project that, after planning was finished, was constructed on time and under budget) in the next decade or so? It's an intriguing question, and not one that I'm sure any of us have a good answer to. It will be interesting to watch and see.
And, given that I wrapped the book up Wednesday, I got all of that in two weeks. A very quick read, indeed. Definitely recommended, especially for those with a stake in the Cities, the Twinkies, or the Vikes.