Top of Mpls. Parking Ramp Could Become Domed Driving Range

Updated: 11/07/2013 7:35 AM By: Stephen Tellier

It's a downtown development idea that's been around for more than a decade. And now, it's coming back from the dead: Golfing on the top of a parking ramp.

The ramp in question is Ramp A. You may have parked in it if you've ever gone to a Timberwolves or Twins game.

On Thursday, a Minneapolis City Council committee could take the first step toward allowing an indoor golfing facility to be built on top of that ramp.

You could say they're taking a mulligan.

A plan to turn the top of Ramp A into a domed driving range and putting green first surfaced in the 1990's. It's been off and on, but was last abandoned five years ago. Now, it's being teed up again.

"I think it's part of the exciting development that's going on because of our investment in Target Field," said Council President Barb Johnson.

The stumbling block has been that the Minnesota Department of Transportation owns the ramp, and in past years, it wasn't interested in anyone building on top of it. But Johnson said new leadership has opened the door to development, and that has the City of Minneapolis looking to lease the airspace above the ramp.

"Air rights are a valuable thing," Johnson said.

Johnson said as ground level real estate downtown dwindles, building up is becoming more attractive. 

So far, only one developer has expressed interest in Ramp A -- a group called Downtown Rooftop Golf, LLC, whose plans are self-explanatory.

But is a golf dome the best option?

We don't know what else is out there. Someone else may propose a very different use. So we'll have to see," Johnson said.

City documents show other possibilities for the ramp-top real estate include playing fields, a running and walking track, educational facilities, retail and restaurants, and performance space.

"The more activity and vibrancy in our downtown, and the more things for people to do there, the happier we are," Johnson said.

"It would be a good look, I think -- an attraction to see," said Brennan Cassidy.

The reactions of diehard golfers like Cassidy to the dome idea are par for the course.

"I love it. It's a great idea. It's too damn cold in the winter anyways," Cassidy said.

No one involved in the idea said they knew how much money would be necessary to lease the airspace.

On Thursday, a city council committee will vote on whether to ask MnDOT for permission to negotiate a lease for that airspace. MnDOT says such a lease would be a first.