In July 2012 the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) approved the Theodore Wirth Regional Park concept plan that, among other things, preserves and enhances golf, winter recreation and trail facilities. As a component of plan implementation, the Board approved funding priorities and directed $1.5 million of 2011 Metropolitan Council Regional Park bonding toward a welcome center at the park. The welcome center is envisioned as a new building that will be a visitor destination for Par-3 golf, Nordic skiing, tubing, snowboarding, bicycling and trail walking/running. With the approval, the Board directed staff to prepare a fundraising agreement with the Loppet Foundation (formerly City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation) to raise at least $3 million for the welcome center building and supportive site improvements.
To distinguish the welcome center building within the family of other improvements that accompany it, the agreement calls the full project package the “Silent Sports Center”, which is planned to include construction of the building, new parking, a pedestrian/ski/bike bridge over the parkway, vehicle and pedestrian circulation, a relocated tubing hill, and a ski/bike event stadium (open lawn). All of these elements are part of the approved park concept plan.
The approach taken with the agreement is that the MPRB will own the Silent Sports Center and the Loppet Foundation will operate it as well as manage winter recreation and bike event programs and trails. The approach is unique however borrows heavily from partnerships the MPRB has with the tennis center, rowing club, sailing clubs and others. The agreement has two components that address the spectrum of project needs including fundraising, design, construction and operating responsibilities. The components are:
1. Memorandum of Understanding (Attachment 1): The MOU describes and assigns the spectrum of responsibilities for funding, design, and development of the Silent Sports Center. Among the key provisions of the agreement are:
· The Loppet Foundation will raise $3 million toward the cost to construct the Welcome Center building by December 31, 2014.
· The MPRB will use 2011 State bond funds for certain elements of the project including design fees, demolishing the current par-3 building and parking lot, and constructing new parking, vehicle/pedestrian circulation, event stadium, and tubing hill.
· The MPRB will use enterprise funds to relocate golf holes 17 and 18 to allow establishment of the stadium (open lawn) and bike event trails.
· The MPRB and Loppet Foundation will collaborate on managing the design process including the involvement of constituent groups and the broader community.
· The MPRB will oversee all construction and be the contract agent for professional services and construction contracts associated with the project.
2. Proposed Lease (Attachment 2): A draft lease is attached to the MOU to describe the intentions for the Loppet Foundation’s long-term operation and management of the Silent Sports Center. It contains a 20 year initial term, with an option for a five-year extension. A lease agreement in general conformance with the attached draft would be entered into prior to commencement of Welcome Center building construction.
The memorandum of understanding and lease have been reviewed and approved by legal counsel.
An existing lease and professional services agreement with the Loppet Foundation to provide winter recreation advisory and management services was entered into in September, 2011 (Resolution 2011-164). As part of the Silent Sports Center development and related to but not directly part of this Board action, MPRB staff and the Loppet Foundation are discussing expanded responsibilities for winter recreation programming and operations as early as 2013.
PREVIOUS BOARD ACTIONS
September 7, 2011 Resolution 2011-164: Resolution approving a five year lease agreement with the City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation and amending professional services agreement with the City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation removing bullet 3 in section 3 – Compensation
September 7, 2011 Resolution 2011-170: Accepting $1,743,000 in Minnesota State Bonding/Met Council Bonding for Theodore Wirth Regional Park
July 11, 2012 Resolution 2012-221: Approval of the Wirth Park concept plan and funding priorities, including directing $1.5m toward the welcome center
Staff recommends approval of the proposed memorandum of understanding and proposed lease agreement with Loppet Foundation for the Silent Sports Center at Theodore Wirth Regional Park.
This action is supported by the following vision and goal statements in the MPRB 2007-2020 Comprehensive Plan:
Vision Theme 3: Dynamic parks that shape city character and meet diverse community needs
Goal: Create opportunities for entrepreneurs, both non-profit and for-profit, to enrich the park experience and implement innovative approaches to revenue generation.