by Theresa Malloy,
MINNEAPOLIS (CNS) – Father John Bauer, rector of the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, called on parishioners and community members to contact government officials to voice concerns about two proposed Vikings stadium sites near the church, particularly one that would be about 300 feet away.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and city officials were collecting feedback and formal proposals regarding the sites for a 48-hour period ending Jan. 12.
Father Bauer wrote a letter and e-mailed parishioners stating that while he wants the Vikings to stay in Minnesota, a nearby stadium could negatively affect the basilica.
It could impact parts of the community the church serves, he said.
“I am concerned that nothing hinder us from serving the greater Minneapolis community, or prevent people from continuing to make the basilica their spiritual home,” he wrote.
The congregation of more than 6,300 households is made up of many people from the larger Twin Cities metro area and suburbs. Traffic flow and parking, Father Bauer said, is already challenging.
“The addition of the stadium would make this even more daunting,” he said, for Sunday liturgies as well as regular events and activities.
Father Bauer said the proposed sites could affect significant revenue streams such as the space the basilica rents out for a charter school.
The closest proposed site, on Linden Ave., would affect the basilica’s largest fundraiser, the Basilica Block Party, eliminating the main stage site. Money raised during the event goes toward restoration and maintenance on the basilica, which is a site on the National Register of Historic Places.
Father Bauer said the construction also could impact or possibly “harm” the historic building.
“Stadium construction may well cause additional structural damage to our historical buildings,” he said.
Since the 1990s, the basilica has done long-term maintenance and preservation work, Father Bauer said, and ongoing efforts continue.
The priest said that since publishing the letter, he’s heard feedback that is “generally very positive.”
He has talked with legislators, city officials and others involved in the process.
“We’re trying to cover the bases on this,” he told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. “Except for the Vikings, no one has contacted us. The Vikings have been very gracious about our concerns.”
The Vikings have not advocated for one particular site, and Father Bauer said the team seemed to have a “willingness to listen to other opinions.”
He added that no one who is advocating for the Minneapolis sites has contacted the basilica.
Moving forward, Father Bauer said if a nearby site is chosen, he would want to get involved in the planning process.