Bloomington approves Mall of America water park funding

Bloomington approves Mall of America water park funding

2022-07-13T07:46:08-04:00March 11th, 2022|Economy, Minneapolis-St. Paul|

Writer: Caty Hirst

Minneapolis-St. Paul2 min read  March 2022 In a sign the Minneapolis-St. Paul region is moving on from the COVID-19 pandemic, Bloomington City Council members and the Bloomington Port Authority voted Wednesday to approve $55 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for the construction of a water park north of the Mall of America. Discussions for the water park, which has been planned as part of the phased development of the mall since the mall’s inception, were put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic amid uncertainty around large group events. 

The 320,000 square-foot facility is set to be the largest indoor water park in North America, built by Triple Five Group, which also owns Mall of America. The total cost of the development is at $422 million, according to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

Wednesday’s joint meeting also furthered the state’s goal of hosting the World Fair in 2027 or 2028, with the funding for water park development approved, including $10 million in a TIF loan in exchange for 31 acres of land east of the Mall of America. The 32 acres, officials say, could be used to host the World Fair in Bloomington. 

“We are going to continue to work with the Minnesota delegation for Expo 2027. It’s a fantastic opportunity that will prove transformative for Bloomington and the Twin Cities,” said Tim Busse, mayor of Bloomington. 

Charles Goldberg, general manager of the Graduate Hotel Minneapolis, told Invest: the area is seeing increased confidence in terms of returning to pre-pandemic life. For 2022, his goal is getting back to normal. 

“The goal is to return to where we were in 2019, which was a record year for us,” said Goldberg. “We want to continue to drive food and beverage, whether that be in our outlets or through banquet and catering. We’re looking at different partnerships within the hotel and the company to be able to do that. I think forming those partnerships again will drive back that ability for us to continue to grow. That’s the name of the game.” 

As a whole, the Minneapolis-St. Paul area has a lot to offer tourists. 2022 is expected to be a comeback year for sporting events, cultural events and tourism. 

Minneapolis-St. Paul has great culture as well as great restaurants. Tourists are always welcome. …  Regardless of whether you want to be outdoors at a music concert, enjoying one of the many theaters or sporting events or visiting the Mall of America, Minneapolis-St Paul has everything to offer,” Goldberg said. 

The Fall 2021 Tourism and Hospitality Industry Surveyopens PDF file by Explore Minnesota found that 39 percent of leisure travel businesses in the state were at or above pre-pandemic business levels, and the outlook for personal travel in 2022 is high, although the area has not yet returned to 2019’s stability. 

“While we don’t anticipate a complete return to pre-pandemic levels until late 2023 or early 2024, we are working our way back and anticipate stronger travel volume in 2022,” said Lauren Bennett McGinty, state tourism director at Explore Minnesota, in a news release on March 1.

Upcoming events in Minneapolis-St. Paul include the 2022 NCAA Women’s Final Four; the 2022 MLS All-Star Game and the 3M Open. 

As 2022 unfolds, businesses and governments are staying adaptable and agile — a lesson learned during the pandemic. 

“We’ve shifted our focus from multiyear plans to smaller segments. For example, typically we would do an annual marketing plan. We have changed that to a quarterly plan because it allows us to be more agile and to adjust to what is happening around us,” said Jill Renslow, executive vice president of business development at Mall of America. “2022 will continue to be a challenge but our team has become very flexible in creating multiple plans and approaches so that we can continue to move forward and adjust accordingly.