Sports complexes can spark economic development, but look no further than downtown Minneapolis for an example of one that did and one that didn't.
At the east end of downtown lies the Metrodome, which, since its opening in 1982, has spun off one bar — Hubert's. On the west end is Target Center, which has spawned two dozen bars and restaurants since it opened in 1992. In St. Paul, the Xcel Energy Center has spurred the establishment or major renovation of about a dozen bars and restaurants.
But Xcel and Target Center were built in dense urban areas where redevelopment of nearby old buildings was a natural fit.
Of course, the Warehouse district (and W 7th St) would be hopping with or without a stadium there. There was even a recent study that showed local Saint Paul bars didn't lose any revenue during the year-long hockey strike, putting a big hole in the theory the the Xcel is anything other than a really expensive neon sign (at least from a development perspective.) Just look at the wasteland that has surrounded the Metrodome for the past 20 years.
Question: Can anyone think of a better development use for $1.5 billion? (Here's a hint: Think about two light rail lines . . .)