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Mall of America

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Mall of America

Mall of America
Mall of America is located in Minnesota
Mall of America
Location within Minnesota
Alternative names MoA
General information
Type Shopping mall
Address 60 East Broadway
Bloomington, Minnesota
Inaugurated August 11, 1992
Owner Triple Five Group
Technical details
Floor count 4 on East and South Wings
3 on North and West Wings
1 basement level and transit level
Floor area 2,500,000 sq ft (230,000 m2) + 5,400,000 sq ft (500,000 m2)
Design and construction
Architecture firm HGA, KKE Architects, Inc., Jerde Partnership[1]
Main contractor Melvin Simon & Associates
Triple Five Group
Other information
Number of stores 520+
Number of anchors 5
Parking 12,287 spaces
(Two 7-story ramps, two overflow surface lots, and one underground transit station)

The Mall of America (MoA) is a shopping mall owned by the Triple Five Group. It is located in Bloomington, Minnesota (a suburb of the Twin Cities), southeast of the junction of Interstate 494 and Minnesota State Highway 77, north of the Minnesota River and across the interstate from the Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport. Opened in 1992, the mall receives over 40 million visitors annually, the most of any mall in the world. 80 percent of the visitors are from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, the Dakotas, Illinois, Ohio, and Canada.[2] The Triple Five Group, owned by Canada's Ghermezian family, owns and manages the Mall of America, as well as the West Edmonton Mall.


One escalator well

The Mall's concept was designed by Triple Five Group, owned by the Ghermezian brothers, who also own the largest shopping mall in North America, the West Edmonton Mall. Mall of America is located on the site of the former Metropolitan Stadium, where the Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Twins played until the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome opened in 1982. A plaque in the amusement park commemorates the former location of home plate, and one seat from Met Stadium was placed in Mall of America at the exact location (including elevation) it occupied in the stadium, commemorating a 520-foot (160 m) home run hit by hall-of-famer Harmon Killebrew on June 3, 1967.

In 1986, The Bloomington Port Authority signed an agreement with the Ghermezian organization. Groundbreaking for the Mall took place on June 14, 1989. Organizations involved include Melvin Simon and Associates, Teachers Insurance and Annuity (a.k.a. TIAA), the Triple Five Group, and the office of architect Jon Jerde.

In 1987 the Ghermezian brothers also met with Niagara Falls New York officials in regards to building a similar "mega mall" in that city. Discussions lasted for several months but a suitable economic package could not be put together by New York officials.

Mall of America opened its doors to the public August 11, 1992. Even before opening, the Mall had earned several nicknames, including "The Megamall" (or "The Megamess" during construction), "Sprawl of America", "Hugedale" (in reference to the four major "Dale" shopping malls within the Twin Cities, Rosedale, Southdale, Ridgedale, and (defunct as of 2010) Brookdale), and, simply, "The Mall".

Mall of America became the second-largest shopping mall in total area and largest in total store vendors in the United States when it opened. Its 42 million annual visitors equal roughly eight times the population of the state of Minnesota. The Mall employs over 12,000 workers.

During its run as an all-encompassing entertainment and retail venue, certain aspects - most notably bars - have come under scrutiny. A Mardi Gras-themed bar, Fat Tuesday, shut its doors in early-2000 due to indecent exposure and alcohol-related offenses.[3]

In 2003, after a protracted six-year legal battle between Simon Property Group, the managing general partner of the property, and the Ghermezian brothers/Triple Five Group, over majority ownership of the site, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the Ghermezians, effectively transferring control and planning authority of the Mall back to the creator of the original concept.[4] The dispute stemmed from a 1999 purchase of Teacher's Insurance's 27.5% equity stake by Simon Properties, giving them majority ownership. The Ghermezians claimed they were never told of the deal and sued Simon, citing fiduciary responsibility.

On November 3, 2006, the Ghermezians gained full control of Mall of America, spending US$1 billion to do so.[5]

Mall of America Phase II concept

The Mall of America is planned to be expanded with the construction of Phase II. It will develop a large empty parcel of land (the site of the former Met Center indoor arena) north of the mall, and integrate an IKEA store built on a portion of the property in 2004. The project will also include a dinner theatre, ice rink, three hotels, and a waterpark, similar in design to the West Edmonton Mall. The cost of expansion is $2.1 billion, and will double the Mall's size with a 5,200,000-square-foot (480,000 m2) extension.[6]

Mall of America has signed contracts to bring in Great Wolf Resorts as the waterpark operator, as well as Bass Pro Shops and a Kimpton Hotel.[6] The expansion section will connect to the mall on all four levels, and the adjacent IKEA store via a second level bridge. There will be an NHL-size ice rink for public and private skating. A new parking structure will be included, adding 8,000 spaces to the complex. There will also be fine art exhibits [7] and two upscale department stores.[8] Another considered plan would have seen fashion, architecture, and restaurants based on European styles.[9]

On May 18, 2008, the Minnesota State Legislature passed a bill granting the City of Bloomington the right to use $34 million in tax-increment-financing to pay for public infrastructure to support the MoA expansion. In early 2011, construction began on an expansion of the south side of the mall near Killebrew Drive, where the 506-room Radisson Blu hotel opened in March, 2013.

On November 29, 2011 Google announced indoor maps for Mall of America along with several other places like airports, parks and public spaces.[10]

On March 24, 2012, The Triple Five Group officially announced the start of a $200,000,000 expansion that would build into the north parking lot of the mall. Rather than the long planned Phase II expansion, this would be a step in building this expansion. The initial plans call for an additional hotel and an additional 200,000 square feet of retail space.[11] In March, 2014, ground was broken on the Mall's north side for the $104 million, 14 storey JW Marriott hotel, owned and financed by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. [12]

In winter 2012-2013, Mall of America hosted a 40 feet tall ice castle made of icicles formed from 4 million gallons of water and then fused together. The castle joined 50 large ice towers together to create a series of shimmering archways, tunnels, walls and caverns.[13]


Sign at a Mall of America entrance
The Mall of America has three levels

The Mall of America has a gross area of 4,870,000 sq ft (452,000 m2) or 96.4 acres, enough to fit seven Yankee Stadiums inside,[14] with 2,500,000 sq ft (230,000 m2) available as retail space.[15] The mall is nearly symmetric, with a roughly rectangular floor plan. More than 530 stores are arranged along three levels of pedestrian walkways on the sides of the rectangle, with a fourth level on the east side. Four anchor department stores are located at the corners. The Mall is organized into four different zones, each with its own decorative style.

Despite Minnesota's cold winters, only the Mall's entrances and some below ground areas are heated. Heat is allowed in through skylights above Nickelodeon Universe. The majority of the heat is produced by lighting fixtures, other electric devices, and people in the mall.[16] In fact, even during the winter, air conditioning systems may still be in use during peak hours to ensure a comfortable shopping environment.[17] Although the common areas are unheated, the individual stores do have heating systems.[18]

Two nearly identical seven story parking ramps on the east and west sides of the Mall provide 12,287 parking spaces. Overflow parking north of the building provides an additional 1,200-1,500 spaces in addition to parking provided by IKEA (1,407 spaces) that is part of the currently under construction Phase II expansion of the Mall.

Mall contents

Level One is the location of Nickelodeon Universe, Sea Life Minnesota (underground), Hard Rock Cafe, LEGO, American Girl Doll store, the Apple Store and Microsoft store (directly across from each other near the Lego Store), and first level of general retail. Level Two features restaurants, shopping, memory moments, and the first Verizon Destination Store. Level Three has two food courts with more than 20 eateries, Marshall's, mini-golf, and other places like Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.[19][20] Level Four is the entertainment level with The Hooters restaurant, Cantina #1 restaurant, Rick Bronson's House of Comedy, Dick's Last Resort, Skydeck Sports Grille and Lanes, and The Theatres at Mall of America (formerly run by General Cinemas and then AMC Theatres, now operated by Mall management) now occupy the fourth floor as of January 2012. For many years the 4th floor was considered a ghost town but has recently surged in popularity and remains 70% occupied. Planet Hollywood, at the height of its success, was once a very popular restaurant on the fourth floor, but closed in 2003. This space is now occupied by Dick's Last Resort.[21]

Skydeck Sports Grille and Lanes, formerly Jillian's, was initially closed due to low foot traffic and issue running a family friendly restaurant in a space occupied by several bars. The Mall was in negotiations with Dave and Buster's for several years, which failed to re-open the location. In 2011, new owners were brought back in and relaunched the restaurant and lanes under the new name.[21] In order to keep the fourth floor from failing as it did in the early 2000s, the Mall has strategically leased to several different corporations, rather than leasing several spaces to one corporation. The bankruptcy of Jillian's in 2004 led to the lowest vacancy rate of the 4th floor, at 41%.[21] The original Level Four had a comedy club, Hooters, bowling alley, arcade, and Planet Hollywood. Due to the structure of the building, Level Four only exists on the East and South side of the mall.

Currently, the mall has 23 empty stores. Mall of America is 4% vacant while nearby Southdale Center is 29% vacant.


Nickelodeon Universe indoor theme park
Amusement park view from third floor

Nickelodeon Universe is an indoor theme park in the center of the mall. The park features roller coasters, among numerous other rides and attractions, and is the largest indoor theme park in the United States. Unlike many indoor amusement parks, Nickelodeon Universe has a great deal of natural foliage in and about the park, and its floor has a wide variance in height - the highest ground level in the park is 15 feet (4.6 m) above the lowest. The rides include the roller coasters SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge and Avatar Airbender, and a thrill ride called BrainSurge. The latter roller coaster bills itself as a "rather peculiar" ride. It also has a miniature golfing section called Moose Mountain. This miniature golf course features eighteen holes and a relatively fast astroturf surface.

At the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, guests travel through a 300-foot-long (91 m) curved tunnel through 14 feet (4.3 m) of water to view over 4,500 sea creatures including sharks, turtles, stingrays, and many more.[22] Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium offers special events such as sleepovers, scuba diving, snorkeling, and birthday parties.[23][24][25][26]

MOA has partnered with EMS Entertainment to open a permanent exhibits space on the third floor of the old Bloomingdale's space on the southeast corner of the mall that will host exhibitions of different kinds. There is space for three exhibits at a time with one larger exhibit space and two smaller ones. The first exhibit to open is Barbie: The Dreamhouse Experience, which opened to the public on February 14, 2014[27] and will remain open for two to three years. Visitors tour Barbie's dreamhouse, try on clothes in her virtual closet, make virtual cupcakes in Barbie's kitchen, have their photo taken by "Selfie Stations" located throughout the exhibit, be a star in Entertainment World, which features a make-up studio, fashion runway, pop star stage and more, and participate in numerous other activities. The exhibit is interactive and uses RFID bracelets for a more personal touch. Another exhibition based on the TV show CSI called CSI: The Experience[28] is now open. Visitors have the opportunity to solve one of three different crimes by visiting the crime scenes, examining the evidence in a variety of labs and putting together their report for Gil Grissom. Visitors are guided by videos featuring cast members from the show and real forensic specialists. The third exhibit is based on the Star Trek television franchise.[29] Star Trek The Exhibition features a mockup of the bridge of the USS Enterprise and has one of the largest collections of authentic Star Trek artifacts and information ever put on public display.[30]

Nostalgic artifacts or memorials

  • A stadium seat commemorating the longest home run at Metropolitan Stadium, hit by Minnesota Twins player Harmon Killebrew on June 3, 1967. The seat is painted red and bolted to a wall to mark the exact height and position at which the ball landed in the upper-deck seats.[31]
  • The home plate plaque in Nickelodeon Universe denoting the exact spot of home plate at Metropolitan Stadium
    The home plate plaque in Nickelodeon Universe
  • United Airlines Flight 93 memorial, for those who died aboard during the September 11, 2001 attacks—the bust of Tom Burnett (who was born and raised in Bloomington) is on the west side of the first floor, next to the fountain in front of Nordstrom.[32]

Twin Cities public events:

Transit and Mall of America Transit Station

Mall of America Transit Station
Station statistics
Line(s)      METRO Blue Line
     METRO Red Line
Connections Metro Transit routes 5, 54, 415, 515, 540, and 542
MVTA routes 444
Platforms Island platform
Other information
Opened December 4, 2004 (Blue Line)
June 22, 2013 (Red Line)
Accessible Handicapped/disabled access
Owned by METRO
Preceding station   METRO   Following station
toward Target Field
Blue Line Terminus
Terminus Red Line
toward Lakeville Cedar

The Mall of America Transit Station is the busiest transit hub/station in Minnesota, with bus and light rail service linking the mall to many destinations in the Minneapolis - St. Paul metro. Public transit service is provided by Metro Transit and Minnesota Valley Transit Authority. Many area hotels and Mystic Lake Casino offer free shuttles to their establishments. The transit station for local bus/rail service is in the lower level of the eastern parking ramp. From there, the METRO Blue Line light rail connects the mall to the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport and downtown Minneapolis (another shopping destination) and terminates at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins (MLB baseball team). The mall is not a park and ride facility, and overnight parking is banned to prevent passengers taking the train to the airport. Commuters are encouraged to use the nearby 28th Avenue Station's parking ramp. The mall is the nineteenth and final stop on the Blue Line and is the northern terminus of the Red Line. The Mall of America Transit Station is undergoing a study to increase efficiencies and capacities, and to provide a better experience for its users; estimates for the upgrade are approximately $20 million.

Mall security

The mall's private security personnel were featured in 2010 TLC series Mall Cops: Mall of America.

In 2011, NPR's All Things Considered and Morning Edition and PBS's Newshour both aired programs documenting security abuses by the Mall's security personnel.[33][34]

At the mall people have been questioned or detained for operating video cameras, using notebooks, or other perceived suspicious behavior. Michael Rozin, the former manager of the mall's behavior detection unit instructs its members that "suspicious behavior" constitutes "photographing such things as air-conditioning ducts or signs that a shopper might have something to hide".[35] Commander Jim Ryan of the Bloomington Police Department commented that the mall's security methods may "infringe on some freedoms, unfortunately."[35][36]


  • There's a Place for Fun in Your Life (1992)
  • Where Something Special Happens Every Day (1992)
  • The Ultimate One-Stop Shop (1993)
  • Your Life. Your Style. Your Place. (1994)
  • America's Shining Bright on You! (1995)
  • America, You're the One! (1996)
  • The Spirit of America (1997)
  • Be There or Be Square! (1998)
  • America's Lovin' It! (1999)
  • Mall of America 2000: Celebrate the New Millennium! (2000)
  • The Mall That Remembers America (2001; used after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001)
  • Where You're Looking Good! (2002)
  • Red, White and You (2003)
  • More Ways to Be You (2007) (still embedded on mall's gift cards)
  • The New Home of Nickelodeon Universe (2008; used to celebrate the opening of Nickelodeon Universe)
  • The Place for Fun (2009)
  • More Stores. More Value. (2010)
  • America Loves MOA (2010)
  • 20 years of fun (2012)
  • Always New (2013)

Amusement park and other Mall features

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