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New study says downtown Minneapolis has one of the worst post-pandemic recoveries, but there are questions about methodology

Downtown Minneapolis struggling to gain post-pandemic recovery
Downtown Minneapolis struggling to gain post-pandemic recovery 02:13

MINNEAPOLIS — It's something many cities are trying to figure out in a post-pandemic world -- how do you bring people back downtown?

A new study says downtown Minneapolis has had one of the worst post-pandemic recoveries in the nation.

The University of Toronto looked at the cities in the United States and Canada, and ranked downtown Minneapolis 64th out of the 66 cities surveyed when it comes to visitors.

The study looked at cell phone data -- between March and June of this year and compared the data to what it was in 2019.

According to the study, the number of visitors downtown is 56% of what was measured pre-pandemic.

"Cell phone ping data is one thing," said Steve Cramer, President and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council. "What I see every day when I'm downtown and what I hear from the people who are here is another thing."

RELATED: Minneapolis mayor says efforts to revitalize downtown are paying off

The lead analyst behind the study said they chose the area of study based on density of job locations. As far as the validity of the results, it all depends on your definition of "downtown."

University of Toronto

The convention center and U.S. Bank Stadium fall outside the measured area. So too does the North Loop, which is a popular area for restaurants and night life.

"If you go to North Loop, there's no question about vibrancy over there," said Cramer. "So again it probably depends on where they're doing their methodology."

Cramer added that he's seeing an increase in people returning to the office, and more people moving downtown. The concerns over crime remain, but there are misperceptions.

"We've made great progress on the public safety front," he said. "I mean statistically and just in terms of how people feel, downtown - it's dramatically different over the last 18 months."

Cramer says downtown's strength lies in its ability to draw big events, sports, and concerts that you can only find there.

"There are things coming up that are going to continue to draw people into downtown again, things that you can only do if you come into downtown Minneapolis, and that's one of our strengths," he said.

According to the study of the 66 cities surveyed, just one, Las Vegas, has more visitors than it did in 2019.

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