Despite Minnesota's sub-zero temperatures in the winter, only the mall's entrances are heated. Heat is allowed in through skylights above Nickelodeon Universe. Heat is produced by lighting fixtures, other electric devices and also by employees and guests of the mall in sufficient amounts to keep it comfortable. In fact, even during the winter, air conditioning systems need to be run nonstop during peak hours to ensure a comfortable shopping environment.
Two nearly identical seven story parking ramps on east and west sides provide 12,550 parking spaces. Parking lots on the north and south of the building, along with nearby overflow parking, bring the total number of spaces up to approximately 20,000.
The mall is used as a major transportation hub in the region, with bus and light rail service linking the mall to other destinations. Regular public transit service is provided by Metro Transit and other area bus lines, and nearby Mystic Lake Casino offers free shuttles to their establishment. The primary bus/rail station for scheduled local service is in the lower level of the eastern parking ramp. There, the Hiawatha Line light rail line connects the mall to the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and from there to downtown Minneapolis (another major shopping destination in the region, particularly during weekdays). The mall is being discouraged as 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 lot.
The concept was designed and built by Triple Five Group, owned by the Ghermezian brothers of Canada, who also own the biggest shopping mall in North America, the West Edmonton Mall. Mall of America is located on the former site of Metropolitan Stadium, where the Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Twins played until the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome opened. The teams left Met Stadium in 1982. A plaque in the amusement park commemorates the former location of home plate. One seat from Met Stadium was placed in Mall of America at the exact location (including elevation) it occupied in the stadium, to commemorate a 520 foot 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.
The mall opened its doors to the public August 11, 1992. Even before opening, Mall of America 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 Brookdale) and, simply, "The Mall".
It became the second largest shopping mall in total area and largest in total store vendors in the United States when it opened, however, the mall has never been the largest in the world (at the time it opened, it was #2 globally to the West Edmonton Mall). Mall of America is the most visited shopping mall in the world with more than 40 million visitors annually (or roughly eight times the population of the state of Minnesota). The mall employs over 12,000 workers.
From September 4, 1995, The Mall became a venue for live television for the first time. Time-Warner owned professional wrestling company World Championship Wrestling set up in the building for the Inaugural edition of WCW Monday Nitro. This debut broadcast on Turner Network Television, along with later editions broadcast from the Mall, would go onto compete with The World Wrestling Federation
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 Tuesdays, shut its doors in early 2000 due to indecent exposure and alcohol related offenses, for ignoring warnings from the mall and Bloomington police to not repeat incidents caught on tape the year before. Following that verdict were other problems, such as foot traffic within the Mall after the bars (all located on the fourth floor) had closed for the evening. The Mall storefronts were closed, however. The Hooters restaurant and the AMC movie theatre are the only establishments remaining on the fourth floor.
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 judge ruled in favor of the Ghermezians, effectively transferring control and planning authority of the mall back to its original conceptualizer. The dispute stemmed from a 1999 purchase of Teacher's Insurance 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. The ruling cleared the way for Triple Five to begin work on what is being called "Phase II".
MOA currently estimates costs of $1.9 billion for the expansion, doubling the mall's size with a 5.2 million-square-feet extension. The mall's developers have asked for $234 million in state and local subsidies, but the request was vetoed as part of a larger bill by Gov. Tim Pawlenty on its first appearance in the 2006-07 session. Questions have arisen among Bloomington city officials as to the fiscal ability of the Ghermezians to finish Phase II.
In the meantime, MOA has signed contracts to bring in Great Wolf Resorts as the waterpark operator, as well as Bass Pro Shops and a Kimpton Hotel. The expansion section will connect to the mall on all four levels, and the IKEA via a second level bridge. There will be a NHL-sized arena for public & private skating. There will also be an additional parking ramp, adding 8,000 parking spaces.
There will also be fine art exhibits planned in the expansion, two upscale department stores, and a casino. Another plan that was in the works would have been fashions, architecture, and restaurants based after Europe.
On May 18, 2008, the Minnesota State Legislature passed a bill granting the city of Bloomington the right to raise property and sales taxes to pay for the MOA expansion.
Nostalgic artifacts or memorials:
Twin Cities public events: