Welcome to Cvent's Meeting and Event Planning Guide to Bloomington - a city guide for meeting professionals. Best known as the home of the Mall of America, the largest indoor shopping and entertainment center in the U.S., Bloomington stretches out along the north bank of the Minnesota River 10 miles south of downtown Minneapolis and immediately adjacent to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Despite a population of just over 86,000, Bloomington has more sleeping rooms than the Minneapolis and St. Paul downtowns combined. The 31 meeting hotel venues in Bloomington strike a balance between the amenities of big-city properties and the convenience and affordability of the suburbs. The Mall of America's 520 retail stores, 50 restaurants and entertainment venues are a stone's throw away, and there are both free shuttles to the mall and airport and free hotel parking.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport borders the northeast side of Bloomington just across the highway from the Mall of America. It's the 16th busiest airport in the U.S., with 15 passenger airlines serving more than 148 non-stop destinations (Chicago, Denver, and Atlanta are the top three). The airport is one of Delta's major hubs. And Metro Transit's light-rail Hiawatha Line runs roughly north-south between the Mall of America and downtown Minneapolis, passing both airport terminals along the way. A ride from the mall to Terminal 1 (Lindbergh) takes 12 minutes. Friendliness—to visitors, to families, to businesses—is the order of the day. Meeting venues in Bloomington are considered excellent value, and the region at large has a well-known and well-deserved reputation for generous hospitality, Bloomington features at least three of the most popular kid-friendly destinations in the area: Nickelodeon Universe, SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium and the Water Park of America.
Two major convention centers, one in St. Paul and one in Minneapolis, are 10 miles away. The Saint Paul RiverCentre has 162,299 square feet of meeting space and connects to the Xcel Energy Center (which ESPN has named the best sports venue in the U.S.) and the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium, which combine to add another 44,800 square feet of function space. The auditorium can seat 5,678 theater-style. The warm red brick of the modern-looking Minneapolis Convention Center contains 475,000 square feet of column-free event space and 87 meeting rooms (90,000 square feet) in the Loring Park neighborhood of downtown Minneapolis, a block from the Minnesota Orchestra and four blocks from Loring Park.
The Mall of America (MOA) is a community in its own right, a destination not just for residents of Bloomington or of the Twin Cities region but for travelers from all over the country and even the world. Mall is a misnomer, really. MOA is the largest fully enclosed retail and family entertainment complex in the U.S. More than 40 million people visit every year—more visitors than all other attractions in the state combined. They come to shop and eat, surely, but also to gaze at sharks, ride roller coasters, meet SpongeBob SquarePants, pilot flight simulators, and generally take in the spectacle of it all. There is no tax on clothing or shoes at MOA.
Construction began in March 2014 on the first element of Mall of America's Phase II, which will ultimately add 10 million square feet. By the end of 2015, a new luxury hotel will join the 500-room Radisson Blu that opened March 2013 (both connected to MOA by enclosed walkway), along with another 250,000 square feet of retail space, an office building, an international tourist welcome center, a new food hall dining concept, and 25,000 square feet of event space. Phase II elements rolling out after that include the state's largest water park, with family oriented hotel; a large sporting good anchor; and additional retail, entertainment and attraction options.
On the outside, a vibrant business community complements the draw of the mall. Bloomington is home to the headquarters of and major operations of Express Scripts, SeagateTechnologies and Wells Fargo Bank, and there are more jobs per capita here than in either Minneapolis or St. Paul. And, as the name would imply, Bloomington places a premium on parks and green space, so workers and visitors alike have plenty of places to stretch their legs at the end of the day.