News and forecasts about the death of malls are premature, at least for the largest one in the United States. Mall of America, which houses 520 stores, turns 25 years old this weekend. It continues to flourish in way that has to be the envy of most of the rest of the industry.
The mall was created by accident, in some ways. Downtown Bloomington, Minnesota, lost its two largest corporate residents in 1982, football's Minnesota Vikings and baseball's Minnesota Twins. Over 78 acres became available for development. After debates about what should happen to the land, local officials decided to give it to financiers who wanted to build America's largest home for retailers. It opened in 1992, two years before Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) was founded. Early tenants included Macy's Inc. (NYSE: M), the Sears division of Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) and Nordstrom Inc. (JWN). All three have been injured by the current downturn in traditional retail sales.
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Mall of America has prepared a spectacular celebration for its 25th birthday. A huge light show will be accompanied by smoke and music. The party is fitting. Mall of America has largely dodged the secular collapse of one of America's largest industries and employers.
Mall of America released 25 facts about itself as it prepares for the anniversary:
Walking distance around one level of Mall of America
8 ACRES OF SKYLIGHTS:
What allows about 70% of the natural light to enter the Mall
4 OUT OF 10:
Visitors to Mall of America who are tourists
Yankee Stadiums that can fit inside the Mall
Rides and attractions in Nickelodeon Universe
Boeing 747s that could fit inside the Mall
How many semi-trucks were needed to transport trees to the theme park to create the outdoor feel of an indoor park
Temperature inside Mall of America whether its spring, summer, winter or fall
Amount of food fed daily to animals at SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium — plus 90 extra pounds on the days the sharks are fed
Statues of Liberty that could lie inside the Mall
Events held at Mall of America each year
Stores located in Mall of America
Weddings that have been performed at Mall of America
Year-round employees at Mall of America (13,000 during peak periods)
On-site parking spaces at Mall of America in two ramps
Live plants in Nickelodeon Universe — plus 400 live trees climbing as high as 35 feet tall
Tons of trash recycled each year
Legos that have been lost in the LEGO play area
Size of the aquarium at SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium
Square feet of gross building area
Visitors annually which is more than the combined populations of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa...and Canada
Number of rides ridden in the park since opening
Cost to build Mall of America
NEARLY $2 BILLION:
How much Mall of America generates in economic activity annual for the state of Minnesota
Sales tax on clothing in Minnesota
One of the notable things about the mall is the number of troubled retailers it houses. Long term, this may be bad for the mall's finances. Macy's, Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (ANF), GameStop Corp. (GME) and Gap Inc. (GPS) have locations. However, Mall of America has buttressed its tenant list with scores of restaurants and with retailers like Apple Inc. (AAPL), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and T-Mobile US Inc. (TMUS), which have very well-financed parents.
If the American mall is dying, the plague has not spread to Bloomington, Minnesota.