After history of anti-basketball racism, sport could make comeback at Mueller Park

In 1998 Mueller Park’s basketball court was cut in half after decades of racist complaints about basketball in the park. Over the years, neighbors made connections between basketball and crime; basketball and drug dealing; basketball and discomfort with strangers in the neighborhood. Concerned residents were quoted in the neighborhood newspaper saying things like: “ruffians”… “many of whom I do not recognize”… “descending on our park by the carload”… “music on full blast.”

A Park Board representative in the early 1980s admitted the obvious: “I do think some racism is involved.”

This is a debate that happens all the time, across the country: “In the name of protecting kids, there’s a movement to take their sports equipment away.” The truth is, neighborhood parks with basketball courts, compared to those without, are “associated with lower rates of violent and property crime but not disorder crime.”

in 2019, 20 years after cutting basketball in half, the Park Board might bring full court basketball back to the Wedge. Here’s one of two concept plans for Mueller Park:

Concept A has offers full court basketball. Concept B would retain half court.

The Park Board offering full court basketball as an option has inspired the same law and order (“drug dealing”) concerns from a longtime resident on a neighborhood email list. In 2019, I very naively thought we were beyond this sort of thing. Didn’t we just have eight years of our first basketball president?

Leaked contents of a neighborhood email chain.

To address the concerns about playing basketball at night: I have tried and failed to play basketball after dark at Mueller Park. Not fun. You can’t see the ball coming off the rim or passes from a teammate. You’ll get hit in the head.

View the concept plans for Southwest Minneapolis parks. Take the Survey. I’ll be telling the Park Board I want basketball restored to full court at Mueller Park. I want my neighborhood park to be a useful, active space for as many people as possible.