Tourists flock to Minneapolis airport men's room

The site of Sen. Larry Craig's arrest has become a photo opportunity for travelers.

jhuff@idahostatesman.comSeptember 16, 2007 

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — When you go to Minneapolis, you might put the Mall of America, the statue of Mary Tyler Moore or maybe even the zoo on your list of things to see.

Now tourists are asking about a new destination in the Twin Cities, says Karen Evans, information specialist at the information counter at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

A common request is, "Excuse me, can you please tell me where the Larry Craig bathroom is?"

Evans was just 15 minutes into her shift Friday afternoon and already had heard the request four times.

"It's become a tourist attraction," Evans said with a smile. "People are taking pictures."

Since news broke Aug. 27 of the arrest of Idaho Sen. Craig in an airport restroom here, the airport has been fielding requests for directions to the men's room in question, which is conveniently located just off the central food court and popular shopping area.

Abdalla Said, who works at a newsstand on the G concourse, said he's been getting requests daily for directions to the infamous bathroom.

"It's by the Lottery shop, right next to the shoeshine shop," he said without blinking. Gee Butler and Royal Zino work at the Royal Zino Shoeshine shop. Zino, the owner's grandson, said the shop has been in the same location for 45 years. Some of the shop's famous clients include James Brown and Muhammed Ali. And Sen. Craig?

Probably not, Zino said, although he thinks he might have been witness to the senator's June 11 arrest. "I might've actually been here. Me and my buddy were watching them doing a sting," he said.

And since the story became public, the restroom has become a photo-op, Butler said.

"People have been going inside, taking pictures of the stall, taking pictures outside the bathroom door — man, it's been crazy," he said.

Directly across the hall from the bathroom is Inmotion Entertainment, a DVD rental kiosk. Kelly, who declined to give her last name at her manager's request, works for Inmotion. "There've been a lot of people coming to see it," she said. "I've been asked several times to take photographs of people in front of the bathroom."

"It's a morbid fascination," said her manager, who declined to give his name.

Jon and Sally Westby of Minneapolis were flying to Guatemala on Friday. "We had to just stop and check out the bathroom," Sally said. "In fact, it's Jon's second time — he was here last week already."

"I checked it out," Jon said. "It's the second stall from the right."

Jeanne Huff: 377-6483

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