St. Paul Saints move one step closer to building Veeck-land in Lowertown

Categories: Sports
SaintsBallparkCrop.jpg
With a land purchase agreement in place, a DEED grant is all that stands between the Saints and a new Lowertown ballpark.
Throughout the spring, we've chronicled the Vikings' efforts to secure public funding for a new football stadium, which we've dubbed Zygi-land.

With the legislature recently approving a funding plan for the nearly $1 billion Metrodome-site stadium, it appears the Vikes' effort will pay dividends. And now it looks like they might not be the only professional team in town to receive approval for a new facility.

Yesterday, the St. Paul Port Authority announced it has signed a $1.85 million purchase-and-sale agreement for an empty Lowertown warehouse eyed as the site of a new St. Paul Saints stadium. In return for the so-called Diamond Products/Gillette warehouse site, located between the farmers market and Lafayette Bridge, Midway Stadium will be turned over to the Port Authority and eventually torn down for industrial use.

In other words, the city and team took a big step toward realizing Mike Veeck-land.

Earlier this month, in our cover feature "Mike Veeck championing stadium for St. Paul Saints," we told you about co-owner Veeck's years-long push to replace the crumbling Midway Stadium. From the story:
MidwayStadium.jpg
Midway Stadium. Fittingly, this shot captures a few of the crumbling ballpark's port-a-potties.
... Midway is quite nearly falling in on itself. A brief tour of the stadium's infrastructure reveals cramped concession areas, outsourced refrigeration, and massive blue tarps -- "diapers," as Food and Services Director Curtis Nachtsheim calls them -- to catch leakage. Fans miss multiple innings waiting in line to use the portable toilets, and Midway's isolated location prevents revenue spill-over when fans enter and exit the park.

"The St. Paul guys, the guys from the businesses downtown, said to me, 'Mike, we love you, but at Midway, we're not gonna buy a single suite, because it doesn't do anything for us,'" Mike says.

The players don't have it much better. The workout facilities consist of a single rusting stationary bike. The lockers are 1982 originals. The trainer's bed is cracked and crusting. Because Midway was originally constructed on a landfill, center field is perpetually sinking -- so much so that the city must re-level it every six years.
The new, approximately $50 million Lowertown stadium would seat over 7,000, feature open artist space, and maintain the same prices found at Midway. St. Paul would spend about $13 million in site preparation and land acquisition, with the Saints kicking in about $10 million and the rest coming from the state's coffers.
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Specifically, the Saints are hoping the Department of Employment and Economic Development will come through with a $27 million dollar grant to fund the non-city and non-team portion of the project. But given that the entire DEED grant pool for this year is only $47.5 million, it isn't a foregone conclusion the Saints will get everything they're hoping for -- Mankato wants to expand its civic center with a DEED grant, and the Metropolitan Council is expected to ask DEED for engineering funds to design the Southwest Light Rail Transit line from downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie.

But if the Vikings' stadium drive taught us anything, it's that these things are never easy. And officials, including St. Paul Port Authority President Louis Jambois, are confident the state will come through this summer with a grant covering half of the Veeck-land project cost.

"No project can start until we own the property. And so buying this property is a very good card to play as we proceed forward with a competitive grant application," Jambois told MPR. "It should put our project ahead of perhaps several others when applications are submitted."

See also:
-- New Saints ballpark highlights Governor Dayton's bonding proposal
-- FEATURE: Mike Veeck championing stadium for St. Paul Saints
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11 comments
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Drewl
Drewl

What a waste. Midway stadium is what makes Saints games great. I would not go to a new fancy stadium to watch a crappy minor league team, that's what Target Field is for. Let Gabe's by the Park continue to reap the benefits of overspill and maintain the damn stadium as is.

German Billionaire
German Billionaire

Drewl, this issue isn't about your personal preference of venue. Unlike the Vikings Stadium, a new Saints stadium in Lowertown would be enormously beneficial to the neighborhood. Taking a giant empty warehouse and turning it into something of civic value would be very enriching for Lowertown, and since a large part of the money is coming from a grant specifically for such projects, it isn't a waste. Whereas the Vike's stadium uses local taxpayer money that could be used for more important things. The claim that no general fund money is being used for the Vike's stadium is total bullshit. And if you didn't read, MIdway is crumbling. The Dome isn't the greatest place, but it's in working condition. And don't bring up the roof collapse thing, that was during a year of RECORD SNOW FALL. Lastly, the Saints aren't being corporate douche and taking us hostage, threatening to move. They are simply asking, and putting in what money they can afford. Unlike Wylf, who is putting in only as much as he needs to get the state legislature on board. And let's not forget, YOU DON'T NEED $1 BILLION TO BUILD A STADIUM! It blows my mind how people are willing to let rich people assfuck them, but then get up in arms when a small organization wants to build a modest project that is actually good for the community.

effeminate dad
effeminate dad

Spot on, except it's the system that is assfucking the public, not the rich.

h.s
h.s

The Metrodome was just ranked the very worst stadium in the NFL by Time magazine. 

Zach
Zach

 Actually it was voted worst professional sports stadium. Even more of a distinction...

Jsmith036
Jsmith036

bill murray is co owner of the saints let him build it himself

Jsmith036
Jsmith036

and mike veeck is not from here either

Guest
Guest

Would be a great addition to the neighborhood.

baconface
baconface

Midway Stadium is part of The Saints' charm, they better do this right.

jww
jww

Stadiums for everybody!!!

No
No

Waste of money.

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