The Minnesota Legislature adjourned for the 2011 session with a lot left on its plate, including bonding bills that would help pay for construction of a new St. Paul Saints (independent; American Association) ballpark — but with the certainty of a special session, the issue is far from dead.
The Legislature adjourned with many large issues unresolved, including a balanced budget and funding for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium. Given that the state has to work under a balanced budget, it’s a certainty there will be a special session of some sort after DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican leaders in the State Legislature come to some sort of agreement.
And when there are budget negotiations, there’s always the chance a deal can be struck on bonding bills. Right now money for a new Saints ballpark is part of a larger unpassed bonding bill as well as a standalone bill; it’s also included in one of the bills establishing a funding plan for both a Vikings stadium and Saints ballpark via slot machines at racetracks. Any of these bill could end up being in play during a special session; we’ve not perceived much opposition to the Saints proposal, but the team is caught up in anti-tax/anti-spending sentiment in the Legislature. In addition, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman is proposing a statewide two-cent alcoholic-drink tax to pay for the Vikings and Saints facilities, though it’s not clear how this will play. In all the proposals, the state would contribute half of the cost of a new $50-million ballpark.
In other ballpark news, a bill authorizing $5.7 million in improvements to the grandstand and playing field at Wade Stadium, home of the Duluth Huskies (summer collegiate; Northwoods League) failed to make it out of committee this session.
RELATED STORIES: Bill funding Saints ballpark introduced in MN State Senate; Clock ticking on new Saints ballpark funding; New funding plan on horizon for Saints ballpark?; Could Ted Mondale help build a new Saints ballpark?; Dayton proposes $20M for new Saints ballpark; St. Paul makes Saints ballpark state-funding priority; First look: Proposed St. Paul Saints ballpark
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