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Saints ballpark funding passes hurdle — kinda

New St. Paul Saints ballpark

A funding plan for a new St. Paul Saints (independent; American Association) ballpark squeaked by a huge hurdle, with Republican lawmakers including design money as part of their Minnesota legislative bonding proposal.

Gov. Mark Dayton had recommended $27 million in state funding for a new downtown St. Paul ballpark in his bonding request to begin the 2012 session. Minnesota sports a split government this year, with DFLer Dayton controlling the governor’s office and Republicans controlling both houses of the Legislature. In past years the two sides had butted heads over every little thing, but this session there seems to be some basic level of agreement on the need for a bonding bill of some sort.

Which showed up yesterday, when House Republicans put forward their own bonding proposal, which was roughly a third of the size of Dayton’s. In it: planning money for a new Saints ballpark, but not the $27 million requested by Dayton.

Now that a proposal is on the table, the horse-trading can really begin. Bonding requests traditionally come every two years, so what the Republicans are proposing delays a new downtown ballpark to replace Midway Stadium; a 2014 opening could conceivably be pushed back to 2016 if bonding doesn’t come until 2014. Planning money is nice, but the Saints and the city of St. Paul have already put together a pretty solid plan for a new $50-million facility that calls for $27 million from the state, $10 million from the Saints and the rest from the city. A site has already been mapped out and vetted, and some preliminary renderings on the board. Undoubtedly the final bonding bill will come in somewhere between the $280 million proposed by Republicans and the $775 million proposed by Dayton — which means there should be optimism for a 2014 opening.

Rendering courtesy of the St. Paul Saints.

RELATED STORIES: Saints ballpark funding part of state bonding bill


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