A day after the Minnesota Legislature wrapped up its 2012 session with dramatic funding of a Minnesota Vikings stadium, it appears the St. Paul Saints (independent; American Association) may be a winner as well.
We wrote several days ago about the Saints project being shut out of any direct funding in the legislative bonding bill but eligible to apply for money under a $50-million “business development through capital project grant program” administered by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). After letting the dust settle and taking a look at the enabling legislation, St. Paul reps were pretty enthusiastic about their changes of receiving $27 million from the fund:
“We would have much preferred the regional ballpark called out explicitly,” said Matt Kramer, president of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “But once (DEED) come(s) up with the application criteria, I’m confident that the regional ballpark is going to rank as high, if not higher, than any other project in the state.”
Why the enthusiasm? The $50-million fund is explicitly designed for economical development, and the Saints ballpark proposal is built around economics. First, the $54-million Saints ballpark proposal also includes cleanup of a brownfield site: the former Diamond Products site, off Broadway Street across from the Farmers’ Market. Second, the state wouldn’t be fully funding the 7,000-seat ballpark: the Saints and the city would be funding at least half of the construction and remediation costs, so there’s a definite economic-impact argument. Third, it was Gov. Mark Dayton who originally requested the money — and the decision on funding would come from a department controlled by the executive branch.
If funded in time, the 7,000-seat ballpark could be open for the 2014 season.
Image courtesy of the St. Paul Saints.
RELATED STORIES: Saints ballpark funding alive — but just barely; State aid for Saints ballpark coming down to the wire; Saints ballpark bill suffers setback in state Senate; St. Paul close to acquiring land for new Saints ballpark; Saints ballpark funding passes hurdle; Saints ballpark funding part of state bonding bill
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