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St. Paul reverses course, will let Saints ballpark contract to bid

New St. Paul Saints ballpark

The city of St. Paul will drop a no-bid contract for a St. Paul Saints (independent; American Association) ballpark and instead open the design/build process to bid.

The change in plans came after the Taxpayers League and a local conservative activist filed suit last week, seeking to overturn the decision to award the design/build contract to Ryan Companies and subcontractors AECOM and Julie Snow Architects. St. Paul had immediately awarded the design/build contract to Ryan after receiving $25 million in state bonding for the project. It’s a little fuzzy whether St. Paul actually had the authority to move forward with a no-bid contract; initially St. Paul officials said they would fight the lawsuit, but better legal judgment probably kicked in.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that Ryan won’t land the new bid; there’s usually enough wiggle room in the specs for a city to choose whatever vendor they please, not necessarily committing to a low bid. In fact, we we’d be shocked — shocked! — if Ryan didn’t land the contract. However, we’ll see whether some of the other major players in sports construction — like Mortenson, Populous, Turner or HKS — decide to make a bid on the project. The actual ballpark component of the $54-million project is only $38 million; the rest has to do with site prep, brownfield mediation and other side costs.

The city will issue an RFP on Nov. 30. The decision also pretty much ensures a new ballpark won’t be ready until the 2015 season.

Image courtesy St. Paul Saints.

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