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Saints add $1M to new ballpark funding

New St. Paul Saints ballpark

With a projected $9 million funding gap that needs to be addressed, the St. Paul Saints (independent; American Association) upped their contribution to a new Lowertown ballpark by $1 million — but the city may want more.

The issue: the cost of preparing the site for construction has risen sharply since the original budget was set ($17 million from the city, $25 million from the state, $2 million from the Department of Employment and Economic Development, and $10 million from the Saints, including rent), and the city is scrambling to identify other funding sources. The increased costs stem from the shaky nature of the ground underneath the old Gillette/Diamond Products plant, which is fill of dubious origin and will require more extensive cleanup than anticipated.

To help close the gap. the Saints agreed to pay more toward the cost of the $63-million ballpark. Work on the site has begun, but the heavy work begins shortly when the plant where Dippity-Do (among other personal-care products) was produced is demolished.

The city wants to see the Saints pay more, according to the Pioneer Press:

The rising costs of the city-owned ballpark has left some to question if the plant’s demolition — which begins in earnest next week — is premature. Tear-down of the three-story, 600,000-square-foot building across from the St. Paul Farmers Market is expected to take 12 to 16 weeks….

[St. Paul Parks and Recreation Director Mike] Hahm said the city remains in discussions with the Saints on how to close the project’s remaining budget shortfall, much of it related to increased costs for removing debris-laden soils reaching as much as 21 feet underground. About $2 million of that budget gap stems from new figures on basic construction costs.

“The Saints have committed an additional $1 million to the previous $10 million commitment,” Hahm said. “We’ve asked them to step up … as a partner.”

There are some issues here, obviously. As the redevelopment of Lowertown was inevitable, it was also inevitable that the city would have discovered the issues with debris at the Gillette site — and it would need to be addressed no matter what was there.

Image courtesy City of St. Paul.

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