St. Paul fields new plan for downtown Twins stadium
Having made a home for professional hockey, St. Paul officials have turned their
attention again to the city's prospects for luring the Minnesota Twins to a new downtown
ballpark in the capitol city.
The plan would involve minimal participation from the state; it envisions more than
half of the $300 million coming from private donors, including $150 million from the
Before pursuing the plan, however, the crucial question for St. Paul is whether the
city can find a mix of user-related revenues to pay for its portion of stadium costs, said
Erich Mische, executive director of RiverCentre, who is working on the proposal.
"We think we can put together a package that has the Twins participating
substantially, the private sector substantially and city contributions that would provide
for the construction of a ballpark with very minimal state involvement," he said.
It is expected that the 2 million to 3 million annual visitors to the ballpark would
boost downtown vitality and spur other economic redevelopment, he said.
St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman, who is instrumental in the ballpark plan, could not be
reached for comment Saturday. His press secretary, Leslie Kupchella, said the mayor is
optimistic that a plan will come together that taxpayers will embrace.
Mische declined to specify what kinds of revenues are being considered, but he said the
focus is on money that would come from those who would use or benefit from the ballpark.
The Twins are open to what the city is proposing, Mische said. "We are going to
continue to refine our expectations of revenue streams and sites and talk to legislators
and share with them what we think we could do," he said.
The goal is to bring the plan to legislators before they adjourn in the spring.
The $150 million contribution from the Twins was suggested in a report from Minnesotans
for Major League Baseball, a group seeking to keep the Twins in the state.
Dave St. Peter, a Twins vice president and a team spokesman, said Friday that Twins
owner Carl Pohlad, who previously pledged to pay $100 million, has not agreed to the $150
million figure. But, he added, "we are working to accommodate the report."
In November 1999, St. Paul voters rejected Mayor Norm Coleman's seven-month pitch for a
downtown ballpark. The mayor's plan called for a half-percent city sales tax to fund St.
Paul's one-third portion of a proposed $325 million ballpark. That plan also called for
the state and the Twins to also contribute one-third shares of the construction bill.
In 1997, the Minnesota House rejected a Minneapolis stadium plan involving user fees
that included a 10 percent ticket tax, a 4 percent surcharge on state income taxes of home
and visiting players, a parking tax, and additional sales taxes on concessions and
souvenirs at the ballpark. But that proposal called for a $400 million stadium.
This time, Mische said, "We do believe that we can put together a proposal that
will meet all the tests that legislators have put out there."
Even if the ballpark plans do come together, the city would refuse to move ahead until
Major League Baseball adopts a better revenue-sharing policy, agrees to penalize teams
with excessive payrolls and creates a money pool into which smaller-market teams could dip
for the money necessary to field competitive teams, Mische said.
Three sites are being considered in St. Paul: a site across the street from the Xcel
Energy Center, the site of the current downtown post office and a location in Lowertown.