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St. Paul hires lobbying firm to push for Saints ballpark

The City of St. Paul has hired the Messerli Kramer law firm to lobby at the Capitol for a new Saints baseball ballpark, the city's top legislative priority this session.

The St. Paul City Council is set to ratify the contract Wednesday.

One of the city's lobbyists, Wendy Underwood, left last month to take a job at Target, but this contract is specifically for getting $27 million in state funding for the ballpark, not to replace Underwood in the overall lobbying picture, the mayor's office said.

Plans to find a replacement for Underwood are on hold until after the legislative ends later this spring, said Joe Campbell, the mayor's communications director.

The Messerli Kramer lobbying contract calls for payment of up to $5,000 a month for five months, according to the contract.

It calls for attendance at committee hearings and floor sessions, as well as conferences with policy makers to push for passage of the ballpark, which was included in Gov. Mark Dayton's bonding bill wish list. But some Republican leaders have said Dayton's $775 million bonding proposal is too much, and it remains to be seen which projects the Legislature actually includes.

The contract also calls for help in drafting the legislation, identifying authors, preparing testifiers and lobbying members of the state House and Senate.

City officials have been trying for years to get state money to build a new baseball park in downtown's Lowertown District, on the site of the abandoned Gillette factory near the Farmers' Market. They came close last year, when Dayton included it in his bonding package, but the Republican-led Legislature stripped it out.

Two Cities blog, which covers Minneapolis and St. Paul City Halls, is made possible in part by grants from The Saint Paul Foundation and the Carolyn Foundation.

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Comments (1)

saints stadium

Aside from the push to make downtown St. Paul busier, I don't understand why the Gophers and Saints don't pool resources and upgrade the current Saints stadium in the Midway. It's centrally located, near the U's St. Paul campus (also the location for the U Women's Soccer stadium) and has plenty of room for expansion and parking. It's even possible it might in the next five years be connected to light rail by a bridge over the RR tracks.

I know its been proposed that the stadium could also be used by the Gophers and for high school tourneys. Do people really imagine U students are going to hop on light rail to go all the way to downtown St. Paul to follow their team? Or hopping on the inter-campus transit in Mpls and getting to the stadium in 10 minutes? For greater Minnesota fans, the Midway is located near the intersection of 94 & 280, it doesn't get much easier or central than that.

Both teams need a bigger, better stadium, so why not build just one near the U and Mpls? We seem to keep imagining that every team will get its very own stadium which sits empty 3/4 of the year. That's a lot of money spent for duplication.