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Lots of suitors for Minnesota’s bonus bonding: 35 projects want some of $47.5 million

Dozens of  public agencies shut out of the state’s bonding bill by the Legislature.

Already the state has 35 applications for the $47.5 million fund. And St. Paul, which has been touting its own application for $27 million to help build a St. Paul Saints ballpark in Lowertown, hasn’t even sent in its application yet.

The deadline has been extended from June 26 to July 9, after many communities asked for more time to fill out the applications. State officials say they won’t reveal which projects are in the mix until after the deadline and all of the applications have been reviewed.

The Legislature passed a $496 million bonding bill in May for capital projects around the state, including $64 million for the University of Minnesota, $132 million for MnSCU, $44 million for renovations to the State Capitol, $30 million for flood mitigation, and several million for local roads and bridges.

Gov. Mark Dayton had been pushing a $775 million bonding bill, but couldn’t get that big a package through the Republican-led Legislature.

But legislators offered a consolation prize: $47.5 million in additional bonding money for public projects, “including pre-design, design, acquisitions of land or buildings, construction, furnishing and equipping new or renovated buildings, and infrastructure.”

Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Mark Phillips will decide how to divvy up the funds.

The St. Paul Saints project has been written about extensively, and seems to have earned some support from Dayton, who threw out the first pitch at the team’s home opener this year at the aging Midway Stadium.

The St. Paul bid, if fully funded, would take more than half of the available pot.

Other prominent projects likely in the running include:

• The Metropolitan Council’s Southwest Corridor light rail;

• Ramsey County wants money to clean up the Arden Hills ammunition plant that wasn’t selected for a Vikings stadium;

• Wadena wants $4.6 million for a regional wellness center.

• Rochester, Mankato and St. Cloud wanted bonding money for convention centers.

• Duluth wants to renovate a ballpark;

• And Minneapolis is looking for Nicollet Mall rebuilding help.

There are many more.

Joe Campbell, spokesman for St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, said the city expected lots of competition for the bonus bonding funds.

“We’re not concerned about the competition; we expected it. Our project speaks for itself,” he said Monday.

He said the city’s application will be formally submitted soon.

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