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Duluth looking for state money, too, for minor-league baseball stadium

Chunks of brick fell off the aging Wade Stadium in Duluth last week, prompting some to call for state funding to repair the 72-year-old ballpark.

Duluth’s Wade Stadium opened in 1941 as the home of a minor-league baseball team, and like most structures that age, is in need of repairs.

So the city is seeking $250,000 from the Legislature this year to pay half of a renovation design effort. That would be followed by a larger request for more state money next year to make the repairs.

But when bricks started falling from the stadium last week, some city council members wanted to  accelerate the state funding requests, says the Duluth News Tribune.

They’re talking about asking for $4 million right now from the state to renovate the stadium. Last year, the state agreed to pay a substantial chunk of the $1 billion needed for a Vikings stadium and gave St. Paul $25 million for a new minor league baseball park.

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But Mayor Don Ness said Thursday that the stadium funding request should wait until the city knows how it will come up with its share of the funding.

And he proposes asking voters in the fall if they’d favor paying for it by reinstating a half-cent food and beverage sales tax in the city, which had been used to pay for the city’s convention center and aquarium. The tax expired at the end of last year.

Craig Smith, general manager of the Duluth Huskies minor-league baseball team that plays in the stadium, supported Ness’ restrained approach, the paper said.

 “It would be a shame if we rushed into things and didn’t do it the right way the first time,” Smith told the paper. “We need to stay the course of the current planning that’s going on and not make rash decisions and rush into things just because Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall.”