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In St. Paul, a tiff over TIF comes down to a simple question: how good a deal is the soccer stadium for the city?

S9 Architecture/Populous
Mayor Chris Coleman: "So the increase in taxable value off this property will be quite substantial over what we have today and what we would otherwise see but for this catalytic development on this property."

To the casual observer, it seemed like a debate over a dull-sounding governing finance mechanism — one that few outsiders may even understand.

Last week, some on the St. Paul City Council wanted to close the door early on the use of tax increment financing — better known as TIF — for the infrastructure work around the proposed Major League Soccer stadium.

TIF is a way for governments to attract economic development that might not occur without government help. Infrastructure is paid for up front while future property tax revenue from the improved site is legally pledged to repay the bonds or loans used to finance the improvements. If an undeveloped piece of land is valued at $50 million, for instance, and increases to $150 million after redevelopment, the “increment” of property tax revenue from the $100 million increase is dedicated to repaying the debt.

The current plan is for the City of St. Paul to pay cash — up to $18.4 million — for roads, sidewalks, lighting and sewers around the stadium. Some of the money will come from last week’s sale of the city-owned Penfield apartments downtown. But officials have not ruled out the use of TIF for the redevelopment of the 25 acre site, now home to the RK Midway shopping center.

Council Member Rebecca Noecker doesn’t like that idea, believing that any additional property taxes collected once the area is redeveloped should flow into the city’s general fund, not go toward paying off infrastructure loans for whatever the site eventually becomes. So last week, she introduced a resolution stating the project not be eligible for TIF.

A council majority defeated the move, with members saying they thought it best for the city to keep all financing options available until it knows what the site might become. 

On the surface, it looked simple enough. Yet deeper down, the argument was over something much bigger: the promise that a proposed Major League Soccer stadium would truly be a catalyst for broader redevelopment, in an area badly in need of it.

A good deal for the city — but how good?

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman grabbed the Minnesota United partnership after Minneapolis rebuffed it. It isn’t hyperbole to say that this stadium deal is a much-better financial arrangement than anything the Twin Cities has seen. Team owners will cover the city’s annual payments to lease the land from the Met Council. They will foot the bill for the stadium itself. They will sign a deal that has the team covering most game-day costs. And there are no clauses like those for other stadiums that the city is on the hook to keep the stadium equal in quality to other stadiums in the league. Future improvements and enhancements will be on the team’s tab as well.

But the deal isn’t free of tax dollars. The team wants construction costs exempt from the sales tax and it wants the stadium to be forgiven from paying property taxes. Those are real dollars, measured in the millions. But all of the other new stadiums in Minneapolis and St. Paul have won such concessions, along with tens or hundreds of millions in direct government contributions. Even Coleman’s other recent plum — the Saints stadium in Lowertown — cost governments significantly more than the proposed MLS stadium.

In Minneapolis last year, the proposal wasn’t enough to overcome the resentment that deals for professional football, baseball and basketball team owners had created among elected officials and residents both.

So Coleman had to make the case that it was not just the best of a series of bad deals, but a financial win for his city. Not an intangible win, as in making the city “big league” or putting St. Paul on the map. He has said from the start that it would make St. Paul — both the government and the city — better off financially.

When the renderings of the stadium and the RK Midway redo were unveiled on Feb. 24, Coleman was asked how much the proposed tax exemptions would cost the city — and the public schools — over time.

Coleman deflected. “I think the right question to ask is how much of an increase in the property value will we see as a result of what Dr. McGuire has laid out and what Rick has laid out here,” Coleman said, referring to primary team owner Bill McGuire and RK Midway owner Rick Birdoff.

“We have a property that has the potential to have 10-to-12 times the current value when we see the full build out,” Coleman said. “And quite frankly, but for this, there is very little chance we will see this kind of increase in value. So the increase in taxable value off this property will be quite substantial over what we have today and what we would otherwise see but for this catalytic development on this property.”

The all-important ‘but for’

Twice the mayor repeated the phrase “but for.” That’s important because the legal rationale for tax increment financing arrangements is when governments attest that the increased tax revenue wouldn’t be available “but for” the government’s assistance. That is, if a real estate project would have happened anyway, it isn’t eligible for TIF financing for costs like site preparation and land purchases. The city would also have to assert that the market value of a new TIF-assisted project would be higher than the value of a non-TIF-assisted project on the same property.

The major selling point for using the former Metro Transit bus barn for the stadium was its proximity to major transportation investments — light rail and bus rapid transit — as well as the impact it would have on the long-awaited redevelopment of RK Midway. That’s one of the reasons the stadium is often described by backers and city officials as “catalytic.”

At an impromptu press conference after a meeting of the Midway Area Community Advisory Committee, McGuire and St. Paul economic development director Jonathan Sage-Martinson were asked about how the infrastructure on both sites would be paid for, and whether the grand plans for RK Midway were realistic.

Council Member Rebecca Noecker, left, and Council Member Dai Thao
MinnPost file photo by Peter Callaghan
Council Member Rebecca Noecker, left, and Council Member Dai Thao disagree on the use of tax increment financing for the redevelopment of the 25 acre site.

Sage-Martinson said the city is “in the business regularly of investing in public infrastructure” and that it would not be asking the state Legislature for help. He added that the public investment in the area for light rail and bus rapid transit means “there are certainly many assets here to build on in terms of attracting development.”

McGuire said the stadium would change the development potential of RK Midway. “We form an anchor because this developer has seen this as a great opportunity to help spur development because he thinks people want to be around something like this,” McGuire said. And later, the principal owner of the pending MLS franchise said: “You probably wouldn’t be seeing these kinds of plans from [Birdoff] if the stadium wasn’t going to go there. The stadium is clearly the driver.”

Coleman’s comments in February could be read as him making the same point. RK Midway wouldn’t be considering a major makeover without the soccer stadium.

So the political and legal questions for the city council are these: Is there public support for subsidizing the RK Midway redevelopment after what has already been promised for the stadium site? And would some future move to use TIF funding for infrastructure there pass the “but for” test?

Noecker attempts to preempt TIF

Two of the three council members who voted against using TIF on the project had also voted against the city’s commitment to pay for infrastructure improvements at the stadium site. They are Jane Prince and Dan Bostrom. Noecker, who offered the TIF resolution last week, voted for the city’s involvement with the stadium.

Noecker campaigned last year for reining in the use of TIF. She said Wednesday she thinks the redevelop of RK Midway will occur without TIF involvement because of the many millions in government investment in the area. She listed the Green Line light rail transit line that stops at the site on University Ave., the recent renovation of Snelling Ave., the A-Line bus rapid transit service on Snelling, improvements to bikeways in the neighborhood and now the soccer stadium.

“I believe, and I think we’ve all been saying since last August, we all believe, that stadium will catalyze development on that northern site,” Noecker said. “What I don’t think makes sense is to now say private development isn’t going to occur without additional public investment.”

Noecker said it is better to take TIF off the list of possible assistance to the RK Midway site now as part of its redevelopment than to make the owner think it might be there and remove it later.

Prince cited Coleman’s statements at the stadium unveiling, and added, “With 12 acres of this property already being tax exempt, we need to trust the promises we’ve already made to the taxpayers that this site will be a magnet for private development.”

Bostrom weighed in by saying he keeps hearing what a great location the corner of Snelling and University is after all the transportation improvements, so why not wait to see if it can attract private development without the city’s additional help. “If this is such a great intersection … it seems to me we should give private investors a shot to see what they can do on their own dime,” he said.

The council majority called the move premature. The master plan for the RK Midway property won’t even be completed until August, and only after that will the city know what might be proposed and what, if any, its role will be.

Council President Stark said that while infrastructure work could be a use of TIF financing, another use of could be to make sure there is some affordable housing in the overall project.

“While maybe hard to imagine today, the longer term vision is that the area is going to blossom economically and things are going to become less affordable in turn,” Stark said.

It might be easier to meet the but-for test for affordable housing at the site than for general infrastructure or site preparation work.

The debate moved from the legalistic to the emotional when Council Member Dai Thao objected to the move because he felt it was unfair to his ward, which abuts the property. His complaint centered on what he saw as a move to close off an economic development tool for his district that has been used freely in other parts of the city, especially downtown.

“Yeah, we have the most-livable city, as long as you live downtown or you live in Highland,” Thao said. “If we are going to be against TIF, we should start in downtown.” Noecker said she thought the city could do more for equity in that part of the city with more money in its general fund.

TIF debate will be back

The 4-3- vote against the Noecker resolution only puts off a debate over the use of TIF at RK Midway if a request for such help comes from the developer and Coleman.

Coleman spokesperson Tonya Tennessen said no decision has been made about using TIF because it is too early in the process. Only after the master plan is approved would Birdoff know what he could build and what requests he might make to the city. She called the move to preclude use of TIF at RK Midway as “unprecedented.”

“I don’t know of another case we’ve done that,” she said. Coleman wants TIF to be in the city’s economic development “toolbelt” but Tennessen added, “we don’t know if we would use it.”

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Comments (34)

  1. Submitted by Allan Wilson on 03/29/2016 - 10:54 am.

    Chris Tolbert; St. Paul Third Ward Council

    A 4-3 vote on the Saint Paul City Council is earth shattering news. It indicates that there is an actual difference of opinion on the Council about an issue. Too bad you didn’t cover that aspect of the story as well, Peter.

    Chris Tolbert is turning out to be Chris Coleman’s all purpose errand boy on the Council. Mark him as one of Coleman’s “future leaders” (gag).

  2. Submitted by Bill Lindeke on 03/29/2016 - 11:04 am.

    Start of a good debate

    I watched the Council meeting and good points were raised by both sides. The two issues are 1) being wise about tax-base and development, and 2) transparency around real estate deals. Equity is also a concern, though I’m not sure this site should be the poster child for any equity discussion.

    In general, it’s very difficult to understand or know where the city’s TIF money is. I don’t even understand it, and I’m on the Planning Commission! That said, I believe TIF can be a great tool if used wisely. A lot depends on the specifics of the geography and the details of the development proposal.

  3. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/29/2016 - 11:14 am.

    Stadiums are never good deals in economic terms. I don’t think that’s seriously disputed at least by economists any more. It’s really a question of how much the people of St. Paul and the Twins Cities generally want soccer.

    • Submitted by Ray J Wallin on 03/29/2016 - 03:06 pm.

      Stadiums are almost always beneficial

      Stadiums ARE economically feasible.

      Economists fail to include a multitude of items, including intangibles in their simple profit/loss models.

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/30/2016 - 06:55 am.

        Feasible

        Stadiums are certainly feasible. We have built numerous stadiums in the Twin Cities area, and seem to be searching for opportunities to build more. Indeed, in this case, the reason people want to bring a soccer team to town seems to have less to do with any love of soccer than it has to do with a desire to build another stadium. But the argument that stadiums are good for the economy as such has been a non starter for a long time. Only hired law firms and paid pr agencies hired by the developers ever seriously argue that any more. What makes the difference is how much people want what the stadium provides and that’s a non economic value. We have the Vikings Stadium, not because it was a good deal for Minneapolis economically, but because people wanted a local NFL team and were willing to pay the price for it. The same logic applies to soccer. What’s it worth to you to have a soccer team in town?

        • Submitted by Joseph Totten on 03/30/2016 - 08:47 am.

          Economics?

          Remember, economic value is not accounting value. It is the strange concept in Econ 101 and 102 they make you remember and take a lot of points off for on tests.

          Since it was worth it to keep an NFL team, the new Vikings stadium was at least neutral in economic value, because it will increase the happiness of others, which is an input into economic value. If it’s worth much of anything to have a soccer team in town, that means it’s a good economic investment, just not accounting wise.

          • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/30/2016 - 09:36 am.

            Remember, economic value is not accounting value

            There are all kinds of ways of valuing things. As for happiness as an economic value, how would you quantify it? How much does a pound of happiness cost?

            • Submitted by Joseph Totten on 03/30/2016 - 11:35 pm.

              You Missed the Point

              Economics is defined as, “the social science that describes the factors that determine the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.” Not the distribution of wealth and how money specifically moves around.

              Economist may convert things like happiness into dollar amounts, but they may also use time, square feet, linear feet or any other thing or idea to measure things. I can trade you a pizza for a beer and not be concerned with money, it simply increases our happiness. Because we are distributing goods, this is within the field of economics, even if wallets remain closed.

              • Submitted by Jim Million on 03/31/2016 - 08:21 am.

                By all means…

                Let us have more “happiness development.”

              • Submitted by Dan Berg on 04/01/2016 - 04:18 pm.

                Understanding the units of measure

                The trouble is that when comparing things there needs to be an ability to measure using a common unit. Transactions between individuals can happen by pure barter but the stadium deal needs more sophisticated forms of measure. The same way calculating beam sizes needed to support a 20 ton truck moving at 70mph across a 30 yard span needs more sophistication than simply tipping a log over a stream to get across. “Happiness” is a meaningless term beyond that of the individual who is “happy” so is useless in macroeconomics or beyond a single individuals transaction. Beyond that we need to normalize things through a common unit, money. This is especially true if the people paying for the stadium, supporting infrastructure or special tax deals aren’t supportive of it.

                Stadiums can’t be shown to provide value by the same measurements which are used to pay for them, dollars and cents. If they were worth their cost they could be built bartering the intangibles that have “immeasurable” value. Until then it would be best to stick with real quantifiable numbers. Of course no stadium supporter wants to do that because the math never ends up in their favor.

        • Submitted by Ray J Wallin on 03/30/2016 - 11:52 am.

          Agreed…

          I think we are on the same page, Hiram. When a firm computes a stadium’s economic value, the ‘accounting’ numbers should be questioned.

          Two points:

          1) Simplistically, the cost of ‘our’ new Vikings stadium is $1 per Minnesotan per game for ten years. To me, it is hard to argue that the volume of year-round news, radio, and emotion that surrounds the Vikings is not worth $1 per game. Who pays for the stadium may be up for debate but not the ‘economic’ benefit.

          2) The valuation of our new soccer stadium should not be analyzed entirely in the same manner as our new Vikings stadium. Our new MLS stadium is unique because it will bring new people into STP, and will put STP onto the national (international?) soccer stage for the first time. Talk about an immeasurable!

          • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/31/2016 - 06:40 am.

            Soccer is a very minor sport. There will be none of of the promotional value derived from it that comes with the Twins and especially the Vikings. There won’t be Monday Night Football broadcasts with huge audiences looking at various corporate logos for three and a half hours. The presence of soccer in the community will not be a factor in any business’ decision to stay or leave Minnesota. On the other hand, soccer is extraordinarily cheap with few of the bells and whistles that have made Vikings Stadium so costly.

            I think the argument that the Vikings are worth the price is strong. The interesting thing to me has always been that it has rarely been made. The Vikings are a discretionary purchase, like a TV. A TV has no particular economic value. It doesn’t generate income. You can’t resell it for a profit.If the economic factor was the only factor in the decision to buy a TV, no one would have one. It’s the same for the Vikings, and for the soccer team just on a larger scale. It’s the same for other things we spend public money on, like the Minnesota Orchestra, or the Guthrie. It’s just a question of whether a nice thing to have is worth the price, and the price is for some reason they thing they find it very hard to tell us.

            • Submitted by Mark Kulda on 03/31/2016 - 11:57 pm.

              ‘Minor’ sport….?

              It is the biggest sport in the world and now St. Paul gets to have a team in the highest league of the most important sport in the world. Just because you don’t care for it, doesn’t mean that there aren’t others who do. There are 71,000 youth soccer players in Minnesota and about 20,000 adults in sanctioned leagues. There are tens of thousands of immigrants who play in unsanctioned leagues. And the numbers are growing. Because of the specifics of this deal, with its large private investment, the public dollars needed are very small comparatively, and will be paid off quickly. Unlike the other stadia, that may never get paid back with increased economic benefits.

    • Submitted by Mark Kulda on 03/31/2016 - 11:52 pm.

      You are only partially right

      Hiram, your assertion that stadiums are never good deals in economic terms is true if the stadium is paid for with public money. There almost will never be a return on the hundreds of millions of tax dollars used to build them. But that’s where this proposal is so different and where your assertion fails. The stadium is privately financed and the public money spent in this particular case is so low that it will be paid off very quickly when the city starts to recoup increased sales and property taxes. In fact, if you look at the actual proposal in detail, this will be a large money making proposal for the city for a long time.

  4. Submitted by David Markle on 03/29/2016 - 11:34 am.

    Looks like an impending abuse of TIF

    For the St. Paul City Council to contemplate the award of TIF without a bona-fide “but for” test tells us that we had better keep an eye on this situation. Seems to me that the University-Snelling area is more or less average, not an obvious candidate for subsidized urban renewal.

  5. Submitted by Jim Million on 03/29/2016 - 11:38 am.

    Is this the “TIFing” Point?

    Probably not, but Council Member Rebecca Noecker’s narrow losing margin was certainly a moral victory of rational recognition, at least at that table.

    TIF projects just do not contribute to the property tax base, mostly never in the end. The concept has been so over-used and abused in past projects, its original validity must be questioned today. Saint Paul, in particular, has a pretty poor history, as noted in previous articles.

    The one financial benefit to municipal revenue comes not from TIF flows, but from sales tax income resulting from patron purchases within the TIF district. That is certain if projects succeed in patronage; otherwise, the entire scheme involves “betting on the come.”

    So, this is the contemporary slant on “build it and they will come.” Gotta build “it” first, get “them” to come and buy… and keep coming and buying for a very long time.

    Saint Paul’s history of subsidized retail projects is abysmal. Sure, “they” came, for awhile, and then stopped coming.

    One never knows which public gambit may pay off. Maybe in 25 years Saint Paul may again be the moderately thriving city it has not been since 1950.

    I love Saint Paul: it’s a nice old river town where residents enjoy the knowledge that few tourists cause commotion because there are few tourists, and savor the comfort in also knowing they likely will not encounter may Minneapolitans, either.

    Frankly, it’s rather astonishing to consider that this wonderfully quiet, somewhat provincial gem of the upper Mississippi, with all of its Westward Ho heritage, is about to become the locale of European football. It’s kinda too bad we don’t have J.J. Hill around to fund the stadium, and Cass Gilbert to design it. Now, that would be something to talk about…

  6. Submitted by John Clouse on 03/29/2016 - 11:56 am.

    Coleman

    I’m concerned about Mayor Coleman. First he raises money for the city by increasing rates and hours of parking then he wants to give that money to developers. What happened to the progressive Mayor I once knew?

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 03/30/2016 - 07:25 am.

      He loves to spend other people’s money

      That’s the one and only “progressive” credential he needs in this town.

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/30/2016 - 12:06 pm.

        Aid for Dependent Corporations

        Corporate America wants nothing more than to spend our money. They want us to spend money on infrastructure, education, national defense, a court system, etc, and pay nothing in taxes. They want, they want, they want, and they want you to pay for it. Not to mention never locating anywhere they don’t get property tax holidays and subsidized development. Politicians who claim to be conservative and then advocate this corporate line are anything but conservative, no matter how much they genuflect to the alter of the vaunted Free Market

        • Submitted by Dan Berg on 04/01/2016 - 03:58 pm.

          They adjust to the playing field

          Businesses will adjust to the situation in front of them. If people vote in “progressive” governments who actively try to manage the economy and allocate resources businesses (or any special interest group) will work to use that system to their advantage. Often with business their ability to manage policy is a key differentiator in their success. It is a natural and unavoidable byproduct of progressive government.

  7. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 03/29/2016 - 12:17 pm.

    Does development happen “anyway?”

    People can debate this all they want, but there is a real world to provide information on this question? TIF is a political decision – a public investment. Compare different projects proposed for TIF, and look at the results in terms of development for areas with and without TIF. Is there a significantly greater level of development in TIF districts? If so, it seems like a better choice, if not then there are serious questions.

    And also remember – this project was never just a soccer stadium paid for by a philanthropist, but a bigger project. All major sports complexes are that way. The actual site has been underused and declining for years, so the decision to fight for the soccer stadium was a wise move, but the real gain is if a major piece of St. Paul is revitalized. Hoping for the best by assuming things would happen “anyway” has more risk.

  8. Submitted by Howard Miller on 03/29/2016 - 12:22 pm.

    TIF Successes?

    Would it be possible for this or a group of news media to complete a review of the comparative success or failure of past TIF projects in St. Paul or preferably the Twin Cities? Those of us who’ve been around for awhile may be dogged by memories of developments which have crashed and burned or limped along pathetically (visions of a carousel in downtown-St. Paul come to mind). Are our memories reliable? Is Galtier Plaza thriving now? Is River Place no longer the home of wayward non-profits seeking homes? Is there any evidence that we can rely on to ward off the sticker shock our tax invoices present us with annually as we assume an ever greater responsibility for paying the city’s bills? Honestly, are we getting any bang for our bucks or are we just creating massive tax shelters for the 1%? Or is it possible that Lincoln’s (or somebody’s) adage about it not being possible to fool all of the people all of the time no longer true? I offer Donald Trump as the first exhibit of evidence that this is no longer a valid contention.

  9. Submitted by Pat Terry on 03/29/2016 - 01:21 pm.

    Read the details

    This was not a vote to authorize the use of TIF. This was a vote to preclude the use TIF before anyone had even proposed using it. I agree that TIF sometimes does not work out, and is especially questionable here where there is already a tax subsidy. But to pre-emptively take it off the table seems extremely unwise. Props to the council for recognizing that.

    • Submitted by Joseph Totten on 03/29/2016 - 08:41 pm.

      Here, Here!

      Agreed, to remove TIF as an option, to say it cannot be considered would mean that even if we found that nothing but surface parking was viable around the stadium we’d have to live with it. I doubt that TIF will pass the “But for” test, and would probably side against it, but it cannot be simply thrown out at this stage (unless we want to just get rid of TIF entirely. Interesting ideas…)

  10. Submitted by Jim Million on 03/30/2016 - 07:45 am.

    “Indication of Interest”

    In the securities markets, prior to new issue public trading date, the underwriters take pre-market orders from broker/dealer customers. Such an order, if held open, becomes effective as of public trading. Until then, it is called an “indication of interest.”

    So, let’s just call Council Member Rebecca Noecker’s action a pre-market indication of interest, as well.
    The preliminary Council “indication” here is that TIF financing “interest” for this project is marginal at this time.

    Wouldn’t it be helpful to the public if such pre-liminary sentiments were likewise recorded in all major financing issues?

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/30/2016 - 01:57 pm.

    Staduims and arenas are never “good” deals for cities

    These things are never good deals for cities. That doesn’t mean they’re always a bust, but they never generate more income than expense for cities or taxpayers, they only create wealth for “franchises”. Look at the T-Wolves arena and hockey arena, both cities are in the red for the foreseeable future and MPLS is about dump another $150 million into the arena.

  12. Submitted by Tom Goldstein on 03/30/2016 - 06:53 pm.

    Finally an article not written by the city’s PR machinery

    First article I’ve seen from the media that actually takes the time to examine inconsistencies in this deal. Mayor Coleman’s claim that “we have a property that has the potential to have 10-to-12 times the current value when we see the full build out” is complete fantasy and devoid of any evidence whatsoever. Sure, if the project gets built as picture in the sketch, it might one day be worth $450 million or so. But that’s a huge “if.” Even the owner of RK Midway acknowledges that future development depends on available resources and market conditions.

    Coleman’s claim that the Midway site meets the “but for” test required to use TIF funding is equally spurious. More relevant point is what higher and better use might have been possible for this site if the city had offered to exempt property taxes and do $18.2 million in infrastructure improvements for other interested parties as well? We’re never going to know because the city never marketed the property offering those benefits. They only came into play once a soccer stadium was the possible development.

    Although the land has been vacant for decades, never before has the site been blessed with transit options like LRT and the Snelling Ave A Line. If those amenities are as valuable as transit advocates claim they are, why should we settle for a non-revenue producing asset that will likely discourage other development, given the well-documented history of what generally happens in the environs surrounding a stadium?

    Visit https://www.facebook.com/neighborsagainstcorporatesubsidies/ for other commentary in opposition to the stadium deal.

  13. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/01/2016 - 09:30 am.

    Questions

    Here are some questions I have. Do we build stadiums because we have sports teams? Or do we have sports teams so we can build stadiums for them? The answer might be different in different degrees. With respect to football, it often seems to me that the Wilfs as real estate developers jump rather quickly from football, to development around the stadium. The fact is, I seem to know less about those developments, and who is involved and expects to profit from them than I should. I must have skipped over those articles when they were published in the Star Tribune.

    The new soccer team raises that issue once again. I have failed to detect any public clamor for a soccer team in the twin cities. The reason the St. Paul is in line for the stadium has as much to do with massive indifference to the support in Minneapolis as it does anything else. And there are lots of places around the community where soccer could be played. As I understand it, the first even at Vikings Stadium will be a soccer match between Chelsea and Milan which is pretty much a slap in the face at the efforts to bring soccer to St. Paul.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 04/01/2016 - 10:12 am.

      Yes, but…

      It will be a great concert venue, conveniently located above the 694/Snelling off ramp, and just a short walk from LRT.

      Just cannot get over the irony of moving the Saints to Lower Town…and then building a new Midway Stadium, in the Midway, of all places.

      I could muse about lighting it with Coleman lanterns, but, this is Friday….

  14. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/01/2016 - 10:27 am.

    It will be a great concert venue, conveniently located above the 694/Snelling off ramp, and just a short walk from LRT.

    the problem with the concert venue deal, is that we have so many stadiums suitable for concerts around town and they cannibalize each others business. By competing so aggressively against ourselves we are driving up the prices.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 04/02/2016 - 01:00 pm.

      Just a little hyperbole

      with some light sarcasm for seasoning.

      Sometimes I’m fully serious, other times not, depending on the topic and comments (and aberrant whimsy). I do try to shape the tone for readers to detect. On the whole, from my reading, most MinnPost comment sections require some fresh breezes to increase oxygen in the trenches; likewise, I do dismiss many articles at times, and do also refrain from comment on others that seem quite uniformed or otherwise deceptive. There is plenty of partially formed writing and partisan regurgitation by both contributors and commenters. There, I try to refrain.

      Your thoughts are always valued, Mr. Foster. So, OK:
      To be objectively non-financial but socially serious here, back to this specific Saint Paul Midway Stadium:

      One possible considered aspect of this project’s location might be its excellent proximity to Macalester College, Hamline University, Bethel maybe, Concordia and UM LRT

      Given alternate field striping, this stadium will most certainly become home to collegiate sports events of lesser standing, as well as to those of Central High, perhaps Cretin Derham Hall, perhaps others. Check a good city map for possibilities here.

      These schools all lie upon or proximate to Snelling Ave. Cretin sits south on Hamline Ave., the arterial that directly connects it with the East curb of this project.

      [Sudden departure: What if the City got smart and also installed regular Snelling Ave. simple street rail service? There’s the sensible extension of collection plan.]

      Let’s watch to see if final plan details accommodate these logical and well-established consumer sub-markets. Maybe someone is being smart here in remembering Minneapolis
      Parade Stadium. Giving the high schools an afternoon sports venue (and inclusive student destination) might be a worthy concept come again.

      [Do you think any Saint Paul City Council people might see this post?]

      Final thought on location: If planners have not extended market vision as considered here, they need to get busy. Right now they are focused on profits from Soccer League
      action. If the City hopes for any longevity and debt redemption, neighborhood enhancement and long-term high school/college sports revenue, Council Members should also focus on these sub-markets. Were I a retailer being courted in this scheme, I would demand those provisions and formal “indications of interest” in judging reality.

      On the whole, and ignoring the Pro Soccer aspects, I honestly cannot find a better Saint Paul location to serve vital existing entities. The buyer is there in these non-pro sports needs, as are the fans; therefore, the consumers and friends required to support the critical retail base.

      In ten years Pro-Soccer likely will be elsewhere. The amateur and semi-pro markets just might make this particular scheme a long-term social/financial success.

      So, let’s focus on the stable local community of high school and college students, all needing after class part time jobs, relatively inexpensive sports events and (yes) maybe even concerts.

      Thank you, truly, for leading me through this extension of prospective. I’m thinking this concoction might be the one that does succeed in selling, for a very long time…if someone diligently keeps the boneheads out of the broth.

  15. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/03/2016 - 06:27 am.

    We have built a lot of stadiums in recent years, and one of the arguments made for them is that they can be used for other things. But that’s just pushing on a string. Consider the Vikings Stadium. The Vikings could easily play in the Gopher Stadium; the dimensions of the field are exactly the same between college and the pros, but the decision was made to build Gopher Stadium without the luxury boxes NFL football requires. But really no other use of Gopher Stadium requires luxury boxes, and with fewer college games than pro games the stadium stands empty for even more dates than Viking Stadium will. The Vikings and Gopher Stadiums could both be used for local college and high school football as well.

    Stadiums are not things we need, they are things we may or may not want. Roughly the same logic applies to any entertainment venue, like the Guthrie, or Orchestra Hall or any of the various theaters they move around downtown Minneapolis. The question is simply do you want them? And how much are you willing to pay for them?

  16. Submitted by David Frenkel on 04/03/2016 - 10:17 pm.

    TIF oversight and recourse

    The state auditor is the state agency responsible for TIF oversight but does not have the resources to oversee any of the TIF districts other than to collect required annual state filing for each TIF district. There is also no recourse if anybody feels there is questionable use of TIF. Politicans like to refer to TIF as something in their development tool kit but it can have an impact on schools and is overly used.

  17. Submitted by Bryce Merriman on 04/06/2016 - 10:40 am.

    Silver lining

    Typically I’m against the public financing of stadiums and continue to be skeptical of the economic benefits that are promised with these stadiums. In this case, however, I’m all in for supporting public financing through TIF of the surrounding infrastructure for the stadium and proposed “urban village”, IF (and only IF) it means Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas is one of the tenants in RK Midway’s revamped shopping center. I’m almost serious, this could be a good opportunity to add something special (even if it is a corporate franschise) to the cultural landscape of the Twin Cities.

    Recent articles detailing the development of this project indicate Rick Birdoff and RK Midway would like to include a movie theater as a tenant in their redevelopment plans for the shopping center attached to the MLS stadium.. The last thing this city needs is another gatdamn Regal, AMC, (or Minnesota based) Mueller Family Cinema.

    Yesterday it was announced that this summer an Alamo Drafthouse would be opening in Brooklyn, the headline to the Indiewire article began with “Beloved theater chain…”, how many corporate franchises are referred to as “Beloved”? In the last year, there have been similar articles in both the LA Weekly and SF Weekly celebrating the opening or development of an Alamo Drafthouse theater.

    I’m against public financing of stadiums and hand-outs for the 1%, but gattammit I love movies, even Hollywood blockbuster pap and am really tired of trekking out to some awful suburban mall and having the experience interrupted by incessant talking and texting throughout the film. If something good can come from this boondoggle, like an Saint Paul Midway Alamo Drafthouse, I’m on board.

    https://bright-and-balanced.com/2016/01/01/5-reasons-why-the-alamo-drafthouse-is-the-best-movie-theater-chain-in-the-world-period/

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jackiehuba/2014/04/25/turning-detractors-into-loyalists-an-interview-with-alamo-drafthouse-ceo-tim-league/#3bf070f5441d

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-18/the-movie-chain-hoping-to-steal-netflix-customers-with-pizza-and-beer

    http://www.laweekly.com/arts/the-best-movie-theater-chain-in-america-is-coming-to-downtown-la-5015880

    http://www.sfweekly.com/sanfrancisco/alamo-drafthouse-genfication-mission-movie-theater-tim-league-vida-bavc-star-wars/Content?oid=4209351

    http://www.indiewire.com/article/alamo-drafthouse-brooklyn-location-new-york-city–summer-2016-20160405

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