Owners of the proposed Major League Soccer expansion franchise have released new architectural renderings and site plans for a soccer-specific stadium it hopes to build in the Midway area of St. Paul.
It is the second run at a stadium design by the Kansas City-based architectural firm Populous. The new renderings show a different take on the translucent skin that will wrap around the stadium and encase the seating area. The skin is designed to contain LED lights that can change color depending on the event. The renderings also give more detail for two plazas being planned close to the stadium — currently designated United Champions Plaza and Victory Plaza.
The updated renderings were presented Thursday by principal owner Bill McGuire during the final meeting of a Community Advisory Committee, which is advising the city of St. Paul about the development of the stadium and redevelopment of the adjacent shopping center. The site is north of Interstate 94 between Snelling Avenue and Pascall Avenue. University Avenue and the Green Line light rail station are at the far north edge of the shopping center.
The new site plans reveal something else not in earlier designs. Two parcels between the stadium and Snelling Avenue had previously been shown having commercial buildings sites as part of the broader redevelopment of the RK Midway Shopping Center. In the latest renderings, though, they are shown as “temporary surface parking — event use only.” The two lots separated by a new road connecting Snelling to the stadium property would have 220 spaces.
A lot east of the stadium had been shown as surface parking before and continues to be. That was to be permanent parking for players, team officials and employees.
The stadium will be built primarily on property owned by the Met Council and had been used as a bus storage and maintenance facility. It is now vacant, though some bus storage remains. It will be leased to the city and, in turn, sublet to the team.
The stadium itself would be sunken down 16 feet below grade to reduce its apparent height to between 70 and 75 feet. The price tag for the stadium has been estimated at $150 million and will be paid by the team owners. It is expected to seat up to 23,500 people,. Including some 3,000 in the terrace.
During the just-completed — for now, at least — 2016 session of the state Legislature, lawmakers passed two of the three requests made by the team and St. Paul officials. It include a property tax exemption for the land and the stadium (as part of a tax bill) and gave the stadium a liquor license in a separate bill. Not adopted was forgiveness of sales taxes for construction materials, though the exemption can be applied for later under existing state law for projects of regional significance, including sports stadiums.
The tax bill has yet to be signed by Gov. Mark Dayton.