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Regionalism the key to stadium fairness, Mayor Chris Coleman says

Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has again made a plea for a regional look at how stadium decisions are made.

Still concerned that plans for a new Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis could lead, indirectly, to big problems for St. Paul, Mayor Chris Coleman has again made a plea for a regional look at how decisions like that are made.

The big concern: Minneapolis officials want to tie a stadium deal to paying for renovations to the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis. Doing so would help Target better compete against St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center for concerts, shows and sporting events.

(Coleman also thinks it is superfluous to have two municipal arenas in one metropolitan area and would like to see Target Center demolished, but that would mean bringing the Timberwolves to St. Paul, and that ain’t gonna happen.)

In a message to city residents this week, Coleman outlines his concerns and calls for a spirit of regionalism in the stadium issue, much the same as the metro counties handle transportation issues.

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Coleman’s message:

Six years ago, when I first started this job, the Mayor of Minneapolis and I did something that was mostly unheard of for our two cities — we had breakfast.

At that breakfast, we talked about our kids, our cities, and discussed ways we, as mayors, can work together for the betterment of our community. Looking forward, we knew how important the idea of regionalism would be to creating jobs, keeping our neighborhoods safe, and promoting our towns.

In that spirit of cooperation, we brought the RNC to the metro area. We formed Greater MSP, a regional organization that focuses on economic growth and brings business to the area. We created the Counties Transit Improvement Board, a regional board that coordinates public transportation projects throughout the Twin Cities metro area. Soon, the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in the State of Minnesota will be complete, and our downtowns will be connected by the Central Corridor light rail line.

Discussions now taking place at the Capitol are attempting to tie a new Vikings stadium to renovations at the Target Center. Using funds to update an aged facility that directly competes with a state-of-the-art facility, the Xcel Energy Center in downtown Saint Paul, is not in the best interest of the state. With a population of 3.3 million people, the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region is the smallest market housing competing arenas, placing our region and facilities at a competitive disadvantage. For too long our region has been competing against each other rather than working together, and using taxpayer dollars to continue that unsustainable challenge is unwise.

I believe a comprehensive approach to investment in statewide facilities needs to be taken before we commit additional taxpayer resources. It is extremely important that when taxpayer dollars are expended, there is regional equity in those expenditures, and the region isn’t harmed for the benefit of one city. A solution would not only provide equitable distribution of funds, but it would also incorporate stadium governance for the Minneapolis/Saint Paul region (to allow the Target Center and the Xcel Energy Center to compete with arenas around the country and not each other).

As plans start to firm up at the Legislature, I hope there is a renewed conversation about the importance of regionalism. A comprehensive approach to investment in statewide facilities that is even and fair is what’s best for Saint Paul, for the Twin Cities and for our state.