This coverage is made possible by a grant from The Saint Paul Foundation.

Stalled St. Paul ballpark plan brings youthful lobbying effort to Capitol

St. Paul’s biggest push at the Legislature this year is to get funding for a Saints baseball ballpark to be built in the Lowertown district.

The goal is to get $27 million in state funds to help pay for the $50 million ballpark project; the team and the city would contribute the rest to build the park just east of downtown on the old Gillette plant site.

But it’s going nowhere fast at the Capitol as legislators seem to have other issues on the agenda: taxes, constitutional amendments, a Vikings stadium. And getting re-elected.

But this is the St. Paul Saints baseball team, and they’re not going down without a spectacle. This is the team that sends baseballs to the umpire via pig, and gave out Larry Craig airport bathroom “bobble-feet” dolls.

So on Wednesday the Saints are inviting families and kids — they want lots of kids — to rally at the Capitol to remind legislators that they haven’t passed the ballpark funding.

Each kid showing up in uniform, jersey and cap (these would literally be rally caps) gets a pair of tickets for the May 14 Saints game, at the old ballpark, St. Paul’s Midway Stadium. (It’s an exhibition game.)

The promotion was a joint idea of the Saints (run by Mike Veeck, son of Major League Baseball promoter genius Bill Veeck) and the St. Paul Area Chamber  of Commerce.

Mayor Chris Coleman’s office insists the need is great. Spokesman Joe Campbell says:

“The ballpark is the City’s number one legislative priority at the Capitol.  Any delay in the project makes it that much harder to get this project done in the coming years.  The time is now.”

Two Cities blog, which covers Minneapolis and St. Paul City Halls, is made possible in part by grants from The Saint Paul Foundation and the Carolyn Foundation.


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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 04/17/2012 - 05:13 pm.

    Saints Ballpark

    I like Mayor Coleman. I have voted for him twice and even contributed to his campaigns. But the idea that building a 50 million dollar stadium for the Sants is the City’s number one legislative priority just makes me depressed.

    I don’t think there is any real dispute that subsidizing stadiums is a poor use of public money from an economic development standpoint. As a sports fan, however, I see it as a necessary evil to prevent teams from moving to other cities that are offering subsidies. That rationale does not exist for the Saints, who are an independent minor league team. No one from Los Angeles wants to move the Saints there.

    I realize that 50 million dollars is not a billion dollars, but it is still a lot of money. And I can think of a lot of more pressing needs than subsidizing the wealthy owners of the Saints. For example, my son plays soccer on athletic fields covered with weeds and rocks. Why can’t fixing those up be a legislative priority? This just makes no sense at all.

  2. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 04/18/2012 - 01:13 pm.

    I, too, like Mayor Coleman

    He and the excellent people he surrounds himself with seem to accomplish much that is good for St. Paul in spite of the annual Pawlenty cuts and, now, the Republican legislature’s cuts — especially to what is called Local Government Aid (LGA). Rather than “aid,” LGA is really a portion of OUR real estate tax dollars being returned to ensure the needs of our citizens can be met. (Or do right-wing legislators LIKE potholes and crumbling curbs and unmowed public parks? Do they want us to forego maintaining the central heating and cooling system that serves the Capitol?)

    The Saint’s current stadium is old and decrepit and must be replaced soon, Locating the new stadium near the Union Depot/lightrail terminus will bring easy access to Saints fans, high school teams and tournaments, and other activities year-round.

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 04/20/2012 - 03:40 pm.

      Why?

      “The Saint’s current stadium is old and decrepit and must be replaced soon.”

      Fair enough, but why do we have to spend $50 million dollars in public money to subsidize the millionaire owners of the Saints? Why can’t they privately finance it?

      “Locating the new stadium near the Union Depot/lightrail terminus will bring easy access to Saints fans, high school teams and tournaments, and other activities year-round.”

      The idea that this is necessary or will even benefit high school teams and other non-professional baseball is absurd. You could build a bunch of state of the art fields with seating to accommodate high school fans, and you wouldn’t spend a fraction of the cost of this stadium.

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