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Mayor Coleman wants big chunk of new bonding fund for Saints ballpark

St. Paul got shut out of the bonding bill on its bid for $27 million to build a Lowertown ballpark for the Saints and amateur baseball, but it’s now eyeing a special $50 million bonding fund set aside by the Legislature for regional projects.

Lots of other cities are looking at that pot, too, but when Gov. Mark Dayton showed up to throw out the first pitch at the Saints home opener the other day at aging Midway Stadium, you gotta think there’s an inside track open for the capital city.

On Monday, Mayor Chris Coleman sent a formal request letter to Mark Phillips, state commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development.

In seeking the full $27 million, Coleman said that  financing details will go to the city council soon and that the project would:

• Create jobs and funnel more visitors to downtown St. Paul;

• Provide a field for high school and amateur events from throughout the region; and

• Allow the city to convert the existing Midway Stadium site for other uses.

The city would handle infrastructure improvements, and the Saints would kick in that familiar mix of suite income, naming rights and parking revenue to fully fund the project.

A down side to the downtown deal that I’ve heard is that downtown parking in ramps and at meters will change the traditional Saints tailgating atmosphere. The price of progress?

Other big projects cut out of the bonding bill that likely will seek a piece of the new bonding pool include: Mankato, which is looking at getting nearly half of the money needed for a $31 million civic center expansion; Rochester, which wants $32 million for its civic center; and St. Cloud, which sought $10 million for its civic center.

There’s also a $25 million pitch for the Southwest Light Rail Line that will likely be in the mix.

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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