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St. Paul’s claim of $10 million annual benefit from Saints ballpark disputed

While St. Paul officials wait to hear this morning if Gov. Dayton approves the city’s $27 million proposal for a Saints minor-league ballpark, there are reports that the city’s claims about benefits of the project may be overstated.

MPR says that while the city has said the stadium will create $10 million in benefits per year, an analysis of the city’s 500-page application shows no justification for the claim.

Interviewed in the story is a skeptical John Crompton, the Texas A&M University professor whose work was cited in the St. Paul application:

A lot of the money spent in St. Paul, or any other city, ends up somewhere else. Based on the city’s own report, what would be left in the pockets of St. Paul business owners and their employees amounts to less than $1 million a year, Crompton explains.

“I have no idea how they get from the $650,000 – $950,000 range to $10 million,” Crompton said. “Certainly, in terms of economic impact, I can’t even guess how they do that.”

The $10 estimate, though, is backed by city officials who appear confident that the governor will grant the money. It will be combined with $17 million from the city and $10 million from Saints (through naming rights and other ways), to build the Lowertown ballpark.

Spokesman Joe Campbell was quoted saying: “Any number that you throw out there is an estimate. I think we’re confident that it will be close to that number.”

And Matt Kramer, president of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, said a new ballpark could bring more than $10 million in economic impact to the city each year.

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