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Facing a lawsuit, St. Paul now opens Saints ballpark to competitive bids

Mayor Chris Coleman says the law is on the city’s side, but transparency requires the change.

After St. Paul was sued because it had awarded the design and construction contract for a new $50 million St. Paul Saints ballpark to a Minneapolis firm without putting it out for bids, Mayor Chris Coleman has reversed course and now says the city will seek bids on the project.

The Taxpayers League of Minnesota filed the suit last week, and the city attorney’s office said Monday that it would defend in court the city’s decision to give the contract to Ryan Cos.

But Wednesday  morning, Coleman said that even though the city’s decision was legal the first time, it will make the change, anyway. He said in a statement:

“The City of Saint Paul has acted within the full authority of the law with the work to date in pursuing and building a Lowertown Ballpark. In the interest of transparency, we are conducting a competitive selection process for the design/builder. Transparency in government always has been and will remain a top priority of mine and I believe this process will ensure the best outcome for the city, taxpayers and ultimately, the project.”

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A request for proposals will go out Nov. 30. The goal is to have the ballpark ready for action in 2015.