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St. Paul and Saints baseball team say they’ve solved $9 million problem

Many details of the agreement in principle, though, still need to be finalized.

St. Paul officials say they’ve solved the $9 million problem with the new St. Paul Saints ballpark.

The city will come up with $8 million more and the minor league Saints team will pay and additional $1 million.

Beyond that, the details are still fuzzy.

The city also said that the privately-owned team will be on the hook for operations and maintenance of the ballpark, along with a $100,000 annual contribution for capital maintenance. And the city will share in net revenues from the ballpark, plus get a share any profits if the team is sold in the next seven years.

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Again, they said details on those exact costs and percentages of profit sharing are still being worked out.

Last month, it was revealed that higher costs for contamination cleanup and upgrades would raise the overall cost of the Lowertown ballpark from $54 million to $63 million.

Today, they wanted to assure taxpayers and the city council that the extra money will be available as demolition of the old Gillette building is underway in the first step of construction.

City Parks and Rec Director Mike Hahm said many of the details must still be finalized and put in legal form. That’s expected next month.

For the city’s newly-needed $8 million, Hahn said the city will work out an internal city loan for $6 million and get $2 million from a state-sponsored sports subsidy that Hahm said had been set up by the 2012 Legislature.

The city will then try to repay the $6 million internal loan by obtaining grants for environmental cleanup. Hahm said he is confident they’ll find that money, because previous city internal loans have always been repaid. “I cannot  speculate on what happens if we can’t get it,” Hahm said.

The Saints, initially responsible for $10 million of the ballpark cost, agreed to pay another $1 million. Most of the previous pledge, though, was going to come from new revenue at the stadium, like parking and naming rights.

The original funding plan included a $25 million bonding appropriation from the state and a planned a city share of at $17 million, with an extra $2 million from unspecified sources.

Saints owner Mike Veeck said today that the agreement means the world to the team. “To say I’m excited is putting it mildly.”

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The St. Paul City Council will hold a public hearing July 24 on the new agreement’s principles, although all the funding details won’t be ready by then.

Hahm said the proposal is a good deal for city taxpayers:

“I believe these financial agreements represent the first time in Minnesota sports history that a professional sports team has agreed to share with the government partner the annual revenues and a percentage if the team is sold.”