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St. Paul council to vote on state ballpark-funding request

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St. Paul Saints

The St. Paul City Council is expected to unanimously approve a request of state funding for a new St. Paul Saints (independent; American Association) ballpark today.

The city will put together a funding request for $27 million from a $47.5 million economic-development fund overseen by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). This would cover half of the cost of the new $54-million facility: the Saints are expected to kick in $10 million, while the rest will come from St. Paul via existing neighborhood-improvement fund and unspecified sources

We probably won't know the status of the application under the end of the summer: the deadline for applications is the end of June. But, if we're reading the tea leaves correctly, we'd predict the city will receive much, but not all of what's being requested. One issue: granting $27 million to the Saints would eat up more than half of the money set aside for statewide economic development. Second issue: there will be a lot of competition for these funds, including a $4 million request from Duluth for improvements to historically significant Wade Stadium, the WPA-era home of the Duluth Huskies (summer collegiate; Northwoods League). Third issue: while the fund is being administered by an agency under control of Gov. Mark Dayton -- a supporter of a new Saints ballpark -- there might be some political fallout before the fall election season if so much of the fund is devoted to an area that's going to be under DFL control no matter what. (In other words: there's no political boost for any St. Paul legislator should the full funding be granted, but there are plenty of DFL legislators across the state who would love a photo op if a local funding request is granted.) 

Still, the city is expected to put together a pretty compelling economic-development plea. By moving the Saints downtown to a vacant Lowertown brownfield site and tearing down Midway Stadium to make way for factory space, the city says at least 300 new jobs will be created out of two areas that generate very few jobs now. 

If funded in time, the 7,000-seat ballpark could be open for the 2014 season.

RELATED STORIES: St. Paul: We'll request economic-development funds for new Saints ballpark; Affiliated ball in St. Paul? Don't hold your breathDuluth: We'll continue seeking state fund for Wade Stadium renovationsDuluth Huskies unveil renovation plan for Wade Stadium; St. Paul officials confident in scoring state aid for Saints ballparkSaints ballpark funding alive -- but just barelyState aid for Saints ballpark coming down to the wireSaints ballpark bill suffers setback in state SenateSt. Paul close to acquiring land for new Saints ballparkSaints ballpark funding passes hurdleSaints ballpark funding part of state bonding bill

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