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Lawsuit: Saints ballpark contract should be open for bidding

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New St. Paul Saints ballpark

A lawsuit has been filed to force the city of St. Paul to open a bidding process for the design/build portion of a new downtown St. Paul Saints (independent; American Association) ballpark.

The issue: the city did not open a traditional bidding process before awarded a design/build contract to Ryan Companies, AECOM and Julie Snow Architects. Because state money is being used for the $54-million project, state-mandated bidding should have been the first step taken by St. Paul officials, according to the lawsuit filed by the Taxpayers League and conservative activist Greg Copeland.

St. Paul officials defended the no-bid process by saying the project was exempt from state guidelines.

It's important to note that this lawsuit doesn't seek to halt the project: it merely seeks to open the design and build components of the project to public bid. And, as a side benefit, it also seeks to open up exactly what work is being done on what task, as there are a number of different actions -- like brownfield remediation -- separate from the actual ballpark construction.

Now, it is very common to find a company like Ryan -- which consulted with the Saints and the city while the ballpark plan was being formulated -- to be awarded the contract after a public bidding process. And the qualifications of the design/build team are not under debate here. But the other thing a public bidding process does is make sure there aren't equally qualified vendors out there willing to do the job for less money, which would be a plus for Minnesota and St. Paul taxpayers.

Image courtesy St. Paul Saints.

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