The St. Paul City Council endorsed the notion of a new Minnesota United MLS stadium in the city’s Midway area yesterday — but with no financial backing and a list of demands that go way past professional soccer, the nonbinding resolution is sure to be meaningless in the long run.
The resolution encourages the use of a former bus yard at I-94 and Snelling Avenue as the site of a new Minnesota United MLS stadium. It was a nonbinding resolution — indeed, the city doesn’t actually control the 10-acre site — and it doesn’t commit the city to a single thing, past keeping the land off the tax rolls, which is the current situation. It also calls for the Minnesota United owners to work to redevelop an adjoining strip mall at Snelling and University — again, something not controlled by the city, as the mall is in the hands of private ownership — as well as consult with neighbors on the design and use of the stadium. Oh, and the Minnesota United owners should also throw in a public park or plaza on land they don’t own as well.
If you guessed this was more an attempt to make political points in the Midway area and less about attracting a new Minnesota United MLS stadium, you’d be correct. There’s little wooing of the Minnesota United ownership and more PR for neighborhood activists in this nonbinding resolution. From the St. Paul Pioneer Press:
“I know there’s a lot of fears and uncertainty about the possibility of a stadium,” said [council members Dai] Thao, who represents the neighborhood.
The resolution, however, sends a clear message to team owners about “what we’re willing to offer and what we’re not willing to compromise on,” he said. “… We want to spur the right kind of economic development that is worthy of the people.”
Tolbert noted the city has yet to see a formal proposal from Minnesota United team owners. The resolution does not commit the city to a stadium agreement or spell out whether the land would be conveyed to the city.
So, it’s pure symbolism. Which is fine: politicians gotta politic, even though a new stadium could be the cornerstone of a grand redevelopment of a run-down area of St. Paul ripe for investment. But let’s be realistic: the redevelopment of the Midway is already happening (lots of new construction south of the Snelling/I-94 interchange, including a new mixed-use development with higher-end condos and a new Whole Foods), and with Hennepin County jumping into the fray, it’s way more likely the new stadium will end up in downtown Minneapolis anyway. If you’re gonna go down, go down with a grand, futile gesture — and that’s exactly what happened in St. Paul.
(Editor’s note: Boy, were we misled by some folks! Minnesota United did indeed commit to a St. Paul stadium.)
Image of Minnesota United FC’s current stadium courtesy of the team.
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