In the end, St. Paul officials wanted it more than their Minneapolis counterparts, as Minnesota United FC today announced plans for an 18,000-seat stadium in St. Paul’s Midway area.
The announcement means Minnesota United FC should have a new facility in place for the 2018 season, as work on the new stadium won’t start until next spring. The plan right now is to begin MLS play in 2017, which means a temporary home for the team (TCF Bank Stadium and U.S. Bank Stadium are the obvious suspects, but given the overlap between Twins and United ownership in the firm of the Pohlads, Target Field can’t be eliminated.) Combine this news with the recent news about serious headway on a new Miami stadium, and the 2018 expansion commitments are now fulfilled — which means cities like Sacramento will need to wait for the next expansion round.
The Midway has a deserved moniker: it’s midway between Minneapolis and St. Paul downtowns. The 10-acre site is a former metro-bus depot, basically between three major roadways: I-94 to the south, Snelling Avenue to the west and University Avenue — and the Green Line light rail — two blocks to the north. (Every major sporting facility in the Twin Cities will be three or fewer blocks from this light rail line, including CHS Field, Target Field, Target Center, TCF Bank Stadium, U.S. Bank Stadium, Williams Arena and Mariucci Arena.) It’s an area long targeted by the city for redevelopment: there’s an aging strip mall to the north in sore need to TLC, and there’s already plenty of development to the south along Snelling Avenue, including a new apartment/retail/Whole Foods complex at the corner of Snelling and Selby.
The St. Paul site was not the preferred site for United owners, but in the end it became the default choice after Minneapolis and Hennepin County officials refused to play ball with the team on a Warehouse District location. In the end, St. Paul worked hard to attract the team; Minneapolis did not.
The parameters of the deal still need to be worked out. St. Paul doesn’t actually control the 10-acre site; the Met Council, a unique level of government encompassing the seven-county Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, does and will need to come to a lease agreement with the MLS franchise. And while United owners says they’re committed to funding construction of the $120-million facility, some property tax relief will be sought in the next legislative session.
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