St. Paul district council report examines proposed soccer stadium

By Mike Kaszuba

A key St. Paul neighborhood group, while remaining neutral on a Major League Soccer stadium being proposed in the city, said Wednesday that many residents remain concerned by a “lack of transparency and little public engagement” as city officials negotiate with the team.

The Union Park District Council, representing the neighborhood surrounding the proposed stadium site at Snelling Avenue and Interstate 94, said that should the project be built, improvements needed be made for safety, and that minorities and local business should be hired as part of the stadium’s construction.  The district council adopted a report outlining its position one day before Minnesota United, a professional soccer team owned by former UnitedHealth Group executive Bill McGuire, was expected to unveil more details about the soccer stadium project.  The neighborhood’s 16-page committee report said there should also be a written plan that outlined “assurances about what happens if Minnesota United is unsuccessful in their new location.”

“While the existing management team of Minnesota United has demonstrated their commitment to the region and the local community,” the report stated, “the professional sports industry as a whole is complex and volatile … Larger [major league teams] frequently threaten cities with moving unless significant demands are met while smaller professional sports teams often struggle to maintain their major league status and attendance figures.”

The report also noted that the council understood that “there is a role for public dollars to meet certain development objectives (such as infrastructure)”, but it requested metrics by which the city could measure the stadium’s economic impact “and return on the public investment.”

Public Record Media is currently seeking additional public documents regarding the city’s soccer proposal, and will make them available as they are obtained.