- Associated Press - Saturday, February 27, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The St. Paul City Council votes Wednesday on development agreements to build a new Major League Soccer stadium for Minnesota United.

While the 20,000-seat stadium in St. Paul’s Midway area would be privately funded, the proposed $150 million facility would require an $18.4 million public investment for new sidewalks, plaza areas and parking, among other improvements, the Paul Pioneer Press (https://bit.ly/24uzbVS ) reported. The vote will follow a public hearing and would be the first and last chance for council members to weigh in on the new stadium-related agreements.

Most of those infrastructure costs would be borne by the city. St. Paul would contribute nearly $17 million in public improvements toward the stadium site on vacant land overlooking Interstate 94, including a surface parking lot, two connecting streets and two park areas. The St. Paul Port Authority would help acquire an additional $1.5 million in pollution cleanup grants.

Minnesota United announced plans in October to build in St. Paul. Some council members said they don’t feel ready to approve the agreements.

On Wednesday, the team unveiled design plans for the rounded, glassy and semi-translucent stadium, which is aimed at having a European feel. The stadium is expected to open in 2018.

Neighborhood groups hope the proposed stadium development will move forward along with improvements to the Midway Shopping Center, a 1960s-era strip mall. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman contends the result could increase the site’s property value by 10 times.

“Let’s think about the return on investment, and the catalyst it’ll be for the neighborhood and for St. Paul,” said council member Dai Thao, who represents the area. “The way it is right now, nothing is going there.”

Among the documents is a playing and use agreement. That agreement indicates that youth soccer and public events will be held at the stadium when it opens, but does not spell out how many games or events.

The agreement states that Minnesota United will work with the Minnesota State High School League, the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association and other amateur and recreational leagues to make the stadium available to them, in addition to hosting community and civic events.

“The team and the city are going to work together to maximize public use,” city finance director Todd Hurley said.

Minnesota United owner William McGuire has said he expects to begin construction of the stadium by June 1, provided the state Legislature approves a tax exemption on 12 acres of land.

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, https://www.twincities.com


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