Stadium developers keep ball rolling; Aim is for major construction in spring of 2017

Published 10:23 am Wednesday, December 14, 2016

By Matt Sepic FM

Minnesota United owner Bill McGuire says preliminary work on the team’s new soccer stadium is underway.

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Three weeks ago, utility crews began moving electrical lines at the site. McGuire said major construction will begin in the spring, even though developers still don’t have full control of the site, and they’re awaiting a key property tax break from the state amid a legislative power shift.

More than a year ago, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and McGuire announced the team’s stadium would be built largely on the publicly-owned site of an old bus garage near Snelling Avenue and Interstate 94.

With the temperature hovering around 7 degrees, the two joined other team officials and a half dozen schoolchildren Monday to toss shovels of ceremonial dirt out of a wooden box.

McGuire told reporters that the 20,000-seat, $150 million venue is still on track to open in 2018, though he still wouldn’t say exactly when.

McGuire still does not have the go-ahead to build on the entire site. That’s because a Rainbow grocery store sits within the stadium’s proposed footprint and McGuire has yet to finalize a deal with property owner RK Midway.

From the beginning, renderings of the stadium showed it oriented north to south. Asked if he’d rotate the footprint 90 degrees to avoid the neighboring grocery store, McGuire said he’s open to the idea.

“We’ve looked at a number of options. That’s certainly a possibility. That’s not preferred,” McGuire said.

McGuire is counting on a property tax exemption from the state. Lawmakers approved the break early this year as part of a bipartisan tax package. But Gov. Mark Dayton declined to sign the bill because of an unrelated $101 million error involving bingo halls. Nevertheless, McGuire says he’s confident legislators will come through next year.