For the past 20 years, the St. Paul Saints have built their unique brand at Midway Stadium, complete with a nun who gives massages in the outfield and mimes who perform instant replays. And in less than a year, the successor of Colboar—the Saints’ pig mascot—will deliver baseballs to umpires at the new Lowertown Ballpark in downtown Saint Paul.
It may be hard to imagine now, but just ten years ago, Lowertown was a forgotten neighborhood with few businesses, residents, and visitors. Now the neighborhood is full of energy thanks to investments like the renovation of the historic Union Depot, the Green Line, and the Lowertown Ballpark. In fact, the Lowertown Ballpark is expected to attract 400,000 visitors and spur millions of dollars in economic impact annually.
Matt Connell, a first baseman and pitcher for the Hamline Pipers, won’t miss feeling like an also-ran at Midway Stadium on Energy Park Drive.
At the new regional ballpark in Lowertown, he’s guaranteed, among other things, his own locker inside the Pipers’ prominent new clubhouse.
“This is a huge step up, obviously,” said Connell, 21, a Hamline University student from Turtle Lake, Wis. “We don’t have our own locker room. We don’t get to practice on (the Midway field) consistently. We’ll get to use batting cages.”
In the world of independent league baseball, there is no more hallowed ground than the St. Paul Saints’ Midway Stadium. This is where independent baseball was born and first thrived.
It is also where independent baseball will be leaving after the Saints say farewell to the only home they’ve ever known and move into a new, $54 million ballpark next season.
The Saints were one of the six founding teams in the Northern League in 1993. From the start, they were the flagship franchise, drawing more fans than even the team and league owners could have expected.
Mike Veeck, president and part owner of the St. Paul Saints, said that a number of years ago then-Mayor Norm Coleman offered to help get a downtown ballpark built. Veeck polled fans at Midway Stadium and told Coleman to forget it, his followers preferred status quo.
Then came Target Field and Xcel Energy Center.
“The beginning of the end,” Veeck said. “People didn’t want to use portalets anymore.”
St. Paul’s new Lowertown ballpark is rising near the intersection of Fourth and Prince Streets.
Better yet, make that the intersection of two Minnesota music legends, with “Positively Fourth Street” honoring Bob Dylan’s 1960s hit, and perhaps “The Street Formerly Known as Prince.”
Yes, St. Paul, the team with a pig for a mascot and legendary “usher-tainers” is all about the next amusing idea. While the Saints’ move downtown is serious business, team owners (the guys who invented “mime-o-vision”) can’t help but include some whimsical thinking.
For 22 seasons, the Saints have built their brand on the fan experience. That won’t change, co-owner Mike Veeck promised us last week, with efforts to make their spring 2015 transition from worn out Midway Stadium to the new $63 million, 7,000-seat facility as smooth as possible.
Architects are working with the Saints to “figure out what traditions and features of Midway are brought over” to the new building, Ryan Construction’s Logan Gerken told us.
The St. Paul Port Authority is partnering with Bloomington-based United Properties to build a $15 million, 190,000-square-foot industrial facility on the site of the current St. Paul Saints stadium.
The Port Authority on Tuesday approved an agreement between United Properties and Capital City Properties, the Port Authority’s subsidiary, for a joint venture to redevelop the 12.77-acre Midway Stadium site on Energy Park Drive.
The joint venture, dubbed MVP Real Estate LLC, would build a “flex industrial facility” once the St. Paul Saints leave Midway Stadium for the Lowertown Ballpark under construction in downtown. The industrial building would most likely have four to six tenants leasing space.
A Pohlad company will redevelop Midway Stadium on Energy Park Drive.
The St. Paul Port Authority has partnered with United Properties to tear down and eventually replace the current home of the St. Paul Saints, which will likely be replaced by a 190,000-square-foot office-warehouse building.
“It’s a pretty big deal,” Port Authority spokesman Tom Collins said. “It’s a 12-acre site. When the Saints move downtown, we’re going to demolish it and redevelop it, and United Properties is our partner in this effort. We have two years to market it.”
Posted by: James Walsh
St. Paul officials are hoping the new Lowertown ballpark adds to a vibrant mix of attractions downtown. On Wednesday, officials announced that a couple of companies will provide a blend of energy sources for the project.
District Energy St. Paul will supply both chilled and hot water to cool and heat areas of the ballpark. Xcel Energy will furnish electricity for power and lights. It will also provide the natural gas used for cooking those hot dogs, brats and burgers.
It’s the swan song season for the Saints at Midway Stadium.
The team’s longtime home will soon make way to a new $90 million stadium in Lowertown.