Minnesota United and MLS are “close” to choosing St. Paul as the site of a new soccer stadium, according to “sources with knowledge of the situation” cited by the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Actually, I’m not going to bother blockquoting anything from the story, because that’s really all it says. (Other than that “an announcement could come this week,” which is irrefutably unspecific.) The article doesn’t even indicate whether this would mean MLS and United announcing that St. Paul is the preferred site, or actually announcing a tentative deal with the city for a stadium there, which are obviously two very different things. The St. Paul Pioneer Press did notice that Mayor Chris Coleman gave his own vague comment yesterday:
“We’re working it. Nothing to announce today,” Coleman said in a live interview on WCCO Radio.
So what would this deal that may or may not be in the process of being negotiated look like? We know that United owner Bill McGuire would be seeking a property tax break on the part of the stadium land that’s city owned, and that both the St. Paul city council and Gov. Mark Dayton are open to that idea (though it would require approval from the state legislature as well). There’s also been talk about a sales tax break and/or tax increment financing to kick back property taxes from surrounding parcels, but nothing really specific. And who would pay for the cost of acquiring the rest of the stadium land? Would United pay any rent for using the city land? What about operations and maintenance costs? Hello, anyone?
In other words, there’s no friggin’ way to know whether any St. Paul stadium deal would be good, bad, or middling for St. Paul taxpayers. This articles is part of a long tradition of news stories focusing on “Where will they put the stadium?” without answering the far more important question of “Who will pay for the stadium and how?” — but you’ve got to figure that McGuire and the MLS are not displeased with this bit of misdirection. “Sources with knowledge of the situation,” hmmmm?