St. Paul mayor boosts Saints ballpark, has Vikings stadium money worries

As Ramsey County commissioners continue to push for a new Vikings stadium in Arden Hills, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman is expressing concerns about how to pay for it.

Coleman said Thursday in an interview on MPR's Midday that while he can envision a new stadium in the east-metro suburb, he thinks the costs of building one should be shared by people outside of Ramsey County.

"It seems to me that this is a regional asset," Coleman said. "It's a statewide asset. The costs of that stadium should be borne by a larger swath of folks."

He noted that Ramsey County is the smallest county geographically in the state and doesn't have the sales tax base Hennepin County does.

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Ramsey County officials have been telling state lawmakers that they're willing to explore a sales tax, similar to one that helped fund Target Field in Minneapolis.

A bill introduced last week calls for the Vikings to pay for a third of a new stadium, with the state and a host community splitting the rest of the cost.


Meanwhile, Coleman is much more bullish on a new minor-league ballpark in downtown St. Paul.

Coleman said a new ballpark for the St. Paul Saints would add to the current momentum of new restaurants and entertainment venues filling up the Lowertown district, and add to the vitality of the region.

"We think it's important," Coleman said. "Families might come from Fargo, Duluth, or Rochester, spend a week in the Twin Cities, catch a game at the Twins stadium, but then on another night they'll go over and watch a Saints game as well."

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton included $20 million toward a new Saints stadium in his bonding bill.

But some Republican lawmakers are skeptical about passing a bonding bill this year, saying it's not a good time to add to the state's debt.