Is there Saints stadium buyer’s remorse on the St. Paul City Council?

Green Party challenger Jim Ivey and incumbent Ward 2 council member Dave Thune met in downtown St. Paul on Wednesday, as their election battle headed for a runoff next week. Ranked choice voting is likely to pick one of them to win the seat. MPR Photo/Tim Nelson
St. Paul City Council member Dave Thune (MPR Photo/Tim Nelson)
Dave Thune
St. Paul City Council member Dave Thune (MPR Photo/Tim Nelson)

It sounds a little like it, in a story from the Star Tribune's Kevin Duchere today.

St. Paul City Council member Dave Thune told the Strib that he felt "abused a little bit" that the stadium's design didn't have more community input, although it did have a 15-member design committee.

The Strib quotes from a Thune email sent to a representative of a downtown neighborhood group by Ward 2 council member Dave Thune in April:

“It really steams me that the city sold this with the idea that the community would have a real design role and that it would truly be a four-season facility...They have an enormous budget that took money from funds scheduled for neighborhood projects and it looks like the best we get is a ‘nice’ one-season ballpark with fireworks and concerts.”

That doesn't mean, apparently, that Thune won't back the city's plans to build the stadium or to fill in a $9 million funding gap that opened this spring. He's sponsoring the financial cleanup measure going before the city council tonight, which includes revenue sharing and an extra $1 million from the Saints. Here's what he said last week in a Parks and Recreation department release about the plan:

“I am encouraged to see our private sector partner understand the importance of these safeguards for Saint Paul and for Minnesota taxpayer. This is a complicated project that will intimately affect the Ward 2 community and it is important that we are good stewards of these funds.”

That reflects both sides of the stadium politics debate in St. Paul. An alternative ballpark plan that would have kept the massive Diamond Products factory and built the ballpark into the building was championed by Thune's most recent city council opponent, Bill Hosko, but rejected as impractical by the city.

The stadium is also one of the main themes of the mayoral campaign of Tim Holden, the only active challenger to incumbent Chris Coleman. Holden and other opponents say the city took too much parking from Lowertown to build the stadium and should have gotten more from the Saint's owners: "Why so little from the Saints? Looks like taxpayers left in the lurch again," Holden posted on his campaign Facebook page, in reaction to the new financing deal last week.

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