St. Paul kicks soccer stadium plan into Capitol fray

Minnesota United FC's William McGuire and St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman unveiled renderings in late February for the new home of Major League Soccer (MLS) in Minnesota, a 20,000 seat stadium in the Midway neighborhood Minnesota United FC

Stadium talk is back at the Minnesota Capitol.

Bills introduced Thursday in the House and Senate would help pave the way for construction of a $150 million outdoor stadium to host a Major League Soccer franchise in St. Paul.

It is the sixth professional sports stadium construction pursuit that has involved the Legislature in the past two decades. Lawmakers have already helped pay for new or refurbished homes for hockey's Wild, baseball's Twins and the Saints, basketball's Timberwolves and football's Vikings.

The Legislature also provided financing for the University of Minnesota's on-campus football stadium about 10 years ago.

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The pitch from the city of St. Paul and the Minnesota United FC is limited in scope. Backers want the state to exempt the 12-acre site from property taxes and lift the sales tax on construction materials. They also need state approval for a liquor license. The stadium is to be built on the site of a Metro Transit bus lot, which means property taxes haven't been assessed on the land.

Team owner Bill McGuire and his partners say they will pay for the building itself, then turn it over to the city. But the tax measures might be critical to making the venture work long-term. It could mean millions of dollars per year in tax savings.

If all goes as planned, stadium construction would begin later this year and the team could start playing there in 2018.

The bill's sponsors are Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, and Rep. Tim Sanders, R-Blaine.