ST. PAUL, Minn. - A week after ending their season, the St. Paul Saints are hoping to win the biggest game they've played this century.
The team is on the verge of finding out if they'll get state money to partially fund a new stadium in St. Paul's Lowertown.
"We've been anxiously awaiting some news from the governor's office. We're encouraged. We're excited, all of those," Saints General Manager and Exec. VP Derek Sharrer said.
The Saints, and more specifically the city of St. Paul, are asking for $27 million in state money which would fund half of the proposed $54 million stadium.
The competition for money from the Capital Projects Grant Program approved by state lawmakers is fierce. The state will hand out $47.5 million in bond funding. Twenty-five communities have been vetted for the program, each promising infrastructure and economic development. Roughly half of the municipalities are from the metro. The others are sprinkled throughout the state.
The city of Rochester has asked for $25 million for its convention center. Mankato has asked for $14.5 million for its civic center, and the Met Council has requested $14 million for Southwest Light Rail. Several others have asked for significantly less for public infrastructure projects.
"Competition is fun. Some anxiety goes with it, but it is fun," St. Paul Park and Recreation Director Mike Hahm said.
Hahm says the ballpark is a top city priority five years in the making.
"This project has emerged into a place where it is ready to go and it's truly the right project for the right time," he explained.
Businesses in the emerging Lowertown district in St. Paul are excited by the possibilities, hoping a new ballpark will fit right in.
"Definitely a lot of development going on over here with all the housing and condos. It's growing immensely. You see lots of restaurants," Lowertown Bulldog Manager Nick Lindquist said.
The Saints say the new park will be used for much more than baseball, and that the eastside of downtown offers the perfect location.
"It's happening there and if you can take the 400,000 people (annually) that we believe this project is going to deliver and plot them into that scene, it's going to take off," Sharrer concluded.
A governor's spokesperson told KARE 11 the distribution of the grant money will be announced on Thursday.
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