MNUFC Stadium Construction. Photo by Brian Quarstad.


McGuire Considering Purchasing Entire 24.5 Acre Midway Shopping Center

by on 11 August 2017

FiftyFive.One has learned that Minnesota United principal owner Bill McGuire is considering purchasing the entire 24.5 acre Midway Center from current owner Rick Birdoff who is based out of New York. The sale of the property or part of the property could happen as early as Aug. 20. McGuire and his ownership group have needed 2.5 acres of Birdoff’s property in order to get complete control of the stadium site which will finally allow the team to move forward unimpeded and get the permits needed to complete the 19,400-seat soccer stadium.

The St. Paul Port Authority (SPPA) has been working with Minnesota United and real estate developer Irgens out of Milwaukee since January of this year, to purchase the property from Birdoff. The deal was originally set up to allow McGuire’s group to purchase 2.5 acres earlier in the year. That deal has yet to be completed. A source told FiftyFive.One in June that the delay came from a reluctant ownership group led by Birdoff who controlled that particular parcel of land. The source said while Birdoff could gain by selling that parcel (along with others in the Midway Center) the rest of that ownership group were currently making money on that parcel and were unwilling to sell. The deal set up by the SPPA allowed both McGuire and Irgens to purchase the entire property from Birdoff, while the original agreement had Birdoff keeping some of the property himself which would be developed by Irgens.

Construction of the stadium, now called Allianz Field, had been delayed for two primary reasons: State legislative approval of property tax exemptions which passed in May, and the need of a few acres of land north of the bus barn site where the stadium is being built. Supervalu’s Rainbow Foods along with several other businesses currently occupy that space, which is owned and leased by Birdoff and an investment group. That land would need to be owned by McGuire’s group before Minnesota United could get a full building permit for construction of the stadium. Currently, MNUFC only have permits for earthwork and pouring cement foundations. Once the team’s ownership group takes possession of the property they would still need to give a 60-day notice to those with retail leases and it’s likely they would also have to buy those leases out.

FiftyFive.One broke the news in June that Aug. 20 was an important date when anyone with the capital could step in and purchase the property needed for McGuire’s stadium. With the date fast approaching and the real estate market doing as well as it is in the Twin Cities, McGuire is now considering purchasing not only the acres needed to finish construction of Allianz Field, but the entire 24.5 acres. McGuire would then have Irgens or other developers work with him to redevelop the property. That development might be a slower process than many of the Midway neighbors would like as current tenants in the shopping center have many long-term leases that are legally binding and must be honored.

“We’ve shown him a plan where he could have site control over all 35 acres of the ’superblock’ site, both the Midway Center and the bus barn,” explained SPPA President Lee Krueger. “We’ve always felt that was the best long term plan — that a single developer operates the entire project. You can sell off part of the site if you need to, but we’ve always felt that the original master developer should have complete control. We’ve shown him a plan on how to do that and now he’s working on that.“

Stadium Talk: A One-on-One Interview With Minnesota United Principle Owner Bill McGuire

Krueger said McGuire was still in talks with Irgens trying to figure out if they will remain in the picture.

“Irgens is who we brought to the table because you really need a long-term holder,” Krueger said. “A lot of the developers around here are merchant builders. They build, develop, get their fees, and sell it. This project is longer term with the length of many of the leases. We’ve tried to play matchmaker, making sure that Bill will find someone who’s a long term holder which Irgens would be. They’ve worked with sports owners before including Bud Selig, Commissioner Emeritus of MLB.”

By purchasing the entire property McGuire would certainly have more control in how the superblock is developed around MNUFC’s stadium in future years.

Asked for comment, Minnesota United said, “The focus of any discussions with the owner of the adjacent property [Birdoff] or the SPPA is the stadium and related infrastructure. The plan continues to evolve. There are multiple parties working together to advance the development and enhancement of the Midway superblock. This group includes the SPPA, the club, the current landowner and private developers. All of this is unchanged from the past.”

The Pioneer Press reported on Thursday, after a conversation with McGuire, that “progress has been made on the leases with the existing businesses within the Midway Shopping Center, including anchor tenant Rainbow Foods, but he declined to share specifics.”

“I don’t want to talk about the details too much,” McGuire said. “They’re not necessary there, but we’ve been working through to do what it takes to progressively move this along.”

Meanwhile, the stadium construction chugs along at a good pace. Greg Huber who is in charge of the stadium project for Mortenson Construction told FiftyFive.One this past week that the bulk of the remediation is completed and they are now on to a mass excavation — digging out the bowl of the stadium. Most of that dirt has to be hauled off to landfills because there is some minor contamination. The stadium construction crane is up, forms are being built and concrete is being poured. In the areas where that have been excavated to field level, both drainage and heating pipes are being installed.

“The first wall is poured that will support the edge of the stadium,” said Huber. “That will start to give you a look at what the edge of the stadium is going to look like. Then the concrete that shapes the main concourse will get set in September and poured in October. That will allow steel work to begin around Thanksgiving. Once that happens things will start to get pretty exciting. When the concrete is poured and the steel goes up it will start looking like a stadium.”

Huber said bids opened on Tuesday for interior work on the stadium and some of those contracts would be awarded as early as September.

McGuire told Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press that he has sought an “architecturally interesting” roof with a kind of herring-bone design within the overall contours. McGuire said it’s a feature that will differentiate it from most other MLS venues. Greder reported that the roof has been a substantial driver in the higher cost, moving the stadium from the original $150 million to a now-reported $200 million price tag.

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