Iconic Soccer Field Proposed for Highland Park Landmark

by on 2 January 2018

By Rob Spence,
Member St. Paul Blackhawks Board of Directors

While the debate rages on between residents of St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood over the ideal density for the 32 acres at the former Ford Plant, a desirable four acre property exactly one mile east and two miles south of Allianz Field, is about to find a new use, possibly as early as this month.

One of the two massive underground cisterns owned and managed by St. Paul Regional Water Services (SPRWS ) is set to be redeveloped by one of five prospective suitors with proposals including an indoor strawberry farm, a solar array, a grocery store, additional ice rinks with parking and a multipurpose athletic field. The SPRWS plan to maintain ownership and lease the property dissuaded many of the developers seeking to build retail and/or residential buildings on the property which is 2.5 miles directly south of the under-construction Allianz Field where Minnesota United are scheduled to start their 2019 season.

While most of the proposals offered innovative approaches to the use of the land (grocery store – not so much) the St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department surprised many with a particularly inspired use of the existing cistern structure to design an outdoor athletic facility they’ve accurately named “The Colosseum at Highland Reservoir”.

The plan calls for a partial demolition of the cistern, but keeping three of the four sides intact which provides shelter for a running track and spectators and an an excellent view of the field (and the surrounding skyline) from the top of the existing cistern. There are also plans for additional parking and a discussion about a seasonal dome to make the facility usable year round. The top of the reservoir is one of the highest elevations in the Twin Cities.

St. Paul Parks and Recreation consulted with the St. Paul Blackhawks Soccer Club on the project. The club relayed the dire need of more full size soccer fields in the city. Currently the club is, as are many urban soccer clubs, forced to rent suburban facilities to meet all their field requirements for practices and matches.

The St. Paul Board of Water Commissioners is set to meet on January 9th and unless they decide to take an extra month for public comment, may vote on a proposal at that time.

If you would like to voice your support for “The Colosseum at Highland Reservoir” or make your opinion about any of the proposals known, contact the Board of Water Commissioners.

FiftyFive.One is now on Patreon. Do you like the independent coverage of soccer news from Minnesota and beyond that FiftyFive.One offers? Please consider becoming a patron.