ST. PAUL, MINN.
The Minnesota State House Tax Committee’s property division heard testimony on Wednesday on bill HF 3806, a request by Minnesota United to receive tax exemption for a MLS stadium built in St. Paul on the Midway ‘bus barn’ site.
The bill was heard by the 16 member committee made up of 10 republicans and was the first real test of the request. The City of St. Paul and Minnesota United ownership group led by Dr. Bill Mcguire are requesting property tax exemption on a piece of land, the ‘bus barn’ site, that has been free of taxes for over 50 years. The property was made tax free by the Federal Transportation Administration for Metro Transit who used the site to repair and maintain buses. The property has been abandoned for the last 20 years.
The ownership group plans on paying at least $150 million for the stadium and then hand it over the to city after completion. Minnesota United has guaranteed that they will also pay for any further upgrades and maintenance to the facility. They will also pay $556,620 annually for 52 years.
The republican controlled house asked questions of both the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Tim Sanders, ( R )-Blaine, and Rep. Rena Moran, (D)-St. Paul. McGuire and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman also spoke and fielded questions from the committee. McGuire and Coleman seemed to satisfy most of the questions and cleared up some misconceptions as well.
Rep. Jerry Hertaus, R-Greenfield, said by paying for the stadium themselves the group should be commended on how a venue should be built. He and other members did voice concerns for the small businesses already at the current shopping center and the possibility that they could get taxed out of the area if surrounding property taxes rise with the building of the stadium. Both Sanders and Coleman explained that Midway Shopping Center owner Rick Birdoff had been proactive in communicating with his tenants that if they wanted he would guarantee them a spot in the new development. Coleman said that Big Top Liquors which is one of the larger retail off sale sites in Minnesota immediately made plans to be part of the new development that will happen around the redevelopment of the site. The Midway Chamber of Commerce also spoke and said they were in favor of the stadium and redevelopment of the site.
After an hour long discussion and some public testimony in favor of the stadium, the bill was passed along and will be heard again on Thursday in the full House Tax Committee. That hearing is scheduled for 10:15 at the State Office Building – Basement Hearing Room, 100 Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard, St Paul, MN 55155.
Finance & Commerce has a more detailed report on yesterday’s hearing.