St. Paul Mayor: Land Deal for Saints Site is Underway

The Port Authority has reportedly reached a "handshake deal" with the Florida owners of the vacant Diamond Products building, under which the Port Authority would buy the land for $2.4 million and turn it over to the city to use for a regional ballpark.

The St. Paul Port Authority has secured a deal for land that could become the site of a regional ballpark for the Saints and amateur baseball leagues, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman reportedly said Monday during his annual State of the City address.

Coleman indicated in his speech that the Port Authority struck a deal with the real estate investment trust that owns the vacant Diamond Products building off Broadway Street, according to the Pioneer Press.

The Port Authority reportedly plans to turn over the property-which is across from the St. Paul Farmer's Market-to the city in exchange for the Saints' outdated Midway Stadium site off Energy Park Drive, which it would use for future business development. Midway Stadium is currently owned by the City of St. Paul.

According to the Pioneer Press, Port Authority officials were more cautious in describing the agreement, which the authority's outgoing real estate negotiator Bill Morin brokered Monday morning.

Tom Collins, a Port Authority spokesman, told the St. Paul newspaper that a “handshake deal” has been reached with the Florida owners of the Diamond Products building to buy it for $2.4 million. Details will be finalized when the two sides meet next week.

The deal comes at a time when Coleman and the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce have been urging legislators to support efforts to build a $54 million, city-owned stadium in Lowertown's arts and entertainment district, according to the Pioneer Press.

Meanwhile, the Saints have been asking legislators for a new ballpark for four-and-a-half years, and how likely their request is to be granted remains unclear. Governor Mark Dayton's bonding bill includes $27 million for the project, but a House version of the bill more recently recommended just $2 million.

But St. Paul and Saints officials think their odds are better now that they have the land. If state lawmakers approve the city's bonding request, construction could begin this spring.

“We're so close. We're so close!” Coleman reportedly said. “Businesses need this project. Families need this project. St. Paul needs this project.”