St. Paul to Accept Bids for Saints Stadium After Lawsuit

St. Paul to Accept Bids for Saints Stadium After Lawsuit

The announcement—which St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said is “in the interest of transparency”—comes five days after the Taxpayers League of Minnesota filed a lawsuit to halt construction of the $54 million stadium, claiming a violation of public bidding procedure.

A month after awarding the design-build contract for the new St. Paul Saints ballpark to Ryan Companies without a formal bidding process, the City of St. Paul said Wednesday that it will accept competitive bids.
 
The city’s announcement comes five days after the Taxpayers League of Minnesota filed a lawsuit to halt construction of the $54 million stadium. The organization said at the time that “the city’s failure to obtain competitive bids is a violation of the open bidding process and puts taxpayers at risk of paying more than necessary for the project.”
 
In a prepared statement, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said that the city “acted within the full authority of the law with the work to date in pursuing and building a Lowertown ballpark.”
 
However, “in the interest of transparency, we are conducting a competitive selection process for the design/builder,” he added. “Transparency in government always has been and will remain a top priority of mine, and I believe this process will ensure the best outcome for the city, taxpayers, and, ultimately, the project.”
 
The city will issue a request for proposals on November 30.
 
Last month’s news about the design-build contract being awarded to Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies came shortly after Governor Mark Dayton approved $25 million in state funds for the building of the new stadium. While the ballpark project received $2 million short of what the City of St. Paul requested, its share is the largest portion of $47.5 million in state money that’s being given out as part of a $496 million bonding bill that Dayton signed in June.
 
The new ballpark will be located at Fifth Street and Broadway Street and will replace the vacant Diamond Products/Gillette building that’s now at the site, which the St. Paul Port Authority bought. The city coordinated a “land swap” deal, through which it provided the site of the Saints’ Midway Stadium in exchange for that property.
 
The new open-air, grass ballpark will have 7,000 fixed seats, six to eight suites, a public plaza, a restaurant, and permanent art exhibits featuring local artists’ work. In addition to Saints games, the stadium will be used for community athletic events, college and high school football and baseball games, and rentals.
 
The City of St. Paul previously said that the Saints stadium would open in time for the 2015 baseball season—and the just-announced bidding process isn’t expected to change that.
 
“Although this selection process may cause some delays, it is my hope that this process will move smoothly and swiftly so we are able to play baseball in Lowertown on opening day in 2015,” St. Paul Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hahm said in a prepared statement.
 
After the Taxpayers League filed its lawsuit against the city late last week (which it did with Greg Copeland, chair of the St. Paul GOP City Committee), it requested a temporary restraining order on Monday. According to a Pioneer Press report, the city then contracted attorneys with St. Paul-based law firm Kennedy and Graven to re-examine the special legislation that appears to have allowed the city to begin construction without competitive bids. The newspaper reported that the attorneys’ five-page memo points to 2012 statutes referring to the same legislation that authorized Target Field to be designed and built without a competitive bidding process.