Worker Dies At St. Paul Saints Ballpark Construction Site

The accident reportedly involved a “partial building collapse.”

A worker was killed Tuesday morning while working at the construction site for the new St. Paul Saints ballpark in the city’s Lowertown neighborhood.

“My heart goes out to the family of the worker who was tragically killed during demolition of the Gillette Building in Lowertown earlier today,” St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said in an e-mailed statement. “Construction work can be a dangerous job, and so today I am thankful to all the men and women in construction trades who day in and day out work to make our community a better place.”

Fire Chief Tim Butler told the Star Tribune that excavation of the old Gillette/Diamond Products building was underway when there was a “partial building collapse” that trapped a worker inside what had been a 650,000-square-foot factory.

The Pioneer Press reported that it was Johnny Valec, a 61-year-old Plymouth man, who died when a section of the former Gillette building collapsed on the backhoe he was operating. St. Paul Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard told the newspaper that there were no other injuries.

Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies US, Inc., was awarded a contract to design the new Saints ballpark; St. Michael-based Rachel Contracting, under Ryan's direction, is reportedly in charge of the demolition phase. A Ryan official told the Star Tribune that the company “takes safety very, very seriously.”

The new ballpark is scheduled to be ready for the start of the Saints’ 2015 season.