Saints ballpark gets a warmup

The St. Paul Saints won’t officially start their season in their new Lowertown ballpark until Opening Day on May 21. But on Saturday, the public got a free sneak peek at live baseball at the stylish new venue under bright blue skies.

Taking the field were the Hamline University Pipers and the Concordia College Cobbers, christening the park with a doubleheader.

The Saints staged festivities before the game, which drew hundreds of neighbors, college students who came to cheer on their teams, and soon-to-be fans of the new CHS Field.

St. Paul Saints: Not your grandfather’s ballpark

While architect Julie Snow has designed houses, restaurants, even border stations, she’s never done a ballpark. So she’s not exactly your typical sports facilities architect.

But then, the St. Paul Saints aren’t exactly your ordinary baseball team.

So the marriage of Snow and the quirky minor league club that produced CHS Field, set to officially open in May in the Lowertown district of downtown St. Paul, makes a certain amount of sense.

It’s a modernist stage for the team and its irreverent brand of entertainment, where the game sometimes seems to be an afterthought.

St. Paul Port Authority takes over Midway Stadium site

By: Brian Johnson

Now that the last vestiges of baseball are gone from Midway Stadium, the St. Paul Port Authority and Bloomington-based United Properties are getting ready to start prep work for a new $20 million industrial park that will rise there.

This week, the Port Authority officially takes control of the 12.77-acre Midway site at 1771 Energy Park Drive, which was home to the St. Paul Saints baseball team for 22 years.

The Saints played their final game at Midway Stadium in August, and the team’s front office moved in March into the new, $63 million CHS Field at 360 N. Broadway St. in St. Paul’s Lowertown area.

Monte Hilleman, vice president of real estate development for the Port Authority, said Tuesday that the authority would close on the Midway property by Wednesday at the latest.

“Either today or tomorrow will be the actual closing,” he said.

The authority is working with United Properties to develop a 190,000-square-foot industrial facility at the site. It’s expected to bring about 300 new jobs to the area, said Tom Collins, the authority’s senior vice president of marketing and communications.

Site work and demolition will begin in earnest in June. In coming days, the site will be secured with fencing, and some preliminary cleanup tasks will begin to “make sure there is nothing sitting outside that might be an attractive nuisance,” Hilleman said.

By this fall, the authority plans to be finished with demolition and remediation and start construction in anticipation of spring 2016 occupancy.

The property requires extensive cleanup. Before it was a ballpark with a neatly mowed grass outfield and a groomed dirt infield, the property was a dumping site for refuse — including horse manure — from the nearby Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Hilleman said the property will be remediated with help from a vapor barrier and a “sub-slab depressurization system,” which is similar in concept to removing radon from homes — only on a much bigger scale.

It’s “like a radon system on steroids,” Hilleman said. “This is probably one of the more intense approaches to vapor mitigation we have been involved with.”

The project cost includes $14 million to $15 million for ground-up construction, plus $5 million for demolition and cleanup, Hilleman said. The authority has secured more than $2.5 million in cleanup grants in recent months, he added.

The project team is pursuing a grant from the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program. The grant would help offset costs of installing a 40-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system for the project, Hilleman said.

As previously reported, Capital City Properties — a Port Authority subsidiary — will contribute the land, valued at $3 million. United Properties will throw in nearly $2.5 million in cash and a $541,000 in-kind contribution, and an anticipated $9 million loan will cover the rest of the project cost.

For its part, United Properties is focused for now on finalizing details of the development plan, which will go before the city for approval in May or June, said United Properties communications manager Jessie Timmerman.

In addition, development plans will be presented at neighborhood meetings starting this week, she said.

Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq is marketing the property. The development team isn’t ready to announce any tenants yet, but Hilleman said there’s been strong interest.

Hilleman said the project will include “very modern” space with 24-foot clearance and 50-foot column space.

Slide show: New St. Paul Saints ballpark nearly ready

CHS Field in downtown St. Paul is almost ready for baseball.

Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos. US Inc., the design-build contractor for the new $63 million home of the St. Paul Saints, is putting the finishing touches on the 7,000-seat venue on the once polluted property at Fifth and Broadway streets in the Lowertown area.


New Saints stadium near completion

ST. PAUL, Minn.–The new St. Paul Saints stadium, CHS Field, is 90 percent complete.

The $62 million project will host the Saints first game on May 21st. Sean Aronson, director of Saints media relations, said the new space can seat up to 7,100 people, which is 1,300 more than the old Midway stadium.

The bleachers Saints fans are used to are replaced by folding chairs with cup holder. CHS field also houses a club level, which the Saints have never had before. The club level is for season ticket holders and can be rented for special events. In fact, a bar mitzvah and wedding have already been booked, according to Aronson. There are also four suites, one of which can be rented out nightly.

Meet the Saints’ CHS field, where St. Paul is the star

Imagine a Lowertown warehouse building turned inside out to reveal the dark brick of its hallways, black steel beams and cedar finishes.

That, in a nutshell, is the vision behind St. Paul’s new $63 million ballpark, which will open in May across from the Farmers’ Market.

“You’re never really in the ballpark,” said St. Paul Saints vice president Tom Whaley. “You’re in downtown.”

CHS Field, the future home of the independent league Saints, gave up its secrets Friday during a tour led by Whaley, team founder and co-owner Mike Veeck and team vice president Annie Huidekoper.



Saints head to new ballpark, bring along the old charm

Mike Veeck was standing in the nearly finished club level of the St. Paul Saints’ nearly finished new Lowertown ballpark, CHS Field, when he was asked his favorite feature. He pointed through the floor-to-ceiling windows toward the downtown Farmers Market just across the street.

“We wanted to make downtown, the Farmers Market, the star,” said Veeck, president and co-owner of the independent baseball team.

Well, that AND the urinals — there are more in just one of the ballpark’s five men’s restrooms than in all of Midway Stadium, the Saints’ old home near the State Fairgrounds.