Newspaper article

Supporters of St. Paul Soccer Stadium Got Most of What They Wanted from Lawmakers. So What Happens Now?

Newspaper article

Supporters of St. Paul Soccer Stadium Got Most of What They Wanted from Lawmakers. So What Happens Now?

Article excerpt

When it came to legislative requests for the construction of a St. Paul stadium for a new Major League Soccer franchise, two out of three ain't bad.

That's the message in a post-legislative session statement from St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, even if the optimism was tempered by the knowledge that statehouse politics could still ensnare the bill that holds the key piece of the stadium package.

Before the 2016 session started, Coleman and the owners of Minnesota's MLS franchise asked the Legislature to keep the stadium and Midway-area land beneath it exempt from property taxes. The measure passed both the House and Senate, but Gov. Mark Dayton, a supporter of the soccer plan, said Monday he must review the tax bill that includes the provision before he commits to signing it.

It is possible that the tax bill -- something House Republicans wanted -- could be held back as Dayton and Senate Democrats negotiate the terms of a possible special session, which would be called to complete work on a bonding bill and a transportation plan. But Dayton said Monday he wouldn't hold the tax bill hostage. And while he has 14 days to sign the bill, he said he didn't expect to take that much time.

"I respect the fact that Governor Dayton needs time to review the bills passed by the Legislature and to determine any next steps with regards to a possible special session," Coleman said in a statement released by his communications office. "I am grateful for his continued support of property tax exemption for the soccer stadium site, which has been tax exempt for many decades."

Both chambers of the Legislature also approved a license to sell alcohol in the stadium, which is proposed to be built on the site of the former Metro Transit bus barn at Snelling Avenue and Interstate 94. Other sections of the bus barn site that are proposed to house commercial offices were not included in the tax exemption, and any of the buildings eventually built there will pay in-lieu-of property taxes equal to what would be paid if the land were private.

One key piece of the soccer request did not pass: an exemption from paying sales tax on stadium construction materials. …

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