MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Friday marked the start of the fourth year Target Field brought Twins fans to the Warehouse District in downtown Minneapolis.
More than 2.7 million fans in each of the first three years have revitalized that part of the city.
Now over in St. Paul, they’re hoping a new minor league ballpark will do the same for that city’s downtown area. A new Lowertown ballpark for the Saints is scheduled to open in 2015.
It is planned to replace the old Gillette Building located on Broadway near Interstate-94.
But there are some who want more than a ballpark in that location, and something that includes parking.
“If they’re going to ruin the lives of everyone who lives here, I don’t think it’s worth it,” said Matt Gross, who lives across the street from the ball field site.
“They’re going to add a ballpark, which will be really neat, but, you know, if I have to park a quarter mile to go home, that’s kind of a steep price to pay,” he said.
Gross and some other Lowertown residents are holding public meetings. They want the city to consider a plan to reuse the Gillette building instead of demolishing it.
The basement floors, according to their plan, would become parking.
“Just carve out a section of [the Gillette] building to put the ballpark inside there,” Gross said. “The ballpark would be half built, because it would be inside the building. Not to mention you’ve got tens of thousands of square feet of retail space that could be used year round.”
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman says the $54 million being spent on the ballpark wouldn’t cover the costs of recycling the building, not to mention security concerns.
“Reuse is a great strategy if it works,” the mayor said. “We don’t think it works in this instance because of the nature of the building.”
He added: “Think about what Homeland Security requires with parking underneath a stadium like that and all the extra costs associated with that. There’s not a deficit of parking in the Lowertown area. It may change where people park, but it’s not going to change their ability to park.”
There will be another public meeting to discuss the plans for the Lowertown ballpark next week on April 10.