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Saints ballpark work swings from demolition to construction

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After months of costly and complex demolition work, construction begins Wednesday on a $63 million minor league ballpark in downtown St. Paul's Lowertown area.

The St. Paul Saints official mascot Mudonna joined work crews at a 2 p.m. ceremony, when the first concrete footings at the site at Fifth and Broadway streets were poured, the Pioneer Press reports. (See video of event above.)

Fans will start to see the field take shape this summer, officials say.

Demolition work at the site continued despite the long, cold winter, as crews tore down and carted away the remains of the former Diamond Products/Gillette building. The project hit a snag last year when officials realized it would cost millions more than expected to clean up contaminated soil at the site.

A construction firm working at the demolition site was fined more than $50,000 as a result of an accident in September that killed one of its workers.

But the new downtown stadium remains on schedule to open in 2015. The cost of the project is split: $27 million in grants and a $1 million loan to be paid from the state's Department of Employment and Economic Development; $23.2 million in city bonds, grants, cash and land sale proceeds; $11 million from the team and about $750,000 in grant money from the Metropolitan Council.

Final ballpark designs are expected to be completed in May, although design concepts have been released:

Check out several other renderings on the Ryan project page.

For more on the ballpark site itself, click here:

You can follow project progress on a live webcam or on a project Facebook page.

This City of St. Paul video offers a project update and introduces some of the workers and planners behind the construction of the 7,000-seat stadium project being managed by contractor Ryan Cos.

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