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St. Paul council votes to support soccer stadium , but 'there's no deal here'

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St. Paul city council members have unanimously endorsed bringing Major League Soccer to Minnesota's capital city. But – like much of this year's discussion about the issue – the resolution they approved is short on specifics and leaves many questions unanswered.

The non-binding measure supports keeping a 10 acre site near University and Snelling Avenues off the property tax rolls. It also stipulates that owners of Minnesota United would have to pay for the design, construction, and operation of a soccer stadium with private money.

City council member Chris Tolbert, who co-sponsored the resolution, notes that it does not commit St. Paul to anything – and Minnesota United has not put a St. Paul stadium proposal on the table. Tolbert tells the Pioneer Press: "This doesn't guarantee anything. There's no deal here."

This summer Mayor Chris Coleman ramped up his push to bring Major League Soccer to St. Paul. Earlier this month, he took MLS Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott on a tour of the site St. Paul is proposing for a stadium that would seat 18,000 to 20,000.

The 10 acres were home to a Metro Transit bus garage for decades but are now empty. They're adjacent to a smaller undeveloped site and to a shopping center that's considered ripe for a makeover.

Minnesota United currently plays in the second-division North American Soccer League. The team was accepted as an expansion team by Major League Soccer in March, on the condition that construction of a new stadium could be arranged by July 1.

United's owners made it clear a site near downtown Minneapolis was their preferred location for a stadium. But when nothing was arranged there by the start of July, the St. Paul option drifted into the picture.

Minneapolis, though, is not out of the picture. The senior member of St. Paul's city council, Dan Bostrom, tells KSTP he suspects the Mill City is where big league soccer will settle once things come into focus: "I hate to say it, but I think St. Paul is being used as a pawn by the team to get a better deal over in Minneapolis," Bostrom says.

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Minnesota United's president issued a statement after the St. Paul city council vote saying United is pleased to see continued support for bringing Major League Soccer to Minnesota.

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