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$150M soccer stadium in St. Paul moves one step closer to reality

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A plan to build a new soccer stadium for Minnesota United and redevelop a run-down parcel of land in St. Paul took a big step on Wednesday.

St. Paul city council members voted 5-1 in favor of the Snelling-Midway masterplan and site plan, which Mayor Chris Coleman said marks "a huge milestone for St. Paul and the entire region."

"We are one step closer to seeing incredible redevelopment in the heart of the Twin Cities – made possible by the catalyst of this proposed stadium – and one step closer to bringing Major League Soccer to Minnesota," he said in a statement.

As the Forum News Service describes, the long-term plan would see apartments, retail outlets, office space, parkland and possibly a hotel built around the 21,000-seater stadium, on land that is currently a mixture of vacant and home to the "outdated" Midway Shopping Center.

"It's going to be a good opportunity to see some reinvestment in an area of the city that has needed it for quite a while," city council president Russ Stark said at Wednesday's meeting, according to the news service.

Minnesota United is funding the entire construction cost of the $150 million stadium itself and will then hand over ownership to the city, but has requested tax exemptions consistent with other stadium projects to help make it affordable.

Right now, those tax exemption requests are tied up in the ongoing budget impasse at the state legislature, and supporters are waiting to see if the matter can be sorted out during an as-yet unannounced special session.

But more good news is expected on Friday, with Minnesota United owner Dr. Bill McGuire expected to announce that the team will enter Major League Soccer in 2017 – a year earlier than originally planned, the Star Tribune reports.

The team is expected to play its first season in MLS at TCF Bank Stadium, before moving into the new stadium in time for the 2018 season.

The sole vote against the project came from Jane Prince, saying there is still too much uncertainty surrounding the project at state level, the Star Tribune reports, as well as raising concerns that there's not yet enough evidence to suggest the project will bring an economic boost.

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