Three firms in running to build St. Paul stadium
Kansas City-based Populous, the firm that designed Target Field and TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis as well as Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, is now part of the competition for the new St. Paul Saints ballpark. The company is a big player in the stadium design world.
Last week the city of St. Paul drew three responses to its request for proposals (RFP) for a new Saints ballpark: Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies US Inc., Golden Valley-based Knutson Construction Services, and the Burnsville office of PCL Construction.
Populous is part of the team assembled by Knutson Construction. The architecture firm is well-known for its focus on stadiums, arenas, ballparks and convention centers. According to its website, Populous has designed 48 minor league ballparks. Two weeks ago Populous announced that it had been selected to design a $50 million ballpark in El Paso, Texas. Populous was previously known as HOK Sport before it was renamed in 2009.
“That was kind of part of our strategy. Get the best designers so we could to deliver the best possible project,” said Darin Knapp, senior vice president with Knutson Construction. “We wanted to provide the right design team to provide the right solutions and we believe that we’ve done that. It’s an open public process and we believe that the correct team structure will win out.”
Knapp said that the Knutson team also includes Omaha, Neb.-based HDR Inc., an architecture, engineering and consulting company. HDR has four offices in Minnesota, including one in downtown St. Paul.
Knapp declined to discuss the total project budget for the Knutson proposal.
“That’s still sealed information,” Knapp said on Thursday. “We responded to the RFP as they requested and assembled our design-build team.”
Beyond disclosing the names of the three groups, St. Paul city officials declined to discuss the proposals in detail.
“The city is in the process of evaluating the three submissions. Contractor interviews will be conducted the week of January 7-11. The city hopes to have an executed contract by January 25,” Alex Dumke, public information officer for the city’s Department of Human Rights & Equal Economic Opportunity, said in an emailed statement.
“From our perspective, we’re happy with the amount of interest we received, and looking forward to the next steps in the process of selecting the design/builder,” said Brad Meyer, a spokesman for the St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department, in an emailed statement.
This fall, St. Paul leaders celebrated when state money made the long-sought Saints project a reality. But the curveball in the process has been the handling of the deal to build the project:
• On Sept. 13, Gov. Mark Dayton announced $25 million in state bonding funds for the Saints ballpark plan.
• On Sept. 14, Ryan Companies announced that it had been hired to develop and construct the new $54 million project.
• On Oct. 4, Finance & Commerce published a story raising questions about the lack of competitive bidding for the project, largely paid for through public money.
• On Oct. 12, the Taxpayers League of Minnesota filed a lawsuit in Ramsey County District Court challenging the lack of competitive bids on the project.
• On Oct. 17, the city of St. Paul announced a public bid process to select a design/build manager for the Lowertown Ballpark project, citing the need for “transparency.”
Representatives of Ryan Companies and PCL Construction could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
The current project includes $25 million from the state, $17 million from the city of St. Paul and $10 million from the St. Paul Saints. As it stands, the project technically has a $2 million financing gap at this point. The city had originally sought $27 million in bonding funds from the state.
Ryan’s original September announcement indicated that it would be the design/builder and architect of record for the project. Other team members included Minneapolis-based Julie Snow Architects as design architect and Los Angeles-based AECOM Technology Corp., which has a Minneapolis office, as “sport architect.”