Midway Shopping Center will no longer be an obstacle to construction of the new professional soccer stadium in St. Paul.

Minnesota United principal owner Bill McGuire has reached a deal with the owner of the strip mall, Rick Birdoff and RK Midway, a St. Paul Port Authority official confirmed Friday. That gives the team control of the property and clears the way for the $200 million, privately financed stadium.

Some tenants at the west end of the shopping center have been notified that they have 90 days to vacate. While much of the stadium site is on the 10-acre former “bus barn” site owned by the Metropolitan Council, at least part of United’s new home is on property owned by RK Midway.

“The development agreement [McGuire] had with the city was to get team-acquired property. And he was able to accomplish his promises, and he was able to do it directly with him and Rick Birdoff. So I think it’s great,” said Lee Krueger, president of the Port Authority.

McGuire did not immediately return a call seeking comment Friday, and a team spokesman would not confirm the deal.

Instead, the team issued the following statement: “We are continuing to work with the landowner as part of moving the stadium project forward.”

Earlier this year, the quasi-public Port Authority got involved in the land deal to help handle complications related to mall tenants’ mortgages and leases. The Port Authority agreed to enter into a master lease with the shopping center owners, Birdoff and RK Midway, including an option to purchase the site. They then came up with a plan for the soccer team and Milwaukee-based developer Irgens to eventually purchase the property. The Port Authority would then step out of the deal and let the two other developers take over site ownership.

That plan is no longer necessary.

The Port Authority is not involved in the recent deal, Krueger said. It is not clear if Irgens will still be a development partner moving forward.

“We just took a different path, but we still got from point A to point B,” Krueger said.

While the entire shopping center is part of a larger redevelopment vision that city officials hope will someday include office towers, retail, entertainment venues and even housing, not all of it will need to be demolished immediately to make way for the 20,000-seat stadium.

However, tenants at the west side of the site — such as Rainbow Foods, Pearle Vision, Walgreens and Midway Pro Bowl — are expected to have to leave. A spokesman for Supervalu, owner of Rainbow Foods, declined to comment. The owners of Midway Pro Bowl did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Marcy McHenry, whose Dancers Studio and Midpointe Event Center take up 15,000 square feet at the east end of the mall, said she has heard that “a deal has been made” and that several tenants have been told they must move.

“I’m extremely sad for those people because that is not the outcome that they want,” said McHenry, who added that redevelopment plans will not affect her business for years. “From what I’ve been told, it’s going to be a long time before that part of the shopping center is redeveloped.”

 

Staff writer Nicole Norfleet contributed to this report.