On Wednesday, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman is expected to flip a giant light switch, officially turning on the lights at CHS Field for the first time.
Coleman will be joined by St. Paul Saints pitching coach and former Atlanta Braves pitcher Kerry Ligtenberg. The lighting ceremony will be part of a night-long event including tours, a brief program and a social hour at nearby Heartland Restaurant. More than 150 people -- including elected officials and ballpark design committee members who helped make the ballpark possible -- are expected to join in.
It is all scheduled to start with ballpark tours from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The program will begin at 6:30, with a social hour to start at 7 p.m.
CHS Field will be home to the St. Paul Saints and Hamline University Pipers baseball teams, as well as dozens of other sports and entertainment events.
The new, 7,000-seat ballpark is owned by the City of St. Paul, but is operated by the Saints, an independent minor league baseball team that for the past 20 years has played it games at Midway Stadium on Energy Park Drive.
As the first puck was being dropped this week at the Xcel Energy Center for the girls state hockey tournament, the folks of Visit Saint Paul, flanked by wrestlers, entertainers, roller derby girls and astronauts, announced the launch of 31 Days of Giveaways!
It's a promotion to highlight a busy month in the Saintly City.
"March is so big in St. Paul that the festivities start in February," said Mayor Chris Coleman. "It's one of our busiest months of the year and a great opportunity to showcase all the fun and unique events that make St. Paul so special, from Wild hockey to a wedding fair."
Beginning with the girls' hockey tournament, the city will host dozens of games, events, concerts, the city's St. Patrick's Day parade and Space: And Out-of-Gravity Experience at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
To entice even more interest, Visit Saint Paul is offering a long list of prizes, from Wild game tickets to concert passes, restaurant gift cards and free hotel and bed and breakfast stays.
Terry Mattson, president and CEO of Visit Saint Paul -- who actually introduced the mayor by wearing a hand puppet "Mr. Happy" -- said an estimated 1 million visitors could descend on the city over the next six weeks.
"We can't wait to welcome these visitors to St. Paul," he said. "It's an incredible month. We plan on making it even better by giving away all kinds of awesome St. Paul swag."
A complete list of prizes and contest rules can be found at http://VisitSaintPaul.com/marchon.
Red Bull Crashed Ice, the extreme skate race that has become an annual winter spectacle in St. Paul, cost the city somewhere north of $118,000 this year for police, fire, parks and public works services.
But Red Bull reimbursed the city for every public dime spent, short of the time of some city staffers such as Joe Spencer, Mayor Chris Coleman’s arts and culture adviser.
“Red Bull is great because they pay all their bills,” Spencer said Tuesday.
About 140,000 people are thought to have attended this year’s event, which took place on a steep and bumpy track that started at the Cathedral of St. Paul and twisted down the hill leading to downtown.
One of the sponsors was the city’s convention bureau, Visit St. Paul, which paid Red Bull an estimated $140,000 – about twice as much as the year before, said President and CEO Terry Mattson.
The hike was due in part, Mattson said, to this year’s Crashed Ice Village outside the Xcel Energy Center, which offered food, beverages, music and a jumbo screen to visitors and spectators.
“The cost of doing business has increased because the sport has grown and evolved,” he said.
The city annually contributes a portion of the revenue from its lodging tax to the convention bureau, an amount estimated this year at between $1.7 million and $1.8 million.
The total estimated economic impact of all events that weekend – which included Winter Carnival festivities -- was $20 million, of which Mattson said $12 million to $15 million could be attributed to Crashed Ice.
Spencer said the city’s costs for the event were split among police, $73,000 for traffic management and crowd control; fire, $23,000 for paramedics; parks and recreation, $13,600 for event staff and turf repair; and public works, $8,000 for road closures, lighting and clean up.
There’s no formal competition among cities to host the event and St. Paul didn’t submit a bid, Mattson said. On the other hand, the city enjoys no assurance from one year to the next that Red Bull will return to St. Paul, Spencer said.
But they clearly like the city, which hosted its first Crashed Ice event in 2012.
“It’s unusual for Red Bull to come back for repeat engagements, and each year they caution us that they [typically] don’t come back,” Spencer said. “And yet they’ve also said this is the most successful Crashed Ice event anywhere. So it’s our hope they’ll come back.”
Red Bull isn’t done yet with St. Paul this winter. The company, in partnership with Become Co., plans to shoot a daredevil snowmobile sequence in downtown St. Paul for online viewing in early March.
According to a proposed sound level variance going before the City Council on Feb. 18, a “specialized snowmobile” will race up Robert Street from 12th Street to University Avenue, where it will jump the concrete overlook in Cass Gilbert Park east of the State Capitol. Levi LaVallee, an award-winning snowmobile driver from Longville, Minn., will do the honors.
This one isn’t a spectator event, Spencer said. But it will set the stage for millions of online views of the city.
“If it comes together, it’s a great opportunity to showcase St. Paul,” he said.
A piece of art designed and built by sculptor Emmett Culligan will be installed at the new Goodwill Easter Seals store at 1239 University Ave. W. in St. Paul on Wednesday, Feb. 18, at 10:30 a.m.
The sculpture, to be combined with new landscaping outside the store, is intended to enhance a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere along the Green Line.
Culligan is an artist based in Colorado. According to his website, his artistic concerns "lie foremost within the manipulation of material and often reference common forms found in everyday life. He considers the act of 'making' as primary to the universal human endeavor; finding comfort and purpose in this simple act. Beyond this intent and purpose, content is revealed through a process of 'intentional transference' as described by the artist."
The St. Paul Saints announced a couple of moves Thursday -- not to bolster their bullpen or batting order, but to please fans' tastebuds.
The team has hired Executive Chef Ray Remler and Catering Manager Effie Minitsios.
Remler was a chef at the Rivertown Inn in Stillwater. At the Saints' new ballpark, he will be in charge of creating unique food options for all the concession stands during 50 Saints home games and more than 150 other events. He will oversee a staff of about 15 people.
Remler and the Saints plan to use organics and locally sourced ingredients in their ballpark fare. Not only will Remler help cook in the main stands along the concourse, he will also be in charge of setting the menu on a nightly basis in the Club and in suites.
Remler has worked for Embassy Suites, the Sheraton Bloomington Hotel and the Radisson Hotel in Bloomington over his nearly 30 years in the hospitality industry.
Minitsios comes to the Saints from the Detroit Tigers, where she worked as a suite coordinator for Delaware North Companies. At CHS Field, she will be in charge of picnics, suites, Skybox, the Club and all specialty seating areas. Minitsios oversaw the catering of 92 luxury suites at Detroit's Comerica Park.
Minitsios has also worked for Fifth Avenue Management at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas.
CHS Field, the new Lowertown ballpark set to open in May, will feature 12 different areas where fans can buy food and drinks -- six concession stands and six portable kiosks. Groups will be able to use four picnic areas on the concourse: The Lawn, which will seat up to 1,000 people; the Craft Beer Bullpen, an area next to the popular craft beer taps; The Terrace, a tiered area down the right field line that seats up to 150 people and The Gallery, an art centric area behind home plate that seats up to 100 people.