St. Paul and Minneapolis get $300,000 each, plus the use of 10 vehicles from Toyota, in exchange for marketing opportunities. Parks and rec budgets are a big beneficiary.
And Minneapolis and St. Paul are going to be helping out Toyota after agreements are signed and approved outlining corporate sponsorship deals.
Officials from the cities and Toyota will hold a news conference at 11:30 a.m. today at Rice Park in downtown St. Paul to discuss the agreements.
The cities get $300,000 each over three years and the use of 10 vehicles, six of which are hybrids, lease-free for three years. Toyota will be credited as a sponsor at some events and will be given other marketing opportunities.
"It's a great way to promote sustainability and environmentally friendly vehicles to the public," said Dawn Sommers, Minneapolis Park & Recreational Board spokeswoman.
As part of the 2008 budget, the board approved the use of $100,000 for green-building certification for a project in the East Phillips community.
In St. Paul, the hybrid vehicles, which will replace current city vehicles, are estimated to save about $40,000 per year, about $8,000 of which would be in fuel and maintenance costs.
St. Paul will use most of the money from the first year for enhancements at the soon-to-be-open Jimmy Lee Recreation Center, said Parks and Recreation spokesman Brad Meyer. The enhancements include security cameras, a $10,000 heavy-duty floor scrubber and a $20,000 interactive video exercise game.
"These are things the facility could do without," Meyer said. "But the additional revenue lets us go above and beyond."
A project that has been in the works since 1992, Jimmy Lee will boast four gyms, four athletic fields and a water park. Cost overruns -- mostly attributed to higher oil costs -- have put the price at just over $15 million, about $3 million more than planned. A grand opening is set for May 31.
St. Paul's parks and rec budget has stayed pretty steady -- about $48 million in 2008 -- but infrastructure continues to age and costs for programming and maintenance continue to rise. Corporate sponsorships help pay for extras.
After the first year, St. Paul may use the Toyota money for enhancements and upgrades at other rec centers.
The additional money comes at a time when St. Paul has been seeking nonprofit partners to take over eight of its 41 rec centers because of budget concerns. Meyer said those eight centers weren't used enough and didn't warrant the Toyota money.
Kathryn Nelson, a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune, contributed to this report.
Chris Havens • 651-298-1542