Reusse: Midway Stadium's days are numbered

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 10, 2014 - 12:07 AM

Saints manager George Tsamis said of the team’s modest amenities: “This doesn’t bother me, but I’ve also had a lot of players tell me that they wouldn’t consider the Saints because our clubhouse was so terrible.”


CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The anti-stadium sentiments that carried sway for so long in the Twin Cities have been replaced by a building boom that started with the opening of St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center in the fall of 2000.

The idea that the public will be coming up with roughly a half-billion dollars (plus interest) to assist in the Avian Abattoir being built to further enrich Vikings owner Zygi Wilf might rank at the top of the shock meter for some.

Not all. From here, the shock of shocks came when Mike Veeck, the president of what had become a tired little independent baseball team, was able to convince the politicians to provide him with a $63 million (plus interest) ballyard in downtown St. Paul.

For now, it’s being called the Lowertown ballpark, as Veeck and the Saints search for a corporation to put its name on the place.

Ryan Construction is hustling to get it ready for the Saints to play a couple of exhibitions before the mid-May opener of the 2015 American Association season. When that’s a certainty, demolition will start on Midway Stadium, a ballpark that dates to 1982 and has been the Saints’ home since inception in 1993.

As of Sunday, there will be seven games remaining for the Saints at Midway, and perhaps a few more in the playoffs.

Among the traditions on the Saints’ schedule has been an afternoon game on a weekday in August, in order to fill Midway with youth groups. This took place Thursday, and it came up as one of those glorious days that Veeck had in mind when he started the Saints as an outdoor, low-cost alternative to the Twins and the Metrodome.

The feel in the adjacent parking lot was that of people skipping work to go to a ballgame, which is exactly the feel that Veeck imagined when he launched the Saints with Marvin Goldklang, Miles Wolff and others.

The timing of that launch proved to be fortunate, since the Saints were starting at the same time the Twins were entering a stretch of eight consecutive losing seasons.

Minnesota sports fans have a considerable appreciation for drinking on asphalt, and this desire was fulfilled with tailgating on Midway’s adjacent, 500-vehicle parking lot.

The early years were marked by capacity crowds of over 5,000 and much media attention as to how quaintly great was the Saints experience. There were also players such as Darryl Strawberry, Leon Durham, Glenn Davis, Darryl Motley, J.D. Drew — even Jack Morris, briefly.

Veeck seemed never to run out of attention-grabbing ideas. Remember Ila Borders, the first female pitcher in men’s professional baseball in 1997?

On Thursday, I was visiting with a group of regular attendees and mentioned the word “sex appeal’’ — meaning Strawberry and others — to describe the first half-dozen years of the Saints.

“I’ve been going to games here since the start, and that’s a good term for what has been missing … ‘sex appeal,’ ” Bruce Hjerpe said. “It’s still great to tailgate with friends, and to watch a professional game at affordable prices, but the team doesn’t have the same pizazz.

“Midway wasn’t as full for a few years [in the 2000s], and when the Twins moved outdoors … people we used to see all the time started going there.’’

Ben Szeremeta tailgates with Hjerpe, and a branch of the St. Paul Quinlans, and others, and they drink Leinenkugel’s and Pabst, not craft beers, and they cook chicken wings and brats, and wonder if the Lowertown ballpark will be as convenient as Midway has been for them.

“I’m sure the new ballpark is going to be great, but I’ll miss Midway,’’ Szeremeta said.

This is not a sentiment to be shared by the players, or the Saints’ small office staff, or fans needing a bag of peanuts or a restroom break in the middle of a game.

  • related content

  • The spacious Midway Stadium parking lot has been sacred ground for tailgaters such as Michelle Quinlan, a season-ticket holder since the Saints’ inaugural season in 1993. The team will have a new St. Paul address next year.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 7:07 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Houston 7:00 PM
Indiana 7:00 PM
Utah 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Portland 8:00 PM
Phoenix 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
Golden State
San Jose 6:00 PM
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Toronto 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Detroit 6:30 PM
Arizona 7:00 PM
Carolina 7:00 PM
Philadelphia 7:30 PM
Vancouver 7:30 PM
Florida 8:00 PM
Tampa Bay 8:00 PM
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM


question of the day

Poll: Are you happy to see the Royals in the World Series?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters