St. Paul officials have come under fire in a lawsuit filed Friday that alleges that the city erred in how it awarded a contract for construction of the new Saints ballpark in Lowertown.
The Taxpayers League of Minnesota, as well as Greg Copeland, chairman of the St. Paul GOP City Committee, sued the city over its awarding of the contract to design and build the $54 million ballpark to Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies without a competitive bidding process, which they say violates city ordinances and state statutes. The suit argues that the contract is therefore illegal and that work on the project should halt until the contract can be rebid using a competitive process.
"What there is a need for is to make sure that we have competition so that our tax dollars are prudently spent," said Dean Thomson, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, on Saturday.
He added that it is still so early in the project that the bid could be restarted with little harm done.
Last month, St. Paul was awarded $25 million in grant money from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to build the new minor league ballpark, which is to be located near the Farmers Market. The city and the Saints will pay for the rest of the project's cost.
The day after it was announced that St. Paul would receive the grant funds, the city awarded Ryan Companies the design-and-build contract.
St. Paul city attorney Sara Grewing said Saturday that her office is still reviewing the lawsuit and will have further comment this week.
The 7,000-seat ballpark will host Saints games as well as amateur sporting events. The ballpark project promises at least 248 jobs, including 225 in construction, and is expected to bring 400,000 visitors to Lowertown and $10 million a year to the city. The ballpark is scheduled to be ready by 2015.
Nicole Norfleet 612-673-4495 Twitter: @stribnorfleet