Three firms are competing to build the $54 million Saints ballpark planned for St. Paul's Lowertown district.

The firms, which submitted their bids by the pre-Christmas deadline, are Knutson Construction of Golden Valley, PCL Construction of Burnsville and Ryan Cos. of Minneapolis.

The winning firm will design and build the 7,000-seat ballpark on the site of the former Gillette/Diamond Products plant.

The city, which will own the park, this fall had awarded the project to Ryan, a firm the Saints used as a partner in developing its proposal.

But city leaders decided to solicit bids after the Taxpayers League of Minnesota sued over the lack of a competitive process and Gov. Mark Dayton suggested he might otherwise withhold a $25 million state grant. The balance of the funding, up to $29 million, will come mostly from the city and the Saints.

Barring complications, demolition on the site will begin this spring, with the ballpark ready for the 2015 season.