An elementary school will be built, pending city approval, on what is currently state-owned National Sports Center property in Blaine, the Spring Lake Park school district announced last week.
The school for students from prekindergarten through fourth grade would go up near Davenport Street and 105th Avenue NE.
Construction is projected to begin this spring, with the school scheduled to open in the fall of 2018.
“Their plans are before us right now,” Blaine Mayor Tom Ryan said about the school proposal. “There are a couple of items they have to correct, but for sure in March it’ll be ready.”
The elementary school is planned for 11 acres of land that the school district will buy from the state for $1.4 million. The school would have access to 10 acres of green space and about 4 acres of parking that it would share with the National Sports Center, according to the school district’s facilities planning site.
How will the school and the sports facility, one of the state’s most visited sites, share that space?
“Almost all of the use of the school will occur at a time that is perfect for us,” said Barclay Kruse, the sports center’s chief communications officer.
“We’re going to have over 600 students on our campus during a time that we now are very quiet, which is during the daytime hours of school days.”
The construction period, on the other hand, could pose a problem.
If the city obtains state funding, the Blaine City Council is planning this summer to improve 105th Avenue NE., which serves as the main route to the sports center.
“There are 4 million people a year who come through this facility,” Ryan said, “and we cannot have a road that’s completely in shambles. It’s to the point where we can’t patch it anymore, so it needs a complete rebuild.”
According to a study by civil engineers with SRF Consulting Group, existing infrastructure at Davenport and 105th “is sufficient to effectively manage school-associated traffic,” and improvements on 105th will further enhance it.
In mid-July, the National Sports Center will host one of its biggest events of the year, the Schwan’s USA Cup youth soccer tournament. The event draws national and international players and fans.
“We’ll have to make some logistical changes,” Kruse said.
“We’re still working out where we’re going to put everything, but we’re definitely aware of all the adjustments we’re going to need to make.”
Once the school is built, it will serve as the USA Cup’s headquarters for future tournaments, Kruse said.
Other areas considered for the school include sites at the northwest corner of Lexington and 109th avenues NE.; near 85th Avenue NE. and Hwy. 10; and other locations at the National Sports Center.
The district will be able to purchase nearly 4 more acres of land in 2019 after the cycling velodrome closes.
Gabriel Sanchez is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.