Above: Commissioner Peter McLaughlin speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony for Target Field Station in 2012 (Liz Flores)
Hoping to break an impasse over a pro-soccer stadium in Minneapolis, a Hennepin County commissioner is suggesting that a final deal could hinge on the taxes and agencies associated with Target Field.
Commissioner Peter McLaughlin proposed his plan at a meeting Tuesday night of 2020 Partners, a North Loop booster group, according to a report in MinnPost. His remarks followed a presentation from Minnesota United officials, who are seeking to build a $150 million stadium near the Farmers Market and exempt it from property taxes.
In an interview Wednesday, McLaughlin suggested the county could use the sales taxes now paying for the Twins stadium to build infrastructure connections between the soccer stadium and nearby neighborhoods. Those taxes are expected to pay off the stadium debt earlier than expected.
The proposed soccer stadium site on Royalston Avenue is particularly isolated, cut off from downtown, north Minneapolis and the North Loop by freeways.
McLaughlin added that the Minnesota Ballpark Authority -- the public entity that owns Target Field -- could buy the soccer stadium for $1 from team owners, which would absolve it of property taxes but keep it in public hands. Team owner Bill McGuire has said he is open to possible public ownership of the facility.
Both facets of the plan rely on the approval of the Legislature, which showed little appetite last session to tackle the soccer issue. McLaughlin said he met with team owners several weeks ago and they were reluctant to explore using the ballpark sales tax.
“There was a reticence about the sales tax, use of the Twins sales tax,” McLaughlin said. “They were reticent to go down that path….They were of the impression that that was a non-starter at the Capitol.”
McLaughlin said the team needs to express interest or the idea is "nowhere." “I think we need to have a conversation with the team owners…We’re going to have a conversation with them. That’s what I’m hoping,” he said.
The team declined to comment on McLaughlin’s remarks through spokesman Eric Durkee.
McGuire's investment partners include Glen Taylor, who owns the Star Tribune.