The Minnesota Wild and St. Paul Port Authority are discussing ways to turn part of the blighted old Macy's building downtown into a practice facility for the hockey team.
Jamie Spencer, the Wild's vice president of new business development, said the team is interested in the building, adding, "We don't have a deal done but we do have an interest in that site as being mutually beneficial for the team and the city."
The St. Paul Port Authority, with support from Mayor Chris Coleman, purchased the building last year for $3 million to maintain some control over the site's future use. The store closed in March 2013.
"It's one of the critical blocks in the city of St. Paul. Not only because of its location near the main stop of the light-rail at Central Station in St. Paul, but because it is symbolic of where we are headed," Coleman said.
The Mayor said he would like to see the site turned into a mixed-use project, creating activity 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"[The practice facility] would be an interesting concept for the development that would enliven it and not just make it a closed-off private building, but it would serve multiple purposes," Coleman said.
The Wild says it recognizes that this project must balance the needs of the city with the team's needs.
"We are going to be one piece of a much bigger building. We only practice there for about two hours a day, so what we like about this project is that it could be so much more with hockey clinics and other activities," Spencer said.
This is not the first site the Wild has looked at over the years.
In 2009, then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed a state financing plan for a practice facility next to the Xcel Energy Center. The idea was revisited a few years ago, but was put on the back burner by the city's campaign for state bonding funds for the new Saints stadium in Lowertown St. Paul.
The Port Authority said details are still to be hashed out, but is optimistic about the prospect.
"We are right in the middle of a lot of stuff. We are really the hole in the doughnut," said Lee Krueger, senior vice president of real estate and development for the Port Authority. "We have some great ideas, we just don't have anything signed yet."