Twins not set on Rapid Park site

Updated: April 30, 2007 – 1:33 pm

Although the city of Minneapolis has settled on a Minnesota Twins stadium site between Target Center, 600 1st Ave. N., and the Hennepin County garbage burner, the Twins aren’t settling for the city’s choice.

The club has hired the Downtown construction/design firm Ellerbe Becket to evaluate the costs and benefits of two other long-mentioned sites. The firm will report its results by year’s end, said Twins president Dave St. Peter.

St. Peter said the team acknowledges that the Target Center site -- also dubbed "Rapid Park" for the lot where the ballpark would rise -- "remains the lead site."

However, St. Peter said, the team is concerned that the Rapid Park site is too small, cut off from Downtown by Target Center and would require an expensive access skyway built across I-394.

Ellerbe Becket will also evaluate the "Pontiac site," a four-block North Loop site currently anchored by a car dealership at Washington and Hennepin avenues, as well as four blocks surrounding the intersection of 4th Street South and Portland Avenue.

"We know the Rapid Park site doesn’t have to be cleared of businesses, but we see some synergies with the Warehouse District at the Pontiac site," St. Peter said. "It has more of an urban feel, instead of being set off to the side of Downtown, and you don’t have the garbage incinerator issue."

4th & Portland -- dubbed the "Bureau of Engraving site" for a former tenant -- has problems because the StarTribune’s headquarters, 425 Portland Ave. S., would have to be relocated.

St. Peter acknowledges that the Twins’ cost-benefit analysis may differ from the city’s. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and other leaders tout the Rapid Park site because parking, highway access and other public improvements wouldn’t have to be built and paid for.

Rybak was less than enthusiastic about the Twins’ new analysis. "I believe the ballpark only makes sense if most of the infrastructure is in place," meaning at the Rapid Park site. Rybak said the only reason to look elsewhere is if the Rapid Park site is unavailable, which isn’t the case right now.

Despite a $3.2 billion projected state deficit, the stadium will come before the legislature again next year. Hennepin County will ask to levy taxes for a Downtown ballpark, which legislators rejected in 2002.