Now that virtually every other team in the state of Minnesota has a new stadium, or an agreement to fund a new stadium, the St. Paul Saints are next in line.
The independent Saints play at aging Midway Stadium. Even though it opened in 1982, it's in dire need of replacement. The Saints succeed not because of the ballpark, but inspite of the ballpark.
It's appearance is helped by baseball-related artwork throughout the facility, but the seats are primarily just bleachers, the restrooms are small, the concourses even smaller, and for a team that reguarly draws large crowds, it's time for a move.
The Saints hope they have the right plan in place (details at www.ballparkfansandfriends.org). A $50 million dollar facility on the eastside of downtown St. Paul that would also be used for amateur baseball and other events.
The Saints attract their fans through the numerous wacky ideas that seem to be more of the attraction than the baseball itself.
There's Sister Rosalind Gefre, a masssaging nun down the third baseline.
"This is my 20th year I'm here," says Gefre, "And my goal is people come here, they have headaches, bachaches, they're stressed out, and so I try to unstress them."
Underneath the stands is Wisconsin farmer Dennis Hauth. He will lead the two mascots for the Saints in 2012, pigs Kim Lardashian and Kris Hamphries. A move downtown might result in higher demands for the team's future swine mascots.
"A closed in area, air conditioning," jokes Hauth. "Pool, sauna, just the basic things in life that pigs need."
If, or more likely, when, a new Saints ballpark is approved, Sean Aronson, Director of Media Relations and Marketing for the St. Paul Saints, says fans can expect only the location and ballpark to change.
"Prices of tickets won't change, we've already come out and said that the fun people have out here, the creative ideas, not only will they be as relevant, as funny, they'll be funnier," notes Aronson. "I think we'll be able to do a lot of things where we can poke fun even more at ourselves than we already have. We not only plan on being the Saints, we plan to be the Saints times ten."
The Saints times ten would really be something to see. The Saints currently play a few hundred yards from the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. While the fair may be nearby, a visit to a Saints game is where baseball meets the circus, whether that is in its current, outdated ballpark, or a new one in downtown St. Paul.
Midway Stadium Notes: The Saints name was used in St. Paul from 1894-1899, and 1915-1960. The current Saints began Northern League play in 1993, and moved to the American Association in 2006. Each night a fan sits on the rightfield wall, and can win a prize by catching a home run ball. Trains reguarly pass by the outfield wall which prompts an immediate cry of "Train!" from the public address announcer. The Saints have a theme night for each and every home game. The exterior of the ballpark has several murals depicting Minnesota baseball, as well as a white picket fence, a Snoopy in St. Paul Saints gear, and a post with the mileage to other league cities. That post lists "Heaven - 0 miles." The Saints ownership group includes Mike Veeck, from the Veeck family, well known for wacky baseball promotions, and comedian Bill Murray, listed as "Team Psychologist" on the Saints' website. One of the draws through the years for St. Paul was that the Minnesota Twins played their home games indoors, and the Saints were the only outdoor professional baseball in Minnesota. That changed when Target Field opened in 2010. The Saints say that Target Field actually helped their attendance in some ways because all of the excitement simply got locals talking about baseball. They admit that many of their corporate groups began going to Target Field and that they, the Saints, had to re-think how to market to would-be corporate visitors.
What's On KCRG