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COULD POTENTIAL CONTRACT CONFLICT WOUND ST. PAUL ARENA BID?
Published March 19, 1998
MN Gov. Arne Carlson "declared his confidence" Wednesday in the proposed funding plan for a St. Paul hockey arena and in the close association between the Minnesota Wild and the M.A. Mortenson Co. picked to oversee construction of the $130M arena, according to Robert Whereatt of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. But "several" legislators said "disclosures this week are a potential setback in St. Paul's efforts" to have the state pick up $65M of the arena's cost. New reports showed that M.A. Mortenson pledged $1M to become an investor in the team and "helped land" the NHL franchise by lending the owners $100,000 to pay the fee. The Wild "eventually rejected the investment offer." Also, former St. Paul City Council President Dave Thune, once an "opponent of the arena," was hired by Mortenson while he was serving on the council. He later voted to allow the Wild, not the city, to choose the construction manager, which turned out to be Mortenson. Carlson's Press Secretary, Jackie Renner, said that despite the reports, Carlson "does not see any way in which the public interest is not protected." Members of the MN Senate and House began meeting yesterday to work out differences in capital-improvement bills passed by each body. The House version includes $65M for the arena, while the Senate version has no arena funds (STAR TRIBUNE, 3/19).