Sports advocates in the Mankato metro lobbied for the extension of the half-cent sales tax in 2016 with the idea that movement would be made on new facilities, but one coach is looking for the ball to start rolling on fixing Blakeslee Stadium, one of Mankato’s oldest existing facilities.
In a tweet to KTOE News, Minnesota State University Head Football Coach Todd Hoffner suggested the idea of a new municipal football stadium.
“This city and the greater metro that we’re classified as in Mankato, it deserves a sheet of turf for sure and why not build a municipal stadium to where all sports teams, soccer and football, could really enjoy. So, you have the gender equity card there, you have a municipal community kind of facility, you have lots of camp opportunities for people to come in from the outside and see Mankato.”
Hoffner added that the 55-year old stadium has become a liability and a collaboration between the University, City of Mankato and Sports Commission could help pull off the fix that would benefit the Metro.
“I bet you’d be hard pressed to find a metro anywhere in America that doesn’t have a sheet of turf that football and soccer can either play on, “practice on, perform on, whatever it may be. There’s a lot of beneficiaries that would benefit from a sheet of turf.”
Blakeslee Stadium also hasn’t seen major ADA upgrades and lacks accessibility to the press box.
“Everybody in our league (NSIC) has some kind of multi-million dollar renovation that they’ve either done, are in the process of or, or have completed over the last ten years since I’ve been here. We’ve invested a lot of money into the Verizon Center and I’m not sure if the coffers are empty or not, but I think the powers that be if they feel that it’s important, this will definitely get done.”
City Manager Pat Hentges says the Council has indicated that over time the sales tax dollars need to be made available for regional solutions.
“The possibilities of this I think really gets down to, in the future, what are the partnerships gonna be. So if the city is going to spend money to contribute to a turf project or a turf bubble project or court project or an aquatics project, where is, first of all, the public use versus the University’s use or Bethany or someone else. And what is the regional impact, because it has to be spent on regional impact.”
The local option sales tax was extended through 2038 and is expected to generate 47-million dollars, with 20-million of that being identified for newer recreational facilities.
“It would be very easy, spend three million dollars or two million dollars to upgrade Blakeslee field and put turf in and such. But, what is the public use and what is the University bringing to the table.”
Improvements to the sports economy currently include a 3.2-million dollar makeover of Franklin Rodgers Park and about 2.5-million dollars worth of unanticipated upgrades at the Verizon Center to ensure better ice conditions for Maverick Hockey. Both projects are receiving funding from sales tax dollars.