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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
Minnesota United fans will cheer and boo the black and blue as loudly as they want when their team's new stadium opens in St. Paul next year.
The St. Paul City Council is expected to vote Wednesday to exempt games and other events at Allianz Field from noise limitations. If the ordinance passes, the soccer team will be able to play past 10 p.m. in the event of overtime or rain delays, and most stadium events will not require a sound level variance from the city.
Nearby residents say this will destroy their summertime weekend nights, and complain that Minnesota United is already getting too many concessions, including a tax break from the state.
"I don't see any kind of benefit from this stadium to me personally," said Benita Warns, a longtime resident whose home is less than a mile from the stadium site. "I only see that my quality of life is being degraded because of it."
Before the skeleton of the 19,400-seat stadium at Interstate 94 and Snelling Avenue began to rise, people who live nearby were worried about increased noise, said Julie Reiter, executive director of the Union Park District Council.
Located at one of the city's busiest intersections, the stadium site is already loud. Measurements taken at the site in April 2016 showed daytime traffic noise ranged from 63 decibels to 70.5 decibels. That's higher than what the city noise ordinance currently allows.
The district council is recommending a 65-decibel limit — about as loud as a normal conversation — for stadium noise and also set a trial period for the first five home games of the 2019 season to make sure the limit works.
Reiter outlined the district council's recommendation in a Jan. 31 letter to Council Member Dai Thao, whose ward includes the stadium, and Council Member Russ Stark, whose ward is adjacent.
The council held a public hearing on the ordinance Jan. 17. A vote would typically be held the following week, but the council has put off its decision as more people have come forward in opposition.
Minnesota United did not get a noise waiver from the city of Blaine, its former home, according to public services manager Bob Therres. But that stadium, the National Sports Center, does get occasional exemptions for events, he said.
In Minneapolis, the city code includes noise limitation exemptions for "official athletic activities at outdoor stadiums owned or operated by the University of Minnesota or the Minnesota Ballpark Authority."
St. Paul's proposed ordinance does not provide a blanket exemption for all stadium events. Musical performances and fireworks displays, as well as any events that are not city-sponsored or are not related to home games or league events, will have to stay within noise limits or apply for a variance.
If the council approves the ordinance Wednesday, Reiter said, neighbors will "take a wait-and-see approach."
"I know that residents will be listening as the season starts and the games are played," she said.
Emma Nelson · 612-673-4509
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