University of Saint Thomas officials and Highland Bridge master developer Ryan Companies will host a neighborhood meeting on Tuesday, February 28, on UST’s plan to build new softball and baseball stadiums near Montreal and Cleveland avenues in Highland Park. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700 S. Snelling Ave.

UST sports complex
The University of Saint Thomas' latest plan for constructing softball and baseball stadiums, connecting concourse, indoor practice facility and a 330-space parking lot on a former rail yard near Montreal and Cleveland avenues.

Representatives of UST and Highland Bridge master developer Ryan Companies discussed the plans on January 24 with the Highland District Council Community Development Committee. Neighbors of the Highland Bridge development continue to raise concerns about the effect the new stadiums will have on homes to the south and southwest.

Concerns about stadium lighting, loss of landscaping

The neighbors are worried about losing trees and a natural berm that provided a barrier between the neighborhood and the former Ford Motor Company assembly plant. They are concerned about lighting from the baseball and softball stadiums spilling into their yards. Parking congestion from sports fans is another concern, as is the number of people who will be cutting through private yards to get to and from the stadiums.

Project planners are looking into those concerns and other matters, according to Tony Barranco, Ryan Companies’ North Region president. Those other matters include amendments to the Highland Bridge master development plan, amendments to an alternative urban areawide review environmental impact study, the relocation of wetlands, a relocation and reconfiguration of the city’s proposed Mica Park and an accommodation of Federal Aviation Administration requirements related to nearby Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport.

Ball fields fit master plan for Highland Bridge

“(The stadiums) take advantage of one of the biggest unknowns of the Highland Bridge site,” Barranco said. That is the future of the former Canadian Pacific Rail yard on which they will be located. The proposed stadiums meet Highland Bridge master plan obligations for civic and institutional uses in the area. They preserve space for two affordable apartment buildings to the north, and they also maintain the park and multi-modal transportation uses envisioned in the master plan for the area around the old rail yard.

The plan for the stadiums is still in its early stages, according to Phil Esten, UST’s athletic director and vice president for athletics. However, the railroad tracks have been removed, and the environmental cleanup has been completed on a portion of the site.

The 1,500-seat baseball stadium and 1,000-seat softball stadium would be similar in capacity to ball fields at the University of Minnesota, according to Esten. Locker rooms, concessions and a central concourse would be located between the two stadiums. An indoor practice facility is also planned.

Stadiums, parking lot may be available for local youth leagues

The collegiate softball and baseball seasons are in the spring when each team would be playing up to 20 home games. However, the teams also play a short fall season of two to three games each.

UST has discussed sharing the facilities with Highland Ball’s youth softball and baseball leagues, local schools and other youth leagues. Neighbors have expressed concerns about rock concerts in the stadiums, but nothing other than ball games are envisioned, UST officials say. The ballfields would be adjoined by a 330-space parking lot to the east. That, too, could be shared with Highland Ball, Esten said, possibly reducing parking on the streets during youth ball games.

For more information on the February 28 meeting at Gloria Dei, contact Amy McDonough at Following the meeting, UST and Ryan Companies’ presentation will be posted at and at

— Jane McClure


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