Concrete in the ground at the new Lowertown Ballpark

Construction crews started pouring concrete into the ground in Lowertown St. Paul this afternoon — sometimes right on top of the footings for the old Diamond Products building that once stood at the site of the new Saints stadium.

“We’ve got existing pile caps, and the existing Broadway wall, which we’ll tie the precast into. And all our new structural footings will be incorporated into the existing pile caps. We’re using what’s already existing,” said Bob Curley, project superintendent.

It’s going to go fast: masonry in May, precast concrete after that and structural steel in July. Crews will be putting in the field turf in September, so it’ll be ready to green up in time for the Saints season next year. They typically start playing in early May.

Crews have already demolished the Diamond Products building and cleared away almost all of the contaminated soil on the site: pollution added more than $9 million to the project cost last year, putting it at about $63 million for the open-air, 7,000 seat park. The state of Minnesota is putting the biggest single chunk of funding into the project, with a $25 million grant to St. Paul. The Saints are putting in $11 million, and the city of St. Paul and the Metropolitan Council are picking up the rest.

The ballpark will replace Midway Stadium, set to be demolished and redeveloped in the industrial park just south of the State Fair on the northern edge of St. Paul. The new park will also be on the opposite end of the Green Line light rail line from Target Field.