Tomorrow will be the official opening of Target Field as the Twins play an exhibition game against Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals. I'll be there.
As is typical with any opening of a new ballpark there will be a pre-game ceremony honoring those responsible for making it all happen, including Twins officials and various elected officials. Some are very deserving such as Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat who came up with the financial strategy to pay for the ballpark and Representative Brad Finstad who, a lowly backbencher
from the minority party, introduced the bill at the Legislature and saw that it got passed -- even though it wasn't always popular with other more senior legislators (and the Governor), or his constituents back home. Those two men richly deserve to be saluted.
However there is one person who won't be down on the field getting accolades but should be. That person is Shane from the web site Greet Machine. Many people don't realize how instrumental Greet Machine was in getting the ballpark bill passed. The most important thing he did was put together a legislative scorecard of who was supporting the ballpark and who wasn't. Through Shane's work it came to light that most legislators actually supported the ballpark legislation. He listed their names and where they had signaled their support.
Now you wouldn't think this is a big deal but it was huge, and something that lobbyists charge tens of thousands of dollars to produce. But here it was for free for anyone to see. And more importantly it was accurate. If I recall correctly not one legislature denied their place on the list either for the ballpark or against it. It is well documented that this scorecard was used in legislative meetings regarding the ballpark bill and all legislative leaders knew of it.
Not only did Shane develop the legislative scorecard, Greet Machine became THE place on-line to discuss the ins-and-outs of the ballpark legislation, who supported it, the politics, etc. It was a nice place for joe-citizen ballpark supporters to get together and discuss the various ballpark scenarios - this during a time when most of the media was focused on those loud and shrill voices opposed to a ballpark. But more importantly, it became such an important site to the ballpark approval process that elected officials, lawyers, and the landowners started privately feeding Shane information to put on his blog. Many people read Greet Machine during this period: from rubes like me, to politicians, city officials, print/TV journalists, and the surrounding land owners. I truly believe, and I am not alone, that without Greet Machine and Shane's efforts a new Twins ballpark would have never happened when it did.
So when you see the celebration of those responsible for Target Field, remember that one person is missing. Now I'm not surprised, I am sure these days public officials are too embarrassed to admit that a mere blogger played such a key role in getting a $500M ballpark approved -- no way could they acknowledge that now. And Shane is way too modest to demand such recognition or even ask for a t-shirt for his efforts. However to those us who watched the ballpark come together, we know. And I for one will be tipping my hat off to Shane tomorrow afternoon as I will have the distinct pleasure of sitting next to him as the first Twins home baseball game in over 28 years is played outdoors.
Other Accolades are coming in!