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March 30, 2004

Moving right along

Back to our regularly scheduled programming: stadiums in Minnesota! That is an issue we can all agree on! Right?

Last night Pawlenty's stadium bill "sailed" through the House Governmental Operations and Veteran Affairs Policy committee. If you are interested in the resulting newspaper articles:

First of all, let me say again that Larry Spooner is my hero! From what I can glean from the StarTrib article he took what could have been a very tense situation, lightened it up, and possibly gave the committee members an opportunity to pass the bill along due to his humorous testimony. Way to go Larry!

According to the Pioneer Press article the bill received only one amendment:

"In an attempt to resolve a thorny issue, Rep. Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, successfully sponsored an amendment that requires a team owner to share his gains from a team sale with the public, based on the proportion of public funds that went into the stadium. The bill already required an owner to share the increased value that results from a new stadium."

I thought this was already a part of the bill, and at least the Twins have already agreed to this kind of stipulation. So, I don't see that as a big problem. In fact, from a stadium boosters stand point, there really isn't anything to complain about concerning last night's proceedings. I don't know how it passed through this committee so quickly and with only one amendment, but I'm thankful that it did. Could Pawlenty be using his muscle to push it through?

Actually, I do have an idea why it passed through this committee so quickly. If you listen really carefully in the directon of the state capitol you should be able to hear Ron Abrams licking his chops in anticipation. In mid April, the bill will be heard by his House Taxes committee, and that is when the real changes and amendments will happen. The House Governmental Operations and Veteran Affairs Policy committee knew it and decided not to waste their time. Don't you think?

Anyway, this news will definitely put a little bounce in my step today. If anyone has any insightful commentary to add, please do so below!

Posted by snackeru at March 30, 2004 9:28 AM | Stadiums


I'm not sure I agree with that logic. First, your idea to tax citizens "on their unhealthy behavior" seems a little flawed. Don't get me wrong, I think that they should be taxed and the tax money should go to rehab, prevention, and the cost that they put on our society (health care, added police presence, etc). The problem that I see with applying these funds to a stadium is that there is no real correlation between these "unhealthy" citizens and a stadium. Where would the tax on these people stop? Why not tax them to help pay for schools or daycare? You see where I'm going with this.

I don't know a person out there (besides baseball team owners) that likes the idea of the public paying for a stadium. The idea that a city or state should pay for a stadium for a billionaire owner is ridiculous. Now there's a gotcha here. If we don't do it, another city or state will. This isn't speculation; it's the unfortunate truth. I'm sure somebody reading this post can share with us the number of stadiums built in the last 30 or so years that were NOT publicly funded (hint, hint). I think it's only ONE in that many years. What is this telling us? We need to pony up some cash if we really want a team.

Talk about the ugly truth.

I agree that the city/state shouldn't pay for the entire stadium, but we need to make an honest effort to do something. Again, if we don't, another city will.
-a state run casino or some kind of sports gambling/lottery proceeds (look at how much money the Powerball has generated for this state!)
-a per-ticket tax that exists until the stadium is paid for
"- 1/3 financed by taxes on residents of the cities in the Twin Cities Metropolitan area (probably with a disproportionate amount coming from Minneapolis and St. Paul)" - great idea!
-as much dough from owners/MLB as possible

Posted by: Tim Ryan at March 31, 2004 12:37 PM

I couldn't agree with you more, Brad. The team owners have got to pay 1/3 of the cost and I think the legislature is trying to put the fear of God into them to get them to agree to this. If you are interested in this topic I will be writing a lot more about it. I'm moving my blog over to this site.

Posted by: Shane at March 31, 2004 12:37 PM

Well Tim, at some point, the buck stops, there's a line in the sand, pick your cliche.

Other markets have turned down publicly financed stadiums. The Twin Cities is among a decent-sized group that has stood up to wealthy team owners. Bottom line, and no amount of lobbying from your camp is going to change this, Minnesotans will not support paying for sports stadiums. Like I said, I don't even think my above proposal would pass. I'm doubting that much. But at least it is a compromise. If there is compromise in the air, there is always a possibility of getting something done. There is no one-way, my way is the highway approach here. It's not going to fly to get the owners to pay for the whole thing and it's not gonna fly unless the owners pay for a substantial amount.

You're absolutely right; there isn't a correlation between sin taxes and sports stadiums. Then again, we already have tax premiums on these items, and that money isn't going for healthcare. Where do we stop? Good question. I don't know, but I'm willing to bet that eventually, the government is going to tax cigarettes so much that a pack of them is out of reach for most consumers. It'll be their way of banning the stuff. I'm also willing to bet that someday, heavy booze is gonna get attacked with such taxes. Probably not beer, but say, anything 80 proof or more, will get taxed to death.

As for casinos, we have too many of them already. This state is being polluted with the vice of gambling. It is out of control.

My solution? Open the Indian casinos to taxes. Compromise with the Indians and allow them exclusive rights to own and run them, but take taxes. Don't build government-run casinos or allow non-Indians to own casinos. Too many reasons to stay away from that. But enough is enough. The Indians have made their due and they can have their rights to the casinos for a while longer, but it's now time to give a slice of the pie to the State. We need it, and we should get it. We should get it even if we were running surpluses.

Perhaps, if we can get some money from casinos, we could put a portion of that towards sports stadiums. I would agree to that.

But the owners must pay and pay a substantial portion of the stadiums.

If not, then I say to hit the road. The NFL will not allow the Vikings to move. I fully believe that. The Twins might move, but I would bet on Glen Taylor or some other wealthy Minnesotan stepping in before that happens.

Sometimes it is best to let things run their natural courses. If you cry wolf everytime there's a CHANCE of a disaster, eventually we quit listening.


Posted by: Brad Engelmann at April 1, 2004 9:50 AM

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