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April 28, 2004

Is Abrams Ruining Everything?

Interesting news coming out of the capitol these days concerning my favorite topic, stadiums in Minnesota. First off, the links:

The big news from both of these articles is that Ron Abrams has promised to vote against the bill if it includes the TIF financing method for the state's contribution. Conservative estimates suggest that this method will contribute around $100 million dollars to both the Vikings stadium and the Twins stadium. If the TIF funding strategy is taken out of the bill, where does Abrams expect the state's contribution to come from? Probably nowhere would be my guess. In the past he has tried to float an addendum that would tax statewide newspapers. So far I haven't heard this brought up. To tell you the truth, I don't know what to think of this development. Neither Hennepin County's or St. Paul's initial proposals had any mention of a TIF-like funding strategy at all. But they did count on some kind of state-wide support. I think today's House Taxes meeting will be very interesting as I expect them to try to come up with some alternate funding source.

After reading these articles I am convinced more than ever that Ron Abrams is trying to scare the teams to death. Actually, he is trying to scare them into committing to paying for 1/3 of their stadiums. In fact, he even said as much in yesterday's hearing. I wonder if the Twins made a concrete 1/3 committment if Abrams would back away from some of his more anti-stadium rhetoric? Unfortunately I don't think we'll ever find out. If Pohlad ever agreed to paying 1/3 upfront I think I would fall over into catatonic shock. We'll see, though. We'll see.

Other than that I can also take away two positives from yesterday's proceedings. First of all, I totally agree with Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington:

Placing the taxing burden on one jurisdiction -- such as Hennepin County -- might not be an equitable arrangement for a "statewide asset," said Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, who said she is concerned that her constituents will pay for a Minneapolis ballpark but gain no economic benefits.

If the entire 5 county area was taxed no one would feel a thing. How likely is this to happen, though? Not likely at all. I'd like to hear what she thinks would be a fair solution to this concern of hers. Secondly, thanks to Abrams focus on TIF, it seems there is no mention of adding a referendum to the bill. If neither Hennepin County or St. Paul had to have a referendum that would be wonderful (although Randy Kelley has already stated he favors one). Maybe a referendum is just a given, who knows?

The floor of the House will see this bill. I have no doubt of that. I just don't think it will look the same. I'm still holding out hope that even though the Taxes committee is sure to change the bill that it is still workable. If anyone has heard any other news about this, please let me know!

Posted by snackeru at April 28, 2004 8:53 AM | Stadiums


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