June 22, 2004
Miller Park part deux
I'm still on my Miller Park kick. Sorry. For those of you interested in some pictures I've posted a few for you to gawk at. It really is an amazing ballpark. Now for a little history for all of you concerning Miller Park. Legislators were told the ballpark would cost $250 million to build and the bill (One-tenth of 1 percent 5 county stadium sales tax) passed by one vote. The man that cast that vote, George Petak, was later recalled from office. The Brewers contributed $90 million to the effort, and it is now estimated the ballpark will cost upwards of $400 million to pay off. Recently, Wisconsin legislators unanimously passed a bill that will retire the stadium tax in 2014, I guess whether the stadium is payed for or not. There is also an effort to try to recoup 5% of the proceeds of any sale of the Brewers from the Selig family. According to some Milwaukeeans I spoke with while I was there, people are generally in favor of the ball park, but there are still some people that are really ticked off that it was ever built.
Looking at this history I think Minnesotans and the Twins can learn a few things, and I think they have. One is to tell the truth about stadium costs. No problem there. In fact, I think the Twins have been too truthful. The Twins are estimating that today a ballpark will cost $535 million to build. And I'm sure that estimate will be higher next year. Ouch. Secondly, wouldn't it be nice if we could spread the burden of the tax to pay this thing off? Miller Park is being payed off by taxing five counties. I swear it probably comes out to about $5 a person per year. I would pay $5 a year for the rest of my life just to never hear another stadium debate ever again. Thirdly, legislators are really between a rock and a hard place on this issue. Really, they are damned if they do and damned if they don't. If they don't build a stadium for the Twins and the Twins leave, people are going to come out of the woodwork condemning them. I know polls show about 50%-60% of Minnesotans are against building stadiums using tax dollars, but those same polls show over 90% of Minnesotans want the team to stick around. People are generally a fickle bunch and I am 100% positive that if the Twins ever left you would suddenly have majority support for a stadium and a few legislators feeling the heat. I fell bad for George Petak of Racine, but he made the right decision (and he doesn't regret it either). In 10 years, no one will even remember any of this, but they'll still be enjoying Miller Park and reaping the benefits of having MLB in their community and state.
Finally, the Twins have learned that you've got to give back to the community who builds the stadium. They have already agreed to give the state back a percentage of the proceeds from a sale of the team. In other words, the Twins are already willing to do what the Wisconsin legislature is trying to force the Brewers to do.
It is a tough issue. There is no arguing that. However, Wisconsin found a way to get it done and in the long run they will be better off for it. And thanks to the Brewers bumbling, the Twins and Minnesota have both learned some valuable lessons on building a stadium the right way. Now we just have to make something work. There is a buzz in Milwaukee thanks to that stadium. Everywhere I went people talked about it and were proud of it, and the two games I attended were packed with fans. Heck, I traveled 6 hours and spent some good money in Milwaukee thanks to that stadium as did about 15,000 other Minnesotans. When the dust settles, no one is going to regret building Miller Park.
Posted by snackeru at June 22, 2004 7:44 AM | Twins
As a former Milwaukeean, I can appreciate the dilemma you're talking about. It was hard for me to imagine that the Brewers were worth spending so much money (and, unfortunately, 3 lives) on. Now that I'm in the twin cities though, its really a drag that if I want to go to a baseball game I have to waste a precious warm day. I love that statistic (the 50-60/90 %). Basically, 100% of people want perfection without sacrifices. Oh well.
Posted by: Tim at June 21, 2004 10:55 PM
$5 a year? That is basically what we are arguing over? How about we sacrifice just one less McDonald's value meal over 365 days. Come on, lets keep the Twins and Vikings in Minnesota.
Posted by: Curt Hanson at June 22, 2004 8:12 AM
Let's see, if the Twins leave due to lack of a new stadium then the only regional baseball team that would be shown are the Brewers. Hmmmm maybe I should give Ricki Rask a call...
Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at June 22, 2004 8:54 AM