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July 9, 2004

I need my fix

I am addicted. I am addicted to the thought of building stadiums in Minnesota. It totally consumes me. I can't watch a baseball, or football, game without thinking about new stadiums in Minnesota. I soak up stadium news like a sponge. If I read or hear the word "stadium" I perk up like a little doggy and I beg for more. Listening to the radio, watching the news, reading the paper, walking down the sidewalk, I am constantly on the lookout for any tidbit, any little hint of stadium news in Minnesota. Seriously, when a decision is finally made on stadiums here in this fine state I will have so much time on my hands I won't know what to do with it.

So, let's get on with today's news. Today the Star Tribune had a good editorial on the good news/bad news aspect of moving the Expos to the DC area. Let's dissect it a little. The editors write:

Our interpretation is that moving the Expos holds both good and bad news for the Twins and their fans -- good because contraction is no longer a threat, bad because without contraction hovering overhead a new ballpark in the Twin Cities seems less likely.

First of all, I'm not sure that moving the Expos to DC will take away the threat of contraction. Personally I think the Florida Marlins are ripe to try out the contraction threat. Keep in mind that the Marlins are also desperate for a stadium and have recently been rebuffed by the Florida state legislature. They are also owned by Jeff Loria, the former owner of the Expos. Mr. Loria is already pretty gifted at alienating fans so I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the Marlins offer themselves up.

One thing I do agree with is with the threat of contraction gone, the chances for a new stadium decrease. Not much mind you since the chances are currently at the "when pigs fly" level, but the chances do decrease. Hard to believe, I know. The editorial goes on to say:

Minnesota needs to act in its best interests, irrespective of contraction or the movement of franchises. A new ballpark is badly needed, not just to enhance the long-term viability of the Twins but to ensure the competitiveness of the region. We agree with Gov. Tim Pawlenty when he calls the Twins an important asset to Minnesota's quality of life. Smart people protect their assets and reinvest in them.

This is a good paragraph highlighted by the phrase, "to ensure the competitiveness of the region." Like it or not, when buisnesses look to invest in a community by building a factory, or creating a headquarters, they look at the quality of life in the community. One aspect of quality of life they look at is professional sports in the area. Look at this table listing the largest metro areas in the country. The Twin Cities are number 15. But look down at number 31. Did you know that the Norfolk and Virginia Beach area was that large? That metro area is about the same size as Milwaukee, yet most people wouldn't consider the Norfolk area to be "major league." In fact, most people haven't even heard of Norfolk or Virginia Beach. Having a major league baseball team gives an area legitimacy and advertising that no amount of money can buy. Having ESPN mention the Twin Cities every night to millions of fans creates an unconscious level of respect for our area that carries over into people's daily lives. As a result of this, when people think about the Twin Cities they think of a large metro area with a lot to offer. When they think of Norfolk, VA ... nothing really comes to mind. And yes, I am saying this has a lot to do with the free advertising provided by sportscasters around the country on a nightly basis.

Secondly, this paragraph states, "Smart people protect their assets and reinvest in them." Seriously, why do we want to give up something we already have, and something that other communities desperately want? The fact of the matter is if the Twins leave either by moving or contraction, the Twin Cities will seek another major league baseball team within the next 10 years. It will cost us at least three times as much at this point to build a new stadium. Why do we want to set ourselves up for this inevitability? Consider also that if we would have agreed to build a stadium five years ago we would have saved about $200 million dollars. Every year we wait only ends up costing us more.

I know, I know, what about education? What about the 600 teachers laid off in Minneapolis this summer? What about priorities? For some reason it is difficult for us to recognize the intangible benefits of having the Twins in our community when faced with teacher layoffs. I agree, it sucks to see teachers lose their jobs. But the fact of the matter is we aren't building any stadiums right now, and these teachers are still losing their jobs. Whether we build stadiums or not, our decision will not affect education. Either we invest in education or we choose not to, but stadiums have nothing to do with this decision. These are two separate issues and they should be treated as such. I write my legislators about education issues just like I write to them about stadiums. I want them to address both of these issues. The editorial ends:

It's time for the club, the fans and the public to reinvest. The Ballpark at Twinsville remains the best stadium concept. The location, transportation and parking are superb. The Minneapolis Warehouse District is loaded with dining, entertainment and housing options that will give Twins baseball a festive flavor that has made the Chicago Cubs and Wrigleyville so popular with Midwesterners. The financing plan is fair and ensures that the public will share in the increased value that a new ballpark would bring to the team. Allowing the Twins to descend the same downward spiral that swallowed the Expos is not acceptable in Minnesota.

I'm not sure the Minneapolis Warehouse District is the best location, but I will agree it would be a fine location for a stadium. One thing I've learned about St. Paul in the past year is that they are passionate about baseball in that city. Putting a stadium in downtown St. Paul would be a real eye opener in terms of fan support, I would think, and I would love to travel to St. Paul for a game. And the financing plan is fair, given that it uses a tax increment financing method, or money that would only be there if the stadium is built. In essense, this money does not exist if not for a new stadium. How can we say no to this? Sadly, though, we are saying no, and it appears that the fate of the Expos is acceptable to Minnesotans. I sure hope I'm wrong.

Posted by snackeru at July 9, 2004 7:10 AM | Stadiums | Twins


Hey Shane-
Nice post. I am still thinking about stadiums also, but usually it just gets me too riled up regarding the legislature's past session inactivity. What are your thoughts on the recent columns by Reusse and Powers. They were almost identical and it is hard not to agree with some of their points. Like have told other folks, I don't care how well the Twins draw in a new ballpark after a 3-5 year honeymoon period. I will just be happy that I will have the chance to sit along with 10-15,000 other folks and watch an outdoor baseball game (hopefully in St. Paul, thanks for not ruling us out).

Posted by: Jim in St. Paul at July 14, 2004 4:29 PM

Hey Jim. Nice to hear from you again. Yes, I actually planned on writing about the Reusse and Powers columns tonight (or tomorrow morning), along with Lavelle Neal's article about Selig's comments at the All-Star game concerning contraction. I think Powers and Reusse make some interesting points, but you probably won't be surprised to know I don't agree with their overall theory that we don't deserve MLB in our area. Stay tuned.

By the way, did you read that your list of restaurants to avoid is one of the most heavily hit page on the Greet Machine? It gets hit multiple times a day from people doing searches for the restaurants on the list.

Posted by: Shane at July 14, 2004 10:18 PM

I did see that fact and it did make me feel good. I will try to post more as things heat up with stadiums again come the new year, although I will try to get a chance to respond to your CDs in your car post. Talking music is a nice break from other frustrating topics.

Posted by: Jim in St. Paul at July 17, 2004 8:43 PM

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