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October 4, 2004

Repeat after me

If you have come here to read a little about the Twins and their upcoming series with the Yankees, I am sorry to disappoint. I'm sure the other Twins bloggers will handle that topic quite nicely and to your satisfaction. As for me, I'm going to write about another topic that plagues me and should also plague Twins fans everywhere: stadiums in Minnesota. When I look at the Twins vs. the Yankees, or even just the fact that the Twins are in the playoffs, I can't help but wonder how this will help their never ending stadium drive. What if they make it to the ALCS? Or what if they win the World Series? Will we finally be able to get over the hump and dig that first shovel full of dirt? Who knows, but I am never going to give up hope.

I created the Greet Machine out of frustration; frustration with the lack of news about stadiums and the lack of commentary on the news. And of course, frustration with the lack of progress on the issue of stadiums in Minnesota. I think I even badgered the Twins Geek to write about stadiums more before I decided I would just have to do it myself. I am desperate for a new Twins stadium and I track the issue religiously. If you want to keep up with stadium news, then you have come to the right place.

For some of my long time readers, these next few paragraphs are going to sound like somewhat of a broken record, but I gotta let it all out. Repeat after me: the Twins will not play in the Metrodome forever. Again: the Twins will not play in the Metrodome forever! We can either build a stadium, or we can accept the fate of the Expos and their fans as our own. It is as simple as that.

I know what you are thinking, why should we build a stadium for billionaire owners and millionaire players? To that I would say: change your focus. Rich people are rich. Now, get over it. I couldn't care less how much money Carl Pohlad has. What I care about is bringing my kids to a Twins game on a sunny day. I care about maintaining a Minnesota tradition that goes back to 1961. I care about keeping fresh the memories of '87 and '91 and the memories of how those two years brought more excitement to the Twin Cities than I have ever seen. More importantly, I care about creating new memories for me, my kids, my grandkids, heck the entire Upper Midwest for that matter. The Twins are a big part of Minnesota history. Why don't we want to assure that they are a big part of Minnesota's future?

Here is the way I see it. If we don't build a stadium the Twins will leave, they will be contracted, somehow they will be no more, at least in Minnesota. MLB will decide that the Twin Cities market is no longer viable (10 years of stadium battles and consistently ranking in the bottom 1/4 regarding attendance will have that effect), and the Pohald family will cash out. Finally the stadium battle will be over and we will really stick it to the Pohalds! They won't get a dime out of us! However, the net effect of this inevitability is that the Pohlads will be richer, and millions of fans throughout the upper Midwest will be without the Twins. Pohlad will be millions of dollars richer, and poor schlobs like me will have jack squat. How is this a good deal?

Here is an even greater inevitability, though. How many years will it be before we try to lure another MLB team to the Twin Cities? 5? 10? 20? You know eventually it will happen and it will cost us 5, 10, 20 times as much as it would right now to just keep the team we already have! Don't believe me? How many years was it before we lured NHL hockey back to the Twin Cities after the North Stars left? 7 years. And it cost us a whole lot more than it would have to just keep the North Stars. If the Twins leave, let the countdown begin. And to the legislators who fought against a Twins stadium I will say thanks for literally costing Minnesotans tens-of-millions of dollars extra. Great job. And speaking of great jobs, building a stadium 5 years ago would have saved us at least $200 million. The longer we wait, the more it will cost.

OK, what about money for education, or the police, or the myriad of other needs Minnesota has? In the 10 years we have been fighting against building a new Twins stadium how much extra money have any of these needs received as a result of us not building a new stadium? That's right: nothing, nada, zip. In other words, given the choice between inadequately funding education and building a new stadium, or just inadequately funding education, I will take the former every time. For 10 years we have decided that we would rather make excuses than actually solve problems. I've heard them all before: not with a deficit, not in an election year, not with Pohlad as the owner, not with the economic disparity in baseball ... Bah! We talk and make excuses, and yet the problem is still here! I pray this year will be different. Over 30 other cities have figured out how to make this work. Over 30!!!! Repeat after me: the Twins will not play in the Metrodome forever!

Truly, I could go on and on. Again, if you are a stadium nutjob like me, then you have come to the right place. If not, hopefully I can convince you otherwise. And if you are here to tell me why I am wrong, save your breath. It is time to work something out. We have studied, we have dissected, we have beat this issue to death. Let's save ourselves a lot of money in the long run and finally solve this problem!

If you have made it down this far, congratulations. If you are a glutton for punishement and actually want more of this drivel, I have written about stadiums before:

Stay tuned for more stadium news as I find it. And don't think that I only write about stadiums or the Twins, or the Vikings. So, forgive me if I write about something different once in a while.

Posted by snackeru at October 4, 2004 10:21 PM | Stadiums

Comments

Well said Shane. I will be in touch more once legislative session starts up.

Posted by: Jim in St. Paul at October 5, 2004 5:45 AM

Shane, I'd like to know what you think about our "TwinDomes" stadia proposal.... the solution to MN's stadium conundrum.

The "Houston Combo" page on our website best describes the construction cost savings. www.TwinDomes.com Tony Spadafora

Posted by: Tony Spadafora at October 5, 2004 8:24 AM

Thanks Jim. I'll "keep the light on for ya!"

Posted by: Shane at October 5, 2004 11:03 AM

Shane, I would pay good money to see you and a certain female who has made herself a thorn in the stadium lover's side, in a debate. Even just a point/counterpoint on Channel 45 for 5 minutes.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at October 5, 2004 12:00 PM

Shane-
Just a little follow up regarding the Twins, stadiums, and economic impact. Tonight I am having the neighborhood guys over for the game. I bought some Old Dutch potatoe chips, Old Home dip and I have lots of Summit beer. I always try to buy local, although I get the Summit free since I work there. Tommorrow night I am getting together with the softball team at our regular bar (the season ended weeks ago). Just myself, I figure by the time the Twins win their second straight game Wednesday night, I will have put at least $40 into the St. Paul economy. Use what ever multiplying factor you want and you are going to come up with some money that would not have been spent if the Twins were not in town. Just some more positive grist for the new ballpark mill.
-Jim in St. Paul

Posted by: Jim in St. Paul at October 5, 2004 4:40 PM

There's nothing wrong with supporting a stadium construction plan. In fact, I'm pretty glad that you're taking the time to put the various pro-stadium arguments together here, because it lets those folks like me who aren't in favor of stadium construction know how you're thinking and what the rational points are, rather than letting the discussion degenerate into a beer commercial - 'tastes great, less filling!'

Debate is also good, particularly in an open, democratic society. Presenting the best arguments from either side and letting folks make up their own minds is the best way, IMO, to get things done in an open, democratic society. So I'll hang around and might even chime up every so often to make a point or two (for instance, I can't say the thought of keeping the Twins so that a few thousand guys can each buy a couple of extra bags of Old Dutch potato chips in October really impresses me as a significant economic impact).

One last thing - before you get your hopes up too much about the supposed stadium deal in Washington, keep in mind that the mayor has to get the agreement through the City Council - and there is a movement in the Council to unilaterally amend the agreement to require MLB to play indefinitely in RFK Stadium. As the author of the amendment puts it, what else is MLB going to do? After all, they've already left Montreal, and nobody else has a stadium ready.

More details - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A1360-2004Oct1.html?sub=AR

(Note: If you haven't registered with the Washington Post, you'll need to do so before you can read this story. It's free, though.)

Posted by: David Wintheiser at October 5, 2004 5:52 PM

Dave--

Thanks for the thoughtful comment. It is much better than the death threats I thought I would get. I agree, discussion and debate is a good thing. So tell me, why are you anti-stadium? I would be interested to know.

Secondly, I would be surprised if the DC stadium deal doesn't get pushed through. I, too, have been tracking the issue, and I think they have enough votes in the council to make it happen. Everyone has seen how excited the residents of DC are for baseball. The council doesn't want to crush that excitement. I could be wrong though. It will be interesting to watch.

Posted by: Shane at October 6, 2004 9:05 AM

Short answer to why I am anti-stadium: my grandmother always used to ask me "if everybody else jumped off a bridge, would you jump, too?"

There was a time when baseball owners also owned their ballparks. It made sense that the guys who built the stadiums made all the money from them. Then at some point, the owners stopped building their own ballparks and started getting cities, counties, and the like to do it for them. But somehow the idea that, if you build the stadium you get the money from the stadium, got lost. If the Twins decided they wanted to build their own ballpark, but they needed help from the state or a city to acquire and prepare the land (which is the way that pretty much all other commercial construction works), I'd be fine with that. As long as the state or city gets its investment back (through TIF, or bond issues, or whatever), the club can take as much money out of the ballpark as they want to, since they put all the money into it. But to say that the state, city, or whatever has to buy the land, pay for the construction, pay for the inevitable overrun, pay the maintenance, but it either takes no more than a nominal rent and a trickle of tax dollars in return or has to watch as the ballclub leaves town simply seems unfair and wrong to me.

I wouldn't be happy to see the Twins, the Vikings, the Wolves, or all three leave to go play somewhere else where they'll build exactly the facility that's desired and pony over all the revenue as well. But I'd rather watch them go and stay on the bridge.

--
David Wintheiser

Posted by: David Wintheiser at October 7, 2004 10:11 AM

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