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October 25, 2004

Stadiums: a plea for help and news

I got an interesting comment this weekend that makes me upset with myself for not thinking of this before. Unfortunately now I think it is too late. "Grant" asked me who he should vote for in the upcoming Minnesota House elections. Grant lives in St. Paul and thought I might know which candidates are pro-stadium in his district. Unfortunately I don't know, but what kills me is that I should. In fact, I should know who to vote for in all the races, but I must admit that I haven't collected any of this data at all. What an idiot! All I have done is worried about my own district. So, here is what I am going to try to do this week. I am going to try to put together a voter's guide listing out the candidates and the Greet Machine pick of the pro-stadium candidate. I may or may not be able to accomplish this given the short amount of time before the election, but I'll give it my best shot.

I need your help. If you know for sure who people should be voting for in your district please let me know. Leave an anonymous comment, send me an email, do whatever it takes but please get this information to me. I'm going to put together a web page that hopefully lists all the districts out. I will also take a look at the last stadium vote in the House and determine which legislators voted against it. Although this method isn't exactly perfect, it should give everyone a good idea who is pro-stadium or not. Again, please help out if you can. Do you know where to get a list of the anti-stadium legislators already? Do you know who you are going to vote for based on stadium stance? Let me know!

If you don't know where to start, check out this tool from the Star Tribune. Put in your zip code and your street and it will tell you who is running in your district and their views on various issues. Of course, none of these issues include anything about stadiums. It appears stadiums are not that big of a deal to Minnesotans this year.

Speaking of which, just today, the StarTrib also came out with an article about the stadium malaise that has come over Minnesotans. It seems that stadium proponents and opponents are both finding that other issues, such as national security and the presedential elections, are what Minnesotans are choosing to focus on this year. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this. In fact, the lack of anti-stadium grandstanding has been refreshing. However, one quote in the article actually put a little (just a little) pep in my step this morning:

Sviggum said he expects a University of Minnesota football stadium and a Twins ballpark to find a way onto the Legislature's agenda next year, but only after budget, health care and education issues are tackled.
Of course, only after everything else has been solved, which will be never, will stadiums get the attention they deserve, but Sviggum actually saying this is a good start. In addition, it looks like Jerry Bell will give lobbying for a Twins stadium one more try:
Twins Sports Inc. president Jerry Bell has been campaigning for owner Carl Pohlad for a new ballpark since 1996 at a total cost of nearly $10 million.

Next month, Bell said, he will begin seeking bipartisan support from legislative leaders for "buy-in" to a ballpark plan that won't face repeated amendments once it arrives at contentious legislative committees.

"If I don't see that, I don't think I'll waste Carl's money again," Bell said of lobbying efforts.


I can't decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing for Bell to lead the charge once again. On the one hand Bell has been the Twins front man on this issue for 10 years. He knows more about this issue than anyone and has forged some very good connections at the capitol, and in Hennepin County and St. Paul. However, are people even listening to him anymore? The legislature has seen him for so long now they may not even take him seriously anymore. Maybe it is time for him to let someone else give it a try? Then again, I honestly don't think it will matter.

As for what Bell said above, all I can say is good luck. There is no way a bill gets out of committee in either chamber without being hammered by amendments. In other words, I don't think we'll be seeing much action on a Twins stadium bill this session. I think Bell will quickly give up, and yet again nothing will be done as stadium costs continue to rise. I'm beginning to feel like Minnesota and Montreal will have a lot more in common in the next couple of years than just being really cold in the winter.

Posted by snackeru at October 25, 2004 9:23 AM | Stadiums

Comments

I'll repeat what I posted as a comment to an earlier thread (not sure if I can link to "Let's Talk About Sports" thread from within this comment). About the only thing that will break the Twins stadium logjam is a genuine, substantial offer by Pohlad to pay a significant part of the cost. He is still scarred by his fraudulent offer in 1997-98. What that said was that he would forever be ultimately defined as having to get the best of a deal, regardless of how many charitable causes Sid Hartman tells us he supports. Until he puts some real money on the table, this issue will be defined as building a ballpark FOR a billionaire. The team has done its part by becoming a legitimate contender to go to the Series; the general manager, scouts, and farm system have done their part by providing the basis for remaining competitive; the fans have done "their part" by demonstrating that the Dome will never be an attractive destination for baseball. Pohlad needs to accept that a significant contribution toward the stadium is the only way to (1) stimulate attendance; (2) enhance his revenue stream; and (3) raise the value of the franchise if he and his sons prefer to sell. Given a decent ballpark here, alternate locations like Las Vegas and Portland are not even slightly competitive.

I want a stadium for myself and other fans. But it makes it so much easier to make that case to my legislator if the team owner has demonstrated a willingness to invest in sports infrastructure from which he will benefit. He needs to look to San Francisco rather than Cleveland or Baltimore for his model on how to ensure that he will be remembered fondly by history.

Posted by: oldstuffer at October 25, 2004 2:41 PM

Shane,

I did some research and the only official up for election this year in my district, 64A, is Matt Entenza. He has consistently blocked stadium efforts, including the X, and I sent him an email telling him that we would not vote for him. I think he is a like a 75% favorite, but you've got to start somewhere.

I agree that part of the problem is that people despise Pohlad's wealth, but I think there is more than that. Why else is everyone so convinced that the Vikings would get a stadium if Taylor owned the team? He's not exactly "scraping by" either. Last time I checked Taylor was a billionaire too.

Posted by: Grant at October 25, 2004 3:48 PM

Shane..... the stadium issue is too contriversial to be debated during election years. You're probably aware of the two most outspoken legislators against public stadium funding.... Senator John Marty and Rep. Phil Krinkie.

oldstuffer.... you're right. The S.F. Giants ballpark is a good example of private stadium funding..... so is the Philadelphia Eagles new stadium.... both used KUD International for project managment... they should be used here too. Visit our website at www.TwinDomes.com to see how costs can be reduced and private funding maximized by building side-by-side stadiums for the Vikings & Twins.

Re: a new Vikings stadium..... Red will not be involved in building a new stadium here for the following reasons... 1) Forbes currently values the Vikings at $604 million, which has been Red's asking price of the franchise the past 2 years.... 2) Red has no interesting in investing in a new stadium.... any private funding would have to come from businesses & frequent fans.... 3) the NFL G-3 funding program is not set-up to help short term owners.... Red would have to return most of the $$$ after the team is sold... 4) Red has absolutely no interest in sharing any of the Vikings selling price (a condition of the legislation proposed last year.)

Posted by: Tony Spadafora at October 26, 2004 7:47 AM

I think the Vikes should get a new stadium when they !WIN!, a Super Bowl.

Posted by: Terry Renalds at May 10, 2005 9:01 PM

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