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January 11, 2005

10 years is enough

In case you missed it, there was a good editorial in the Star Trib this last weekend entitled Stadiums/Ten years of talk is enough. Most of it was the same old arguments that have been used for 10 years: costs are increasing, sports are important for our quality of life, public/private partnerships are the norm, etc. However, deep inside the editorial are also some interesting views from the StarTrib staff on what they, perhaps, would like to see happen in the long run. For example, they'd like to see the U of M lead the charge by getting 60% of their stadium paid for by alumni. That, I think, is a given. Then the editorial says something very interesting:

Lawmakers should stipulate that the Vikings may play on the Gophers field while the Metrodome is remodeled, if that's a solution acceptable to a new Vikings owner.

This gave me reason to sit back and think. How plausible is this idea of a renovated Metrodome for the Vikings? Would it give the team the needed cash flow increases they need to stay competitive? If you listen to Red the answer is an emphatic no, but I think Red is a liar and a snake. How would a new owner feel about this possibility, though? The more I think about it, and as painful as this is, a renovated Metrodome may be the Vikings best shot and our best shot, as fans, of keeping the team around. I'm still not 100% sure of that, of course, but like I said it has definitely made me think.

Then, the editorial turned its attention towards the Twins. First, the Star Trib wants the 2002 Twins bill revisited:

Meanwhile, the Legislature should finally solve the Twins' problem this session by fixing flaws in the ballpark law passed in 2002. That bit of folly excluded Hennepin County, the only local government large enough to forge a public-private financial partnership with the Twins.

Do you remember that bill? The idea was created by Assistant Minnesota Finance Commissioner Peter Sausen and it was a pretty unique animal. First the Twins would put up a large amount of money, $120 million, as an upfront gift to the state. The state would then issue $330 million in 30-year revenue bonds at an assumed interest rate of 6.5 percent. The state would then invest the $120 million dollar gift, and assuming a return of 8.5%, the state would use that money to help pay off the debt (probably around 1/2 of the yearly costs). The Twins would then be required to pay off the rest, which was estimated to be around $10-$15 million per year.

The Twins, of course, wanted the host community to pick up the tab for this, but as it was written, the bill only allowed cities to compete for the stadium, not counties. Thanks to a $10 million city charter limitation for sports stadiums, the city of Minneapolis was immediately out of the running. St. Paul made a valiant effort, but the Twins basically said it wouldn't work in St. Paul and gave up. This was a pretty good bill, and combined with the tax increment financing plan from Pawlenty, a bigger contribution from Pohlad, and allowing county participation, it could produce a Twins stadium, I should think.

Lastly, the editorial suggests that the Twins should make their desires known concerning where they want the stadium built:

For their part, the Twins should drop their "site neutral" pretense and make clear their location preference. In our view, the Warehouse District site is superb. A ballpark would be nestled among new and restored lofts and cafes at the junction of two rail transit lines and two freeways, with 7,500 ramped parking spots already in place. It doesn't get any better.

I agree with this (sorry Jim). The Warehouse District site is the best. However, a stadium referendum would not pass in Hennepin County. In fact, I don't think a stadium referendum would pass anywhere, but I would give St. Paul a better shot at that. Having said that, I also agree with the StarTrib that at some point the Twins are going to have to make a decision. If a referendum is a part of the bill, there is no way two communities are going to have a referendum at the same time to compete for the Twins. No way. There will only be one community with a referendum, and my money is on Hennepin County. God help us.

Posted by snackeru at January 11, 2005 9:08 AM | Stadiums


Brian rant first....I'll take a Twins and/or Vikes stadium in friggin' Farmington! I'll take one in Anoka! I'll take one in St. Cloud for God's sake. Just get me two outdoor stadiums....Twins should have retractable! I don't care. Rant complete.

If HC and The Boy Mayor don't want to play...fine! I know Randy Kelly will. I'll glady accept the Vikes playing in a new Gophers stadium while the Dome is renovated. And I think Glen Taylor would too. Why bring up Taylor? Because Slick Car Salesman Red has stated over and over and over and over that a renovated Dome will not work....it's got to be Purple Pride spankin' new to suit him. Whatever.

I'll accept any location within a 60-mile radius of the TC to see the Twins and Vikes play. Just keep PSLs out of the picture!

Posted by: Brian Maas at January 11, 2005 3:36 PM

I hope the legislature takes a better look at the Twins stadium bill that was proposed in 2002. I seem to recall that legislators from St. Paul made sure that Hennepin County could not be involved as a way of spiting legislators from Minneapolis. Sorry to be a dissenting voice, but a renovated Dome will not work. I would imagine that it was too cheaply constructed to make renovation a real possibilty. The Vikes would be much better off building in Anoka County where they would have ample parking which they could use as an additional revenue stream. It matters not to me where the stadiums are built, as long as they are built. I also wouldn't mind the Vikings moving back outside, but I wonder if you can move back outside after being in a dome for so many years. Thoughts?

Curt in Grand Forks

Posted by: Curt Hanson at January 11, 2005 7:40 PM

Brian, good rant. I agree. My mantra is usually "I'll take a stadium in Bemidji," but Farmington will work too. Your post about your ticket price increases was shocking and PSLs are quite a frightening prospect. I know I wouldn't be able to afford them.

Curt, I also agree that a renovated Metrodome is a crappy idea, mainly due to how poorly it was constructed, but it may be our best bet. Truthfully I'll take any solution that keeps the Vikings in Minnesota and if a new owner says that will work, I'll take it. I would much prefer an outdoor stadium for the Vikings, but I know they will build another dome if a new stadium is ever built. It isn't because the team is a dome team now, but the host community needs to justify building a stadium for only 10 games a year. They need to be able to use it all year round for more than just football. That is the only way they can justify it to their constituency.

Posted by: Shane at January 12, 2005 8:33 AM

You have a very good point about the host community's need to make use of the facility more than ten times a year. Could you not build an outdoor arena if you were to build a true stadium complex? Restaurants, shopping, and conference/meeting facilities might be able to off-set the lack of usability of an outdoor stadium. Just a thought.

Curt in Grand Forks

Posted by: Curt Hanson at January 12, 2005 8:42 AM

I'm probably one of the town's biggest sports fans (season T-Wolves, 1/2 season Twins, and Vikes), but I still just take a stadium just anywhere. I think stadiums help define a city's architecture and add to their pulse. When I see stadiums like NJ's and Detroits basketball stadiums and New England's football stadium miles away from the city, it just looks sad. If the Twins and Vikes move out to Anoka or Farmington, that'll be the day I turn my tickets in. I don't want to drive all the way out to the burbs to watch a game. I like hopping on a bus, enjoying the game, and hopping back on to go home.
Look at what is happening in Anaheim. The Angels understand that they'd draw more marketing revenue if they were really considered an LA team as opposed to a team playing out in the suburbs. Thus the Angels have now changed their name to the Los Angelos Angels of Anaheim. How lame.

Posted by: Vince Tellington at January 22, 2005 4:53 PM

Vince, sure. That makes sense. And I'm thrilled that Minneapolis and St. Paul are both fighting so hard for the Twins. A stadium in one of those cities will definitely spruce the place up a bit. But as of today, the only community to make an offer for the Vikings is Anoka, and I'll take that deal if it is the only way to keep them in our state. Besides, the Patriots seem to be doing OK way out in Foxboro, don't you think?

Posted by: Shane at January 23, 2005 8:37 PM

Yeah, the Pattsies are doing just fine out in Foxboro and I don't want to lose the vikes either, but the gameday experience is just so much better in the city. All I'm saying is that NFL tickets are already too pricy as it is and I as a ticket holder would not be willing to pay that price and have to drive out to the burbs to see a football game. Traffic to Anoka would be attrocious too since it doesn't have the infrastructure to support 80,000 people driving up at 11:00AM on Sundays.

Posted by: Vince at January 24, 2005 12:58 PM

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