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February 13, 2005

Wow. What a weekend.

• First of all let me send out a heart felt congratulations to Reggie Fowler, soon to be the first minority owner of an NFL franchise in the "modern era" of the NFL. Unlike Glen Taylor, who has yet again only gone half way in his attempt to buy the team, Reggie went out and took the bull by the horns and got the job done. While the sale is certainly not final (it still has to be approved by the NFL finance committee) I am less pessimistic than I was on Friday that the deal will be approved. Let's take a look at some of the positives of this development:


Now let's take a look at the negatives:

What happens next? Your guess is as good as mine. Is this an improvement over Red McCombs? You bet it is. Is it enough to get the Viking's stadium mess solved? No. I really don't think it is.

Really ... way to go Taylor (heavy sarcasm). Yet again you half-assed it and let the team slip through your hands. And did you catch his actual offer? $400 million now, and $200 million when the stadium is built or the Metrodome lease runs out. I'm sure Red took one look at that plan and threw it in the trash. In fact, I'm not sure Red would even sell the team to Taylor if the Fowler deal falls through. Maybe it is a good thing Taylor isn't buying the team. Look at the shambles the T-Wolves are in.

• Let's not talk about that yet, though. Let's talk more about stadiums. I'm sure you already saw this, but Reusse wrote a very interesting column this Saturday concerning stadiums and how he feels the Twins have fallen into third place on the legislature priority list. While I agree with this, I don't think the Twins have fallen quite as far as they would have had Taylor bought the Vikings. If Taylor had bought the Vikings it would be a Vikings love-fest at the capitol this session. Now, however, Fowler's purchase and stadium plans will be met with skepticism at best from our friends in the House. They may warm up to Fowler, but not right away.

Or it could go another way. The legislature could use the momentum of the sale to Fowler and take this opportunity to push a plan through. It would certainly be the smart thing to do. There won't be a better time than now. Fowler will be considered a hero by most Minnesotans for saving us from the Red-scourge from Texas, and I would think the majority of the public will have a better "feeling" towards the team than in the past. Is the legislature smart enough to act on this? No. I really don't think so. I hope I'm wrong.

Regardless of how the legislature immediately responds to this sale to Fowler, though, I agree with Reusse that the Twins are now in third place in the stadium sweeptakes. As Mr. Cheer or Die has already pointed out, there are already something like three bills proposed for the Gophers, and with a sale of the Vikings, Fowler and Anoka County will definitely make a proposal. Truly, though, the Twins current positioning is partly there own fault. They do not have a preferred site, and Pohlad has not made clear what his actual contribution will be (not to mention the fact that the legislature hates Pohlad). The Twins are asking for state support without a real plan to point to. The Vikings, on the other hand, have a strong partner in Anoka County, and I would be stunned if Fowler's stadium plan didn't have some hard, concrete numbers for the legislature to work with including a meaningful owner contribution. I am really, really looking forward to Fowler's news conference tomorrow, and the inevitable reactions from our fine, hard working legislators.

The Twins have some work to do, plain and simple. They have to put together a plan with either St. Paul or Minneapolis, they have to make a meaningful and upfront contribution, and they have to keep on winning
(because they probably won't get a sniff this session). What they are doing now, what they have been doing for the last 8 years to secure a stadium deal just isn't working. Something needs to change and I hope they are beginning to realize that.

The legislature, obviously also has some work to do. They need to put away this hatred for Pohald and start thinking about the well-being of our state. The Twins add a lot to the quality of life for Minnesota and losing them would be unbearable and even more costly in the long run. A Twins stadium will not get built without some sort of state aid or financing assistance. That is a fact. We need some leadership in the House and the governor's mansion which, sadly, I just don't see right now.

• I'm watching the Sports Show right now with Sid Hartman, Dark Star, Patrick Reusse, and Mike Max. They've spent the first 15 minutes talking about Flip Saunders and the hapless T-Wolves. I gotta say ... I really don't care. I was surprised by Flip getting fired, but he had been there 10 years! And in those 10 years he was knocked out of the playoffs in the first round 7 times. And now, with a team he took to the Western Conference finals last year, he has led them to a sub-500 record. I think Flip has been given every benefit of the doubt over the years. He has had his chance. He lost control of this team, and now they are fighting to even make the playoffs. Filp may be a scapegoat, but really, he had to go. I think this was a good move. It is time for a change. Flip will still get his, too. They have to pay him for the rest of this year and next. Don't feel bad for Flip.

Well, they just talked about the Vikings sale to Fowler for a whole two minutes before moving on to the Gophers basketball team. What about your stadium article Reusse? What about Fowler's stadium plans? Nothing. I can't believe I stayed up until 11:30 for this.

• That's it for now. Maybe more later.

Posted by snackeru at February 13, 2005 10:39 PM | Vikings

Comments

I don't see the Twins making any changes over the next couple of years, at least in how they're dealing with the legislature. Twins Geek has pointed out a couple of times now about how many of the Twins contracts are set to expire after 2006. Well, what else happens after 2006? The collective bargaining agreement between the owners and players expires, the Metrodome lease is no longer an issue for the Twins, and the players' union has already given up their right to contest contraction.

My gut feeling tells me the Twins are already gone - they'll either be sold in a surprise move to someone who wants to take them out-state, or Carl will hook up with his old buddy Bud Selig after the 2006 season and take a nice payday to simply shut down operations.

I hope I'm wrong, but it just seems like too much of a coincidence to be mere random chance.

Posted by: David Wintheiser at February 14, 2005 10:08 AM

Frightening, David. Very frightening. What if the Twins sign Santana to a 4 year deal, though?

If only Victory Sports would have worked. That would have signaled the Twins intend to stick around.

Posted by: Shane at February 14, 2005 10:40 AM

Does Fowler really need to move up here? Maybe he can just get a summer home on Lake Minnetonka. I have a feeling he's going to be stricken with buyer's remorse halfway through the first winter.

Posted by: Tim at February 14, 2005 10:54 AM

Shane --

Quick question: does the U's license for MT cover faculty using it for research projects? We have a prof who needs to collaborate with non U people on a project and would like to do an MT install on our server.

Thanks in advance,

Eric

Posted by: Eric Webster at February 14, 2005 12:01 PM

"What if the Twins sign Santana to a 4 year deal, though?"

Well, the Twins can't sign Santana to a two-year contract - neither Santana nor his agent will sign a two-year deal, and if they submit a two-year deal to an arbitrator, they'll lose.

My understanding is that if the Twins are 'contracted' (i.e.: bought out by MLB) as opposed to simply going bankrupt, then MLB will still be on the hook for any active Twins contracts. There's also the possibility that MLB could simply assign anybody who is still under contract with the Twins to another MLB club, though I have no idea if that would be workable in any sense other than a 'contraction draft' of some sort.

Last but not least, the Twins could always trade Santana before the 2006 trading deadline for guys whose contracts are expiring. On the surface it would look like your basic NBA salary cap clearing move, but it would also limit MLB's financial exposure in the event of a buyout.

Like I said, I really hope I'm wrong about this, but my gut tells me that the Twins are being run with an eye toward not being around after 2006. Heck, even Radke has a two-year deal.

Posted by: David Wintheiser at February 14, 2005 1:01 PM

I wouldn't put it past Pohlad to chop the team off if contraction came up, but I think his sons like having it as their little pet project like Steinbrenner. The Pohlads without the Twins are just another family of crusty misers indistinguishable from everyone else. Also, the Santana signing to me seems to suggest that this will likely still be a competitive team in four years which means that I think the Twins would have a stronger chance of being sold than contracted.

Although, I would like to see a stadium built sooner rather than later, I think the Twins are approaching this session the right way. I think they would draw more heat from the anti-stadium vote if they paraded a bill immediately into the legislature before the legislature decides how to account for the budget. Once the tough issues in the budget are met, then is the time to push for a stadium. ALthough I do agree with Shane that it would help if they chose a site first. Jerry Bell in an interview on the Twins' MLB site still won't sway one way or the other, he wants a stadium first then a location. Those things seem pretty connected to me. I couldn't imagine the legislature writing the Pohlad's a blank check to plop a stadium wherever they choose.

Posted by: Vince at February 14, 2005 1:08 PM

Just some idle speculation on my part, but if the Gophers stadium gets built, and the Vikings stadium gets built, that pretty much leaves the Metrodome to the Twins, does it not?

How could that benefit Pohlad? Could it be something he's considering on the back side while he's saying he wants to get a stadium built?

The other question is, if the Viking move out and the Gophers move out and the Twins move out, what happens to the Metrodome? Do they convert it to the world's largest bingo parlor?

Posted by: Dianna at February 14, 2005 5:19 PM

Well, the Twins DID sign Santana to a four year deal. I think TG has made way too much of this two-year contract thing. Look at who they are signing to two year deals. Most of them are not impact players. I mean really, do you give Mike Redmond three years? Anybody want to sign Jacque Jones to a long termer? And the Twins gave Silva a two year deal with an option for a third, one that the Twins will definitely pick up if he performs. The only one who is a quality player is Radke, and I'm not all that upset about his contract being two years. This two-year contract issue is a veritable tempest in a teapot!

You are right, Shane, though, that the Twins need to quit farting around (to use semi-polite language) and come up with a concrete proposal. That is their only chance.

Posted by: Stick and Ball Guy at February 14, 2005 9:37 PM

Dianna--

There is no way that Pohald would do anything with the Dome. No way. If the Twins are the only Dome tenants come 2011 we can wave them goodbye unless they get their own place.

I've heard about a few plans for what will happen to the Dome once everyone moves out, but my favorite is to turn it into a huge water park. The natural inclines of the stands would make building the slides easy, and they would already have the stairs built to get people to the top of the slides. I would love to see that happen.

Posted by: Shane at February 15, 2005 12:24 PM

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