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March 1, 2005

Stuff and more stuff

• OK, let's get the obvious stuff out of the way here. On Sunday, Sid Hartman had an interesting snippet of text that I will now share with all of you (if you haven't already read it):

While things have been kept pretty quiet, the Hennepin County commissioners have been working behind the scenes on a plan to build a baseball stadium for the Twins. What is important is for the Twins to select a site in one city and progress from there.

Now this is the kind of snippet of text that keeps me awake at night. I can't stop thinking about it, not because it is so full of juicy information, but because it isn't. It lets my imagination run wild AND I CAN'T MAKE IT STOP! What could they be planning? Will their plan again focus on a county-wide hospitality tax? Are the Twins involved in the discussions? Is Pohlad finally going to open his wallet and put up at least half the money for the stadium like the Florida Marlins or the Dallas Cowboys? Will the Twins finally pick a site and tell either Minneapolis or St. Paul no thanks? Will the impossible happen? Will a stadium deal finally be struck that satisfies both the Twins and the legislature? Will monkeys fly out of my butt?

Here is what I hope the Hennepin County deal looks like. I hope first and foremost that Pohlad puts up a huge chunk of cash, at least $160 million (or even more). That will get the legislature's attention. Hennepin County can sell bonds to make up the approx. $340 million left to make up. With a 6% interest rate (and I think it is currently lower than this) that means we will need about $24 million per year to pay off those bonds. This is where it gets dicey. Looking back at other stadium deals that have worked across the country, it would be nifty if the following revenue sources could be considered:

  1. Ticket tax (no brainer) but not a lot of revenue: $2 million.
  2. Tax in the stadium district. Again, not a lot of revenue: $2 million.
  3. Pawlenty's tax increment financing: $8 million
  4. Increase in the state business income tax for the big businesses in Hennepin county. Since big businesses are usually pro-stadium it would make sense to make them pay for a part of it. This is also the method that DC is using the pay for half of its stadium, but the increase in Minnesota would have to be modest: $8 million (This is just a guess. Truly, I have no idea).
  5. Hotel tax. Again, this doesn't put the burden on your average tax payer in Minnesota and is a method currently used by Anaheim, Detroit, Houston, Seattle, and Tampa Bay. Why should we pay for other cities' stadiums and not return the favor? $4 million

OK, now for the problems. First of all the plan above is too complex. There are too many possible revenue streams to both keep track of and count on. The Twins will go for the the business tax and the hotel tax, but the TIF is not guaranteed money. That is a big reason why the Ventura/Sausen plan failed, because who knows if the investements from Pohlad's donation to the state would have paid off? The Twins thought it was a shaky plan. Secondly, the state legislature will never go for the business tax or the hotel tax. They've been tried and they have always been shot down. So, where does that leave us?

When Hennepin County's plan comes out I think it will focus on, once again, a county wide tax of some sort, most likely in restaurants and bars. Why? It is simple and it includes guaranteed money streams that both the county and the Twins can count on. That will mean a referendum of some sort will be necessary, and we will end up right where we started. Sigh. Even if Pohlad put up half of his own money, the yearly money needed to pay off the bonds would be $18 million. Where does this money come from? Does anyone else have any good (and simple!) ideas that could work?

• I don't know how many of you saw this New York Post article on Reggie Fowler but it did not have any good news. It claims that Reggie is going to have a really hard time getting NFL approval. Personally, I think the NFL is going to overlook the questions of Reggie's finances just to get its first minority owner. But we'll see. The big question is if Reggie isn't approved, would Glen Taylor be given another shot? March 20-23 is going to be a really interesting time for Vikings fans.

Charley Walters writes a good column today where he interviews a former Vikings owner about what kind of advice he would give Reggie Fowler if he is approved. The advice is excellent, but what caught my eye is that the former owner is Skip Maas. Is this a long lost relative of Mr. Cheer or Die? Brian, why didn't you tell us you had this kind of history in your family?

According to the Star Tribune, tomorrow Steve Sviggum and Dean Johnson will be speaking from 7 to 9 am at the Four Points Sheraton in St. Paul concerning "the budget deficit, taxes, transportation and stadiums." I wish I could be there to hear if Sviggum will be making any more promises.

• That's it for now. See you soon!

Posted by snackeru at March 1, 2005 8:55 AM | Stadiums


Sorry to digress, but did anyone else see that Twins "fans" inducted Carl Pohlad into their hall of fame along with Frankie Sweet music. To quote the sports guy, I think I just threw up a little bit in my mouth.

Posted by: Vince at March 1, 2005 12:32 PM

Wow. I wonder what kind of reaction the fans will give him during the ceremony. I predict a smattering of applause, a few boos, but mostly just grumbling.

Posted by: Shane at March 1, 2005 1:00 PM

While we are on the topic of undeserving members in the Twins' hall of fame, I still roll my eyes everytime I see Hrbek's number retired in the metrodome. His stats just are not up there with Harmon, Rod, Tony, and Kirby. In fact, they are not close. When I look at Hrbek's batting average, HRs, fielding, and physique, I would say that he was a slightly above average player who made it to the Hall of Fame because he was a hometown boy made good. Under that criteria, we should vote in Mauer if he plays in 20 games this year.

Posted by: Vince at March 1, 2005 2:30 PM

I would have to disagree with you, Vince. Hrbek as an icon and fan favorite was on par with the four you mentioned. Certainly his status as a local was one of the chief reasons for this. The Twins' Hall of Fame does not need to have the strict statistical qualifications that Cooperstown does, and I, for one, am glad it does not. I should also mention that Killebrew retired right after I was born, and I am too young to remember Carew playing for the Twins. Perhaps this accounts for my possible inflated view of him.

Curt in Grand Forks (your chief Pohlad hater in NoDak)

Posted by: Curt Hanson at March 1, 2005 3:37 PM

A 6% rate is way to high, states and cities are much better loan risks then individuals, at least in Minnesota they are... around 4% is more likely.

Posted by: Warren buffet at March 2, 2005 4:00 PM

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