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April 13, 2005

Marlins stadium on life support

Yesterday afternoon, as I was helping Will of Will Young's Twins Page put together a Twins stadium proposal for a class project (why didn't I have any class projects like that?), I stumbled upon some news concerning the stadium situation in Florida. Let's start with a short recap, though. The Florida Marlins plan included a $192 million contribution from the team, and the plan only asked for $30 million from the state in the form of a tax rebate. (But because that debt would be paid off with interest at $2 million a year over 30 years, the total state sales tax rebate would be $60 million.) Well, it seems their plan is on life support:

"Let it have a fair hearing," Bush said upon learning that State Rep. Fred Brummer, R-Apopka, who chairs the House Finance and Tax Committee, is refusing to hear the request for a $60 million state sales tax rebate. "I think their proposal is better than previous years. Is it better than the other funding proposals of the state, I don't know. That's what hearings and the committee process is all about."

I see so many similarities with the plight of the Twins it is uncanny. It seems the chair of the Florida House Finance and Tax Committee won't even agree to hear the bill! Do any of you remember who the chair of the Minnesota House Taxes committee is? That's right, stadium opponent numero uno: Phil Krinkie R-Shoreview. And if you don't think he isn't paying attention to this development, think again. The man is so anti-stadium he actually jeopardized the passage of the state bonding bill because he thought a part of it could potentially help fund a new Vikings stadium. From the StarTrib:

"On Wednesday, influential House Republicans objected to a 17-line paragraph put into the 56-page bill at the 11th hour, authorizing the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission to lease up to 17 acres of its golf course and athletic fields in Blaine for unspecified purposes.

Johnson and Rep. Andy Westerberg, R-Blaine, said the provision was needed to keep the commission solvent in the face of deep state budget cuts.

But the provision wasn't previously introduced in either house and wasn't part of the original bonding bills. That violated joint legislative rules, critics said, while shutting out any opportunity for public input.

GOP Reps. Phil Krinkie of Shoreview and Mark Olson of Big Lake suggested that the paragraph could somehow slip a new Vikings stadium into law, a contention vigorously denied by Westerberg."

This is almost comical if it wasn't so sad. How much money could the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission make by leasing 17 acres of a golf course? Surely not anywhere close to $500 million, but that didn't stop Krinkie from wasting my time and your's by arguing and slowing the passage of an already delayed and hugely important bonding bill. Is anyone else stunned by this like I am?

When I read about stuff like this, and then I hear what is happening (or isn't happening) in Florida my opinions about the chances of a new Twins stadium become very pessimistic. Again, the Marlins were contributing $192 million ... they had picked a site ... compared to the Twins requests they were asking for a relatively small amount from the state ... and yet they are still being denied.

The Sun-Sentinel article above ends with this statement:

"The Marlins declined comment Monday, but have indicated they will explore moving from Florida if they cannot secure the state piece of the financing plan. "

The same old song and dance, this time played out in Florida. I wonder how serious the Marlins are with this threat. Regardless, I was hoping the Florida legislature could demonstrate to us how to get a deal done. There is still hope, but unfortunately it is rapidly diminishing.

Posted by snackeru at April 13, 2005 12:58 PM | Stadiums

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