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May 6, 2005

Guest blogger: SBG

Good news! Today you won't hear any stadum ramblings from me. I know, you were probably thinking, "When is this guy going to shut up about stadiums?" Well, today is that day. However, its not because I don't have anything else to say, it is because someone else has offered to say it for me!

Today's Greet Machine entry is written by the world famous Stick and Ball Guy. Stick and Ball Guy writes some amazing entries about the Twins and T-Wolves over at his web site and I encourage everyone to check it out daily. SBG is also getting married in about a week. How he found the time to write this I will never know, but I greatly appreciate it.

I have never met SBG. I probably wouldn't even recognize him if we passed each other on the street. Nonetheless, SBG is a good friend of mine. Thanks for this great entry, SBG!

Hello, Greet Machine readers, I am the Stick and Ball Guy. I have my own little website where I provide semi-serious coverage of Minnesota Sports. During the time that I have written my site, I have enjoyed reading Shane’s Greet Machine, and have really respected his dedication to stadium projects in Minnesota. I have also greatly appreciated his contributions to my site, so I wanted to give something back to him. Thus, I am writing on his site about stadia.

About fifteen or so years ago, I was living in Fargo, ND and there was a proposal to build a domed stadium in Fargo. The stadium was ostensibly for NDSU football, but also would be for various events such as concerts, boat shows, basketball games, and so forth. The city of Fargo had a referendum on the domed stadium, and as a citizen of the city of Fargo, I voted “NO.” I thought it was a stupid idea and I was outraged at the half cent sales tax that would be levied within the city to pay for the project. I derisively referred to the project as the “half-cent dome.” I argued why not fix the streets! This money could be used for much better purposes!

And then, the Fargodome opened. While it is arguably not been all that great for NDSU Football (another column topic), there is no question that the Fargodome has been an enormous success for the city of Fargo. Before the Fargodome, the city had no viable venue for concerts. After the Fargodome, I saw the Rolling Stones in North Dakota. I saw basketball games (including KG's first exhibition game -- he was a star even then), concerts, football and yes, a boat show. I realized that the Fargodome was a fantastic idea and I was quite wrong to have voted against it.

I see the proposed Twins stadium in much the same light. No, it won’t have quite the same impact on Minneapolis as the Fargodome had on Fargo. (Of course, the tax is not the same, either,) But, it is undeniable that having baseball games played outdoors is a positive contribution to the quality of life. Some people might say that baseball isn’t important and not worthy of public money. I say you are wrong. Just as seeing the Stones in Fargo in the middle of a cold and dreary winter made life in North Dakota just a little more tolerable, enjoying a world class sporting event outdoors in the most beautiful time of the year in Minnesota boosts the quality of life in this great city. Sometimes, you have to spend money for the common good. And this is one of those times.

I think about how great the light rail has been for the city. Before it was finished, those who would rather see Minneapolis be a cold Omaha cried and moaned about what a boondoggle it was. As I drove along Hiawatha Avenue prior to the completion, I saw opponents of the light rail decry the project as “social engineering” on billboards. Then a funny thing happened. The light rail opened and people started riding it. A lot. And the criticism stopped. Thursday night as I rode the train from downtown Minneapolis to Fort Snelling, I had to stand up the whole way – because it was packed. At 7:00 PM. People love it. Just like people will love a new Twins stadium.

I read a beautiful quote about Phil Krinkie, state legislator and opponent of progress in Minnesota. Someone, and I forget who, when asked about Krinkie’s opposition to the light rail said, “if it were up to him, we wouldn’t have paved roads.” I laughed because it reminded me of my youth. I grew up in a small town without paved streets. Every time it rained, the street in front of our house turned into a marsh. When it didn't rain, the streets were dry and dusty -- until they oiled the streets down. That's right they actually applied oil to the streets. (Great for the drinking water, I'm sure.) Yet, people in the city stubbornly refused to build paved streets. The mayor, a reactionary if there ever was one said, we don’t need paved streets because the city has “natural drainage.” Friends, the marsh in front of my Dad’s street belied that comment. Eventually, the reactionaries were defeated and we got paved streets. I’ll never forget how the first time it rained after the streets were paved – the water ran into the storm sewer and the street wasn’t a marsh but rather quite drivable. And I thought, why did anyone ever think this was a bad idea? Just like the Fargodome and the light rail, the loud-mouthed critics were silenced.

This is what this stadium debate is about. Do you want to invest in the city? Do you want to have facilities and infrastructure to make this a major league city? Or do you want to be a reactionary? If the stadium is not built, no more money will go to education, no more money will go to (fill in the blank). Those arguments are stale and beside the point. What we need in this state are leaders, who will make the Twins stadium a reality. Who will expand the light rail. Who will spend on education. As someone who pays a lot of income tax – more than most people – I say if you need a little more from me, I’ll give it. Why? Because I want to live in a place that I can be proud of. I want to live where I can get around and where I can enjoy life doing things like going to baseball games outdoors. I don’t want to live where the proverbial paved street is deemed unnecessary.

Posted by snackeru at May 6, 2005 8:32 AM | Stadiums


The Greet Machine has been the blog to be hanging out at this week. I just hope that when the Twins stadium is built that you pick up the crusade for the Vikes stadium needs!

Ah, Fargo. As most people say, "It's not the arm-pit of the world but you can see it from there" Went to NDSU from 1979-1984. We thought the FieldHouse was a huge deal then! How things have changed. Good article SBG!

Posted by: Brian Maas at May 6, 2005 9:30 AM

Having seen several concerts, sporting events, and conventions in the Fargo Dome, I have no idea how someone could say it was a bad idea. Up here in the Forks, there were similar discussions (and gnashing of teeth) over the construction of the Alerus Center. Picture it as our version of the Fargo Dome. Both buildings have brought in a lot of money to the local economy; money that would not have been spent without the presence of the stadiums.

Thompson, North Dakota, is just down the road from Grand Forks, and is known for two things: First, the area's only strip club, which caused an incredible amount of social guilt and at least one court case. Rumor has it, however, that the club has closed. And 2, unpaved streets. Most of the residents of Thompson are steadfast against paving, and refuse to even consider it. You will be happy to know, SBG (and Cheer or Die, for that matter), that NoDak hasn't changed much since you left!

Curt in Grand Forks

Posted by: Curt Hanson at May 6, 2005 11:55 AM

This is probably the best column that has been on this site ever. Great job SBG!

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at May 6, 2005 1:40 PM

Gee, thanks a lot!

Posted by: Shane at May 6, 2005 2:16 PM

Curt, you are exactly right. But, prior to being built, it looked like a bad idea to those of us fools who didn't have the vision and leadership of the people who championed the project. No one could, with a straight face, argue that it has been anything other than fantastic for the city of Fargo.

Posted by: SBG at May 6, 2005 2:29 PM

That was in retaliation for your Brewer comment. I've always felt that your Songs for a Desert Island were your best written works.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at May 6, 2005 2:32 PM

Really? My "Songs for a Desert Island" are my best? I liked the Parkinson's Law posts, too. And I was pretty proud of my St. Patrick's day post, but that was more of an inside joke between me and Curt. And of course, my post about mowing your lawn always gives me a chuckle. Yep, every once in a while I write something decent. Too bad all this stadium stuff gets in the way.

Posted by: Shane at May 6, 2005 2:47 PM

While it was full of false ethnic slander, your St. Patrick's Day post was divinely inspired. It make me chuckle just to think about it. And rest assured, should I ever get a cat, I'll name it Seamus!!

Curt in Grand Forks (one of the few Irish up here in Canada)

Posted by: Curt Hanson at May 6, 2005 3:00 PM

Those are your most thoughtful posts, and thus, the most original and personal. The Brew-HaHa in the Backyard is still one of my favorites (for obvious reasons). Parkinson's was a classic, no doubt.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at May 6, 2005 3:00 PM

Yep, our neighborhood in my hometown of Jamestown didn't have paved streets until the early 1970s. I still have some gravel in a knee from the time I crashed my bicycle to prove it.

But, the city leaders still found time to erect the worlds largest Buffalo...whose testicles are spray painted by residents of Jamestown College every year. When I go back, everyone on the street kind of reminds me of Billy Bob Thorton from Sling Blade.

Oh, and when they did finally pave the street and install the curbs..they had the blue-print upside down so that the curb on one side of the street was about 6" above everyone's grass line while on the other side it was about 3" below the grass line.

"Yeah, I reckon it's time for me to review the blue print again, MMMM-HMMM!"

Posted by: Brian Maas at May 6, 2005 3:26 PM

I could tell you stories, COD. We considered Jamestown to be a big city and rightfully so, because the population of Jamestown was 30 times the population of my one-horse town.

Posted by: SBG at May 6, 2005 3:39 PM

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