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June 9, 2005

The Roof: Part II

You may recall that I've written about a roof (or the lack of roof) on the new Twins stadium before. Even with all the rain we've been having I still think it is a luxury and not a necessity, but let me clarify something: I would LOVE to have a roof on the new ballpark. No doubt about it.

As you probably know, there were two articles about "the roof" in the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press today:

Lawmaker calls for Twins stadium roof
Twins plan on playing outside at new home

Let's start with the Star Tribune story. In it we have some of the same old points that have already been made concerning the proposed ballpark. First of all, it will not have a roof and it will not be built "roof ready." This makes sense from a Hennepin County standpoint since they will be assuming all of the debt. A roof is not a necessity for a Hennepin County resident since we can all just look out the window and decide if we should go to the game or not. Truly, why should Hennepin County residents pay for a purely out-state necessity? I'm OK with that.

There were also some interesting comments from architechts concerning just how roof-ready the stadium could be made. Some suggested that it would be cost-prohibitive to even make it roof-ready, and some suggested anything is possible. Some even suggested that a roof could be put on even without it being made roof-ready. I am in the "anything is possible" camp. Given enough will-power and technical know-how, it could be done, even after the fact I should think. The main issue, as it is right now, is that no one will want to pay for it. No one wants to pay for it now, and no one will want to pay for it then. So, we probably shouldn't worry about it.

What struck me most about this article, though, was a quote by Steve Sviggum:

House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, said this week that it was his understanding that the proposal before the Legislature was for an open-air stadium capable of adding a roof in a few years if the public wanted it.

"I thought this is something that could be done incrementally. It could be my misunderstanding of the proposal. ... It makes it a little less attractive."

That is not good to hear. Not good at all. First of all it suggests that there are many legislators that probably still think the ballpark will be built roof-ready, and even worse it suggests that Sviggum's support is waning. Ouch ouch ouch. We'll have to watch this development carefully. He did suggest he will still support the bill, but his tepid support is definitely not a good thing.

Enter Rep. Loren Solberg. Today in the Pioneer Press Solberg said that he has an amendment ready to use the TIF method of financing to put a roof on the ballpark. As with any new development I try to look at it from the perspective of "does this help or hurt the chances for a ballpark to actually be built in the Twin Cities area." In this case, I am still not sure. In fact, I don't know what to think.

Let's get the obvious out of the way. Solberg's amendment suggests that he is in favor of the Hennepin County proposal. I have him marked as anti-stadium, but I may have to change that. I have written him to ask him to clarify his stance (for example, would he still support the bill even without a roof?) and I will certainly let you know if/when I hear back from him. If he is now pro-stadium, that means we'll have 66 pro-stadium legislators in the House that I can identify! That would be fantastic.

However, regardless of how many different ways you can justify using TIF money to finance a roof, it is still state money and it would bring state money back into the equation. One of the best things about this bill is that it is simple. There is one funding source with predictable revenue streams. Bringing TIF money back into the mix confuses the issue and could cost the bill some votes.

On the other hand, the votes we would probably lose the most of would be Hennepin County legislator votes, and we could never count on them anyway.

Is it conceivable that Solberg's amendment could strengthen the base of out-state votes, given the fact that they already support the bill and this amendment would probably make their constituents, especially the Twins fans, even happier.

Like I said, I am a little confused over what to think about this development. Again, hopefully we'll get a chance to see this played out.

• Speaking of which I saw Pawlenty on KMSP this morning and he again said he favors the Hennepin County proposal, that he expects it to be heard after all the important business of the legislature is taken care of, and that the lack of a referendum is not a deal breaker for him. Hallelujah!

• Finally, there was a point in time that the Metrodome was an outdoor ballpark. Take a look at this photographic evidence.

Posted by snackeru at June 9, 2005 12:29 PM | Stadiums

Comments

I couldn't believe that a legislator, especially one at the front side of the issue, didn't know the details about roof-readiness. The Twins have been very up front with this. Maybe Sviggum should watch a game on TV sometime?

That picture's great!

Posted by: bjhess at June 9, 2005 2:46 PM

I can bring my own roof. It's called an umbrella. Play ball!

Posted by: Brian Maas at June 9, 2005 3:00 PM

I agree, a roof is a luxury, not a necessity. What the hell kind of whimps have Minnesotans turned into?

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at June 9, 2005 3:16 PM

How could Sviggum possibly justify, on any conceivable grounds, being willing to pay for a stadium with a cost-prohibitive roof while not being willing to pay for the do-able compromise stadium? There's no way he's going to vote in such a way that he's a hold-out for a BIGGER public investment.

If he even thinks about that, he better put his face out there as the Champion of the roofed stadium. He better get 'em unanimously chanting "Go Twins" in the halls of the legislature. Because if his petty, spiteful "I want more" vote of dissent is a deal-killer, then the whole failure would fall on him and his thick-skulled idealism. It's beyond comprehension that he would reject the whole expenditure because he's disappointed in what $400 million gets him these days.

Posted by: ss at June 9, 2005 9:11 PM

More bunnies on this site!

Posted by: SBG at June 10, 2005 8:19 AM

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