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October 27, 2005

Random thoughts

• First of all congratulations to the Chicago White Sox. 88 years is a long time to wait. Although I wouldn't have minded if the Astros had won, I am happy that A.J. got a ring. He deserves it.

• Now, it wouldn't be right if I didn't somehow turn this into a stadium rant, I mean, that is probably what you expect. So, I'll try not to disappoint.

Minute Maid Park cost $250 million back in 1998-1999 when it was built. $180 million was publicly financed through a 2 percent hotel tax and a 5 percent rental-car tax. The rest came from a $52 million contribution from the owners (20% of the cost) and $33 million from a no-interest state loan (about 12% of the cost). This is a beautiful, retractable-roof stadium built for $250 million. I'm sure most Houston residents are thrilled with it (even though their team lost) and wouldn't ever decide to go back in time and not build it.

U.S. Cellular Field cost $167 million when it was built in the 1989-1990 and was 100% publicly financed through a 2% hotel tax in Chicago. We can argue forever on whether or not it is a "nice" ballpark, but I think we can all agree that it is better than the Metrodome.

My question for all the anti-stadium baseball fans out there is how can you stand to even watch this game anymore? How do you stomach the fact that 90% of the teams out there play in stadiums that are so heavily publicly financed? I mean, just look at the White Sox. They are riding the public gravy train for all it is worth. Doesn't that just make you turn off the TV in disgust? And if not, why not? Why do you choose to perpetuate this situation by continuing to support such a "flawed" system?

I truly would like to know how anti-stadium folk that are also baseball fans can justify their continued support of MLB. Is this public fleecing OK for other cities, but just not OK for the Twin Cities? Do you feel better about the situation just because you aren't the one being fleeced? I gotta admit, if I was anti-stadium I would have turned off the TV, I would have watched my last professional game, a long, long time ago. Why do you continue to watch MLB? I have to know.

• Finally, yesterday was Day 2 in my quest to figure out if my life is interesting or boring. Yesterday was a pretty ho-hum day at work, only one meeting, and I got some nice stuff accomplished. However, last night I went to church with my family. My church puts on a production every Wednesday night called Mission 6~7 that is geared towards kids. There is singing, there is a little play staring the Mission 6~7 clubhouse kids (a bunch of hilarious adults), and there is a message to take home. This last month the theme has been "determination" which has been defined in kids language as "deciding it is worth it to finish what you've started" and the play and other little skits are geared toward getting that message across, that working hard for a goal is well worth it. Of course, being a church, there is a heavy focus on the Bible and what it has to say about determination. As you might imagine, there are a ton of examples in the Bible that demonstrate determination.

Anyway, my kids love Wednesday nights. How often do kids actually like to go to church? Well, my kids do, and that is great. There is also a good message coming out of the production that my kids can use in their daily lives. Hey, it sure beats watching Cartoon Network all night. Plus, we hang out together as a family. I practically dance around with my daughter the whole time.

So, I'm going to give yesterday the rank of Interesting. Not as interesting as backpacking in Thailand, but better than sitting on my butt watching TV. That brings my tally to:

Interesting days: 2
Boring days: 0

Posted by snackeru at October 27, 2005 8:51 AM | Stadiums


Speaking from experience, it is tought to keep the pro-stadium argument fresh. Today you stepped up and gave me another point to bring up with all the naysayers.

Posted by: Jim in St. Paul at October 27, 2005 11:53 AM

I don't really mean to always be a nay-sayer, but...

What makes you think that any percentage of baseball fans are anti-stadium. It would seem to me, that most anti-stadium fans are also NOT Twins fans. I'll guess there are some, but I would say it is a small minority.

The thing that I do NOT like about the two ballparks you mention is their names. The public paid for these parks, and they sell the naming rights to the highest bidder. (Minute Maid Park used to be Enron Field, until ... well you know.) If the public pays for a field, its name should reflect that. Comisky was named after the guy who paid for it. Wrigley was named after the guy who paid for it. Why aren't these stadiums named after the people who paid for them?

Posted by: DouglasG at October 27, 2005 12:23 PM

Just to play devil's advocate here, you say that since other cities have built stadiums using a fairly large % of public funds, MN should as well.

It brings the saying to mind of "if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?"

Just because other cities have decided to go this route is not a valid argument that Minneapolis (or whatever city here) should. Each city has it's own issues and circumstances.

If 5 of your friends all get new jet skis for a club you will have, and they pay between $6500 and $7500, are you then obligated to do the same? What if you decide that given your financial situation the most you will pay is $5000 and you know from research that the dealership can accomidate you. Wouldn't you fight for that $5000 price even with your friends making fun of you while they are riding the waves?

You still love jet skis and do want one, just not at what seems as such a steep price in your opinion.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at October 27, 2005 12:34 PM

Actually, Craig, that's not what I'm saying at all. I truly want to know why anti-stadium people are still baseball fans. They complain and complain about public welfare for billionaire owners, and they complain about whiny millionaire players, yet they still watch the game. They still "perpetuate this flawed system." Why? Why wait for Hennepin County to be fleeced before you really show your moral indignation? There are plenty of cities/states that are already being "ripped off." Why not just start your boycott now?

It has nothing to do with the "unique" Minnesota situation. If you are against public funding for a stadium in Minnesota, then you should be against public funding for stadiums in other cities/states too. If you are threatening to boycott the Twins if a new publicly funded stadium is built, then why aren't you boycotting other teams that have already gone down that route? Why do you continue to support MLB with your time and/or money?

And Douglas, there are plenty of anti-stadium Minnesota Twins fans. I hear from them all the time.

Glad I could help, Jim. I can't believe I can write about this so much. I am a sick individual.

Posted by: Shane at October 27, 2005 12:48 PM

Well, maybe with Phil "NO" Krinkie running for Congress and the whiney Matt Entenza running for Atty General, we can eliminate two opposing voices in the MN house of Reps.

Posted by: kevin in az at October 27, 2005 1:03 PM

It is amazing to me, in the short time I've been reading your blog, how often we get to musing along the same lines. I've thought many times about whether my life is interesting, and have come to the following conclusion: It all depends on how you look at it.

On the boring side--

I have lived in small towns in South Dakota all my life. I currently live in a town of around a thousand people. The most famous people to come from here are Robert Vessey, who was governor of South Dakota many years ago, and Kyle Evans, a western singer who was famous on the rodeo circuit (although Al Neuharth came from Alpena, just a few miles down the road). The only "entertainment" here is usually from the local high school, both in terms of sports and in terms of concerts. We have a large number of elderly people here, and few young people. A lot of people would look at this town, and at the people who live here, and say "This is boring! There's nothing to do!" In fact some people do come here are say that. They usually don't stay very long.

On the other hand--

I get to do a lot of things because I live in this boring little town that I would have never done otherwise. As an amateur musician, I sing in the church choir, sing in a gospel quartet, and once in a while even get to put on solo concerts of songs I've written. I'm lay leader of my church, am on three or four church committees, and am a certified lay speaker, which allows me to conduct worship services in other churches. I'm the public address announcer for all the local baseball games (kids and adult amateurs) and the chief statistician for the high school basketball team. I participate in local community theater. I'm gone five or six nights every week.

None of these things I do will make me great or famous. Fifty years from now, I'll be gone, and very few will remember I ever existed. I'll have lived all my life in little towns, and never have "accomplished" anything. How boring. But I'll have had an awful lot of fun, and I'll have contributed to my little town and to the lives of the people in it.

Interesting enough for me.

Posted by: Jeff at October 27, 2005 1:35 PM

It's the NIMBY effect. Not In My Back Yard. People do not become upset or outraged when things are not happening directly to them. This is simple human nature.

Do you honestly care if some teenagers are racing cars down city streets over in Woodbury? I dare say you don't. Would you start caring if they did it right in front of your house? Of course you would. Should I then say since you said nothing about the situation in Woodbury that you have no right to complain that it's in front of your house? Per your logic I'm right in saying so.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at October 27, 2005 2:25 PM

I think that hearing from anti-stadium Twin's fans has skewed your perspective on this. Certainly there are some. However, I would wager that Nick Coleman is not a Twin's fan. Similarly, I would guess Krinkie and Entenza are also not Twin's fans.

I also agree with the Cheesehead on that whole NIMBY thing. "I would love to see a new Twins ballpark, as long as I don't have to pay for it" attitude. After all, isn't that Pohlad's attitude?

The real problem I see about a new Twins ballpark is that "What makes anyone think that the Twins organization is going to like it?" What guarantee is there that in 20 years, we won't have to build yet another one? After all, the Metrodome is only 20 years old...

Posted by: DouglasG at October 27, 2005 4:23 PM

'I truly would like to know how anti-stadium folk that are also baseball fans can justify their continued support of MLB... I gotta admit, if I was anti-stadium I would have turned off the TV, I would have watched my last professional game, a long, long time ago."

Let's say you were passionate about politics, but you didn't like how the current administration operates. Would you just ignore what they do, the news, everything? I'd rather continue to pay attention, focus on some positive aspects, and hopefully contribute to the discourse. Maybe you can change some minds and eventually change the system for the better.

I'd also like to take issue with your "anti-stadium" label. What does that mean? Is that complete opposition to any stadium? Or, as in my case, merely opposition the current proposed plans? I think a lot of the people you generally label "anti-stadium" would very much support a better stadium deal -- like if the Twins offered to pay for half (an amount you expressed a preference for in the past). And many would prefer genuine negotiations, where each inflexible proposal isn't accompanied by a threat to move or contract the team.

In any case, my "continued support of MLB" is pretty limited. Regular Twins games (Upper GA), reading blogs and newspapers, and conversations with people about the games. Heck, I don't subscribe to anything, and I don't even pay for any merchandise.

Posted by: spycake at October 27, 2005 7:10 PM

Why if these stadiums are publicly funded - doesn't the public get their money back when the teams are sold? If the Twins build a stadium, Polad offered to kick in 125 million, which is what the value of the team would increase - If the Vikings get a stadium for 600 million, their value would raise considerable, you think the owner will give the difference to the taxpayers!!
Its easy to see how millionaires get money - taking free tax money!!
If that doesn't sound some alarms - maybe we should look at whos using the stadiums - how many players call Minnesota home - and pay state income tax here - most use FL or some place thats low tax - not the state they supposedly represent.
Tell me why we're being ask to pay taxes for them?

Posted by: Kirb M. at April 2, 2006 3:44 PM

Why don't the owners offer to give a fair share of the profits to the taxpayers when they sell the teams? They aren't ball fans - they worship the almighty dollar - a ball stadium raises the value of the team - however, you don't hear any owner offering the state a cut when the stadium is sold -

Posted by: Kirb M. at April 19, 2006 8:34 PM

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