November 16, 2005
Stadium news update
Believe it or not, there has been some stadium news as of late that may or may not be of interest. The first item of business comes to me from long time reader freealonzo who pointed me in the direction of this recent post on the City Pages blog The Blotter. In the post, Mike Opat voices his disgust with T-Paw and his inactivity on the Hennepin County Twins stadium bill:
"The disaster scenario is that they think we're going to be there next year with this proposal," Opat continued. "But I'm not going to sit across the table from the Twins this spring and tell them we don't have a deal yet. If this doesn't happen, there will have to be a proposal that uses state dollars."
Either way, Opat seemed resigned to walking away. "If this proposal isn't hashed out, I'm done," Opat said, with just a hint of bitterness. "I've got to move on with my life."
So, there you have it. I suppose this is nothing really new (Opat has hinted at this before), but you can really read the frustration in his quotes now. The post also includes some interesting comments from Frank Hornstein, Minneapolis representative and moron extraordinaire:
Hornstein, who has expressed distaste for public funding of stadiums in the past, said that the current proposal might have legs in the legislature--"the Minneapolis delegation would vote against it, and half of the Hennepin County delegation, but everybody else seems fine with it"--but that he would rather see a proposal that involves the Twins ponying up more than one-quarter of the cost. And, he said, if the deal changes to the Twins needing state money, all bets are likely off.
So we have Opat saying if another deal is struck it will include state money and Hornstein saying if state money is involved "all bets are off." A bit of a conundrum, don't you think?
But really, again, this is nothing new. Hornstein does offer a ray of hope in saying that the Twins need to offer more money and it is beginning to look like (actually it has always looked like) this is exactly what needs to happen. How likely is this? Not very, but I sure wish Pohlad would get his head out of his butt and start seeing the inevitable.
As has already been pointed out, Vegas is a long shot to be a future home of the Twins. Best case scenario is 2010 and only if "all the stars are aligned." So, your probably really looking at 2014 or 2015.
So Pohlad has a choice, it would seem to me. He can either stay in the Metrodome and "lose money" or he can offer more and get this deal done. What if he decided to bump up his contribution to $200 million? What if as a last ditch effort he said, "Screw it all, I'm old and I can't take it anymore. Here have an extra $80 million." Would a special session be called then? I would hope so. But again, what are the chances of this happening? Probably zip.
Well, I'm just rambling now. The fact of the matter is I want this to be over.
I also wanted to send a big Shout Out! to Jim in St. Paul for recently sending me some really, really interesting old documents detailing the history of Met Stadium and its construction. Fascinating material. I became so enamored with the documents and the stories of how the Twins and Vikings decided to make their homes here in Minnesota that I decided to scan them myself and make them available on this here blog.
Unfortunately, due to copyright concerns, I was only able to scan one of them titled "A Decade at the Met: The Twins and the Vikings." Download it with the link below:
For the purposes of getting the file to be as small a download as possible I stripped out all the pictures and just left the text. But it is very, very juicy. The story of the building of the Met is quite fascinating, especially the claims that it was built without a dime of tax payer money.
Most of the work of building the Met fell upon the broad shoulders of a group of Minneapolis businessmen who called themselves the Minute Men. The Minute Men sold many of the original bonds that financed the original construction of the ballpark in 1954-56. Without these phenomenal leaders the Met would have never been built and who knows if the Twin Cities would be major league even today. The document states:
The Minute Men's initial task has been accomplished. But the work of the group has not ended. It committed itself early to support those enterprises which have made the area big league. "Screaming successes" have faded in other towns because boosters became complacent and figured that they had no further obligation to back and promote the sports attractions they had won.
As one wag said, "And who would be stupid enough to let such a dynamic collection of talent disassemble?"
It seems we are stupid enough as the Minute Men are no more. Sadly we need them now more than ever.
More on these documents from Jim in St. Paul at another time.
Posted by snackeru at November 16, 2005 12:40 PM | Stadiums
If you have the ability to post a larger file, I'd love to see the full version of that Met Stadium report. I love seeing pictures of early suburban sprawl!
As for the Minutemen, I think the fact that few local businesspeople have stepped forward to support the new stadiums is evidence of the changed business climate. Pro sports are less of a requirement now to make a city "great", or even truly "major league." They're just businesses themselves, national businesses, and their direct effects are rather lost among the myriad of suburban and summertime diversions we have access to today. Especially football, the reigning king of pro sports. Most of the "Vikings fans" I grew up with now care more about their fantasy football teams and DirecTV Sunday Ticket subscriptions than the real local team.
Posted by: spycake at November 16, 2005 3:00 PM
I'm live in Rep Hornstein's district and I used to like him. I'm not voting for him again because of his efforts to kill the Twins stadium. What kills me is his assertion that no one from the Mpls delegation will vote for the Twins stadium - what a bunch of narrow-minded cowards. I'd like them to research how many St. Paul reps were voted out of office after the Xcel Center deal.
Hornstein is also quoted as saying that there won't be a special session this year because the next session in March is so close. The problem is the session starts in March and goes to June. No doubt a Twins stadium will not be voted on until the end of the session so we are talking 6 extra months!-- that means $$$$ Hornstein also confirmed what I thought all along, the only reason there is foot dragging on a stadium special session is that this is a tactical measure by the opponents -- they know if an up or down vote is taken the deal is approved.
Unfortunately Shane is probably correct. Pohlad's going to have to pony up more $$$ if we are ever going to see a stadium built in our lifetimes. The leadership demonstrated by the Minutemen in the 1950's versus the so called leadership demonstrated today is absolutely striking, sad too.
Posted by: freealonzo at November 16, 2005 4:29 PM
I also found the St. Paul Midway Stadium information very interesting. The original Midway Stadium (not the current home of the Saints which is named after the original) was built after overwhelming approval from St. Paul voters of $2 million towards the potential home of a major league baseball team. At the time it was considered very important that
St. Paul be ready for such an opportunity.
I guess some of the leaders in my fair city no longer look for such a great once in a lifetime opportunity to make your city big league.
Posted by: Jim in St. Paul at November 16, 2005 4:59 PM
"Uncovering the Dome" by Amy Klobuchar is another good read. It was written just after the Dome opened, I think, and covers the whole history of Met Stadium and the planning of the Dome. A very interesting, impartial book -- all sides are represented, and Klobuchar stays neutral.
Posted by: spycake at November 17, 2005 1:28 PM