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February 28, 2005

Bonehead economics

Just to warn you, with this entry I plan to enter the dark cave of stadium impact. This has been argued so much, and with no clear victor on either side of the argument, that I hesitate to discuss it. It should come as no surprise that I feel stadiums and sports arenas have a significant impact on local economies in both measurable and immeasurable ways. However, proving that, or proving that stadiums don't have a significant is problematic at best.

Let's start out simply. Let's say you've got a city in a medium sized metropolitan area. We can call the city ... hmmm ... let's call it San Paulo. Let's say up until a few years ago, if anyone in that city wanted to rent a video they had to travel to a neighboring city to do so. However, let's say a few years ago a new video store opens in San Paulo. Now, instead of going to the neighboring city to rent a video, San Pauloians stay in San Paulo to rent their videos. In fact, their new video store is so good, residents from the neighboring city start to travel to San Paulo to rent videos. San Paulo is of course thrilled with this development and releases data that says it's new video store draws about 1 million customers a year who all spend on average about $10 a visit.

Now, who in their right mind would argue that this new video store isn't having some kind of positive economic impact on the city? No one, I would wager. I would think your average kindergartner could deduce that San Paulo has more money with this new video store than without. Yet, if we change this scenario to discuss a new stadium or sports arena rather than a video store we have so-called "expert" economists coming out of the woodwork saying these facilities have a negligible impact or no impact at all. Truly, this boggles my mind.

As far as I'm concerned, sports facilities always have an economic impact. That should not be in dispute at all. The question should be: is this impact worth the expense of building the facility?

Take the Xcel Energy Center, for example. The StarTrib had a great guest editorial last weekend from Larry Dowell (president of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce) John Labosky (president of Capital City Partnership), and Karolyn Kirchgesler (president of the St. Paul Convention and Visitors Bureau) where they discussed the economic impact of not having NHL hockey in St. Paul this season. Check this out:

With 44 home games and attendance exceeding 18,000 people per game, Wild fans spend an average of $45 per ticket and another $10 on food, beverages or mementos. At the end of the season the Wild generates an estimated $3 million in state sales tax receipts, of which St. Paul receives approximately $217,000 in revenue from its half-cent sales tax -- tax revenue generated only inside the arena. Moreover, the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce economic impact study of Xcel Energy Center completed in 2003 shows that the Wild brings $23 million in spending outside the arena to St. Paul from nonresidents. Clearly, St. Paul is missing significant sales tax revenue, not to mention the state is losing more than $1.5 million in income tax revenues from player salaries.

This doesn't even include one time events like concerts, or Disney on Ice, or the myriad of other events hosted by the X. So, is St. Paul's investment justified? Will St. Paul recoup the money it put into the arena?

The Xcel Energy Center cost $130 million to build. The state gave the City of Saint Paul an interest-free $65 million loan. The remaining $65 million needed to pay for the arena came from bonds sold by the City of Saint Paul to be repaid over 25 years. Repayment of the state loan comes solely from the Wildís annual rent payment and Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT), which are guaranteed by the team. The Wild are also required to pay for 100% of the costs of operating the facilty.

So, for essentially $65 million, the city of St. Paul has a beautiful new world-class arena. As the guest editorial above discusses, with Wild games alone, the city makes approx. $23 million a year from nonresident spending. And that is just from Wild games! So, after 4 years the Xcel Energy Center and the Wild have accounted for approx. $80 million to the city of St. Paul. It sure seems like $65 million was a good investment.

And again, this is just from Wild games. When you look at all the one time events, like NHL All-Star weekend, all the concerts hosted by the X, hosting the Frozen Four, high school basketball and hockey tournaments, etc. ... well, you've got an investment that has more than paid for itself and one that will continue to reward the city of St. Paul well into the future.

Was the investment of $65 million a good one? Was the initial expense worth the economic impact? I would answer a resounding yes even without NHL hockey this season. The arena has already more than paid for itself and will pay for itself again and again when hockey returns next year (which I have no doubt that it will).

Given the success of the Xcel Energy Center, and given that it is so plainly obvious, it makes me wonder why we continue to fight and argue over the potential impact of a new Twins stadium. The Wild draw almost 800,000 fans for 44 games. The Twins draw over double that for 81 games. Yikes! Do you now understand why both Minneapolis and St. Paul so desperately want to build a new stadium for the team? You can just see the $$ signs in Rybak's and Kelley's eyes.

The deal that built the Xcel Energy Center could work for the Twins (if the state had $250 million to loan out). In fact, Jerry Bell has consistently said that the Twins would take the deal that the Wild got. That would mean an interest free $250 million loan to the city of St. Paul to be paid off by the Twins. The other $250 million would come from bonds sold by the city of St. Paul. The plan that St. Paul is currently pushing is to pay for St. Paul's share with a 3% sales tax at bars and restaurants. But it doesn't have to be like this. We have the TIF plan already endorsed by Pawlenty that could raise some of the needed money. Or if Pawlenty rams his metro casino idea through he has promised a "Community Assets Account" that could help pay for stadiums.

Essentially there are numerous plans that could work. And given the news today concerning an ever shrinking state deficit (and possibly even a surplus by 2008) I would think that smart, intelligent legislators could finally figure something out and put all this mess behind us. It is too bad we live in Minnesota.

Posted by snackeru at 12:53 PM | Comments (12)


Sorry everyone, I had a little water in my basement last night that I had to take care of and I had to take the bus into work this morning so there won't be an entry until later. Sorry for the inconvenience, but life sometimes gets in the way.

Posted by snackeru at 8:55 AM | Comments (2)

February 26, 2005

Cat Saturday

In a show of blogging solidarity, and in recognition of Stick and Ball Guy's fiancee Lucy's Cat Blogging I have decided to post a picture of my family's two cats: Azul and Trinity. Azul and Trinity are Ragdoll cats and they are quite possibly the most even tempered and beautiful cats I have ever been around. But I am a little biased. Thanks for the inspiration SBG and Lucy!


Posted by snackeru at 4:00 PM | Comments (7)

February 25, 2005

More pepper please ...

• Well, I've dinked around too long this morning and now I am pressed for time time, so this will have to be somewhat short. First of all, stop reading this and head over to Stick and Ball Guy's website for another game of Pepper! This week his guest is none other than my neighbor Cheesehead Craig! As always it is a very interesting read, but today in particular makes some mentions of yours truly. So, I must address some of the things that have been said:

Nice job all around SBG and Cheesehead!

• Reader's of Cheesehead's Oracle of Cheese may have noticed that it now has some pictures of Wisconsin sports franchises in the upper bar of the site. Cheesehead Craig and I put those up there last Friday and I think they do a nice job of letting the reader know the scope of the site. Craig then recently wrote me asking me if there was something else I could do for his site:

Now all I need to do is when you first go to the site to have a mini movie where someone is walking up a mountain path, amiss thunder, lightning and rain to a cave and in the cave is a chamber with statues all around the room with torches on the walls. In the middle is an open fire with fondue pots and a wedge of cheese pulsing with light hanging in the middle of the room. The sounds of light singing is heard, then you click on the wedge of cheese, and the screen fades, replaced by my blog. How hard would that be for you to do?

Cheesehead likes to think big, and that is great. I wrote him back telling him that I already had something ready for him. And now I give that site to you, dear reader, so you too can see the majesty of what I have in mind for the Oracle of Cheese. I don't know if Craig liked it or not.

• Some of you will remember that I got an iPod a couple of weeks ago. Of course, right after I purchased it Apple decides to lower its prices by a whole $50 for my model. Have no fear though! I ventured to the Apple store at the MOA last night where they refunded me a whole $53 making my final purchase price a reasonable $179. Not too shabby.

• Vince, who is really keeping me on my toes lately, asked a great question yesterday regarding the upcoming Minneapolis mayoral race. He asked "Is Ryb[a]k's challenger, McLaughlin, anti-stadium? He challenged Ryb[a]k for flipping, but do you know his stance?"

I would say that McLaughlin is pro-stadium. He has led Hennepin county's efforts to land a stadium in the past, and he has made pro-stadium statements such as saying he feels public financing of a stadium is "worhtwhile." We'll see if his stance is shifting in the weeks ahead, but for right now I would feel comfortable with him as mayor of Minneapolis.

• That's all I got time for. Maybe more later.

Posted by snackeru at 7:40 AM | Comments (4)

February 24, 2005

On a lighter note ...

Please, do yourself a favor and check out this post from the blog Broken Wing about someone ahead of him in line at Noodles who decided to order something less than creative. Hilarious. I lauged out loud.

Posted by snackeru at 2:59 PM

Change your attitude

Seriously, I don't even know why I'm going to try. Mr. Cheer or Die has a great post today that discusses the Moss trade and he says everything I would say and more. He even beat me to the punch and printed off the Mel Kiper top 10 draft picks. Nice work, Brian. You saved me a lot of time this morning.

However, I do have a couple of things to say about this trade. First of all, I don't like it. Moss was the best. He was exciting. He put butts in the seats at the Metrodome. He made the Vikings offense work the way it did. The fact that he was constantly double teamed opened up that offense in ways we probably won't ever see again. When I heard about the trade I was in emotional pain. I was practically in mourning. It ruined my whole evening and I couldn't stop thinking about it. But I vowed to not write anything until this morning so I could get my thoughts together. So, here they are.

What does this say about Reggie Fowler and/or Red McCombs? I could think of three things and none of them are good:

  1. Red McCombs doesn't think Reggie Fowler will be approved by the NFL so he is continuing business as usual as the now and future owner of the Vikings. Bad news.
  2. Red McCombs is sticking it to Vikings fans one last time before he rides into the sunset. Bad news.
  3. Reggie Fowler actually approved this trade which, once again, makes him a liar. Bad news.

Why is it such hard work to be a fan of Minnesota sports? When talking about the Vikings specifically we have ownership issues, stadium issues, and now this stupid trade. NFL trades are very rare, but we have some doozies on our record books. We have this one, we have the trade of Fran Tarkenton to the Giants, and we also have the Herschel Walker trade. A look back at the history of these trades demonstrates that they usually don't work out too well for the Vikings.

And a quick note about the trade itself, what did we get for the best receiver in the NFL? A stick of gum and a Barry Zito rookie card? Man, it looks like we got screwed. Napoleon Harris? It is sad when Napoleon Harris is now the best linebacker on the Vikings. That shows how bad our linebackers have been over the last few years. THe seventh pick in the draft is great, of course, but another late rounder? What, so we can pick up another Aaron Elling or Eddie Johnson? Oh goodie.

Finally, are we going back into the Dark Ages of being Vikings fans? And I'm talking specifically about blackouts. Randy Moss is the reason Red has enjoyed so many seasons in a row of Vikings sell outs. We may see this trend continue next year, but if the Vikings don't show some kind of improvement, the absence of Randy Moss is going to hurt ticket sales. That's just all there is to it.

When my kids are in a bad mood all my wife needs to do is take one look at them and say, "Change it." So, that is what she had to say to me last night. I have to change my attitude about this or else it is going to be a really long off season. So, I am going to look on the bright side of things.

If I was the owner of the Vikings here is what I would do. With the 7th pick in the draft I would take another defensive lineman. I know what you are thinking but bear with me. I would take the departure of Randy Moss and turn it into an opportunity to hearken back to the glory days of the 1970s. Are you starting to get my drift? The Purple People Eaters, baby. I know Kevin Williams, Kenechi Udeze, and a player to be named later are hardly Page, Eller, and Marshall, but they are a start.

With the next pick I would either take a corner or a wide receiver, preferably a corner. And with all the cap money the Vikings have I would pick up either a corner or a wide receiver, preferably a wide receiver. Someone like Plaxico Burress.

Now think about it. Napolepon Harris is definitely an upgrade over any linebacker we have now. We could have another decent corner to put across from Antoine Winfield, and we could have a very good receiver to replace the enigmatic Moss. With the other draft picks we have we could upgrade our safety situation and pick up another offensive lineman.

I guess what I'm trying to say is the trade of Randy Moss could actually work out pretty well for the Vikings. We get rid of a selfish and disruptive player, upgrade the defense, replace said player with another excellent wide receiver, and retain quite possibly the best QB in the NFC.

We've still got Daunte, people. And this is now unequivocally Daunte's team. Daunte is a winner and in him I see another Fran Tarkenton. Did Fran ever have anyone with Moss's talent? No, but he had his own skills and a dominating defense.

That is what I am going to choose to focus on. What's done is done and I look forward to the Vikings' next moves. Let's see what happens.

Posted by snackeru at 9:02 AM | Comments (8)

February 23, 2005

Musing on the Freedom of Speech

My first job out of library school was at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. While there a co-worker of mine asked me a very thought provoking question, the answer of which has stayed with me quite a while. She asked me, of all the things I learned in library school what is the most important? To me, the answer was easy: how to diplomatically tell people to be quiet while in hallowed halls of a library. Just kidding! Actually, my answer had to do with technology. I learned a lot about technology (HTML, programming languages, etc.) in library school and I still use these skills in my job today. She told me that this was wrong. This took me aback a little, but her answer made complete sense.

The most important lessons from library school are the concepts of academic and intellectual freedom and the importance of the freedom of speech. Libraries, more than any other American institution, are the front line in protecting these freedoms and librarians should take this very seriously. Libraries and the free flow of information are essential for any democracy to function properly. As a result, libraries and librarians are vehemently against censorship in any form and literally fight for a person's right to express him or herself freely. This discussion with my co-worker was a powerful reminder and it has stuck with me throughout the years.

Last Friday this lesson was put to the test, in a way, and I was a little upset with the outcome. I was contacted by a reporter from the Minnesota Daily, the U of M student newspaper, who asked me some very difficult questions about my pet project of UThink. Specifically he asked me:

Are the blogs totally uncensored? Can students get in trouble for the speech they use on the blog? As you know speech on the internet such as hate speech, libel, slander, harassment and defamation are hot-button issues on the internet and I wonder if they are regulated on the Uís blogging system. What regulations do students need to remember when blogging? Are there any? Do a lot students come to the UThink program as somewhere to express themselves completely uncensored?

Some of these questions were easy to answer. Concerning blog censorship I wrote:
"The blogs are totally uncensored. The University Libraries is a traditional defender of intellectual and academic freedom on campus and we take this responsibility very seriously."

Easy. Nice and strong and unambiguous. However, the question "Can students get in trouble for the speech they use on the blog?" became somewhat problematic. It is difficult to convey to a student journalist the complexities of the freedom of speech while still making my answer as "library-strong" as I can make it. At first I wrote:
"Not from the University Libraries. The University Libraries believe passionately in the freedom of speech and we will fight for a student's right to exercise that freedom."

Not so fast, said my boss, who wanted to see my responses before they went out. My intent was to leave my answers both concise and strong. And by concise I mean that I wasn't saying too much so that the student could misconstrue my comments. However, my boss brought up some good points that I would have just preferred to leave to the student's imagination. For one, will the libraries really fight for a person's right to express him or herself freely? Neither my boss or I could make this promise as this is the call of the library director. Secondly, how much freedom of speech does a student really have, or for that matter, does anyone have? For example, would we allow a student to publish a list of credit card numbers on a blog? No, of course not. Given these realities my boss wanted me to rework my answer above to be a little more realistic. It became:
Not from the University Libraries. The Unversity Libraries believe passionately in the freedom of speech and we encourage students to exercise that freedom.

However, there must be a balance between freedom and personal responsibility as outlined in the U of M Student Code of Conduct:

*"Subd. 1. Policy Statement.* It is the policy of the University of Minnesota (University) that certain minimum standards of conduct are necessary to safeguard the rights, opportunities, and welfare of students, faculty, staff, and guests of the University community and to assure protection of the interests of the University as it seeks to carry out its mission.

The University requires a community free from violence, threats, and intimidation; protective of free inquiry; respectful of the rights of others; open to change; supportive of democratic and lawful procedures; and dedicated to a rational and orderly approach to the resolution of conflict."

The University Libraries must adhere to University policy when applicable.

This is the reality of free speech on campus: the wonderful freedom we have must be balanced by the nebulous concept of personal responsibilty. And on top of that, University policy further muddies the water of just what a student can and cannot say.

I cannot express to you enough how painful I found it to qualify my strong statements concerning library views on the freedom of speech with these new statements. It really, really irked me. Not because I didn't understand that this is just the reality of the freedom of speech, but because I was sure the student would glom onto these statements and paint a less-than-true picture of the library in terms of these freedoms. And I do feel that libraries should be prepared to have a stronger stance on issues of censorship and intellectual freedom than your average American citizen. Man I was on fire. I was pacing, I was hootin' and hollerin'. My boss and I found it ironic that my own freedom of speech was being censored during the course of this discussion.

Well, the article came out yesterday and it showed I really didn't have much to be worried about. However, it still upset me that the very section that my boss and I had such difficulty with was the section that the student author seemed to focus on. While the freedom of speech is definitely a difficult concept, I am of the opinion that as a library we need ... no we must be stronger in our stance and be much more proactive towards protecting this freedom. I am excited about the opportunities UThink may provide us as a library to define and strengthen this stance.

Posted by snackeru at 1:12 PM | Comments (6)

Links of the day

Posted by snackeru at 8:56 AM | Comments (1)

February 22, 2005

Not much today...

• ... but I'll give you what I got. Jim in St. Paul wrote an interesting comment yesterday concerning a two picture spread in the Pioneer Press touting the site across from the Xcel Energy Center as opposed to the Warehouse district site in Minneapolis for a new Twins stadium. Unfortunately, although I saw the article yesterday in the online version of the PiPress, they failed to show any pictures! So, being in a library, I retrieved the print version this morning to have a look see myself. I must say, I agree with Jim that the two views, one of the the X and the St. Paul skyline, and the other of the Covanta-Hennepin Energy Resource Co. incinerator, definitely demonstrate how much more aesthetically pleasing the St. Paul site would be. However, and I'm sure Jim would agree, I am also concerned with any site's ability to get a deal done.

There were also some interesting captions around the pictures. Around the St. Paul picture the PiPress said:

"Something else for state officials to keep in mind as they consider sites for a proposed Twins ballpark: Baseball fans at a St. Paul Twins stadium would be treated to visions of the Xcel Energy Center and the St. Paul skyline ...

This was followed by an ugly picture of the Minneapolis incinerator and this caption:
... while baseball fans at a new Minneapolis ballpark would look out on -- shudder -- the Covanta-Hennepin Energy Resoure Co. incinerator, which burns garbage to make electricity. Fans will be reassured to know that emissions from the garbage burner are well within state limits, so we suppose there's no need really to cover your beer with your game program to keep the particulates out."

Ouch! Touche, St. Paul, touche. I tell you what, I like, no love, the idea of a ballpark in St. Paul. St. Paul has a lot going on downtown including the X, RiverCentre, the Science Museum, the Childrens museum, the History Center, etc. And while I agree with Jim that it would be nice to get the capitol and Cathedral domes into the view, anything St. Paul has to offer is better than what Minneapolis is offering right now. Jim also writes:
"I hope the editorial board is running those pictures in preparation for a legistlative debate. Maybe they have heard that the issue might be taken up soon. At least they are being proactive."

Yes, I wonder what is going on. Could a new stadium bill be approaching? I say let the games/battle begin. Hopefully Sviggum is still guaranteeing that a Twins stadium bill can be passed this session.

• On the way into work today the radio station we were listening to proclaimed that a deal between the Nets and the T-Wolves for Jason Kidd was practically a done deal if not already a done deal. According to the station (and I can't remember which one we were listening to), the T-Wolves are offering Spree, Wally, and I didn't catch the last guy but I wouldn't be surprised if it was Cassell. Has anyone else heard anything about this? I checked ESPN when I got into work and all they are reporting are rumors, including this deal:

The Wolves could send Wally Szczerbiak and the expiring contracts of Latrell Sprewell and Ervin Johnson to the Blazers. The Blazers would send Darius Miles and Ruben Patterson to the Wolves and Shareef Abdur-Rahim (also an expiring contract) to the Nets. New Jersey then would move Kidd on to Minnesota. Despite the fact Miles is a base-year player, that deal works, with the addition of a minimum-salaried player or two, under trade rules.

Wow. We would lose Wally and Spree to get Kidd. Is Kidd too old? Too selfish? Truthfully, I like the deal. Wally is a good guy, but he has just not panned out. And Spree is a shell of his former self. Getting Kidd would definitely shake things up, and help define the roles of the remaining T-Wolves players a little better. I am in favor of the deal, but I would be surprised to see something happen.

That's all for now.

Posted by snackeru at 8:54 AM | Comments (9)

February 21, 2005

Civics lesson

• Last Friday, the Pioneer Press published a story concerning some Anoka County residents' opposition to the county raising the sales tax to build a new Vikings stadium. According to the article, "That's akin to taxation without representation, say stadium opponents." That is where I about fell out of my seat. I would agree that it is akin to taxation without getting the approval of every resident in the county, but it is far from taxation without representation.

As you all probably know, the phrase "taxation without representation" goes back to early American colonial history, where the Americans were upset that Great Britain taxed them without having any colonists seated in Parliament. The Americans held to the view of actual representation, meaning that in order to be taxed by Parliament, the Americans rightly should have actual legislators seated and voting in London. While it can be debated whether or not actual representation would have circumvented the colonists anger over being taxed at all, in the end all they were demanding was to have representatives in London looking out for their best interests.

I would argue that the cry of "no taxation without representation" from some Anoka County residents would be a bit perplexing to the colonists of yesteryear. Anoka County residents are well represented by city council members, County board members, and of course the state legislators from their district(s). While a referendum on this issue is probably likely, the lack of one is hardly taxation without representation, and furthermore I feel it goes against the principles of representative democracy.

It reminds me of a story from my trip to Miller Park last year with Cheesehead Craig. On our way to Milwaukee, Cheesehead Craig and I stopped in Madison to eat around his old stomping grounds of the U of W. After eating we visited the restroom and while we were there an older gentleman noticed my Twins shirt and asked if we were heading to Miller Park to watch the game. I said yes, and that I was very much looking forward to seeing some outdoor baseball. He then said that he would never set foot in Miller Park, and that the "criminal" Bud Selig would never get a dime of his money. He added he would never set foot in Miller Park because there should have been a referendum so that the people could have voted on whether or not to build the place. Oh! A stadium debate! My heart quickened as I began thinking of a pithy response. Lamely, I happily answered that I would love it if we could build a stadium in Minnesota without a referendum. Then I wouldn't have to be traveling to Milwaukee to watch my team play outside. He then added, "Don't we live in a democracy? The people should vote on whether or not to build a stadium." Ack! This argument is so weak I could barely contain my excitement. I replied, "We live in a representative democracy where we vote people into government positions to make these decisions for us." Now keep in mind that we were both urinating at the time so it was hard to keep on the topic of conversation, so to speak, so I couldn't really elaborate. Anway, he grumbled that "the people" should have a say on big issues and he left the restroom wishing me a good time in Milwaukee.

Should we have more of a say on "big issues?" It is no secret that I am against any referendum to build a new stadium in Minnesota. Referendums are a huge cop-out and demonstrate, at least to me, a complete unwillingness by our legislators to do the job we elected them to do. If you don't want to make tough decisions then you shouldn't have run for office. In addition, if you want to make use of referedums, then I want to vote on the "conceal and carry" law, light rail, killing morning doves, seat belts, speed limits, really anything and everything that might impact me. It appears, at least in Minnesota, that my legislators only want me to vote on issues that could cost them their jobs. That upsets me a great deal and further illustrates the do-nothing attitude that is currently permeating the state capitol right now.

• Finally, we have some good news from our close personal friend Sid Hartman. Sid asked Fowler about his plans for a stadium in Minnesota and Fowler responded:

"We'd like to think there are many options," he said. "One of them, of course, is public funding or state funding. Another option is going privately. We have to evaluate those different options. But at the end of the day, we're confident that we can get something done."

Here is what I take this to mean: we will see how far the current plan in Anoka County will take us, but we are prepared to look at all of our options, including private financing. I'm starting to like Reggie more and more.

Posted by snackeru at 8:51 AM | Comments (8)

February 18, 2005

Pepper! with Stick and Ball Guy

Welcome Stick and Ball Guy readers! Today I am featured on SBG's great site in another edition of the popular Pepper! franchise invented by SBG. I am honored and I thank him for asking me to participate. Those of you that know me probably know that only being able to write 50 words on stadium issues is literally painful for me. So, I have to take this opportunity to let it out on my own site. This is something I wrote before, but it spells out how I feel quite nicely. It talks a lot about the Twins stadium, but I feel the same way about a Vikings stadium too.

I created the Greet Machine out of frustration; frustration with the lack of news about stadiums and the lack of commentary on the news. And of course, frustration with the lack of progress on the issue of stadiums in Minnesota. I think I even badgered the Twins Geek to write about stadiums more before I decided I would just have to do it myself. I am desperate for a new Twins stadium and I track the issue religiously. If you want to keep up with stadium news, then you have come to the right place.

For some of my long time readers, these next few paragraphs are going to sound like somewhat of a broken record, but I gotta let it all out. Repeat after me: the Twins will not play in the Metrodome forever. Again: the Twins will not play in the Metrodome forever! We can either build a stadium, or we can accept the fate of the Expos and their fans as our own. It is as simple as that.

I know what you are thinking, why should we build a stadium for billionaire owners and millionaire players? To that I would say: change your focus. Rich people are rich. Now, get over it. I couldn't care less how much money Carl Pohlad has. What I care about is bringing my kids to a Twins game on a sunny day. I care about maintaining a Minnesota tradition that goes back to 1961. I care about keeping fresh the memories of '87 and '91 and the memories of how those two years brought more excitement to the Twin Cities than I have ever seen. More importantly, I care about creating new memories for me, my kids, my grandkids, heck the entire Upper Midwest for that matter. The Twins are a big part of Minnesota history. Why don't we want to assure that they are a big part of Minnesota's future?

Here is the way I see it. If we don't build a stadium the Twins will leave, they will be contracted, somehow they will be no more, at least in Minnesota. MLB will decide that the Twin Cities market is no longer viable (10 years of stadium battles and consistently ranking in the bottom 1/4 regarding attendance will have that effect), and the Pohald family will cash out. Finally the stadium battle will be over and we will really stick it to the Pohalds! They won't get a dime out of us! However, the net effect of this inevitability is that the Pohlads will be richer, and millions of fans throughout the upper Midwest will be without the Twins. Pohlad will be millions of dollars richer, and poor schlobs like me will have jack squat. How is this a good deal?

Here is an even greater inevitability, though. How many years will it be before we try to lure another MLB team to the Twin Cities? 5? 10? 20? You know eventually it will happen and it will cost us 5, 10, 20 times as much as it would right now to just keep the team we already have! Don't believe me? How many years was it before we lured NHL hockey back to the Twin Cities after the North Stars left? 7 years. And it cost us a whole lot more than it would have to just keep the North Stars. If the Twins leave, let the countdown begin. And to the legislators who fought against a Twins stadium I will say thanks for literally costing Minnesotans tens-of-millions of dollars extra. Great job. And speaking of great jobs, building a stadium 5 years ago would have saved us at least $200 million. The longer we wait, the more it will cost.

OK, what about money for education, or the police, or the myriad of other needs Minnesota has? In the 10 years we have been fighting against building a new Twins stadium how much extra money have any of these needs received as a result of us not building a new stadium? That's right: nothing, nada, zip. In other words, given the choice between inadequately funding education and building a new stadium, or just inadequately funding education, I will take the former every time. For 10 years we have decided that we would rather make excuses than actually solve problems. I've heard them all before: not with a deficit, not in an election year, not with Pohlad as the owner, not with the economic disparity in baseball ... Bah! We talk and make excuses, and yet the problem is still here! I pray this year will be different. Over 30 other cities have figured out how to make this work. Over 30!!!! Repeat after me: the Twins will not play in the Metrodome forever!

Truly, I could go on and on. Again, if you are a stadium nutjob like me, then you have come to the right place. If not, hopefully I can convince you otherwise. And if you are here to tell me why I am wrong, save your breath. It is time to work something out. We have studied, we have dissected, we have beat this issue to death. Let's save ourselves a lot of money in the long run and finally solve this problem!

Does this mean that I don't think Pohlad or Fowler should also make a significant contribution to their own ballparks? No, of course not. After following this problem for 10 years I am convinced that both Pohlad and Fowler need to open their wallets like never before to finally get the legislature to move on this issue. But don't expect Pohlad or Fowler to foot the entire bill. It just won't happen. We need to come to this realization and finally come up with a plan. If we don't, we can wave the Twins and Vikings goodbye.

Posted by snackeru at 8:02 AM | Comments (12)

February 17, 2005

Would the real Reggie Fowler please stand up?

• Hello everyone. Sorry that you didn't receive your usual early morning edition of the Greet Machine. I am actually at home feeling a little ill today. So, I slept in. Have no fear though. I expect to make a full recovery. While in bed, however, I had some time to reflect on some things happening in the world of Minnesota sports. Read on if you are interested.

• You know, I was planning a big todo for this web site when the Vikings were sold. I was planning on doing something completely different, where the site's home page would just be full of fireworks and dancing heads of the new Vikings owner. I was really excited for this. Now, I'm not so sure. I just don't know what to think about Reggie Fowler. And if I wasn't already unsure of what to feel about Fowler, now we have all this news about embellishments on his resume. Truthfully, the more I hear and think about it, the more it angers me. Either he is a liar, or he has idiots working for him. Either way, it makes the whole deal look shady, and it shines a very bad light on Fowler himself. Don't think the legislature isn't paying attention to the "truthfulness" Fowler is already displaying to our fine state. Our friends in the House will use any excuse they can to not do their jobs. This will just make that inevitability all the more likely. And really, why does a millionaire need to exaggerate on his resume? Let the facts speak for themselves. Sheesh.

The question remains, will the NFL finance committee still approve Fowler in light of these inaccuracies? Yes. I don't know why they wouldn't. Should they? I'm not so sure anymore. Again, I don't know what to think. All I do know is the more shady Fowler looks, the further the Vikings will be from solving their stadium woes.

• Speaking of a new stadium for the Vikings, did you catch this tidbit from Sid?

Alan Landis, one of the partners of prospective Vikings owner Reggie Fowler, told some people connected with Fowler that he is a big stockholder in the Yankees and the YES Television Network. According to the Yankees, Landis owns about 1 percent of the team and YES. Landis was one of about 15 people connected with Fowler who toured the Metrodome following the Fowler news conference Monday. The word is that Fowler and his developers are going to look into the possibility of remodeling the Metrodome so it could create a lot more income.

First of all, as Mr. Cheer or Die has already pointed out, it appears that all wealthy people like to stretch the truth a little bit. I don't know why I am surprised by this, I just am. This is just plain wrong and can only come back to bite you later on. Duh.

However, what I really wanted to focus on is the news that Fowler and his esteemed associates are going to look into remodeling the Dome to see if they can't beef up its revenue streams. As happy as I am to read this, I don't expect much from it. Fowler, Landis, and Zyggi (great name) will study the Dome, put together some figures and decide that it just won't work, or it would cost just as much as building a new stadium. This is all a part of the game.

The fact of the matter is, I would love a new stadium. I would also love a renovated Metrodome. I just want the Vikings to stick around past 2011. I feel the best chance for legislative assistance is with a renovated Dome. If Fowler's group finds that this is feasible I would be thrilled.

• Let's stay on this stadium theme. Outside of Minnesota, we have some news from Kansas City where the Royals have been trying to figure out some stadium problems of their own. It seems, as the article linked to previously will attest, that the city of Kansas City wanted to move the team downtown, but the owner of the Royals wanted to stay in Kauffmann Stadium. That is about as backward as you can get. The author writes:

Last week, as you know, the city stopped looking at plans to build a new downtown baseball stadium when the Glass family ó David and Dan ó announced that they want the Royals to stay at Kauffman Stadium.

The Glass family said that, as they see it, Royals fans do not want a downtown stadium, there's no particular need for a new stadium and the team can compete just fine in Kauffman Stadium.

Critics, meanwhile, said the Glass family backed out because it did not want to put up any of its own money to build, it is shortsighted, it went back on its word, and it does not care enough to invest in Kansas City's downtown.

This is just too strange to believe. And refreshing. All Glass wants now is to have the city make some renovations to Kauffmann stadium as promised by the lease. Wow. I am impressed.

A couple of years ago I was stunned to learn that the Royals were sqwaking about lack of revenue. Selig even came out and made some veiled threats saying that the situation would have to be addressed or the Royals wouldn't be able to compete. I was stunned because I knew the Twins would take Kauffmann Stadium in a heartbeat. I mean, it is a beautiful stadium. Anyway, kudos to the Glass family for making the right call. Again, it is refreshing to hear about. Special thanks to Vince for pointing me to this news.

• Sadly, I must report that I will not be renewing my Vikings season tickets this year. With three kids and one income it has just gotten to be too expensive. However, I can't not get anything for working my extra job at St. Kate's. That would make me sad and surly. So, instead, I decided to buy an iPod mini. What a fantastic little toy. It can hold 1,000 songs and play up to eight hours before it needs to be recharched. And also, being a U of M staff member, I got it for a discount at the Apple store at the MOA.

Special bonus points if you can figure out the song that is playing in the picture!

• Finally, tomorrow there will be something different for you to read. Intrigued? Stay tuned to find out what!

Posted by snackeru at 11:34 AM | Comments (7)

February 16, 2005

Links of the day

Posted by snackeru at 9:15 AM | Comments (1)

February 15, 2005

The ineffectiveness of the legislature

The best idea Jesse Ventura ever came up with was his idea for a unicameral legislature. One body in the legislature would almost certainly make our government more efficient and maybe even capable of getting some meaningful work done. Having said that, the only downside to this plan is that the one body we would end up with would probably be the House of Representatives.

The Minnesota House of Representatives ... Is there a more ineffective bunch of stiffs than this bunch? Sure, there are a few legislators that care more about Minnesota than themselves, but for the most part I would argue that almost all of them are driven, no hellbent on sticking it to each other. It doesn't matter if a bill actually makes sense, or it would improve our dear state, if the House gets a chance to play partisan politics, or they just get a chance to be plain stupid, they take it with a goofy grin.

The latest example of this is more perplexing than most. I don't know if you saw this, but the Northstar LRT line is pretty close to never happening. The StarTrib wrote a great editorial today explaining in the simplest terms who has done their part to make the Northstar a reality, and why the blame of the resulting inactivity can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the House (yet again).

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has done heroic work in restructuring the project to improve its cost-effectiveness. Rep. Jim Oberstar has worked tirelessly in Congress to keep Northstar in the running. The state's congressional delegation -- Democrats and Republicans -- have rallied behind it. The state Senate has already passed its Northstar bonding commitment. Local officials in Anoka, Sherburne, Hennepin and Benton counties are for it. The public, in numerous polls, favor Northstar and other transit improvements, especially in the wake of the Hiawatha light-rail line's big success.

Only the Minnesota House remains cool. It seems not to have fully absorbed the message, even after losing 13 Republican seats last November, most notably several key Northstar opponents.

Are these people idiots? Do they not see what an overwhelming success the Hiawatha line is? The new sense of urgency comes from the Federal gov't who have threatened to take away their commitment to pay 50% of the cost of the line if Minnesota doesn't act now. 50%. That is half of the $256 million cost. And it would only be the beginning of vastly improving transportation system throughout the metro:
If approved, the diesel-powered Northstar trains would begin rush-hour service in 2008, sharing 40 miles of existing freight track between the Warehouse District in downtown Minneapolis and Big Lake, with stops in Fridley, Coon Rapids, Anoka and Elk River. Northstar trains would connect with current Hiawatha light-rail trains to the airport and Bloomington, and future light-rail lines to St. Paul and the southwest suburbs. Plans include eventually extending Northstar to St. Cloud.

But no. Legislators in the House, led by Phil Krinkie, have thwarted this effort just like they've thwarted so many other things. Why? As far as I can tell just because it costs money. And this is regardless of whether or not it improves our lives, or even if it doesn't improve your life at least the lives of your fellow Minnesotans, if it costs money it is something to fight against. Why have we become so selfish? You know, there was a time when Minnesota was a "can-do" state. We had something to prove, we solved problems, and we created solutions. However, now we have gone from a "can-do" state to a "what's in it for me?" state. It seems that if people in our state can't see a direct benefit to their own wallet they want nothing to do with the plan. Is anyone else troubled by this development? Am I the only one who sees that Minnesota is changing?

Posted by snackeru at 12:57 PM | Comments (5)

What did I expect?

I don't know what I actually expected, but I was optimistic. Maybe, just maybe, some new ownership for the Vikings would jump start their failed stadium drive and give our fine state legislature a reason to finally act on this sticky issue. Ha! We are no closer now to a stadium than we were last week, and sadly Minnesota is closer to 3rd Dakota status than ever. I had the same hope that Dave St. Peter has when he made this comment:

St. Peter said the sale of the Vikings might actually help the Twins' drive, "Nothing was going to happen with the franchise in flux," he said. "In some ways, this may help to break the logjam and allow the debate to continue."

But my heart just about quits beating when I read stuff like this from Senator Dick Day:
"It's not going to help anything," said Senate Minority Leader Dick Day, referring to the announced sale of the team by Red McCombs to Fowler, an Arizona businessman. "So we changed San Antonio for Phoenix? I feel very bad that Taylor didn't get it."

Day, a Republican from Owatonna, said Fowler's purchase would do little to quash a threat that the Vikings could be moved from Minnesota. "All it did was move it closer to L.A.," he said.

Sigh. Pawlenty, Sviggum, Johnson, all of them have already come out and said that the stadium debate is still a long ways off. Again, I don't know why I should be surprised, but I thought that maybe the would take this new and exciting development and turn it into something positive. And here is what absolutely kills me. Dean Johnson, Senate Majority Leader, was vocally exicted about the possibility of Glen Taylor owning the team. He said stuff like "Taylor's word is golden" and he made it sound like the legislature could work with Taylor towards a new stadium. And now concerning the possibility of the state paying for 1/3 of a stadium in Anoka County he says, "The state doesn't have a third. We don't have a tenth," Johnson said. "We're broke." So the state wouldn't have been broke for Taylor? This kind of two-faced ignorance is getting very tiring.

I sincerely hope Fowler is planning to privately finance the bulk of his own stadium. In fact, it is becoming more and more clear that this is the only way a stadium will ever be built in Minnesota for either the Twins or the Vikings. Both the Twins and the Vikings had better be willing to put up at least half, if not more, of their own money to get this done. Until we see that happen, I just don't see any hope of ever getting out of this mess.

Check out the Trackback link for an entry by Mr. Cheer or Die that is a little more optimistic.

Sorry for the brevity. I gotta go for now.

Posted by snackeru at 9:00 AM | Comments (4)

February 13, 2005

Wow. What a weekend.

• First of all let me send out a heart felt congratulations to Reggie Fowler, soon to be the first minority owner of an NFL franchise in the "modern era" of the NFL. Unlike Glen Taylor, who has yet again only gone half way in his attempt to buy the team, Reggie went out and took the bull by the horns and got the job done. While the sale is certainly not final (it still has to be approved by the NFL finance committee) I am less pessimistic than I was on Friday that the deal will be approved. Let's take a look at some of the positives of this development:

Now let's take a look at the negatives:

What happens next? Your guess is as good as mine. Is this an improvement over Red McCombs? You bet it is. Is it enough to get the Viking's stadium mess solved? No. I really don't think it is.

Really ... way to go Taylor (heavy sarcasm). Yet again you half-assed it and let the team slip through your hands. And did you catch his actual offer? $400 million now, and $200 million when the stadium is built or the Metrodome lease runs out. I'm sure Red took one look at that plan and threw it in the trash. In fact, I'm not sure Red would even sell the team to Taylor if the Fowler deal falls through. Maybe it is a good thing Taylor isn't buying the team. Look at the shambles the T-Wolves are in.

• Let's not talk about that yet, though. Let's talk more about stadiums. I'm sure you already saw this, but Reusse wrote a very interesting column this Saturday concerning stadiums and how he feels the Twins have fallen into third place on the legislature priority list. While I agree with this, I don't think the Twins have fallen quite as far as they would have had Taylor bought the Vikings. If Taylor had bought the Vikings it would be a Vikings love-fest at the capitol this session. Now, however, Fowler's purchase and stadium plans will be met with skepticism at best from our friends in the House. They may warm up to Fowler, but not right away.

Or it could go another way. The legislature could use the momentum of the sale to Fowler and take this opportunity to push a plan through. It would certainly be the smart thing to do. There won't be a better time than now. Fowler will be considered a hero by most Minnesotans for saving us from the Red-scourge from Texas, and I would think the majority of the public will have a better "feeling" towards the team than in the past. Is the legislature smart enough to act on this? No. I really don't think so. I hope I'm wrong.

Regardless of how the legislature immediately responds to this sale to Fowler, though, I agree with Reusse that the Twins are now in third place in the stadium sweeptakes. As Mr. Cheer or Die has already pointed out, there are already something like three bills proposed for the Gophers, and with a sale of the Vikings, Fowler and Anoka County will definitely make a proposal. Truly, though, the Twins current positioning is partly there own fault. They do not have a preferred site, and Pohlad has not made clear what his actual contribution will be (not to mention the fact that the legislature hates Pohlad). The Twins are asking for state support without a real plan to point to. The Vikings, on the other hand, have a strong partner in Anoka County, and I would be stunned if Fowler's stadium plan didn't have some hard, concrete numbers for the legislature to work with including a meaningful owner contribution. I am really, really looking forward to Fowler's news conference tomorrow, and the inevitable reactions from our fine, hard working legislators.

The Twins have some work to do, plain and simple. They have to put together a plan with either St. Paul or Minneapolis, they have to make a meaningful and upfront contribution, and they have to keep on winning
(because they probably won't get a sniff this session). What they are doing now, what they have been doing for the last 8 years to secure a stadium deal just isn't working. Something needs to change and I hope they are beginning to realize that.

The legislature, obviously also has some work to do. They need to put away this hatred for Pohald and start thinking about the well-being of our state. The Twins add a lot to the quality of life for Minnesota and losing them would be unbearable and even more costly in the long run. A Twins stadium will not get built without some sort of state aid or financing assistance. That is a fact. We need some leadership in the House and the governor's mansion which, sadly, I just don't see right now.

• I'm watching the Sports Show right now with Sid Hartman, Dark Star, Patrick Reusse, and Mike Max. They've spent the first 15 minutes talking about Flip Saunders and the hapless T-Wolves. I gotta say ... I really don't care. I was surprised by Flip getting fired, but he had been there 10 years! And in those 10 years he was knocked out of the playoffs in the first round 7 times. And now, with a team he took to the Western Conference finals last year, he has led them to a sub-500 record. I think Flip has been given every benefit of the doubt over the years. He has had his chance. He lost control of this team, and now they are fighting to even make the playoffs. Filp may be a scapegoat, but really, he had to go. I think this was a good move. It is time for a change. Flip will still get his, too. They have to pay him for the rest of this year and next. Don't feel bad for Flip.

Well, they just talked about the Vikings sale to Fowler for a whole two minutes before moving on to the Gophers basketball team. What about your stadium article Reusse? What about Fowler's stadium plans? Nothing. I can't believe I stayed up until 11:30 for this.

• That's it for now. Maybe more later.

Posted by snackeru at 10:39 PM | Comments (9)

February 11, 2005

More and more rumors

OK, we've all seen by now this Star Tribune report that the "general principles are set" for a Reggie Fowler purchase of the Vikings. There are some things to remember though. While Red and Reggie could announce a sale, it is far from a done deal. The sale must be approved by the the NFL Finance Committee, and the chair of that committee, Saints owner Tom Benson, has already seemingly said something about Fowler's chances:

"We are not going to admit owners who are not 100 percent qualified like some other professional leagues have done," Benson said. "Our rules are that the general partner must own 30 percent of the team, and he can't use the team as a collateral to borrow more than $125 million of the purchase price."

Is this a veiled commentary on Fowler's chances to buy the Vikings? Or is Benson just laying out the rules? I am of the opinion that the NFL is doing their "due dilligence" in trying to get a minority owner (like teams do when hiring a new coach), but in the end the team is going to end up in Taylor's hands. Check out this bit from Sid today:
However, on Monday, McCombs phoned Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and encouraged him to remain a possible buyer.

Taylor said McCombs asked him this: "Fowler is progressing with his group, but if they don't work out I would like to know if you still have interest?"

Why would Red call Taylor if a sale to Fowler looked close? There is definitely more here than meets the eye, my friends. Could we be looking at another Tom Clancy type situation? And I've said this before, I'll take Fowler as an owner. He seems like a genuinely good guy and I would be very interested to find out what his stadium plans are. But Taylor is just too good of a fit. We know it, the NFL knows it, Red knows it, the state legislature knows it.

If it is announced that Fowler's bid has been accepted by McCombs, don't start planning for the "Fowler era" just yet. I think we may have a little more drama after that.

• Did you see this article from Viking Update today regarding a possible trade of Randy Moss? This one was a bit of a shock to me mainly due to Culpepper's quote:

"I tried to smooth things over for the last five years," Culpepper said. "I'm done with it. No more. I'm not having it anymore."

I've often thought that all this talk of trading Moss has been nothing more than talk. I mean, why would Red be shopping around Moss when he is about to sell the team? It doesn't make sense, unless he wanted to light a fire under a potential bidder. But now we've got these comments from Culpepper. I'm just not sure anymore.

However, I'll still be shocked if Moss isn't wearing purple next year. Think about this. Moss is still an extremely valuable offensive weapon. We keep on hearing that he could be traded for defense, but the Vikings are $30 million under the salary cap! The Vikings could easily keep Moss and keep this high powered offense intact, and spend $30 million on some much needed defensive upgrades. In fact, that is what I think a new owner will do.

UPDATE: This Patrick Reusse article in the Strib pretty much confirms what I wrote above. Taylor expects Red and Reggie to agree to a purchase, and the NFL to turn Fowler down. Great, great article from Reusse which also suggests Taylor is still interested in the Twins. Get it done, Glen. Make us proud.

Also, Barry at bjhess blog rightly says that he hopes a new owner doesn't "go off the deep end" and spend all that salary cap. Well said. I hope he spends more than Red, though.

Posted by snackeru at 12:48 PM | Comments (3)

Speak Monkey!

Sorry for the prolonged silence everyone. Things have bee really busy for me lately. And then when our connection to the Internet went down yesterday here at the U it just totally discombobulated me. I swear, I just sat in the corner drooling all day mumbling "fix the router, fix the router..." I could not be consoled. So, today will be an extra special edition of my inane ramblings. Lucky you.

• Let's start this off with some stadium news. No, not Minnesota stadium news, but some interesting news coming out of New York/New Jersey. The Giants are planning on building a new 80,000 seat stadium next to their existing stadium, and they have agreed to pay for the entire cost. Wow, wow, wow. However, their plans have hit a snag because an entertainment and shopping district called Xanadu (read "big mall") is also being constructed in the area. The Giants are very concerned with this. They want Xanadu to be shut down on gamedays because they think it will be a parking nightmare if the mall is also open at the same time. This could seriously stop the entire project from happening. I truly can't believe this. In addition, check out this little snippet:

The team currently occupies 33 acres of the 400-acre facility. The sports authority's land offer was about 50 to 75 acres, the source said.
The Giants have offered to pay $4.8 million in rent and another $1.5 million in PILOT fees, payments in lieu of taxes. The state is looking for more than $6 million in rent plus PILOT fees, said a source close to the state.

What in the world?!?!? I don't think I have ever seen anything like this. Let me see if I understand this. In addition to paying for their own stadium (to the tune of $700 million), the Giants will also pay rent for the land and these strange PILOT fees, and the total of these payments could be close to $6 million. Wow.

• Back to Minnesota. Unless you are living under a rock you know that we now have a two horse race between Fowler and Taylor to buy the Vikings. Sid wrote an interesting piece today talking about this potential sale and saying that Taylor is still very much in the running and actually might be preferred by the NFL.

Taylor is a Minnesotan who has the financial wherewithal to own the team and, in my opinion, has a better chance to get a stadium built. Fowler would be the NFL's first minority owner, but his group would be new to this community.

After the league's bad experience with a splintered ownership group before McCombs arrived on the scene, there's little doubt in my mind the NFL would prefer Taylor.

I gotta admit, I would prefer Taylor. I'm really excited to have the Vikings sold, but Taylor, hand's down, has the best chance to build a new stadium or renovate the Metrodome. Unless, of course, Fowler is planning on going the Redskins/Patriots/Giants route and paying for the stadium himself. His partners, which include the mall magnate Zyggi Wilf and New York real estate tycoon Alan Landis, might suggest that he is putting together a unique plan. Given my choice, though, I'll take Taylor if only because he is a Minnesotan who would be committed to keeping the team in Minnesota. In fact, I'm a little ticked that Taylor has waited until this point to get serious. It seems like a repeat of what happened the last time the Vikings were put up for sale.

• Did anyone watch the finale of the "Amazing Race" last Tuesday? I thought it was pretty good, although I was upset that Kris and Jon didn't win. I have never seen a better combined attitude out of a couple in my life. Always happy, always nice to each other, they were simply an inspiration. However, what I found most interesting about the show was when the teams were in Japan trying to catch flights out of Tokyo to Chicago. Two teams found out that they could catch earlier flights to Chicago so, at separate times, they ran up to the gates and begged to be let on the flights. Both times the Japanese staff at the gates admitted that there were seats available on the plane, but that they wouldn't let the teams on. Here is what I found interesting though. Both times, and at separate gates mind you, the teams begged to be let on and the attendant said, "But you would not get a meal." This was always the first reason given why they would not let the teams on the flight. It seemed that they thought not having a meal would be enough to dissuade someone from wanting to be on the flight. Do most Japanese people say, "No meal? You animals! Of course I'll wait for the next flight. I mean, I have to have my meal. I don't think I could live without my meal." Of course, both teams said, "We don't need a meal, please let us on." Only then did the Japanese staff at the gate revert to the old standby, "It is against company policy." Anyway, I thought that was weird. You probably could care less.

And this ends another edition of "Who Gives a Rat's Butt Theater."

• I think most people will agree with me, but I hope the Twins sign Santana to a 4 year contract. Right now the offer on the table seems to be 4 years for $38-$40 million. I realize that this is a big gamble, especially for someone who has already had elbow surgery, and for a team that has already been burned by the Joe Mays deal, but this is the freaking Cy Young award winner. This is the next Sandy Koufax. If the Twins wait, it will only get more expensive. To me, it is worth the gamble. Let's get it done Terry.

• You know what I hate? No? Well, I'll tell you. I hate it when I open my camera up to take a picture and there is a big fingerprint smudge on the lens. And this happens every time I go to take a picture. What is it about the lens that makes kids want to touch it? I am befuddled by this. Given the choice between touching a big Teddy Bear, or touching a camera lens, I would bet that 90% of children will go for the camera lens. And I don't care if I put my camera in a vacuum sealed, airtight room with alarms and electric shocks attached to the camera itself, the next time I open it, it will have fingerprints on the lens. I need this to stop. I really do.

• That's it. See you all later.

Posted by snackeru at 8:00 AM | Comments (9)

February 10, 2005

Running behind

Just a quick note, there was a network outage when I got into work today so I will not be able to offer you my usual award-winning prose this morning. My internet connection just came back online. So, sorry about that. Maybe later.

Posted by snackeru at 8:54 AM | Comments (5)

February 9, 2005

Links of the day

That's all I got for now. See you soon.

Posted by snackeru at 8:09 AM

February 8, 2005

The deal in Florida

• Hiding behind the spectacle that is the Super Bowl this weekend was some interesting stadium news concerning the Florida Marlins. ESPN, in fact, reported on Friday a story called "Marlins secure tentative agreement for ballpark" which rather weakly described a deal the Marlins had reached with the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County to build a $420 million, retractable roof, 38,000 seat stadium next to what is now known as Dolphin Stadium. You may have also seen this story, and if you were like me you found the article to be a little light on the details. So, I have done some investigating.

First and foremost, the Marlins themselves are putting up nearly half the money for the new stadium. According to the team's own website, "The Marlins are contributing $194 million to the stadium, the fourth-largest contribution ever by a baseball team." That is indeed a hefty contribution which makes Pohlad's suggested $120 million look a little pale in comparison. If you'll recall, I recently wrote about this trend of teams putting up half the money for their own stadiums and it looks like this trend is continuing in Miami. I sincerely hope Pohlad is paying attention as I think this kind of contribution from him for a new Twins stadium could put this nightmare behind us. However, let's move on.

$194 million, of course, doesn't pay for the whole stadium. The rest of the money is coming from some usual funding sources. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

... [T]he county pledging $138 million in hotel bed and sports facilities taxes and the city promising $28 million in tourist development taxes. The $32 million garage is expected to pay for itself through parking fees.

The team has vowed to fund cost overruns through a variety of methods, including a lien on the franchise. The team will need to request a $10 million guarantee from Major League Baseball, but that might not be forthcoming.

So, the county is implementing a hotel tax and a nebulous "sports facilities tax" to come up with $138 million. Does the sports facilities tax mean people will be taxed for going to a Dolphins game or a Miami Heat game? I'm not sure, but I like the idea. And it appears the city will make up a large part of their contribution of $28 million with a parking garage that will both raise that money and pay for itself.

In addition, the Marlins agreed to fund cost overruns with a "lien on the franchise" which essentially means the city of Miami can take over the team if the Marlins fail to pay for these overruns. That is something I don't think Pohlad would ever agree with, but I could be wrong.

That leaves a $30 million gap which the team hopes the state can make up:

The Marlins are hoping with local approval, that all three parties will travel to Tallahassee to lobby state legislators -- during their session beginning March 8 -- for a $60 million state sales tax rebate spread over 30 years to cover the final $30 million gap in construction funding. Legislative leaders and Gov. Jeb Bush have said they are willing to listen to the Marlins, if the team brings a completed local financing plan.

Did you catch that last part? Let me repeat: "... if the team brings a completed local financing plan." The team's own website also had this to say:
Last year, the Marlins had their pitch for state help shot down. But the team believes the climate is different, as 2005 is a non-election year. Also, when the Marlins sought the state-tax subsidy, they didn't have a concrete plan or definitive location for a new stadium.(emphasis mine)

I am of the opinion that it is time for the Twins to make a decision. They need to choose St. Paul or Minneapolis, come up with a rock solid plan, and get all their "ducks in a row." They need to show the legislature that they are done trying to play Minneapolis and St. Paul off of each other, and that they have one plan for everyone to vote on. I can't imagine that what has happened in Miami isn't having some kind of effect on their thinking on this issue.

Furthermore, it is time for Pohald to make a real contribution to his own stadium. Can you imagine if he came out and said that he would put up $200 million? Or even the original $160 million? Paying for half is the obviously the new way stadiums are getting built. It happened this way in Washington D.C. (with private money paying for half), it is happening in Florida, and it is the way the Dallas Cowboys are building their new stadium in Arlington.

So, in conclusion, the Twins need to come up with a rock solid plan, and start thinking about paying for at least half. If they did these things I think we might actually see a new Twins stadium in this state.

• Finally, Cheesehead Craig called me this morning at work to bring me this little tidbit he heard on the Half-A$$ morning show on 93X. Randy Shaver of KARE 11 news regularly appears on this radio show to talk about sports news, and today he reported on a potential Vikings sale. According to Cheesehead, Shaver was almost positive that Reggie Fowler has purchased the Vikings and that we will hear something by the end of the week. Shaver has always been sketical about Fowler's ability to buy the team, so for him to come out with this news is, I think, significant. Thanks for the heads-up Cheesehead. If anyone else has any rumors please let me know.

Posted by snackeru at 8:37 AM | Comments (4)

February 7, 2005

Weekend notes

• I pride my self on being able to admit when I am wrong, and boy was I ever wrong about this year's Gopher's basketball team. Now, in my defense I think they've caught everyone by surprise, but last October I wrote something stupid which is now coming back to haunt me. In October the U of M student newspaper, the Minnesota Daily, advertised student Gopher basketball season tickets and the advertisements themselves featured a huge picture of Jeff Hagen. I was unimpressed and I wrote, "If that is the best player on the Gophers, the only player worthy of featuring in an advertisement to build excitement for the team, then they are in a load of trouble this year." Boy was I wrong. Jeff Hagen is a stud, and Vincent Grier is out of this world. If you are still torturing yourself with the T-Wolves start watching the Gophers. It has been a long time since I've had this much fun wathing Gopher's basketball.

Why am I writing this now? Because people are doing Google searches for "Jeff Hagen" and coming to my site through the post in October above. So, if I mention "Jeff Hagen" enough hopefully Google will now pick this entry to point people to. Did I mention that I love Jeff Hagen?

• And in case you didn't know, Saturday's game was worth 40 points for the Gopher's athletic program in the battle for the fabled "Border Battle Cup" between the U of M and Wisconsin. Never heard of this competition between our two schools? That is because this "fabled battle" is in its first year. Anyway, here are what the standings look like:

Date Sport(points available) Site UW Pts UM Pts
Oct. 8, 2004Volleyball (20)UM020
Oct. 8, 2004Womenís Soccer (40)UW040
Oct. 30, 2004Volleyball (20)UW200
Nov. 5, 2004Menís Hockey (10)UM010
Nov. 6, 2004Football (40)UW400
Nov. 6, 2004Menís Hockey (10)UM010
Dec. 4, 2004Womenís Hockey (10)UW010
Dec. 5, 2004Womenís Hockey (10)UW55
Jan. 6, 2005Womenís Basketball (20)UW020
Jan. 29, 2005Womenís Hockey (10)UM010
Jan. 30, 2005Womenís Hockey (10)UM010
Feb. 4, 2005Menís Hockey (10)UW100
Feb. 5, 2005Menís Basketball (40)UM040
Feb. 5, 2005Menís Hockey (10)UW010
Feb. 18, 2005Wrestling (40)UW  
Feb. 20, 2005Womenís Basketball (20)UM  
April 8, 2005Menís Tennis (40)UM  
April 10, 2005Womenís Tennis (40)UW  
TBASoftball (10)UW  
TBASoftball (10)UW  

Yikes! This is what is known as a royal butt whoopin' behind the proverbial wood shed. Can the Badgers come back and actually make this a "battle"? Yes, but it is unlikely. They would have almost have to sweep all the remaining competitions.

However, having said all of this, ask me what I would rather have: the Border Battle Cup or Paul Bunyan's Axe, and I'll take the Axe every time.

• Finally, the two Twin Cities dailies were a flurry of Viking news this weekend, floating between reporting on a potential sale of the Vikings and a trade of Randy Moss. Sean Jensen of the PiPress reported on Saturday that the NFL was in fact involved in discussions with Red and potential buyers of the Vikings franchise. On Sunday, Sid reported that Fowler is "close to putting a group together to try to buy the Vikings, and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor may have made or will make a new bid to buy the team from Red McCombs." And now today, the Strib again reports that there is no validity to ESPN reports that Moss is being shopped around. Tucked in this article is also some Fowler/Taylor news:

Meanwhile, Fowler's exclusive negotiating rights with McCombs, believed to be for 30 days, will reach its midpoint today. Some have speculated that McCombs will attempt to either complete a deal with Fowler or move on to other offseason business this week. Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has said he will be ready to act if Fowler is unable to purchase the team. Taylor, however, has been unwilling to meet McCombs' $600-plus million price tag.

I think we can safely assume that something will be happening shortly. Here is what I think. Red wants to sell, the NFL desperatelty wants him to sell, either to a minority owner or a local owner, and it is now make or break time for Fowler's group. Could Red be dropping Moss trade hints in order to freak out Fowler or Taylor? To get them to move quicker on a purchase of the team? Whatever the case, I don't think I can take another year of Red owning the team. Imagine if you were a potential buyer of the Vikings. They are $30 million under the salary cap. If you bought the team, what would you do with all that cap money? I know what I would do, I would spend it and make a run. I would play with my new toy. Pray. Pray that Fowler or Taylor buys the team. Let's have fun again next year.

Posted by snackeru at 8:00 AM | Comments (2)

February 4, 2005

Community ownership of the Twins

Vince has chastised me for not writing about this sooner, so I've decided to tackle this before the weekend starts. In today's Star Tribune, Julian Loscalzo writes a thoughtful opinion piece concerning community ownership of the Twins entitled, If it's our baseball team, the funds will come. Personally, I think this is a pretty good idea and I wouldn't mind seeing it happen. Have the state buy the team, and then the state and the people of the state profit from the team and the construction of a new stadium. No brainer, right? I don't know if it is very fesible, but it is a good idea.

There is a little history with this initiative, as there is with almost every stadium plan in Minnesota. Loscalzo is no stadium newbie; he has been around for a long time and actually fought against destroying Metropolitan Stadium with his "Save the Met" campaign. Plus, this idea of community ownership of sports franchises is definitely not unique. Green Bay has done it, the Boston Celtics have done it, the Kansas City Royals have (kind of) done it, and even the Twins have tried it before. In 1997 Pohlad offered to donate the Twins to a local foundation, a move that would have tied the Twins to Minnesota seemingly forever. There were two "catches" though. First, he would only do it if the deal included a new publicly financed ballpark. Secondly, the state, or the foundation, had to cover Pohlad's accumulated losses while owning the Twins. At the time that was $85 million. The deal obviously fell through.

What are Pohlad's thoughts about this now? Would he still donate the Twins to a local foundation ala the Kansas City Royals? And if he did, would he agree to donate the team without the promise of a new ballpark? And what about all that debt? Loscalzo wants to do something a little bit different than having Pohlad donate the team to a foundation, though. He wants the state to buy the team. I would expect that this means the state would incur the team's debt, but that a new stadium would not have to be a part of the deal. I must admit that I don't know how Pohald feels about this or if he has ever made any comments about it. It has also been widely reported that Jim Pohlad, Smilin' Carl's son, wants the team to remain in the Pohlad family. All of this, of course, means that Loscalzo's plan will be an uphill battle no matter what. What else is new.

Loscalzo does have some convincing arguments though. He writes:

[C]ommunity ownership of the Twins is the only way to determine whether the Twins are a valued community asset: If fans, corporations and taxpayers are not willing to invest in their team, there is no reason to expend any public dollars for a new stadium.

This is a little bit of a sticky wicket, if you ask me. How much of an investment from the public would be necessary before we proved that we are "willing to invest in the team"? Whatever the figure though, I don't think the Twins would have any problems reaching it. In 2003, Harris Interactive found that the Twins were America's 5th favorite baseball team. The Twins dropped to 17th in 2004, but even then, I think this is an indication that the Twins have a nice fan base who would probably be willing to make an investment in the team.
We successfully passed in the Senate last year a "community ownership" bill with a 55-10 margin and had more than 35 House members from both sides of the aisle as coauthors. Our proposal complies with Major League Baseball's ownership guidelines and its rather traditional business ownership model.

If anything, this demonstrates once again what a bunch of idiots the legislators in the House are. The Senate is not the problem when it comes to stadium politics in Minnesota, it is the House. A bunch of worthless stiffs if you ask me. But, I could go on and on about that. Let's move on. I found this next statement by Loscalzo to be a little confusing:
The last thing Minnesota ought to do is repeat our Metrodome mistake. The Dome was the last multipurpose stadium; now stadium backers seem to want to build the last of a generation of ho-hum "renaissance stadiums."

We should get ahead of the curve and think about how to build the next Wrigley Field or Fenway Park -- a cantilevered stadium that would keep fans close to the action but still provide them with better amenities. We don't need or want the next Miller Park.

First of all, I love Miller Park. The seats are close, the atmosphere is great, the grass is green, the sky is blue, the brats are tasty, the stadium sauce is spicy. I don't think we could go wrong with Miller Park. Does Loscalzo not like the retractable roof? Does he not like Wisconsin in general? I would love an explanation of this. Secondly, I am of the opinion that Bostonians hate Fenway Park. The seats are too small and uncomfortable, they are angled poorly, and people are practically sitting on each other. Am I wrong here? Do I have the wrong impression? Still, I'll give Loscalzo the benefit of the doubt. He seems to know what he wants in a stadium whereas I'll take anything at this point.

Loscalzo makes some good arguments throughout the article. And I would love to see his plan implented. It would keep the Twins in Minnesota, and I do think that the state could monetarily benefit from owning the team and building a new ballpark (since the state only seems to care about ROI in terms of money). These questions still remain though: is the House capable of doing anything that involves the word "stadium," and is Pohald willing to go along with this plan? In order to buy something, you have to have a willing seller. Right now, I think Pohlad wants to keep the team.

Posted by snackeru at 3:43 PM | Comments (6)

Knucklehead McSpazzatron

• I found something out about myself last night. I found out that I suck at panel discussions. And not only do I suck, but I look and act like a moron when I am a part of a panel discussion. It is a double whammy of ineptness that left me dumbfounded as to why I was even asked to be a part of a panel discussion. Allow me to explain.

Last night the Institute of New Media Studies and the Internet Studies Center hosted a Blogumentary Viewing and Discussion. We watched Chuck Olsen's Blogumentary (I'm in the picture! I'm the one that looks mentally imbalanced and happy about it.), a documentary about blogs, and then afterward I participated in a panel discussion with Chuck Olsen and other blogging luminaries. Let me first say that Chuck Olsen's Blogumentary is fantastic. It really captures the spirit of blogging in a way I didn't think was possible on film. I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, the panel discussion was another story.

Give me a topic and I can write a mean research paper about it. I can also give a good speech about it. I might even be able to write a good blog entry about it. But put me on a panel with 4 other people and suddenly I become "JoJo the Monkey Boy." I am fidgety, and nervous, and ... well, quiet. Say something JoJo! Speak monkey! And when I do answer a question I am suddenly very self conscious about what exactly is coming out of my mouth. A question came up, "What do all of you think about the role of blogs vs. the media?" I seem to answer, "Me likey blog! Me think bloggy fun! Word blog make funny! Ha Ha!" Man!

Here is the funny thing. I know about blogs. I work with them everyday. I answer questions about them everyday. I encourage people to use them, and I help people create them. I have created a project called UThink which allows anyone at the U of M to have a blog. You might say I have a thing or two to say about blogs. But I swear every question that came up to the panel dumbfounded me. It was like they were asking me to explain the Theory of Relativity or the NFL QB Rating system. Yikes! What is wrong with me?

So, I have decided that last night is my first and last panel discussion. I gave it a try and I found that it is not for me. I don't care what the topic is I will never be on another panel again. You could say, "Hey Shane, do you want to be on my panel discussion?" And I'll say, "What is the topic?" And you'll say, "It is on 'Looking like a moron in front of 100 people.'" And I will say, "Alas, it is a topic I know about, but I will have to decline." Sheesh!

• One last thing, if you haven't seen this Livejournal post of pictures of people at a Star Wars convention, go take a look right now. Warning! The humor is a little crude.

Posted by snackeru at 9:05 AM | Comments (7)

February 3, 2005

Stadium fix

Back to the main business of this blog, as Cheesehead Craig likes to call it, my "Don Quixote-ish" battle for a new stadium in Minnesota. You gotta have faith. You just gotta have faith. David wrote an interesting comment yesterday concerning teams that have bankrolled their own stadiums and how valuable those teams have become. Citing a King Kaufman (of Salon.com) article David writes:

"Forbes values the Patriots at $861 million, the Eagles at $833 million, fourth and fifth highest in the league ... The Patriots paid for $350 million Gillette Stadium, with the state of Massachusetts kicking in about $72 million for infrastructure. The Eagles got a bigger gift from the taxpayers. The team contributed about $355 million of the roughly $512 million -- sources differ on the exact amounts -- needed to complete Lincoln Financial Field, with the remainder coming from the coffers of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania."

David goes on to say:
Don't think that Reggie Fowler hasn't read Forbes and realizes that the easiest way to skyrocket the market value of the franchise would be to bankroll his own ballpark. Not to mention that the idea of ending the annual 'march of the poor millionaire/billionaire' to the state capitol looking for a stadium handout makes him a very popular suitor for the club, at least among fans. At last - something to root for rather than against on the stadium issue. Who'da thunk it?

Yes indeed. It has been reported numerous times that Reggie Fowler would try to privately finance most, if not all, of a new Vikings stadium. That would definitely be a breath of fresh air. However, we still have some people that think this is a pie in the sky dream. I was watching the "Sports Show" on WB23 last Sunday and Sid Hartman was adamant that the NFL didn't want anything to do with Reggie Fowler and his Roger Headrick-type group of owners. Dark Star, who I usually can't stand, was equally as adamant that a deal between Reggie and Red was already done and that the NFL is desperate for a minority owner. He also said that the NFL is right now working on dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's. Once again, who knows who is right? Like I've said before, I'll take Fowler or Taylor at this point. Just as long as it isn't Red.

That isn't the main point of this post though. The main point is I think we are beginning to see a trend of owners financing at least half of the costs of their new stadiums. The Eagles and the Patriots did it this way, the Redskins and the Lions, too. Also, and we've all heard this probably a million times now, the St. Louis Cardinals are paying over 75% of their new stadium. The argument is always, why can't the Twins? What is stopping the Twins from doing the same thing? Well, we've got one answer at least.

In a recent "Internet only" letter in the Star Tribune Rich Pogin of Twinsville fame writes about just that argument. Pogin contends that a similar financing deal would not work in Minnesota:

From 1997-2003 the Cardinals averaged 3,056,000 fans per year. Their average ticket price (excluding luxury seats) was $23.76. The Twins averaged 1,486,000 fans over the same period. Their average ticket price in 2003 was $13 per ticket. The simple math on this is that the Cardinals have, at a minimum, about $16 million per year of revenue in ticket sales alone. This makes it relatively easy to monetize their additional contribution to their ballpark.

This, of course, is in addition to the beefy radio and TV contracts the Cardinals get to broadcast their games to the vast "Cardinal Nation" which I think everyone will agree is a great deal larger than "Twins Territory." I think it is safe to say that the Cardinals are bringing in a whole lot more money. So, point taken. It is easier for them to bankroll their own stadium. Pogin goes on to write:
In addition, since we are in Minnesota, things always cost more and take longer. Because Minnesota has environmental impact statement requirements (EIS), it will take approximately 1Ĺ years (maybe longer) to get approvals to build a ballpark. It took the Cardinals six weeks to get their approvals. Time is money and delays add significantly to the costs.

This is good to know. So, the Cardinals are also saving some money due to Missouri's weaker environmental laws. Honestly, I can't say if this is a very good thing, or a very bad thing. But time is money. Pogin goes on:
While it is expensive to keep a Major League Baseball team in Minnesota, there are economic benefits. The governor's office estimates the incremental increase from a new ballpark in income tax and sales tax revenue to the state at approximately $7,500,000 per year. This is in addition to the loss of income tax revenue if the team leaves. It is most likely that the tax revenue generated by the team (tax on players' salaries, sales taxes, etc.) would be adequate to amortize the cost of the state's contribution.

Now we are getting to some meat. According to Pogin a new Twins ballpark's TIF value is $7.5 million. I had always heard that this number was closer to $10 million, but I'll trust Pogin on this one. So, if Pawlenty's TIF plan saw the light of day in this year's legislature and by some miracle actually passed, the Twins would be looking at at least $7.5 million of, as David likes to call it, free money. Pogin also argues that this would most likely be offset by the tax revenue generated by the team in general.

Here is what I'm thinking. We all know that Pawlenty is determined to expand gambling in Minnesota, for better or worse. I don't like it, and you probably don't either. About the only thing I like about his plan is his "Community Assets Account" which he says could help fund stadium construction in Minnesota. One thing I haven't heard is how much of the estimated $200 million per year he expects to receive from gambling proceeds would he put into the account. For the sake of argument, though, let's say that he puts in $5.5 million per year for a new Twins stadium. And let's also say that Pawlenty's TIF financing scheme is coupled with this money. All total then the Twins would have $13 million per year of "free money."

This is about half of what they would need to pay off the yearly loan fees for a new stadium. Take a stadium that costs $500 million, subtract Pohald's upfront $120 million donation, and you've got to come up with $25 million a year for 30 years to pay off the rest of the debt. With $13 million coming from the state, the Twins would only have to come up with $12-$13 million of their own and it would be a done deal. Of course, they would try to get this extra money from the host community and I would pray that either Minneapolis or St. Paul would approve that referendum, but I sure wouldn't hold my breath.

The question is, if a referendum failed, would the Twins just let that "free money" sit there? Or would they take the $13 million dollars and call it a done deal? As you can probably tell, I'm just dreaming here, but given the current trends of owners either paying for all or at least half of their own stadiums, I am of the opinion that the Twins would take the money and start digging. Does anyone else have any opinions? Am I completely off my rocker? Are my numbers correct? Could it be this simple?

Pogin ends his thought provoking letter:

The bigger question is: Does the "quality of life issue" justify the subsidy needed to keep professional sports in Minnesota? With respect to the Twins, to date the state has answered that question "no." The next question is: After the Twins are gone, will the state try to get another team (which will require a new ballpark) and, if so, will it cost substantially more to get a team/new ballpark? The answer of course is yes. We did it with the Lakers/Timberwolves and with the North Stars/Wild, we will do it again with the Twins/whoever. That is apparently how we do things in Minnesota.

I couldn't agree more. If we lost the Twins at some point Minnesota would try to get another team and it will cost a whole lot more. It is time to find a deal. It is time to put this behind us.

Posted by snackeru at 9:07 AM | Comments (2)

February 2, 2005

Links of the day

That's all I got for today. Let me know if I missed anything cool.

Posted by snackeru at 8:52 AM | Comments (8)

February 1, 2005

More rumors

• You would think that after Twinsfest I would have a lot to say about our boys of summer, but, alas, whenever I am looking in the paper I am always looking for one of two things: stadium news and/or a sale of the Vikings. Today we've got some news about a potential sale of the Vikings. Charley Walters (and let me take a moment here for a second ... who doesn't just love Charley Walters? The days that his columns come out are always brighter. The birds are always chirping louder. I breathe an audible breath of happiness when I see a new Charley Walters column ... OK back to the post) reports today that Emmitt Smith may become a part of Reggie Fowler's group:

Look for future Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith to announce today his retirement from the Arizona Cardinals to join Reggie Fowler's investment group that is trying to buy the Vikings. Fowler's group also includes local automobile dealer Denny Hecker.

Wow. That is quite a rumor. I wonder if that would give Fowler more credibility or not. I would also find it interesting that Smith would finally become a Viking (in a way) which is what should have happened if not for the doomed Walker trade. As is the case with all Shooter columns, though, you've got to take this with a grain of salt. In other words, I'll believe it when I see it.

Secondly, the Pioneer Press is also reporting that Vikings president and McCombs hatchet man Gary Woods met with Steve Sviggum yesterday to talk about a potential sale of the Vikings and a possible stadium. Sviggum had this to say about a possible sale:

"He said he had a couple of conversations with Fowler and a couple of conversations with Glen, but it didn't sound like it was close," House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, said after meeting with Woods.

I just don't know how to take this. On the one hand billionaires usually like to keep this stuff quiet, especially given the (semi?) exclusivity agreement that Red gave Fowler. On the other hand, wouldn't a billionaire love to let something slip like, "Fowler is getting close," to try to get Taylor to possibly drive up the price? Maybe, maybe not. Whatever the case, it appears that Sviggum at least doesn't think a sale is imminent. That stinks.

There will come a day, I am sure of it, when both the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune home pages scream the news that the Vikings have been sold. Fowler or Taylor, at this point it doesn't matter to me. When that day comes we can all breath a sigh of relief and move on to the next fire to put out. I'm also thinking of doing something special on this page when Red is gone. A "special edition" Greet Machine. We'll see.

• Shooter also wrote some interesting news about Twinsfest that I think bears repeating:

The Twins' reported attendance of more than 29,000 for their TwinsFest last weekend at the Metrodome was significantly more than the turnout for similar outings in Pittsburgh and Seattle. The Pirates drew slightly more than 14,000 for their three-day gathering, up 7,000 from last year, and the Mariners attracted about 14,000, 1,000 fewer than last year.

Twins fans ... you just can't figure them out. During the off season they come to the Metrodome in droves, but during the regular season they stay away. I suppose it has to do with the difference in the weather. Anyway, I see this as yet more proof that if and when the Twins leave/are contracted the state legislature is finally going to get their comeuppance. There are too many Twins fans in the upper Midwest for the legislature not to feel their anger.

• Check out Mr. Cheer or Die's site today for some great writing on a new Vikings stadium, and the possibility of the Vikings signing Donovin Darious, currently of the Jags. Plus, find out what your name would be if you were a blues singer. Me? My name should be Blind Bones Thompkins. And I'm a singin' the stadium blues:

I got the stadium blues ...
because our legislature is filled with morons
I got the stadium blues ...
because our legislature is filled with morons
When the Twins and Vikings leave Minnesota
We will have to change our name to the 3rd Dakota

(harmonica solo)

Posted by snackeru at 8:21 AM | Comments (5)

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