April 29, 2005
The Leader of the Vikings
What a beautiful sight this is, Daunte Culpepper at mini-camp:
Mr. Cheer or Die sent me this picture today after taking about 300 at the mini-camp this week. Sheesh! Some guys get all the breaks. Anyway, stop on over at Mr. Cheer or Die's site for more pictures over the next few days.
Well, it has been a busy week concerning my favorite topic, but before we delve into that again, I invite you to leave the Greet Machine (that's right, go away!) and visit Stick and Ball Guy for a "marital advice" edition of Pepper! Today, I am a participant in Pepper! along with Cheesehead Craig of the Oracle of Cheese and Mr. Cheer or Die of the Viking Underground. SBG has some questions for us regarding his upcoming wedding. I guarantee a fun time for all!
Now back to business. I don't know how many of you have been keeping track of Pawlenty's plan for a metro-area casino, but it appears that his scheme will not be happening, at least not this year. I'm a little torn by this one. On the one hand I am not in favor of expanding gambling, especially in the metro-area. I think it works great for the Native American tribes and I like the fact that gambling is limited to their governance. On the other hand, either we have gambling in this state or we don't. And we definitely have gambling. It is a very lucrative business and the state could certainly make some money from getting involved. Not to mention Pawlenty's "Community Assets Account."
The "Community Assets Account" is Pawlenty's plan to set aside some of the state's gambling proceeds for public works projects like zoos, or planetariums, or, of course, stadiums. In fact, I would guess that the only reason this Account is being created is to take care of the state's contribution for potential stadiums that may be built.
How much are we talking about though? According to a StarTrib article from last week, the most recent casino plan (with two casinos being built at Canterbury Park) would bring in $164 million, at least, to the state. And according to the House version of this casino bill:
Sec. 3. [297A.941] [GAMING FACILITY PROCEEDS FUND.]
33.28 A gaming facility proceeds fund is established in the state
33.29 treasury, consisting of money deposited in the fund under
33.30 section 297A.94, paragraph (g), and any other money credited to
33.31 the fund by law. Money in the fund is appropriated as follows:
33.32 (1) ten percent of the receipts is annually appropriated to
33.33 the community assets account; and
33.34 (2) the remaining 90 percent of the receipts shall be
33.35 transferred to the general fund.
33.36 Sec. 4. [297A.942] [COMMUNITY ASSETS ACCOUNT.]
34.1 A community assets account is established in the state
34.2 treasury, consisting of money deposited in the account under
34.3 section 297A.941 and interest earned thereon. Money in the
34.4 account may be spent, as appropriated by law, to help finance
34.5 capital projects that provide for facilities which provide a
34.6 public benefit to the state and local communities. Projects
34.7 that may be financed through an appropriation from this account
34.8 include, but are not limited to, the following: stadiums and
34.9 other athletic facilities for professional, college, and amateur
34.10 sports; museums, theaters, and other facilities for the arts;
34.11 recreational facilities; planetariums; and zoos.
So, 10% of $164 million would be $16.4 million. I don't expect that all of that would go towards stadium construction, but I do expect that most of it would.
Why am I bringing this up? Because I am of the opinion that this may be the only way the state will contribute to a new Vikings stadium. The Twins have tried for years and years to get the state to contribute to their stadium, and I think we have all seen that it just can't be done. I'm sure that the Vikings are praying that the Twins stadium deal goes through not only because it means the legislature can finally just focus on the Vikes, but also because with the Twins out of the picture the Vikings would get the full stadium share of this Community Assets Account. Again, it may be the only way that the state contributes to a Vikings stadium project.
So, I will keep a close eye on casino/racino developments. It may not happen this year, but I think Pawlenty is determined to see it happen. And if it does and the Twins are out of the picture due to approval of the Hennepin County plan (or contraction) Vikings fans everywhere should see this as a good sign.
And speaking of contraction, I'm sure you all know that the current MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire this December. One of the agreements of this CBA was that the player's union can't interfere with MLB concerning contraction attempts after 2005. Given the difficulty the Twins have had (and are going to have, make no mistake) with their stadium efforts, and the difficulties the Florida Marlins have had, I personally think contraction will be a real threat again if a new Twins or Marlins stadium isn't approved this legislative session.
In a recent interview with Jerry Bell on the Twins website, Bell himself suggests that this plan may be the Twins last gasp:
MLB.com: Nobody wants to make threats, but Jim Pohlad did say that if this proposal isn't accepted, he can't imagine what would be. Is it fair to say that this is the team's last chance to get a new ballpark built?
JB: I agree with Jim. If we can't do this, then I can't imagine what it would be.
And I don't like to make threats either, but I can't help but think this is it. I know we've heard this all before, but contraction was real back in 2002. If not for Judge Harry Crump (God bless him!) we would not even be having this discussion right now. If the Hennepin County deal doesn't go through, don't expect the Twins to sign another lease at the Dome for next season. And without that, and without resistance from the player's union, there will be nothing to stop MLB from carrying through on its 2002 contraction plan.
Seriously, write your representatives and senators today! You can make a difference! Let me close by sending a shout out to Bob! Thanks for the email last night! I have updated the Voter's Guide!
April 28, 2005
I'm a little swamped today
It is a busy day for me today so I probably won't be adding much here. Sorry. However, just to give you something to mull over, as many of you know, one of my favorite animals is the chicken. I just love walking through the chicken barn at the State Fair. I am continually astounded at the variety of chickens from the Red Junglefowl to the Black Orpington or the White Crested Black Polish. Beautiful!
Well, my mom, knowing how much I enjoy chickens, told me that May 4th is International Respect for Chickens Day!. In fact, there is even a web site in honor of this day. Who knew? And while I doubt that I will do any of the their suggested activities to recognize this majestic bird, I may have to stop by the Chinese restaurant down the street and enjoy a plate of Sesame Chicken.
Thanks for stopping by today. There may be more later. And maybe not...
April 27, 2005
Voter's Guide: Assistance needed
I've made some more changes to the Voter's Guide, but unfortunately the number of Pro-American (pro-stadium) legislators has stayed the same: 54. The number of Anti-American (anti-stadium) legislators now sits at 50, and the "unknown" sits at 30. So, as if you didn't know this already, it looks like it is going to be close.
The Voter's Guide is based on literally years of information I've gleaned from newspaper articles, Google searches, and letters I've received from the legislators themselves. You'll also note that the guide focuses on the Minnesota House only. The House is full of the biggest bunch of do-nothings this state has ever seen. Any bill that passes through the House is an epic achievement whether it is a bill to build a bike shed or a bill to pass the state budget. The Senate is another story. The stadium bill will be a tough sell there too, but I think it will have an easier time there than in the House.
Anyway, please take a moment to look over the Voter's Guide and let me know if I need to make any other corrections. I plan on writing some more legislators tonight, but it would be much better if letters and emails came from their own constituents. Thanks.
Recently I received a letter from my state Senator (the esteemed Steve Kelley of Hopkins) and an email from my representative (Ron Latz of SLP). Steve Kelley is on board. I have little doubt of that. And although he wrote his letter before the Hennepin County plan was revealed, he had this to say about a stadium bill's chances:
I believe that workable stadium legislation passing this session has about a 20% chance of doing so. If legislation does not pass this year, we will keep working in future years to make sure the Twins have a home in Minnesota.
I plan on writing him again to ask him if he thinks the chances have improved. I'll let you know what he says.
Then, I got an email from Ron Latz. I can't figure this guy out and it pains me to say that I just don't know which way he would vote. He wrote me this response:
I believe most people, myself included, would like to see the Twins and Vikings remain in Minnesota. They have given a lot to our community over the years. Minnesota would be changed for the worse if we lost them. However, I want to make sure we address our state's higher priority needs in a responsible way. Consequently, I have set as my standard a stadium bill that does not affect the ability of the state to fund more important priorities, that is made in the context of adequate funding for those more important priorities, that protects the fiscal integrity of the state, that has enough private participation, and that takes care of our public institutional need for a stadium for the University of Minnesota's Gopher football team, too. I am not
philosophically opposed to public investment in public infrastructure, and I consider a stadium, done correctly, to be public infrastructure, just like the Metrodome, Xcel Energy Center, the Minneapolis Convention Center, etc. However, there are many higher priorities for state investment than athletic stadiums, which the Governor and House Majority have so far failed to adequately fund.
I want to assure you that I will carefully scrutinize all stadium proposals that may come before me for a vote to ensure that they are fiscally prudent and are consistent with our state's basic values, which recognize both the importance of professional sports and also the need to meet Minnesota's more critical problems. I will evaluate the Hennepin Country Twins proposal with these criteria.
I can't help it, but I take this as a "No." And have you ever seen a better example of policitian-speak? It really is a thing of beauty. He attempts to allay my fears by saying he is not "philosophically opposed" to stadium financing, but at the same time he suggests that he just might not support a stadium bill based on some nebulous criteria he has set up for himself. Of course, I wrote him back saying:
As you probably know, the Twins and Hennepin County are not asking for any state funding, so I would think that the state's ability to fund higher priorities is unchanged and the fiscal integrity of the state is protected. Again, the state has been taken out of the equation.
I'll let you know if he responds.
See how fun writing your legislators can be? Give it a try today and let me know what they say!
Why does it cost more than others?
I got an interesting email yesterday from a transplanted Twins fan living in Pittsburgh. Bryce writes:
I have a question about Stadiums, I was wondering if you could answer it on your blog. I'm a transplanted twins fan, living in Pittsburgh. I absolutely love PNC park here, and have long wished that it could be moved to the twin cities. I was looking at the cost of PNC park (242mil. for 39k seat park) and the cost of the proposed warehouse district park (360mil for 44k). I'm not sure the details of the national's park, but its cost will be 262mil. These prices are from the startribune and do not include the cost of land or infrastructure, just stadium alone. My question is this, why the deviation in stadium prices? If the Pirates and the Nationals can build stadiums for under 300mil, why can't we? I'm sure there'd always be griping about public funding for a stadium, but cutting 100mil in cost could decrease the gripping considerably.
Bryce is referring to the chart in the Strib that listed a number of stadium deals of the past and how much they cost, including PNC, Citizens, Comerica, etc. Personally, I found this chart to be highly misleading expressly because it listed only what the price of the actual stadium was minus all the infrastructure and "hidden" costs.
For example, the Twins are listing their new stadium alone as costing $360 million, however, they are also readily making available the true cost of $478 million. That is the number we should be focusing on. When you look at that number and compare it to other ballpark plans it makes a little more sense. According to initial reports the total cost of the Washington Nationals ballpark will be $440 million. Furthermore, reports coming out of Florida concerning their proposed stadium have the total price at $420 million.
Now, that still brings up the question of why the Twins ballpark is priced $40-$60 million more than either of these plans. Truthfully, I don't have a good answer. It could be inflation. It could be that the cost of our infrastructure improvements are that much more. It could also be that the Marlins and the Nationals are both hiding something and that the real costs will come out soon enough. Or it could be that the Twins want to build a really nice ballpark and they are being as trutful as possible about the costs. We all know that the Metrodome was built by cutting every corner possible. Did you know that at one point the Metrodome was going to have bleacher seating ala Lambeau? Then, at the last moment some extra money was found to put in those blue seats we all love. Truthfully, now I wish they had put in the bleacher seating. We would have probably already moved out.
Anyway, when you look at the true stadium prices of different plans around the country I think the plan the Twins are promoting is pretty comparable. However, if anyone has any information on why the Twins' plan is still slightly more expensive, please feel free to share.
April 26, 2005
Same old arguments
Well, the naysayers have come out in full force with the same old tired arguments against building a new Twins stadium. Allow me to expound on some of them and bring up some of my own tired arguments:
The old "subsidizing billionaires" argument
This argument was featured in a column by Doug Grow today entitled, Mulling Twins ballpark plan no easy matter. Well, it's easy if you are a stadium freak like me. Anyway, Grow begins his column by stating basically that he is having trouble with this plan because Carl Pohlad will make money. Citing useful statistics on the values of other franchises after new stadiums were built and the values of new stadium naming rights, Grow comes up with this statement, "That means that the Pohlads, conservatively, would receive $130 million for this $125 million investment."
What?!? You mean someone is actually going to make money off of this deal? Oh the humanity! (gnashing of teeth, rending of garments) When will this evil stop! Next you'll tell me that people make money everyday! Why do we let this "money making" happen in our world? Why?
Please. I'm so sick and tired of focusing on Pohlad I could puke. Let's focus on ourselves for once. What do we get out of this deal? A beautiful stadium? Check. A revitalized Warehouse District? Check. An affordable family activity? Check. Outdoor baseball? Check. Continued good times and memories from an important Minnesota institution? Check check. Continued national, daily exposure for our city and state? Check.
But no. Let's focus on one old man. What is wrong with everyone? The Twins leave and Pohlad will still have his billions. But millions of Twins fans will be left with nothing. Sticking it to Pohlad won't accomplish anything but taking away something important from ourselves.
What about health care and education and the myriad of other needs our state has?
First of all, this is no longer a state issue. This is a Hennepin County issue. So complain to your state representatives about the other needs our state has but leave the Twins stadium out of it. This plan is for a Twins stadium. That's it. Either we want one or we don't.
Secondly, in the nine years this debate has been raging how much extra money has any of these issues received as a result of our not building a new Twins stadium? That's right. Nothing. Nada. Zip. In other words, for nine years our illustrious state legislators have used this argument against building a new Twins stadium. At the same time they have never actually said, "Well, now that we aren't building a stadium let's use that money for education!" Bzzzz! This has never happened! To put it another way, our legislators talk and talk, and argue and argue, but they never actually do anything to fix either problem! So, time's up! Get off the swing set, it is our turn to take it for a ride.
I'll never use a new Twins stadium. Why should I have to pay for it?
I'll probably never use the street you live on, why should I have to pay for it? I have never used the Target in downtown Minneapolis. Why did I have to subsidize it? I never use the LRT. Why are my taxes going towards that? I don't really frequent the Guthrie that much, can I have my tax money back? I have never visited the Jeffers Petroglyphs out in western Minnesota. That must mean it is unimportant!
Gah! The concept is called "community" people. We spend a lot of tax dollars on the idea that while we may never actually see or use the benefits of that money, a lot of other people will. Why a new Twins stadium is outside the realm of "community" is beyond me.
So, the next time you think about a Twins stadium and the fact that you may not ever use it, think about me. That's right: ME. I will be very happy if a new Twins stadium will be built. In fact, I will be happy with you for helping me out! I will be so happy, I will erect a giant statue of you in my front yard! We'll both be happy, and Minnesota will be a better place because of it.
That's all I got for right now. More incoherent and emotion filled ramblings coming up.
April 25, 2005
Twins press conference
So, I snuck out of work to attend the Twins Press Conference this afternoon. I just had to go. I've tried really hard this time, but unfortunately hope is now firmly entrenched in my heart. The more I read about this plan, the more I think about this plan, the more I listen to other people talk about this plan, the more hopeful I become. It is just the way it is. Could I be heading for a hard fall? Sure, but why should this year be any different than the past 9 years? I'll survive.
Anyway, about the Twins press conference ... it was quite an experience. I was thrilled to be there, of course, but it was kind of cold. In fact, Pohlad quipped that it was so cold they should consider asking for a roof. Everyone politely laughed. It is obvious the stadium needs a roof and everybody knows it. I'll talk about this more in the days to come.
While I was at the press conference I got to rub elbows with a lot of famous sports and political personalities including Joe Schmit, Bob Sansavere, Sid Hartman, Roy Terwilliger, Mike Opat, Roy Smalley, Kent Hrbek, and Paul Molitor. Patrick Reusse walked right in front of me mumbling how he wouldn't even be writing about this stadium plan and that he had stopped writing about Twins stadiums in 1999. I wanted to kick him.
Pohlad got up and made some incoherent statements (how old is he now?), and then his son Jim got to the microphone and said, "If a stadium can't be built with this plan it will never be built." This sent a chill down my spine since there is a distinct possibility that this plan will not result in a stadium. I wonder if Jim was alluding to the fact that this may be his family's last attempt. Who knows ...
Then Jerry Bell got up there and started talking like this was already a done deal. You know, "When this stadium opens in 2009 fans will just love it..." I was in heaven! HEAVEN! This is my bread and butter people and I eat it up like nobody's business! He talked about the heated concourses, the new sun screen over the outfield, the fact that this stadium has 12,000 seats between first and third (as opposed to only 6,000 at the Dome), and only 12,000 seats in the entire upper deck. "That is unheard of!" Bell jublilantly proclaimed. Bell praised Mike Opat and Mike Opat praised Jerry Bell. It was obvious they were very happy with their work and the resulting plan.
After that, the press conference was over. I tried to weasel my way into some of the side interviews taking place, but I couldn't hear anything anyone was saying. So, I walked back to the U. All in all it was a great press conference and it furthered my climb into the heights of hopefulness.
Anyway, that was my afternoon. Stay tuned for more tomorrow.
Apathetic Twins fans
What is wrong with everyone? Is it the weather? Or is this just another example of the apathy of Twins fans striking once again? Here we have fantastic news of the possibility of a new Twins stadium and all I am seeing on other Twins blogs are comments like, "I'll believe it when I see it," and ""[T]here's no plan of yet for a retractable roof. That's freakin' brilliant.". That's it? That's all you've got? The Twins need our support to hammer this through and all we can muster is an extra dose of cynicism and apathy? TwinsTerritory? Silent. Silent!!! That site has like 200 potential authors and not one of them has written a sentence about this issue. Seth Speaks? And I quote, "I hate even writing about the stadium on this site because it just frustrates me to no end that this situation was not resolved long ago." Gah! These sites have hundreds if not thousands of readers. Where is the passion? Where is the anger? Where is the support? As Twins fans all of us can make a HUGE difference! Especially Twins bloggers! Let's all get our heads out of the sand and start making some noise!
At least Ryan Maus of TwinsChatter took some time to even think about this issue today. I can't argue with his "cautious optimism" and I can't argue with his pessimism either. Thanks, Ryan, for the link and thanks for writing about what should be the most important issue for any Twins fan: getting a stadium built.
This would never happen in St. Louis. Or Denver. Or a myriad of other cities whose fans are actually rabidly supportive of their baseball team. Minnesota? We are apathetic at best and indifferent at worst. Well, we may get what we deserve.
I don't care how many times you've seen a stadium plan crash and burn. I don't care how many times you have gotten your hopes up only to have them squashed like a bug. It is time to get this deal done! This is a good plan and it deserves our time and support!
The hand we've been dealt
Long time readers of the Greet Machine know the basic parameters of any Twins stadium financing plan that I think would work. Basically, for months I've been harping on the fact that the Twins first need to pick a site, and then increase their rumored upfront contribution. Well, I guess one out of two ain't bad.
For years the Twins have been playing our fair Twin Cities off of each other hoping for the best deal possible from either. Finally, we have confirmation that the Twins and Hennepin County have struck a deal to get the job done at the Rapid Park site of Minneapolis. That, of course, is wonderful news. However, Pohlad has agreed to only increase his upfront contribution by $5 million dollars. Technically it is an increase, but it wasn't nearly what I wanted it to be. So, what does that leave us with?
Surprisingly this is a pretty good plan. Now, usually I am very pessimistic towards these kinds of things, and while there are still a lot of reasons to be pessimistic there is also reason for optimism. While Pohlad is still sticking with his approx. $120 million upfront contribution, the Twins and Hennepin County have made up for that by taking the state out of the equation. Brilliant!
Regardless of how much Pohlad contributed there would always need to be a community money and involvement. For nine years we've also thought there would need to be state money and involvement too. Wrong! The Twins and Hennepin County have decided to foot the entire bill themselves with $125 million from the Twins and a 0.15% general sales tax in Hennepin County.
Here is what is great about that plan. Any tax in Hennepin County to build a Twins stadium would be controversial. A hotel tax, a restaurant tax, a hospitality tax it didn't matter, it would always be controversial. So, why not put together a plan that can raise a boatload of money in the broadest way possible? No more numerous funding sources, no more state funding necessary, this plan has only two funding sources and such a broad tax that it will be both unoticeable to the average taxpayer (3 cents on every $20 spent) but also predictable in its potential revenue (unlike TIF or user fees or other stadium district financing methods). In fact, a 0.15% tax is more than just predictable, it also has the likely potential of paying off the debt relatively quickly. In other words, I seriously doubt it will take 30 years to pay for the ballpark.
Who could be against such a simple plan? Well, a lot of people actually, but let's focus on who is in favor so far. According to the Star Tribune:
Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, and House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, both said on Saturday that they would support the proposal.
"This is a very workable plan because it does not require any state general fund money," Johnson said. "Three cents on $20 falls out of most people's pockets before breakfast."
Sviggum called it a "reasonable" plan. "Obviously, it's a significant commitment of the Twins owner," he said.
So, we've got the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader saying they will back this proposal. Looking at it another way, we have the leader of the Republican House and the leader of the DFL Senate both in favor of this plan. It is hard to believe, I know, but it looks like we could have bipartisan support for this plan. Dean Johnson was actually on The Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave this morning on WCCO Radio and he was practically gushing about this plan. He seemed very optimistic about the plan's chances in the legislature. But he hesitated when discussing the chances of Pawlenty signing the corresponding bill into law.
You see, Pawlenty has pledged no new taxes during his reign as governor of Minnesota. Would Pawlenty consider this as a new tax, even though it is really just a tax hike on an existing tax? Will he look favorably on the fact that only Hennepin County will be levied this tax hike? Will he be swayed by the fact that it is only 3 cents on every $20 spent, or $30 for every $20,000 spent? Sid Hartman seems to think so.
This is why I listen to Sid on Sunday mornings. He is so connected. As Johnson was suggesting that the legislature would do it's part and that it is all really up to Pawlenty to make this happen, Sid said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "I just had lunch with Pawlenty last Tuesday at Vescio's and he said he would support this plan." Needless to say, this made my heart skip a beat. Could it be true? Later on in the afternoon WCCO also quoted Mike Opat (the Hennepin County Commissioner we all have to thank for this) as saying Pawlenty was on board with the plan. Speaker of the House? Check. Senate Majority Leader? Check. Governor of Minnesota? Check? Sorry, I'm still pessimistic about this one. I want to hear Pawlenty say it himself.
Who else can we count on to support this plan ... well, I would think out-state legislators for one. They literally have nothing to lose. When they go to vote on this plan they aren't voting on any state money. They aren't voting to tax their own constituents. They have nothing to lose and nothing to fear. Will they be enough? Can they overcome the anti-stadium backlash that is sure to come from metropolitan legislators? Hopefully we'll get a chance to see.
Finally, in terms of support, I was surprised that while listening to the radio this afternoon almost everyone that called in supported this plan. There were a few nay-sayers, but the vast majority of the people who called in basically said the same thing: it is time to put this behind us.
Man! What a day. Lots of stuff to be positive about. Now let's look at the negative. Let's look at what chances this bill really has to get passed.
First of all, stadium opponents have time on their side. According to the StarTrib, both Johnson and Sviggum have both said that the legislature will "not consider a stadium proposal until after the budget bills for health care, education and transportation were done." That is a tall order. I can just hear Phil Krinkie cackaling. All stadium opponents have to do is wait. All they have to do is argue the state budget until the bitter end, and this proposal is dead. And don't think they won't do it. Don't think Phil isn't so bitterly against stadium financing that he won't do anything he can to thwart this effort. Remember, he jeopardized the passage of the state bonding bill because he thought a part of it could possibly be used to help fund a new Vikings stadium. The man is insane when it comes to being anti-stadium.
Secondly, the Twins have already stated the deal is dead if a referendum is attached. They don't want a referendum for two reasons: 1) it increases costs to wait for a referendum to pass and 2) a referendum would never pass in Hennepin County (or anywhere in Minnesota for that matter). The Twins aren't stupid. And neither is Phil Krinkie. Why do I keep coming back to him? Because he is the chair of the House Taxes Committee. If he even agrees to hear the bill (and it is in his power not to) he will fight to attach a referendum at the bare minimum. If I could suggest something, we should all write the rest of the members of the House Taxes committee and tell them to support this bill as is. There is a chance that this bill could get out of the House Taxes committee without a referendum but the rest of the members will have to overcome Mr. Krinkie.
That is if there is even time for the plan to get out of committee in the first place.
Finally, stadium opponents have the most powerful argument of all. Why should we fund a Twins stadium when we are struggling to fund police, when we are cutting funding to health care, when we can't adequately fund education? Well (broken record time), given the choice of inadequately funding, say, education, and building a new stadium, or just inadequately funding education, I will take the former every time. Not funding a stadium is no gurantee that education will receive extra funding. Why do we constantly tie them together? Steve Thompson, WCCO radio host, also had some interesting things to say about this problem. Essentially, he said, this is the way the game is played. We can argue about whether or not publicly funding stadiums is good or bad until we are blue in the face, but the fact of the matter is this is the way stadiums are built. Do we want major league baseball in our state or not? Is the expense of a new stadium worth it to have this unique entertainment option for the people of the Upper Midwest? Because this is how stadiums are built. Well, it looks like we are going to find out if we think it is worth it real quick.
May 23rd is the last day of the legislative session. Write your legislator now. Beg. Plead. This may be Pohlad's last try. Let's put this behind us and back a plan that not only has a fantastic shot of building a Twins stadium but also of paying off the debt in half the time.
Well, I've got to wrap this up. I know I'll talk more about this in the coming week. Before I close let me just say that I've been typing this while watching The Sports Show with Sid, Patrick Reusse, Mike Max, and Dark Star. Dark Star and Patrick Reusse have both basically said they don't have a lot of faith that this deal will go through. Reusse gave time as a reason for his pessimism and Dark Star just said "Krinkie" as his reason. Sid was the only one that came out and said he thinks this is finally the plan that will result in a new Twins stadium. You can take that for whatever it is worth.
Me? I'm sitting at 50/50 right now. I am excited about this plan. I am happy that it seems to have bipartisan support from our legislative leaders. I am thrilled that public reaction that I've heard so far has been positive. But we may simply run out of time.
April 24, 2005
OK. I know why you are here. You are dying to read my in depth analysis of the Vikings draft picks and the debacle that was the Timberwolves season. So, let's start talking about the Timberwolves. Kevin Garnett was his normal stellar self, but the rest of the team...
Sorry about that, I couldn't resist. Obviously we had some exciting news come out today regarding a new Twins stadium in downtown Minneapolis. When I saw the news this morning I soaked it up like a sponge. I snuck out of church to listen to the Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave. I listened to the radio most of the afternoon. I've thought about this issue all day long. It is indeed very exciting.
However, I'm not ready to delve into this just yet. I've got some other things to check into first concerning the plan and people's reactions to it. So, expect something later tonight. Much later, actually.
So, sorry about that. I just wanted to let you know that I am working on it.
April 22, 2005
I'm getting stupider
I can't deny it. It is just a fact of life. But as I get older I know I am getting stupider. Denser. Unable to understand words larger than two syllables. As I watch the TV show The Amazing Race I can't help but cringe every time the elderly couple Meredith and Gretchen come on the screen and, well, do something stupid. In between weeping over how much they love each other, and blubbering about how proud they are of their feeble efforts, they are constantly misunderstanding clues or going in the wrong direction. I can't tell you how many times I've turned to my wife while watching this show and said, "Please tell me I'm not turning into Meredith." But, alas, I know it is meant to be.
I can already feel a general malaise settling over my intelligence, a brain cloud, if you will, taking residence in my once impressive mind. What is happening? Is it Spring? Am I just stupified by the nice weather? I swear in the past couple of weeks I have been able to do little more than walk around outside and stop every once in a while to notice a flower or some piece of nonsense that catches my attention. "Oh look, there is something shiny on the ground! I like shiny things. Shiny things are pretty!" Gah! Where is the vibrancy of my youth? Where is my creativity?
Well, I may have found an answer. I can blame my wife and kids. According to a study published in the Journal of Research in Personality marriage and children kill creativity in men. The research, spearheaded by Dr Satoshi Kanazawa, suggests that the quality of scientific creativity and discovery is usually dictated by a man's age and marital staus. I know, it is almost too much to be believed, but check out this snippet:
His study was based on the analysis of a biographical database of 280 scientists considered 'great' by their colleagues, noting their age at the time when they did their greatest work. He found the data remarkably concurs with the observation made by Albert Einstein in 1942: "A person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of 30 will never do so."
"Scientific productivity indeed fades with age," Kanazawa said. "Two-thirds [of all scientists] will have made their most significant contributions before their mid-30s."
So, here we have the age factor. Einstein himself made his most important discoveries in his mid 20s. I am 32. Sadly, it seems, my "great" achievements are all behind me. Excuse me while I take a moment to weep ... And it gets worse:
But, regardless of age, the great minds who married virtually kissed goodbye to making any further glorious additions to their CV. Within five years of making their nuptial vows, nearly a quarter of married scientists had made their last significant contribution to knowledge.
"Scientists rather quickly desist [from their careers] after their marriage, while unmarried scientists continue to make great scientific contributions later in their lives," said Kanazawa.
Ah! The scourge of women strikes again! Not only do they torment us with their incessant talking, honey-do lists, and demands for "quality time together" but they also nefariously sap our creativity without us even noticing! Will their treachery never cease? Why do they have this effect on us? Kanazawa has a theory:
Kanazawa suggests "a single psychological mechanism" is responsible for this: the competitive edge among young men to fight for glory and gain the attention of women. That craving drives the all-important male hormone, testosterone.
After a man settles down, the testosterone level falls, as does his creative output ...
Of course! Getting married is a virtual siphon hose on a man's testosterone! It is all coming together now. What can we as men do to get our testosterone back? How can we fight back against this evil nemesis of marriage and reclaim our most important hormone?
Polygamy. I think it is the only way. The ability to have multiple wives would mean that we would always be trying to attain glory for new women. Trying to attain more and more glory would mean more testosterone and more creativity. Problem solved. I am a genius.
April 21, 2005
Tiffee had a chance
Terry Tiffee had a chance today. He had a chance to stay with the team and not be sent to Rochester. Bases loaded, bottom of the 9th, 2 outs, Tiffee enters to pinch hit for Rivas:
Click for larger version
Unfortunately, he struck out on a foul tip. If he would have hit a grand slam, gotten a base hit, even if he would have walked, I doubt Gardy would have sent him down.
Sucks to be him.
More legislators jumping aboard?
In case you haven't noticed, a new Twins stadium bill has been submitted before the Minnesota House. The short description is Stadium development process provided for use of the Minnesota Twins baseball team, metropolitan stadium authority established, Metropolitan Council authorized to issue bonds, and powers of the host communities provided. What I found most interesting about this bill, though, was the list of bill authors. Many, if not most of the authors of the bill were "unknown" to me, meaning I didn't know if they were pro-stadium or not. There are even a couple of bill authors that I had marked as anti-stadium. So, based on this author list I have made some changes to my Voter's Guide. Now the anti-stadium vs. pro-stadium breakdown looks like this:
Pro-American (Pro-stadium) legislators: 54
Anti-American (Anti-stadium) legislators: 49
Personally, I see this as a very good thing, as you might imagine. This is the first time since I began tracking legislator viewpoints on stadium issues that the pro-stadium legislators have out-numbered the anti-stadium legislators. Could the atmosphere at the state capitol be changing? Could we be seeing a shift to a more stadium friendly attitude amongst our esteemed legislators? Maybe ...
Sid Hartman also reports some old news today that while it is old, it is still good to hear:
Look for Hennepin County and the Twins to make an announcement soon that they have agreed to work together to construct a stadium in the area in back of Target Center.
Again, the Twins picking a site and focusing legislative efforts toward that site is essential for a stadium bill actually passing in my lifetime. Quite honestly, I don't really care if it is in St. Paul or Minneapolis, I just want it to get done. I am happy that a stadium in Minneapolis will be closer to my house, but I would not mind a St. Paul ballpark in the least. Anyway, speaking of St. Paul, the Pioneer Press editorial board had some interesting things to say about the possibility of a Hennepin County ballpark deal a few days ago:
While the economics of a Hennepin County plan are compelling to the Twins, we suspect the ingrained image of St. Paul as the little brother to its bigger sibling to the west is at work here, as well. The notion of second-class status for St. Paul is as Minnesotan as Babe the Blue Ox and walleye. That's too bad, because as we've long argued, the economics of the St. Paul proposal should be compelling to taxpayers and lawmakers alike, regardless of whether or not fans will be looking out on a Minneapolis incinerator or the St. Paul skyline.
While the Hennepin County plan seems to be building momentum — this week — we hope cooler heads will prevail at the Capitol. Any plan — whether it's in Hennepin County, St. Paul or Duluth — shouldn't sock it to the taxpayers and be a multimillion-dollar windfall for a recalcitrant Carl Pohlad. Indeed, the man who's No. 272 on the Forbes list with a net worth of $2.3 billion shouldn't expect to get something for nothing.
So, besides the typical St. Paul inferiority complex, or the perceived inferiority complex, it appears that the PiPress editorial board is suggesting the Twins are going with Hennepin County mainly because the county will not require a large upfront contribution from the team. I certainly hope that is not the case. The Twins and Hennepin County can make deals all day long if they want, but if either party wants the legislature to actually approve a deal it had better include a hefty check from the Twins.
If Hennepin County balks and gives in to the Twins demands for a smaller contribution, then I would have to agree with St. Paul on this one.
Unfortunately what all of this demonstrates still is that we have a long, long way to go. Bummer. I'm kind of sick of this. How about you?
Things to say ...
... but no time to say them. Expect an update around lunch.
April 20, 2005
Links of the day
- From longtime reader Jx2, this is a great prank by MIT students. They submitted a randomly written paper of nonsense to a conference and it was accepted. Hilarious.
- Here is their official web site. They are still trying to attend the conference even though their invitation was rescinded.
- Andrew Sullivan sees the election of Pope Benedict XVI as a sign of an upcoming Catholic civil war. I see it as more of a transitional move by the church. The guy is 78.
- UW-Madison group performs Nintendo music a capella. One of the most entertaining short videos I have ever seen. I still have a huge smile on my face.
- How to survive a zombie attack. Important and timely advice.
- Scientists are close to unlocking the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, a hoard of ancient Greek writings thought to be too decayed to be legible. Could increase the number of Greek and Roman works by 20%.
- 10 scientists describe different ways life might come to end on earth. Interesting.
- If you haven't seen this already, a description of what is on Bush's iPod.
- Sign up for the Goonies 20th anniversary celebration! I am there!
- Descriptions of all the new video game consoles coming out in the next year or two. Nintendo Revolution?
- Six ways of jump-starting your day. Nifty advice.
April 19, 2005
My favorite Twins
While watching the Twins game last night I got to thinking about all my favorite Twins players from the last 30 years. Of course, most of my memories of the Twins come from the early 80s through the present (due to my age of 32). So, here is my list:
- Kirby Pucket -- Regardless of his current problems he will always be my favorite. His catch in game six of the 1991 series will forever be my all time favorite memory as a Twins fan.
- Roy Smalley -- probably the reason I am a Twins fan. I can't remember the year, but I was at the old Met for bat day and Roy Smalley hit a grand slam. I was in awe.
- Kent Hrbek -- His grand slam in the '87 series is hard to top, but lifting Ron Gant off of first base to tag him was hilarious. Do you remember Ron's response? "He should be able to lift me off," Ron said, "He's twice as big as me." What a whining pansy.
- Frank Viola -- Ah, Sweet Music Frank Viola, master of the circle change. I didn't even know what a circle change was, but that didn't stop me from trying to throw it in my back yard.
- Greg Gagne -- I have always had to defend Gagne to my buddy Curt who seems to think Gagne's glove did not make up for his plate discipline. Pish-posh! Gagne was right, he got no respect here in Minnesota. He deserved better. I'm glad things have been patched up somewhat between us, no thanks to you Curt!
Utility infielder Denny Hocking, 35, is hanging on with the Kansas City Royals' Class AAA Omaha team, where he is hitless in his first five at-bats with two errors.
Good old Denny. I hope he appreciates the gift the Twins gave him for so many years.
It must be the weather, but I feel a little more stupid than usual. Sitting here trying to think about what to write about is more of a challenge all of the sudden. There has been some minor stadium news of late, namely the Giants new stadium deal (paid for by themselves), the Yankees attempting to build a new stadium (why?), Pohlad claiming that the potential stadium site is still wide open. That last one really perplexes me and continues to prove that Pohlad will do whatever it takes to shoot himself in the foot.
The Twins game last night? Watched it, but I don't have anything to say about it. The NFL Draft? Of course, I will be watching it, but I have read about it so much that all I can say is I am confused and I have no idea who the Vikings will pick. Let's just wait until Saturday to find out.
So, I've decided to just write a stream of conscienceness (consciousness?) type piece. Whatever comes into my mind is what I will write about. Let's start:
What is my favorite color? Blue
What is my favorite food? Cheeseburger
What sports do I like? In this order, NFL football, MLB baseball, college basketball, NBA basketball, college football, college hockey. You'll note that the Vikings are at the top of my list. I can't help it. That is just the way it is.
What is the last movie I saw in the theater? Constantine. The theology was a little off, but it was an entertaining movie.
What is the last movie I saw? Taxi. That has to rank up there with some of the dumbest movies I have ever seen. Not quite Tomb Raider status (the dumbest) but it is up there.
What is the last album I have purchased? Hotel by Moby. Good stuff. Moby is a little different than what I usually listen to, so it is refreshing.
What is my favorite rock band? U2, without a doubt. There is not a day that goes by that I don't listen to U2.
What book(s) have I most recently read? Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. Fight Club was very, very thought provoking. I wish I had that kind of imagination.
What book am I reading now? Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias. A work of Christian apologetics and also very thought provoking. Also, written in the "Queen's English" so it is fun to read.
What is my favorite TV show? The Amazing Race. That show is awesome.
What do I think about gay marriage? Inevitable. If Christians would only show this kind of determination towards issues like hunger and health care, we might make a real difference in the world and more easily accomplish our actual mission.
Speaking of health care, how would I fix the problem? State run all the way baby. It would cut down on beauracracy and ultimately save money. And don't tell me the gov't can't efficiently run something this large, they seem to do fine with the military, the Federal Reserve, etc. The fact that we live in a county where so many people can't afford to see a doctor is painful to me. We can do better.
What did I think of the Terry Schiavo fiasco? I found it fascinating that so many Christians cared so much about this one life, but turn a blind eye to millions of sick people every day just because they lack health insurance. It is wrong.
What do I think about the upcoming energy crisis? I think this is too pessimistic, but this is straight out of a fairy tale. I think we are all in for a shock, and that we all will have to change our lifestyle, but probably won't be as bad as some people say.
What kind of car do I drive? A Chrysler Town and Country mini-van. I love driving a mini-van. I have no shame, only pride in driving my big maroon min-van around town. This is my only vehicle. I carpool to work and ride the bus when that falls through.
What are my favorite animals? Like it says above (sometimes), I like giraffes and chickens. I could watch giraffes for hours, and my favorite State Fair activity is walking through the chicken barn. Amazing variety...
What is my shoe size? 12
Where would I rather live? Until the Vikings and Twins leave, this is where I want to be. No doubt about it. I love the four seasons, I love this time of year, I love the people of Minnesota. If the Twins and Vikings leave, though, I am packing my bags for Maine.
What kind of peanut butter do I prefer? Chunky. No question.
When I get to heaven, what 3 questions will I ask? What happened to the dinosaurs, if I never cut my hair how long would it have been when I died, and what should I have done for a living? Right now I'm a webmaster, but I have a sneaky suspicion I should have been a canoe maker.
What is my general demeanor? I think I am easy to work with, way too pessimistic, quiet, generally happy, and very shy. If you met me, I think you would be surprised at how shy I am.
What is my favorite snack? I love EZCheese and triscuit crackers. I probably eat this almost every night.
What would I love to be able to do? I would love to be able to write a book. And my book would have aliens in it because I love aliens (and most science fiction). I hope to meet an alien in my lifetime, but I'm pretty sure that will never happen.
That's it for now. Hopefully something with more substance at a later time.
April 18, 2005
I went on yet another Cub Scouts camp out this weekend, but without kids this time as this was for leadership training. We camped at Camp Stearns which is about an hour way from the Twin Cities. There were about 80 Webelos leaders there, including three other leaders from my Pack, and we all had a great time. However, as you probably know, it rained nearly all day on Saturday. I can usually handle rain, but when you combine it with cold it really sucks. There is just no two ways about it. And doggone it if shivering for 8 hours doesn't take a lot out of a person. I was very hungry and very tired by the end of the day.
While at the camp I was trained as a BALOO leader. That is Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation training. You have to have at least one BALOO trained leader at a Cub Scout camp out so, needless to say, I could be going on more camp outs! Lucky me...
I learned a lot during this weekend, but there are two things that really stuck out for me. One was the dedication of the people who were running the camp and training. Half of these people didn't even have Cub Scout aged boys anymore and yet they were still out there with us in the rain teaching us how to be better leaders for the boys in our dens. I was overwhelmed with their cheery attitudes and commitment to the Cub Scouts program. And they were all volunteers. It really gave me perspective on how much of my own time I give in volunteer work compared to others. I was deeply impressed.
Secondly, again, their attitudes were great. Here they all were, volunteers, teaching us stuff like first aid, knife safety, cooking outdoors, etc. all in the rain and cold and they were loving it! They were funny, and happy, and confident ... their attitudes pervaded the entire camp. Later on they told us that the attitude the leadership portrays in any camping situation will be picked up by the other campers. In other words, if we as leaders are complaining and grousing about how cold it is, or how hot it is, or how much they want to go home, then that is exactly what the boys on the campout will start to feel like. I know, that should be really obvious, but to see it demonstrated so effectively this weekend was just a wonderful, practical lesson on having a good attitude. I needed that.
So, no, I didn't watch the Twins this weekend. And I wasn't able to do any cat blogging (shoot!). I'll probably be back with more this afternoon.
April 15, 2005
A step in the right direction
Well, well, well ... finally we have some positive news regarding a new Twins stadium (unless you were hoping for a stadium in St. Paul. Jim?). Today the Pioneer Press is reporting that the Twins are cutting a deal with Hennepin County to build a stadium in Minneapolis at the Rapid Park site. Wonderful, wonderful news, but as my brother-in-law has already stated, this is but the first step in a bazillion step process. Let's focus on the positive first, though.
The deal would depart from a nine-year stadium strategy of trying to pass a no-site bill and would kick-start a rejuvenated ballpark pitch by giving lawmakers something to visualize as well as specifics on construction and financing.
Let's see ... let's say I try something and it doesn't work. I may try it again, and maybe again for a third time. But after the third time I would be a complete dunderhead to try something I know won't work. Finally, after 9 freaking years the Twins have removed their collective heads from their collective butts and decided to focus on a single site. Hallelujah!
And is anyone surprised with this development? After the Twins broke of talks with St. Paul in 2002 it seemed like to me that they just didn't want to do a deal in St. Paul. Now I think we have verification of that.
Minneapolis and its financial benefactor, Hennepin County, have battled St. Paul in recent years to be the location of a new stadium. That's one reason the Twins stadium bills in the past did not specify a site, on the theory that votes would come from legislators from both cities, giving the contentious bill the slim majority it would need.
I don't believe that. I think the Twins have always been looking for the best deal and by pitting the two communities against each other they felt they could minimize their contribution. Again, after nine years I'm glad to see they have finally decided to abandon this strategy.
Although the politics of stadium legislation are always difficult, House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, and Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, said passage of a Twins bill would be possible this session if legislators first agree on ways of solving state budget, education and health-care funding problems.
OK, now that is a little bit of a reality check. Solving the state budget, education, and health-care funding problems will be close to impossible. I'm sorry to be so pessimistic again, but we still live in Minnesota, and we still have the biggest bunch of stiffs and nit-pickers sitting in the Capitol this state has ever seen. Do I think this means that a Twins bill won't be argued in the hallowed halls of the legislature this year? No. I think we will see a bill and I think it will get through some committees. However, I am of the opinion that the legislature may run out of time. Keep May 23rd marked on your calendar. That is doomsday for Twins fans.
Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat of Robbinsdale confirmed intensified talks with the Twins but would say merely, "The only way Hennepin County will get involved in a Twins stadium again is with the Twins as a partner for a site-specific bill.''
Bell demurred on describing the intricacies of the negotiations. However, three people close to the negotiations — who spoke on the condition of anonymity — said a major sticking point is how much money the Twins would contribute to the ballpark, which might have a retractable roof and cost up to $500 million.
Mike Opat ... man I love that guy. Robbinsdale is one lucky community. I'm going to write him again this morning and see if he would give me any specifics. I'm especially interested in specifics on the Twins upfront contribution. And I'm not even really concerned with an exact number. My question is, will the Twins finally offer more than $120 million? Since the negotiations for the upfront contribution were "a major sticking point" I think it is safe to assume Hennepin County wanted more. It sounds like we may find out next week.
So, step 1) pick a site, step 2) raise the upfront contribution ... I am just thrilled that the Twins are finally changing their strategy. But what are the other steps? In a quote above, the article states that this new bill will give "lawmakers something to visualize as well as specifics on construction and financing." Step 3 is to unveil those specifics and start selling them hard. I'm pretty sure the specifics will include TIF financing and some kind of Hennepin County wide sales tax, the latter of which will be a really tough sell in the legislature. I mean, really, really tough.
Step 4 will be to try to convince the legislature to pass the bill without a referendum attached, and that will be another really, really tough sell. Step 5, in my mind, is to focus lobbying efforts on out-state representatives. I truly believe that if this bill is to pass the Twins and Hennepin County need to convince out-state representatives that 1) their constituents want this to happen (which they do) and 2) they have nothing to lose by voting for this bill. Which they don't. Out-state won't be taxed so I would think they could vote for the bill without reservation. Step 6 is to lobby Hennepin County legislators. It is a sad fact that some of the biggest opposition to this bill will come from the county that will benefit the most from it. If the Twins and Hennepin County can get half of the legislators from the county on board then I think it will be a done deal. Step 7 will be to create a media blitz to convince Hennepin County residents to approve the referendum that is sure to be attached. If by the grace of God the referendum is somehow approved, then and only then will I breath a sigh of relief. Because that will mean a ballpark will be built.
The article ended with this paragraph:
If a bill were passed this session, it likely would speed up construction by a year, making Opening Day possible in 2008 or 2009. The last game outdoors was played against the Kansas City Royals at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington in the fall of 1981, after which the team began playing at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.
The thought of a new stadium for opening day 2008 is almost too overwhelming. That thought will keep me going the rest of the day.
And what about the Vikings stadium? The StarTribune reports some really good news on that front today:
According to those at the Blaine meeting Thursday morning, Wilf said that he and partners David Mandelbaum and Alan Landis are investigating buying some of the land on which the proposed Vikings stadium would sit, near 109th Av. NE., just west of Interstate Hwy. 35W.
This is fantastic news because it shows Fowler's group (or is it Wilf's group now?) are committed to Minnesota, they are fousing on the Anoka County site, and they may even take a leap of faith and buy the land before any financing plan is in place. This also suggests, at least to me, that Wilf is concerned that the land could be earmarked for some other development and that he is buying the land to assure that it is used for a Vikings stadium. Good, good news. The plan for a new Vikings stadium in Anoka County is alive and well.
The article also suggests though that the Vikings have almost no shot of getting anything done in the legislature this year:
Sviggum told his visitors that a Vikings stadium is not on his agenda this session. He noted that the team's lease at the Metrodome runs through 2011 and, he said, he told the men: "You'd better work out the ownership. You better work out a [stadium] finance plan."
Indeed. If the Twins are successful this year (please oh please) I'm sure it will inform what kind of shape next year's Viking bill will take. However, I was a little upset to read this statement from Dean Johnson:
Johnson said they seemed amenable to contributing at least one-third of the cost of any Vikings stadium.
Oh really? Wow, that is big of them. Just like the Twins, though, if Fowler's group wants to get anything done they had better be prepared to bump up their contribution. The fact of the matter is, 1/3 from the team and 1/3 from the host community simply won't work in this case because there just isn't 1/3 from the state to top it off. There simply is no money that the state can contribute. TIF will work great for the Twins, in my opinion, but it has already been shown that the TIF value of a new Vikings stadium will be minimal. Anybody who buys the Vikings had better be ready to come up with more than 1/3. That is just the way it is.
That's all I got time for. As always, I welcome your comments and opinions on both of these matters. Exciting news, but we still have a long way to go.
April 14, 2005
I find it strange that while I prefer Pepsi to Coke, and I like Pepsi Edge way more than C2, I vastly prefer Vanilla Coke over Pepsi Vanilla. Quite frankly, Pepsi Vanilla is disgusting.
The nectar of the gods, Vanilla Coke
Not much to say today, but I'll give you what I got.
Charley Walters ... man I love that guy. Yesterday and today he wrote some great stuff regarding the sale of the Vikings and the possibility of a new Twins stadium. Glen Taylor, of course, is still in the running the buy the Vikes, but today Walters writes regarding a Twins stadium:
There's talk that Hennepin County next week could announce Eden Prairie as a potential site for a Twins ballpark.
I don't even know what to think about this news. What excites me the most is that there may be a proposal next week, but Eden Prairie? Well, I guess I've said before that I'll take a stadium in Bemidji, just build the stupid thing. So, I guess Eden Prairie would be fine. It may even be closer to my house than a Minneapolis ballpark.
And of course, Walters reported yesterday that "[t]he Twins are guardedly optimistic about finally getting approval for a new ballpark this legislative session. St. Paul remains in the hunt." I seriously don't know how the Twins can remain optimistic, but I'm glad they are. They've got a lot of obstacles to overcome, though, including the fact that the Gopher's stadium bill hasn't even reached the floor of the House yet, Krinkie is the chair of the House Taxes committee, the Florida Marlins stadium bill is languishing even with a $192 million contribution from the team, and unless someone comes up with a phenomenal and as yet unheard of funding source, taxes in the host community will be a big part of the plan. So, even if a bill is passed their will be a referendum. Even if a stadium bill is passed, that is only half of the battle!
I'm such a pessimist. Why do you even come here to read this?
And speaking of a Vikings stadium, one argument for community financing that I am surprised we don't hear more is the fact that the Vikings will pay for 1/3 of a stadium that they will only use 10 days out of the year. The rest of the time the stadium can be used for all sorts of community events. Check out the schedule for the Metrodome for November 2004 and December 2004. Almost everyday the Dome is being used for something. So, for the Vikings to pay even 1/3 of the bill is quite a deal when you look at what the host community gets in return. The $75 million investment Minnesota made to pay for the Dome was one of the best investments the state has ever made. The place has payed for itself many, many times over. I am positive that in 20 years we would be saying the same thing about a stadium in Anoka county, or wherever the Vikings end up (I'm with you Vince. The Vikings ain't going anywhere.)
And speaking of the Dome, I was walking past the Dome after getting off my bus in downtown Minneapolis this morning when I remembered a popular Bible verse that could help us all in our plight. In Matthew 17:19-20 Jesus says:
Jesus told them. "I assure you, even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, `Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible."
Taking this to heart, as I was walking past the Metrodome I mustered up all the faith I had, I thrust out my hand, and I said, "Metrodome, I cast thee into Lake Minnetonka! Be gone from my midst and torment me no more!"
Sigh. Since you have probably noticed that the Metrodome is still firmly entrenched in Minneapolis, it is obvious that my effort to "move a mountain" was a failure. My lack of faith is simply stunning.
April 13, 2005
Marlins stadium on life support
Yesterday afternoon, as I was helping Will of Will Young's Twins Page put together a Twins stadium proposal for a class project (why didn't I have any class projects like that?), I stumbled upon some news concerning the stadium situation in Florida. Let's start with a short recap, though. The Florida Marlins plan included a $192 million contribution from the team, and the plan only asked for $30 million from the state in the form of a tax rebate. (But because that debt would be paid off with interest at $2 million a year over 30 years, the total state sales tax rebate would be $60 million.) Well, it seems their plan is on life support:
"Let it have a fair hearing," Bush said upon learning that State Rep. Fred Brummer, R-Apopka, who chairs the House Finance and Tax Committee, is refusing to hear the request for a $60 million state sales tax rebate. "I think their proposal is better than previous years. Is it better than the other funding proposals of the state, I don't know. That's what hearings and the committee process is all about."
I see so many similarities with the plight of the Twins it is uncanny. It seems the chair of the Florida House Finance and Tax Committee won't even agree to hear the bill! Do any of you remember who the chair of the Minnesota House Taxes committee is? That's right, stadium opponent numero uno: Phil Krinkie R-Shoreview. And if you don't think he isn't paying attention to this development, think again. The man is so anti-stadium he actually jeopardized the passage of the state bonding bill because he thought a part of it could potentially help fund a new Vikings stadium. From the StarTrib:
"On Wednesday, influential House Republicans objected to a 17-line paragraph put into the 56-page bill at the 11th hour, authorizing the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission to lease up to 17 acres of its golf course and athletic fields in Blaine for unspecified purposes.
Johnson and Rep. Andy Westerberg, R-Blaine, said the provision was needed to keep the commission solvent in the face of deep state budget cuts.
But the provision wasn't previously introduced in either house and wasn't part of the original bonding bills. That violated joint legislative rules, critics said, while shutting out any opportunity for public input.
GOP Reps. Phil Krinkie of Shoreview and Mark Olson of Big Lake suggested that the paragraph could somehow slip a new Vikings stadium into law, a contention vigorously denied by Westerberg."
This is almost comical if it wasn't so sad. How much money could the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission make by leasing 17 acres of a golf course? Surely not anywhere close to $500 million, but that didn't stop Krinkie from wasting my time and your's by arguing and slowing the passage of an already delayed and hugely important bonding bill. Is anyone else stunned by this like I am?
When I read about stuff like this, and then I hear what is happening (or isn't happening) in Florida my opinions about the chances of a new Twins stadium become very pessimistic. Again, the Marlins were contributing $192 million ... they had picked a site ... compared to the Twins requests they were asking for a relatively small amount from the state ... and yet they are still being denied.
The Sun-Sentinel article above ends with this statement:
"The Marlins declined comment Monday, but have indicated they will explore moving from Florida if they cannot secure the state piece of the financing plan. "
The same old song and dance, this time played out in Florida. I wonder how serious the Marlins are with this threat. Regardless, I was hoping the Florida legislature could demonstrate to us how to get a deal done. There is still hope, but unfortunately it is rapidly diminishing.
Links of the day
- A list of someone's top 25 Sesame Street moments. This list is hilarious and it definitely brings back good memories. Do kids watch Sesame Street anymore?
- George Chapline doesn't think black holes exist. Interesting article.
- Let America govern the world. An interesting proposal (that will never happen).
- So much for that merit raise: the link between appearance and wages. Not very good news for Cheesehead Craig, I'm afraid.
- Pookmail.com. Don't want to give out your real email address, but you need to get some email from someone? Use Pookmail.
- Google Ride Finder. What will these guys think of next? Use this tool to easily find shuttles and taxis so far in 11 American cities.
- Life's top 10 greatest inventions. Cool and thought provoking article.
- Yet another nifty tool to help web developers, like me, select color combinations.
- My little pet project of UThink: Blogs at the University Libraries is one year old! Happy birthday to UThink!
- A new UThink blog dedicated to saving the U's General College from an unfortunate demise. Save the GC!
- This guy has a lot of video games. I mean, A LOT of video games. I must say that I'm a little jealous.
April 12, 2005
Taking my other senses for granted
Last Friday afternoon I was in downtown Minneapolis on Nicollet and 9th waiting for my express bus to come and wisk me home. I don't usually catch my bus at this location, but I had spent the afternoon at a conference at the convention center and this bus stop was a short walk away. Anyway, when I got to the stop I noticed another usual rider of my bus, a blind rider, waiting with his cane at the stop. A blind bus rider will typically wait at the curb of the stop and ask every bus that comes by if it is the bus he or she wants to ride. Knowing this, and knowing that this bus rider is waiting for the same bus as me, I approached him and asked him if he was waiting for the 663.
He answered that he was indeed waiting for the 663 and that he had missed the bus he would normally ride. So, I told him that I was also waiting for the 663 and that I would let him know when it arrived. He thanked me and we had a nice conversation about our work, kids, the weather, etc. etc. Anyway, the 663 came, we both got on, and we sat in separate seats.
As the bus traveled it's route I started to think how exactly does this blind gentlemen know when to get off the bus? How does he know when to pull the cord? I knew where he would get off since I've been on the bus when he has boarded, so I decided to watch to see how he would decide when it was time to get off. Until that time I sat back and read my book (Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, if you'd like to know.)
After leaving the Louisiana Transit Center I started to pay attention to see if I could figure out how he would know when to pull the cord. Sure enough, though, as we approached his stop he pulled the cord, got up, and exited the bus. I was absolutely flummoxed. How the heck did he know that his stop was coming up?
I started to think of possible reasons why he would pull the cord at that point. Did he and the bus driver have an understanding that he needed to get off at a certain stop? I quickly decided no since he had already told me that he had missed his normal bus. Did he count to a certain number after we left the Louisiana Transit Center and then pull the cord? That also couldn't be it since there were a few stops before his stop with people getting off. And he wasn't sitting with anyone so no one could have told him. How the heck did he know to get off without seeing the stop???
Then I realized that his stop was at the top of a hill. And while this is just a guess, I'm pretty sure that he knows when he starts to feel the incline of the hill begin he should pull the cord. It probably takes a lot of concentration for him to know exactly when to pull the cord since the hill he is looking for does not have that sharp of an incline. He probably prefers to sit alone also so that he can focus on the hills the bus rides on after the transit center stop.
I was very impressed with his ability to concentrate on what was going on around him in order to figure out where his stop is without even seeing it. It probably comes as second nature to him. In fact, he probably doesn't have any difficulty pulling off this feat at all. Needless to say, I would be toast if I had to do the same thing everyday. I would probably be riding all the way to Wilmar by the time I realized I should get off.
Anyway, I may give it a try some time. I am going to try to focus and concentrate on what, besides my eyesight, could clue me in to the fact that my stop is coming up. I'll let you know how it goes. However, until then I'd like to thank my new bus riding friend for teaching me a thing or two about using other senses beside eyesight. It was a good lesson for me.
Thanks for stopping by.
April 11, 2005
Attendance and winning (or losing)
One thing you won't see much of on the Greet Machine is statistical analysis of baseball. It's not that I don't enjoy the statistics of baseball, I just don't want to take the time to compile all the statistics nescessary, and I think other Twins bloggers do a fine job of it already. Having said that, one statistic I find very fascinating that doesn't get much attention from other bloggers is attendance. Whenever I look at a Twins box score, especially for home games, my eyes always dart to the bottom to check out the attendance. Of course, it is usually pathetic for the Twins as evidenced by their ranking in the bottom 1/4 for attendance in the American League. I wonder, though, is this such a bad thing?
Whenever I see the Twins actually break the 30,000 person mark for attendance at a single game, or whenever I hear that the Twins are expecting a big crowd for a particular game, it always 1) makes me happy since I want the Twins to be successful and 2) I always think, "They had better win." Because whenever there is a big game in terms of attendance I always think the Twins are going to play poorly. It may be my Norwegian pessimism, but my impression of the Twins is that they do not play well, they do not win regularly, when they are playing in front of a big home crowd.
Take this weekend for example. They stunk it up against the White Sox by losing the first two and winning the last thanks to the heroics of Santana and Hunter. And the crowds were huge! They drew over 118,000 fans for the three games making this the biggest opening day weekend in 9 years. In my mind, though, the fans were not rewarded for coming out to the ballpark. Another obvious example of their attendance-based futility are the playoffs where the Twins have only won two out of eight home playoff games in 3 years. That sucks.
So, in order to get to the bottom of this I decided to take a look at the Twins record in home games where the attendance was above 30,000 over the last 3 years (including playoff games). While the numbers aren't as bad as I thought they would be, they still aren't that good either:
|April 12, 2002||Detroit||W||48,244|
|April 20, 2002||Cleveland||W||30,146|
|May 10, 2002||Yankees||L||35,727|
|May 11, 2002||Yankees||L||43,465|
|May 12, 2002||Yankees||L||26,165|
|June 29, 2002||Milwaukee||L||30,125|
|June 30, 2002||Milwaukee||W||33,193|
|July 27, 2002||Toronto||W||40,306|
|July 28, 2002||Toronto||W||30,554|
|August 3, 2002||KC||W||32,567|
|August 4, 2002||KC||W||35,641|
|August 16, 2002||Boston||W||35,824|
|August 17, 2002||Boston||L||43,345|
|August 18, 2002||Boston||W||37,196|
|August 28, 2002||Seattle||W||31,414|
|Sept. 7, 2002||Oakland||L||43,628|
|Sept. 28, 2002||Chicago||W||32,072|
|Sept. 29, 2002||Chicago||W||31,270|
|October 4, 2002 (playoffs)||Oakland||L||55,932|
|October 5, 2002 (playoffs)||Oakland||W||55,960|
|October 8, 2002 (playoffs)||Angels||W||55,562|
|October 9, 2002 (playoffs)||Angels||L||55,990|
|April 4, 2003||Toronto||L||48,617|
|April 5, 2003||Toronto||L||31,421|
|April 18, 2003||Yankees||L||37,843|
|April 19, 2003||Yankees||L||36,139|
|August 13, 2003||Cleveland||L||30,082|
|August 21, 2003||KC||W||30,179|
|August 22, 2003||KC||L||36,101|
|August 23, 2003||KC||L||37,782|
|August 24, 2003||KC||W||34,265|
|Sept. 16, 2003||Chicago||W||32,921|
|Sept. 17, 2003||Chicago||W||40,304|
|Sept. 18, 2003||Chicago||W||39,948|
|Sept. 19, 2003||Detroit||W||30,013|
|Sept. 21, 2003||Detroit||W||33,396|
|Sept. 23, 2003||Cleveland||W||33,650|
|Sept. 24, 2003||Cleveland||W||32,986|
|October 4,2003 (playoffs)||Yankees||L||55,915|
|October 5, 2003 (playoffs)||Yankees||L||55,875|
|April 5, 2004||Cleveland||W||49,584|
|May 21, 2004||White Sox||L||30,116|
|July 30, 2004||Boston||L||34,263|
|July 31, 2004||Boston||W||40,283|
|August 1, 2004||Boston||W||38,751|
|August 17, 2004||Yankees||W||38,766|
|August 18, 2004||Yankees||W||41,125|
|August 19, 2004||Yankees||L||37,959|
|September 5, 2004||Royals||L||33,855|
|September 19, 2004||Baltimore||W||31,399|
|October 8, 2004 (playoffs)||Yankees||L||54,803|
|October 9, 2004 (playoffs)||Yankees||L||52,498|
|April 8, 2005||White Sox||L||48,764|
|April 9, 2005||White Sox||L||41,533|
According to the table above, the Twins have a record of 28 wins and 25 losses in home games where the attendance is over 30,000 over the last three years. So, they are barely breaking .500. This is not too bad, but it is also not very good at all. In addition, in games where the attendance mark breaks the 40,000 barrier, the Twins are an anemic 8-12. In other words, I just don't think the Twins are rewarding fans for coming out to the ballpark. I just don't think they play well in front of big home crowds. Are they nervous? Do they try too hard? The Twins may also be subliminally sending a message to fans that says if there is a big attendance the Twins will not perform well. Twins fans may also be sub-consciously thinking that they should stay away from the ballpark so that the Twins play better.
I know what a lot of you are thinking right now. That this is hogwash. And I would have to agree with you that it doesn't (that it shouldn't!) make sense. There are also, obviously, a lot of other factors involved when it comes to winning and losing a baseball game. But you gotta admit, fan attendance at Twins game as yet another factor is kind of interesting. So, what is a Twins fan to do about this startling data?
What the table above might also suggest is that we need to go out to the ballpark this year like never before if for nothing more than to get the Twins used to playing in front of big home crowds. Of the 252 home games (including last night) the Twins have played over the last 3 years, they have only drawn over 30,000 fans 53 times. That in itself is a problematic number as compared with the rest of MLB. However, what I think it suggests more is that as fans we need to get over our hatred of the Metrodome and our desire to be outside and start going to more baseball games. We need to start giving the Twins more big home crowds so that when playoff time comes they are used to playing in front of more than 18,000 people.
Anyway, thanks for stopping by today. And I'm sorry if you don't share my passion for attendance numbers. As always, I just gotta be me.
April 9, 2005
Lounging around on a lazy Saturday afternoon...
April 8, 2005
Sorry about my lack of posting this morning. I went to the Twins' "Breakfast on the Plaza" and it took me quite a while to get through. I didn't get into work until 9:00 AM. But I did get a nifty Twins poster from UPN 29. So, that made it worth it. It lists 29 great moments in Twins history, and it includes the game in 1990 where the Twins turned two triple plays. I actually remember when that happened. So, I thought it was neat that they included it on the poster. I know, you could probably care less, but it is my blog and I'll write about what I want to.
And for all of you going to the Twins home opener tonight go outside right now! You'll be spending three hours in the stifling Metrodome air so get outside now and enjoy this beautiful weather while you can.
Finally, I am really beginning to hate the Boston Red Sox. I mean, I hated them before, but now they have become even more intolerable. For years I have been subjected to all this whining about the "curse." Thankfully that is over. But now I have to be bashed over the head with how wonderful the Red Sox are, and how they are the antithesis to the Yankees, and how Red Sox fans are the best in the world ... blah blah blah. I tell you that I would now enjoy the Twins beating the Red Sox more than I would enjoy the Twins beating the Yankees. The Red Sox and their fans make me sick.
Now we have this new movie Fever Pitch coming out. Please, for the love of all that is holy, DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE. If it makes even a little bit of money we will all be subjected to this Boston Red Sox love-fest that much longer. And somebody tell me how anyone in their right mind thinks Drew Barrymore is attractive. Anybody? Look at that picture. She looks like the studio model for The Scream. So, Fever Pitch ... first its a movie about the Red Sox, and then they cast Drew Barrymore to play the love interest ... please, I'm begging you, stay away from this movie. We have to stop baseball fan abuse like this in its tracks.
April 7, 2005
Community ownership idea progressing
Vince points out in a comment below that a bill for community ownership of the Twins is making its way through the legislature. The StarTrib wrote an interesting piece concerning this bill that states:
The community-ownership bills would direct the governor and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission to negotiate with the Twins for a sale of shares with limited voting rights for as little as $100 apiece. Twins owners would retain a 25 percent to 35 percent share and would operate the team day-to-day.
The summary of the bill on the House's web site is also interesting. It basically says that the public will own at least 50% of the franchise and that a managing, private partner will own at least 25% but no more than 35% of the franchise.
The bill has already moved through a House committee and a Senate committee, but according to the Strib article above, Jerry Bell has already stated, "Our view is it doesn't solve anything." From the Twins perspective, it really doesn't. In order to survive into the future they need a new stadium, plain and simple. This is also the perspective of MLB as a whole. Without a new stadium the Twins are not a healthy franchise. If you'll note, this bill does not say anything about a new stadium. It doesn't guarantee anything towards the construction of a new stadium. The only way Pohlad would agree to a plan like this is if it had a new stadium guarantee.
That is what I think anyway.
However, from a public standpoint this bill is great. With the public owning 50% of the franchise the Twins could never move. We would never have to worry again. For that reason alone I am in favor of this bill progressing. I would certainly buy a couple of shares. However, it takes two to tango and I just don't think Pohlad would ever go for this, and I also don't think MLB would allow him to in the first place. Both Pohlad and MLB would lose all their leverage towards getting their ultimate goal accomplished (a new stadium now and probably in the future) and they know it.
Having said that, I wonder if the bill could (or does already) force Pohlad to negotiate. Probably not. If anyone has any other thoughts I would love to hear them.
Let's get down to business
There has been so much stadium news in the past few days that I barely know where to start, so let's just plow in on some of the news that I have found most interesting. It appears that St. Paul is making a big push for a new Twins stadium if all the articles coming out of the Pioneer Press are any indication. In between the blah, blah, blah that we've all become accustomed to from stadium pundits (including myself) was this article from Sunday's paper which highlighted a very intersting stadium funding proposal:
A stadium without a retractable roof (more on this in a bit) would cost about $450 million, if construction can start by next spring.
If the state contributed $100 million toward the project, it could pay its share with an estimated $7 million in additional annual sales taxes that would be attributable to the stadium — without dipping into the general fund or raising taxes. This should appeal to the governor, who has taken a pledge to hold the line on taxes.
That leaves $350 million, to be split evenly by St. Paul and the Twins, which would benefit most directly from a new stadium in downtown St. Paul.
St. Paul's share would be covered by a 2 percent bar and restaurant tax (less than the 3 percent the city had ealier considered), along with the extension of the downtown TIF district and some incremental parking revenue.
As for the Twins (which the article pegs for $175 million later on), how they come up with their share is up to them, but it will require more out-of-pocket than its owners have been willing to part with in previous discussions.
Even if the Twins are able to fashion a deal with Hennepin County that would allow the owners to put up a substantially smaller pile of cash than the host community, it is highly unlikely that such an unfair deal would make it through a skeptical Legislature. Nor should it.
Another possibility is that the St. Paul business community might be able to pony up some cash, perhaps as much as $25 million, which could be used to reduce the city's and Twins' shares.
There are certainly some flaws with this plan, but for the most part it is in line with what I have been suggesting for a few months now. Of course, I am mainly referring to a bigger contribution from the Twins. $175 million is certainly doable, and I would think that an even larger contribution (ala Florida) would have an even greater impact, but $175 million is certainly a good place to start. The $100 million from the state (at $7 million per year? Hmmm ... Maybe less?) is prime for Pawlenty's TIF financing plan of last year. This TIF scheme was estimated to generate $7.5 million a year so it fits within the parameters of this plan.
And what do all of you think about the lack of a retractable roof? I must admit I would prefer one, but I just don't care anymore. If Detroit can play in a stadium without a roof, if Boston can do it too, then I think the Twins should be able to also. Boston gets more rain than the Twin Cities does. If we can hold costs down without a roof, then I say let's go with that plan.
The big if of this plan is the 2% tax on St. Paul restaurants and bars. Personally, I think given the Twins phenomenal TV numbers and the resurgence of Twins fans all over the country, I think the time is right for a referendum if not in Minneapolis then definitely in St. Paul. I truly feel a referendum on a 2% tax in St. Paul would pass. The Pioneer Press article above states, "There is political will, strong community support and an ideal location in downtown St. Paul. Let's stop talking and get a deal done." Well said. Again, I feel this state is ripe for action right now. It is time to finally put this behind us.
And it appears I'm not alone in this sentiment. At the beginning of the legistlative session Steve Sviggum made some bold promises concerning getting at least a Twins bill pushed through the legislature this year. Well, he isn't making any promises today, but he is still optimistic, and thankfully so is Dean Johnson, the Senate majority leader. According to Sid Hartman today, both Johnson and Sviggum are optimistic of "passing a baseball stadium bill once they get education, health care and other such important legislation passed this session." Hmmm ... that sounds like a tall order, but even Pohlad was more optimistic after hearing this news. And I don't know why Sid keeps doing this, but he replayed Pohlad's most tired quote:
"I don't know if I can operate beyond this year if something positive isn't developed about a stadium," Pohlad said after listening to Swiggum and Johnson. "We can't keep on losing money."
You know, I don't even know what to make of statements like this anymore. I just can't believe Pohlad is losing money especially considering the Twins won't let anyone see the books.
Pohlad was also hush-hush about the amount of money he would contribute to a stadium but he did say he would make a contribution. That is big of him. Here is what I hope the legislature does, though. I hope they just pass a bill, like the one above that the Pioneer Press concocted for example, that just says the Twins will contribute $175 million. Ask the Twins what they'd be willing to contribute, sure, but if it doesn't meet the requirements for getting a bill passed this session, screw their measly $120 million contribution. Make it $175 million and dare the Twins to turn it down. I am of the opinion that Pohlad and the Twins will whine and complain, but eventually they will realize this is the best they are going to get, take the deal, and start digging. Man, wouldn't that be a wonderful thing?
Anyhoo, that is all I've got for today. Tomorrow I'll take a look at some of the Viking stadium news that we've been hearing about recently. As you might expect, I've got some strong opinions about that too.
April 6, 2005
Back in the saddle
I'm back! Aren't you excited? However, I won't be writing anything of real substance just yet. I am still recovering and I need to get some actual work done. Allow me to explain my absence, though.
On Friday I left for a two night camp-out with the Cub Scouts at Eagle Cave in rural south-western Wisconsin. While there we explored, went on nature hikes, and actually slept in the cave. Sleeping in a cave is about as much fun as you can imagine. Caves are usually wet, dark, cold, and smelly and Eagle Cave is no exception. We literally slept on gravel, and we had to cover our sleeping bags and gear with rain tarps because of all the dripping from the stalactites on the ceiling. Also, the people who run Eagle Cave have strung lights throughout the entire cave so you can see where you are going, but they never turn them off, even when you are trying to sleep. Needless to say, it was an amazing experience.
To top it all off, while on this camp-out I also tripped and fell and seriously damaged my right shoulder. How? What I like to tell people is that I was wrestling a bear, but the truth is much less glamorous. I was playing tag. Yep, that's right, I was playing tag and my 32 year old body couldn't handle it. Pathetic. I was chasing someone down a hill and I tripped over him. This caused me to take a swan dive down the incline of the hill until my shoulder hit the ground and bulldozed for about 5 feet. It was nauseatingly painful. So, I had to go to the emergency room. Now, keep in mind that I was in rural Wisconsin. We couldn't even get cell phone connections or radio signals. That is how far we were in the boondocks. The hospital I went to was in Richland Center. The doctors and nurses were great, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if they have to give banjo lessons on the side to make ends meet. Anyway, they did about 10 x-rays before deciding that nothing was broken, thankfully, but they were unable to tell me what is really wrong. Hopefully it will just heal on its own, but I still have difficulty moving my right arm.
Anyway, that was my trip to Eagle Cave. And lest I sound too negative, I actually did have a good time. I mean, how often do you get to sleep in a cave? It was a once in a lifetime experience, that is for sure ... and emphasis should be placed on "once in a lifetime."
I got back on Sunday and immediately packed my bags for Washington D.C. and the CNI Task Force Meetings. About six months ago I agreed to make a presentation on UThink at these meetings. Here is the description of my presentation. Anyway, I flew out of D.C. on Monday morning at 7:00 AM. Having only one functioning arm made this a little more difficult, especially going through the security checkout. I think they were also suspicious of me since I was walking around like Igor in Young Frakenstein. So, it seemed like they made me do a little more of their "song and dance." It was frustrating.
Anyway, I gave my presentation at 4:45 Monday afternoon and it went very well, thanks for asking. But I was really one cool customer at the podium thanks to all the Vicodin pumping through my veins. That is a nifty little drug. After the presentation I went back to my room and watched the NCAA b-ball championship and finally got some sleep.
The next morning I woke up late, got dressed, and walked down to the Mall. While there I saw the new WWII Memorial, the new Korean War Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial. The WWII Memorial is very moving. I was deeply impressed. And the Lincoln Memorial is always awe inspiring. I climbed to the top, read some of Lincoln's speeches, and wondered as I looked out on the city, "If the Washington Nationals can get a stadium deal why can't the Twins?" What can I say? It is a curse.
Then I took the Metro to the airport, flew back home, and immediately made my way to St. Kate's where I teach every Tuesday night. I teach a class called "Internet Fundamentals and Design" in the library science program there. Needless to say, due to all my traveling, and the pain in my right shoulder, I was in no mood to be there last night. Luckily I had set up a guest speaker who did a great job. Then, I came back home, watched a little of the Twins game, and went to sleep.
That is why I haven't been able to update this site for a while. And I know there has been some interesting stadium news in recent days. I will be commenting on all of that in good time. However, for now, as I said, I have to get some work done. Until later...
April 1, 2005
I'm soooo funny!
Well, if you haven't figured it out, my last post was an April Fools joke! Ha! Sometimes I just slay myself! For those of you that were fooled (maybe one of you?) I am not a rabbit breeder. The Greet Machine was not named after a sickly newborn rabbit. I AM NOT a Barbara Streisand fan. Cheesehead Craig, however, does in fact own a Ron Popeil Showtime Rotisserie Oven. I know, it doesn't surprise me either.
Anyway, I will be harping about stadiums until the day I die, or until stadiums are actually built in this God-forsaken state (so, I may be doing this for a while). You can be rest assured of that! I am the scourge of the legislature! With my quick wit, sharp toungue, and overwhelming mental faculties (I mean this bunny thing was a stroke of genius, no?) I will always be here to fight the good fight concerning stadium construction in Minnesota. How can I stop when I have already made such a difference?
And regarding my favorite topic, I have some news to pass on to you. From today's Pioneer Press comes this interesting piece of good tidings:
Stadium bills, among the hardiest perennials of the Legislature, are starting to sprout.
On Thursday, state Sen. Steve Kelley introduced a generic bill authorizing construction of a baseball field for the Minnesota Twins. But the bill provides only a sketchy mechanism for a state or local subsidy that the Twins have been seeking.
Kelley, DFL-Hopkins, called his bill a placeholder in case lawmakers finish more important work and decide to consider building stadiums for the Twins or the Vikings.
Sen. Don Betzold, R-Fridley, said he planned to introduce on Monday two alternative plans for building a Vikings stadium in Anoka County.
Seriously, I'm getting a little misty-eyed ... hold on just a second. OK, I'm all right now. This is just too exciting for words! The best part of all of this is that Steve Kelley is MY SENATOR! That's right, my senator is leading the charge to finally put this mess behind us and actually SOLVE A PROBLEM THAT NEEDS SOLVING! I'm proud of you Senator! I'll mail you that "campaign contribution" as soon as I finish writing this entry!
Finally, there won't be any updates for a few days to this fine blog. There won't be any cat blogging tomorrow, and I may not even be able to write an entry on Monday or Tuesday. We'll see. So, sorry about that, but things are going to be a little busy for me for the next few days. I'll give you the details of my busyness most likely on Wednesday.
Until then, thanks for checking out the Greet Machine today. I'll be back soon, and hopefully there will be some stadium news to dissect! Have a great weekend!
One more thing, if you haven't checked out Stick and Ball Guy's guest for Pepper! today, do yourself a favor and go over to his site. His story is both unbelievable and hilarious!
The New Greet Machine
Well, after yesterday's phone call with Dave St. Peter I've decided to change my focus. No more stadiums. No more pain and suffering for me as I wonder if stadiums will ever get built. Quite frankly, I don't care anymore. It just doesn't look like it is going to happen. So, it is time to start thinking about what really matters, and focusing on something that truly makes me happy. For me, that is my rabbits.
I suppose a lot of you don't know that my wife and I actually breed rabbits to sell. Most of our rabbits we sell as pets, but we also keep a fair number. We have about 50 in our home and in some cages in the backyard. And of course we have our favorites! There is little Bootsy, and Fluffy Tail, and Snookums ... it is really hard to pick an absolute favorite since I love all of them! But there may be one that means the most to us.
And now I can let the "rabbit out of the bag," so to speak, and divulge the secret of the name of this blog, the "Greet Machine." A while ago a little bunny was born, but he was very sick. So my wife and I nursed him back to health, taking turns feeding him a bottle at night, and making sure he got enough love and attention. ;) Well, after he got better and we put him back in his cage he always made sure to greet us in the morning with the cutest little nose wiggle! My wife commented that he was like a machine with his nose wiggle ... and after that we started to call him Greet Machine! So, now you know.
|Watch out! Rabbits can be nasty!|
Cheesehead Craig is not very fond of all our rabbits. He is always threatening to have a rabbit feast someday, and that he likes rabbits fried, frickaseed, roasted, or in a stew. You keep away from my rabbits Cheesehead! How can anyone not like our cute, little bunny rabbits? Then again, he doesn't even like my collection of Barbara Streisand CDs, so how smart can he really be? Whenever I hear Babs sing "Memories" it just makes me weep! But that is a story for another day.
Anyway, if you like little, fluffy bunny rabbits you have come to the right place. I plan on writing about my rabbits a lot more in the future so stay tuned for some fun! As far as the Twins and Vikings go, maybe I should send Pohald and Red the gift of a fuzzy rabbit to hold and love. Maybe that would finally break their hearts of stone. That is my goal now, to teach the world love through my rabbits. Won't you join me?