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April 19, 2006

I can't help myself

• You know, I really thought I could let this one go. I thought to myself, "Shane, it just isn't worth it. Gollum is just trying to get your goat, and nothing you can say or do is going to change that." But I really can't help myself. I am just blown away at the exaggeration and hyperbole in Nick Coleman's column today. It almost makes my writing look thoughtful and intelligent! And for those of you that have read this blog for a long time, you know that is hard to do. Anyway, Coleman still seems to be concerned about his "precious" pennies, but I thought this string of sentences took the cake:

Today, with the exhausted opposition to welfare for billionaires collapsing, we are on the verge of gutting the law in order to put up a palace for the Minnesota Twins, opening the door to billions more for sports while everything we used to hold dear -- public education, public safety, public health -- goes down the toilet.

"Bonfire of the Vanities" has finally come to Minnesota, 19 years after Tom Wolfe's portrait of New York City as a place where wealth and privilege, racism and greed ruled.

Trends take awhile to reach us. But we're tragically hip now.

Wow. Wow, wow, wow. I am just stupified at this. Of all the arguments that a ballpark opponent can bring out, the argument that building a ballpark will somehow hurt education is the worst. For one the two issues are mutually exclusive, and more importantly, history tells us that NOT building a ballpark has absolutely no effect on education spending. Think about it. After 10 years of not building a Twins stadium, how much extra money has education received in our state? That's right: NOTHING! Not a dime extra has gone to education as a result of our legislators pissing away plan after plan in an attempt to protect us from the evil Twins.

I tell you what. I would welcome a switch to use the money in the Hennepin County plan to fund education. Absolutely, take that money, take that 3 cents on every $20 and put it towards education. But you know what? Our wonderful elected leaders would rather do nothing. I know this because that is what they've done for the past 10 years. So given that choice, given the choice between inadequate funding for education and no new ballpark, or indadequate funding for education and building a new ballpark, I'll take the latter choice every time.

And not to belabor the point, why don't they tack on another 3 cents and do both? Why not? These two issues do not have to compete against each other, and in fact they really don't.

Secondly, Coleman brings out a literary allusion concerning the Bonfire of the Vanities and suggests that Minnesota is about to reach the pinnacle of decadence. Holy crap ... just because we are building a ballpark? It doesn't even make sense! There has been something like 30 other stadiums built in America in the last 20 years and I don't see any of those cities imploding. In fact, look at Minnesota in the last 50 years. We've built Met Stadium, the Target Center, the Mall of America, the Metrodome, the Xcel Energy Center ... all of these private places of business were built with some form of public assistance. And speaking of the Metrodome, the public paid for over 90% of that building. Has it been worth it? And Coleman's favorite building, the Xcel Energy Center, that was basically given to the Wild for a pittance. So, Nick, haven't we already reached Bonfire status? Or have all these buildings made the Twin Cities a better place to live?

It is just plain comical. Does anyone really believe the doom and gloom Coleman spits out over building a ballpark?

• Finally, I'd like to reprint a comment I received yesterday from "Grant" a long time reader of the Greet Machine and long time contributor. In fact, if it wasn't for Grant there would be no Voter's Guide. Anyway, Grant had this to say:

"I believe that it is inevitable that the Twins will eventually leave the Dome, either for a new stadium here, or to leave the Twin Cities (possibly contraction). I doubt Pohlad is going to wake up some day and pay for a stadium out of the goodness of his own heart.

Combine that inevitability with the size of the Twin Cities (15th largest media market according to the Nielsons), and the Twin Cities will become leverage for every small market team asking for a new stadium.

My belief is that we are either going to pay now for the Twins or later for a replacement team. It may take years, but it will happen (e.g. the Wild). We can bury our heads in the sand and pretend like the Twins will never leave, but that did not work out so well for Cleveland Browns fans, did it?

So what happens when we draw the replacement team? Is that stadium going to be free? Was the Xcel Center free? Did Cleveland 'win' by holding out and then building a stadium for an expansion team five years later?

I see us eventually paying for a stadium for baseball. It could be now for the Twins or later for an replacement team, but I think it will happen. Given that choice I would rather 'invest' in keeping the Twins."

How many cities have gone through this before? Cleveland (Browns), Houston (Oilers/Texans), Charlotte (Hornets/Bobcats), Washington DC (Senators/Nationals), Minnesota (Lakers/T-Wolves, North Stars/Wild) ... any that Grant and I are missing? Let's just put it this way, it will be cheaper to bite the bullet and do this deal now.

In closing, I am hearing that the votes are there to get out of the Tax Committee. If anyone else has anything to share I am all ears.

Posted by snackeru at April 19, 2006 8:22 AM | Stadiums 2006


Nice post today, and nice comments, Grant. Grant's thoughts are the most convincing to me. Realizing that I am a Twins fan and have a personal interest in a stadium, I don't need much convincing, but the concepts Grant presents should be fairly clear to most opponents.

Posted by: bjhess at April 19, 2006 9:09 AM

You're missing Kansas City (A's/Royals) and Seattle (Pilots/Mariners) just off the top of my head. Both those new teams got new stadiums built within 4 years of inception.

Posted by: Will Young at April 19, 2006 9:26 AM

Thanks Shane, Gollum was over the top today. I think Soucheray, Growe, and Sansevere all coming out in the last week in favor of the Hennepin County plan finally broke him.

What I thought was especially laughable was his shout out to Commissioner Koblick. Besides the ballpark, Coleman and Koblick have nothing in common. If the sales tax proposal was for education, early child care, health care, public transportation, environmental protection or any other of a myriad of issues that Coleman has championed in the past, Koblick would be voting against it in the name of protecting the public's wallet. She's one of those "just say no" politicians that only wants to spend more money on prisons.

Posted by: freealonzo at April 19, 2006 9:29 AM

You obviously know more about this than I do, but that column sounds to me like an indication that the pro-stadium people may be about to win. There is a long history of people, of all political stripes, saying irrational things when they see what they want slipping away from them.

Posted by: Jeff A at April 19, 2006 9:49 AM

When the Twins leave perhaps Coleman can be the champion of a new historical home for Prarie Home Companion, the real jewel of Minnesota. All of the kids can gather around and listen to Uncle Nick tell us about a time when Garrison Keillor said Ludefisk and we all chuckled a hearty chuckle, while we reminisced about the girls state hockey tournament or the Gophers womens basketball team that went to a final four.

Yes I am being sarcastic.

Coleman is an absolute joke -- the product of nepotism -- who is simply looking for his place as the next Maureen Dowd or Al Franken or Paul Krugman as the poet laureate of the angry left.

Posted by: J. Lichty at April 19, 2006 9:50 AM

Great response to Coleman. He is utterly clueless.

Posted by: Adam at April 19, 2006 9:50 AM

Everyone needs to read the 2001 Kansas City Federal Reserve Report on the benfits of stadiums. This report was used in the Nat's stadium debate. Their conclusion-
Quality-of-life benefits are rarely explicitly included in the debate on using public funds to attract and retain a major league sports franchise. Acknowledging that the main benefit from hosting a team comes from improved metro-area quality of life should help to value this contribution. Doing so does not require impact studies. Residents and elected officials who understand that the benefits of a sports team are the same sort that flow from parks, zoos, museums, and theater can decide on their own how much hosting a major league team is worth.


Posted by: FreeMinnesota at April 19, 2006 10:00 AM

I sent this link to a friend in Texas and his response was priceless:

"I love that the NCAA has told Minneapolis their dome is too much of a piece of crap to host any more Final Fours, which only take place over one weekend each year, yet the city has no problem leaving two professional franchises and a major college football team there to play, what, 95 home games?"

Posted by: Grant at April 19, 2006 10:05 AM

A few more: Milwaukee (Braves/Brewers), St. Louis (Cardinals/Rams) and Baltimore (Colts/Ravens)

Posted by: Grant at April 19, 2006 10:23 AM

What the Star Tribune giveth (GROW) the Star Tribune taketh away (Little Nicky).They can write
100 editorials and I'll never believe they are really sincere about keeping the Twins,if they think they can harm Pawlenty or Krinkie !!!

Posted by: jimj at April 19, 2006 1:43 PM

did you see this from Joe Soucherey today?

interesting for the not-so-obsessed stadium ponderer.

Posted by: Cheesehead's Wife at April 19, 2006 1:48 PM

If you can't get to the capitol today (WEDS)the
Tax Committee hearing is suppose to be on CH.17 at
3:00 P.M.

Posted by: jimj at April 19, 2006 2:01 PM

Wow, Nick Coleman just might be the best spokesperson for the stadium bill. Utterly hilarious commentary. I've read and written several articles about how education spending and spending on prisons are actually a reciprocal relationship...in other words in virtually every state as education funding goes up, prison funding goes down and vice versa. THAT is the true relationship. Stadia hardly enter into that equation.

Perhaps we should enlist Gollum and "symbolically" sacrifice children on the Rapid Park site, with TC pretending to withhold food and books from them in order to pass dollar bills to smiling Carl. Not to say there aren't reasonable arguments against the stadium financing concept, there certainly are. But this level of hyperbole is just funny, and yes, I agree with some of the above posters, it is the best indicator yet that the anti-stadium partisans are losing the battle. But with this group of whack jobs in the Tax Committee, one never knows until the fat lady sings...

If we just spent all the money we spend on wars, sports and other male ground acquisition pursuits, we could teach the world to sing and love and create and just....just....be. Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing? Cue the band....kum ba yah, mah Lord (or deity or mother Earth or Gaia or whatever you understand to be the creative life force) Kum ba yah....

Posted by: CosmoK at April 19, 2006 2:18 PM

I want some of what CosmoK is smoking! Giddy-up!

Posted by: GConstanza at April 19, 2006 4:30 PM

Why not just let baseball management shoulder 100% of the cost? This is nothing but a government subsidy of sports. If NWA needed a new facility, everyone would be saying, "Buy it yourself." Why should the Twins be any different?

Posted by: Brian D. at April 19, 2006 4:56 PM

Costanza...I'll see what I can do..Laughs.

Brian D. C'mon, sir. The state of Minnesota bailed out NWA on its repair facility to benefit da Iron Range, it bailed out Dayton's when there was a Dayton's (How'd that turn out by the way?), states and municipalities do Tax increment financing deals for new construction CONSTANTLY. This is the kind of attitude that makes me laughs. Do you folks understand capitalism? Big business gets breaks from the government so it employs people who then pay taxes back to the government. Obviously the Twins do not directly hire that many people, but consider the restaurants, bars, etc., plus the tremendous windfall MLB brings in tax revenue from player salaries both Twins players and opponents. These arguments are just silly. The Twins are a business like any other, begging for corporate handouts, like EVERY OTHER FREAKING BUSINESS ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH.

Grow up.

Posted by: CosmoK at April 19, 2006 5:47 PM

It's ironic to say the least that Brian D uses NWA as an example since the State of MN has heavily subsidized NWA: about 10 years ago so ago NWA threatened to leave the state and MN gave them massive subsidies. More recently all the improvements to the airport is a huge subsidy to NWA since they are literaaly the airport's primary tenant.

Brain D. should use 3M as an example. Then I will respond why you the difference between 3M and the Twins.

Posted by: freealonzo at April 19, 2006 5:48 PM

Actually CosmoK, your argument makes more sense if rearranged like this:

"These arguments are just silly:

...consider the restaurants, bars, etc., plus the tremendous windfall MLB brings in tax revenue from player salaries both Twins players and opponents.

This is the kind of attitude that makes me laugh."

Also enjoyed your exegesis on capitalism: "Do you folks understand capitalism? Big business gets breaks from the government so it employs people who then pay taxes back to the government."

Interesting, but not exactly what Adam Smith had in mind I don't believe. :)

The NWA subsidy is inapposite for lots of reasons. Unfortunately, not sure may of those reasons recommend a public subsidy for a professional sports stadium. Unless you are arguing against someone who believes government should never make public expenditures that also benefit a private business - and I suppose there are such people (Brian D?) - arguing that other businesses received benefits just begs the question of were the line should be drawn.

Posted by: David at April 19, 2006 9:16 PM

Coleman's a self-important toad - an intellectually dishonest toad at that (as anyone who's followed his "battles" with the Powerline guys knows) who makes the world more stupid simply by opening his mouth or putting words on paper.

He's also a perfect example of the "class envy" stadium opponent.

At least he's perfect at something.

Posted by: BD57 at April 19, 2006 9:56 PM

We have moved away from laissez-faire (spelling?) economics ala Adam Smith years ago, if in fact they ever existed! Almost every community gives breaks to businesses of some kind, whether or not this is right, whether or not Adam Smith would have approved. This seems to me to be basic economic development. Up here in the Forks, the city has given money (in the form of taxes paid by residents) and tax breaks to telemarketing firms, aeronautical firms, and the (mighty!) Grand Forks International Airport. I would argue that helping the Twins to build a stadium is the best kind of economic development, as there is a tangible benefit for the tax payers. They can go to games, watch them on television, and root for them. As a tax payer in Grand Forks does the money given to an aeronautics company to expand operations make any real positive impact in my life? Besides, David, we are talking about three lousy cents on a $20 purchase. Most people put that amount in penny jars at convenience stores.

Curt in Grand Forks

Posted by: Curt Hanson at April 20, 2006 8:58 AM

I haven't even read Nick Coleman, and to hear I'm all for prisons is quite a surprise given I've never voted on any.
Take a deep breath and deeper look. Hyperbole can be fun but the words you put in print...
Think for a minute. Please.

Posted by: The Commissioner Linda at April 21, 2006 12:23 AM

Fair enough. I retract my Commissioner Koblick-prison supporter statement (it was a studid quip anyway, Counties don't build prisons). I do, however, still stand behind the main thrust of my post which was that Nick Coleman and Commissioner Koblick have very little politically in common and in most cases Coleman would be taking the Commissioner to task for her views/votes.

Posted by: freealonzo at April 21, 2006 12:27 PM

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