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April 20, 2006

Nothing unexpected

So, we all watched the Tax Committee hearing for the stadium bill yesterday. If you didn't see it, you can see all 4 hours and 10 minutes of it on the Tax Committee television archives. According to the Pioneer Press, 24 pro-stadium testimonies were heard last night with only 2 speakers in opposition, and at least one of those in opposition was against the plan because it didn't tax the entire state. All in all, I think the hearing went rather well.

However, you wouldn't know that if you only read Mark Kaszuba of the Star Tribune. I know he is trying to be impartial, I know that he is trying to give both sides of the story, but his article on the hearing makes it sound like Twins supporters were overwhelmed by well-reasoned and intelligent arguments from members of the Tax Committee. One of his examples of this was when Ron Erhardt challenged whether or not this bill would actually result in a stadium:

Some legislators Wednesday said they had trouble understanding how the Twins' latest proposal differed from others that had failed at the Legislature in the past.

"Why is this any better?" asked Rep. Ron Erhardt, R-Edina.

"If we pass this, this will get the job done," Finstad said.

But Rep. Phil Krinkie, R-Lino Lakes, the committee chairman and a formidable opponent of publicly subsidized stadiums, was unmoved. "As someone who was there, that's what they said then, too," he said.

This isn't entirely how it went. Erhardt said that he voted for the plan in 2002 and that it didn't result in a new stadium, so why should he think that this plan would actually result in a new ballpark? First of all, I don't think there was a legislator worth his or her salt in the House that actually thought the Ventura/Sausen arbitrage scheme of 2002 would actually result in a ballpark. In fact, even before the House voted on the 2002 bill the Twins came out and said it would not work. I remember corresponding with my own representative at the time, Jim Rhodes, who did not vote for the plan mainly because the Twins were against it. So for Erhardt to come out and say what he said demonstrates at worst a lack of intelligence and at best a very suspect memory. And as for Krinkie's comment ... well, we all know what Krinkie is up to.

The more I think I about it, the more obvious it becomes that Mark Kaszuba is anti-stadium and that all of his articles are tainted with this viewpoint. It is a shame, too. In other words, if you want a little more of an impartial view on the proceedings please read Aron Kahn of the Pioneer Press. At least you wouldn't know if he is for the stadium or against it. And if you really want an impartial view, what the heck are you doing reading this?

• Well, based on legislator's comments yesterday, correspondence I've had with the representatives, comments they've made to the papers, and comments I've received from you, dear reader, I think I can finally make a prediction concerning the House Tax committee. According to all of this, my count currently stands at 12 against, and 17 for the bill. Am I 100% confident in this? No, of course not. In fact, of Bernardy, Jaros, Nelson, Sieben ... one or two of these legislators could vote no. Even if that happened, though, it would still be 14 no and 15 yes. And check out this letter I received yesterday from a legislator on the Tax Committee who wishes to remain anonymous:

Shane:

I actually was undecided until yesterday. And I know better than to tell anyone I'm undecided or suffer the onslaught of "persuasion" from every quarter. Yesterday, for reasons that are too complex to get into here, I committed my vote to Finstad. From what I can see, and have seen, Finstad has actually had the Tax Committee votes for the bill for several weeks, but to his credit he's still working everyone over like it's neck and neck.

Does this mean we can sit back and revel in our upcoming good fortune? No. Don't get complacent. I still wouldn't be surprised one iota if the votes in the Tax Committee completely fell apart. Let's all keep at it.

• And now, I'd like to show you all some pictures I have received from a local architecture firm (Hammel, Green and Abrahamson) who have sent me some of their drawings of the new ballpark and the surrounding area. And watch out, some of these pictures are huge! I left them large so that you could see some of the nuances of the design:

A view of the ballpark from the inside looking across to the left field seats and the apartments overlooking the stadium.
I kind of like this picture. And who wouldn't want an apartment overlooking the ballpark?!?!? In the words of the Napoleon Dynamite, that would be "sweet."

The master view as seen from above
Please watch out for this one! it is a big one, but only because it has to be to give you a clearer picture of everything around the stadium. Note that the ballpark seems to be a little more north than the Ballpark Rally set up of last week.

3-D view of the ballpark with skyline.
Again, this one is extremely large. I love this picture. It gives a really clear view of where the ballpark will be situated and it gives a better view of what the ballpark will look like. Beautiful.

A picture of the development around the stadium
This is a picture of what the developers are calling the North Loop Village. Again, this development will surround the ballpark.

• Anyway, that's all I got for now. Special thanks to Hammel, Green, and Abrahamson architects for the pictures! Tonight should be pretty exciting and for once in the 10 years of this debate I am feeling pretty good about the expected outcome. Of course, if anyone has anything else to add, please feel free.

Posted by snackeru at April 20, 2006 8:18 AM | Stadiums 2006

Comments

I too noticed the difference between the Strib and St. Paul paper's recap of the hearing. One intriguing piece found only in the Strib however was that the ballpark opponents were practically nowhere to be found at Hennepin County or yesterday's hearing. Apparently they were all spending their time sending anti-ballpark missives to Greet Machine instead of appearing at the hearings. It will be extremely interesting to see the turnout at tonight's hearing.

My prediction is 16-13 in favor which will create a tidal wave of momentum for final passage (if it can get past Krinkie, it can get past anything)

Posted by: freealonzo at April 20, 2006 9:32 AM

Hilarious freealonzo. Yes, I was also surprised with the lack of opposition at the hearing yesterday. And I just gotta say to all the anti-stadium people out there reading this, of course you are more than welcome to comment here, but you are kind of wasting your time. In fact, I am kind of wasting my time even trying to convince anyone anymore. I think everyone's mind is already made up. And if you think we haven't heard every single one of these arguments before ... well, think again.

I like your prediction better freealonzo. I think 16-13 is probably how it will go down. Will it happen tonight? We'll see...

Posted by: Shane at April 20, 2006 9:53 AM

I think you may be a little over-sensitive about the Strib's reporting now, Shane. I though their article highlighted the lack of stadium opponents at the hearing, and also the continued reticence of certain key committee members. Are these not the key points to report from last night's hearing? If their language doesn't seem "pro-ballpark" enough, it's probably because they're trying to maintain some distance from the Strib editorial page, which has been vocally pro-ballpark for some time.

In any case, I hope the second hearing goes well for you again tonight.

Fun discussion topic for the Greet Machiners: which is worse, (1) the liberal who opposes the stadium because they believe our social priorities are out of whack, or (2) the conservative who opposes the stadium due to a moral objection to taxes and funding any public services? (I thought this hypothetical might create a more meaningful debate than a Coleman/Krinkie trash-fest!)

Posted by: spycake at April 20, 2006 10:55 AM

Hey,spycake,if you read some of my earlier posts you know that I feel the STRIB is totally disingenous when it comes to really supporting the
stadium. Shane correctly points out Kaszuba's (Mike is a seasoned reporter of at least 25 years and I believe he was a member of the STRIB's editorial board for a time) selective reporting on "the rest of the story" regarding the 2002 stadium bill. Also why doesn't Kaszuba report on the Anti-Stadium remarks of DFL MPLS.REPs.Davnie and Mullery ? ITS THE STRIB PROTECTING DFLers AGAIN !!

Posted by: jimj at April 20, 2006 11:31 AM

Great pictures Shane! It's a lock that it's going to happen. I look forward to seeing you throw out the first pitch at the new Greet Machine Field! Or if nothing else, at least score some suite tickets.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at April 20, 2006 11:32 AM

That's just what I was going to say Cheesehead!
THANK YOU SHANE FOR EVERYTHING !!!!!!!!

Posted by: jimj at April 20, 2006 11:40 AM

You really have to stretch to make this an anti-stadium article, though. You have to understand, it's difficult for Kaszuba to reference the specific 2002 bill in this case because most of the Strib's readership will not recall that bill or its particulars, and it would likely take an extra couple paragraphs to explain it, but they certainly know there is a history of proposals and bills which haven't worked out in the past.

We enterprising readers of the Greet Machine, of course, know much better and can elaborate on the full history of stadium proposals any time we want, but Kaszuba has a much different audience (and medium) to work with. I know he had an earlier article questioning some "Twinsville" connections, but even that was pretty mild overall in a relatively slow stadium news time, and there is nothing else I can recall from the Strib news department that has reeked of anti-stadium bias.

If we approach this expecting "selective reporting" that's what you'll see, but if you look at it honestly, these were relatively minor editorial decisions. We'll see tomorrow if the Strib gives Krinkie and Lenczewski a bully pulpit for their anti-stadium views.

Posted by: spycake at April 20, 2006 1:16 PM

By the way, Shane, thanks for the new pictures. Will Hammel, Green and Abrahamson have anything to do with the stadium design, or are they only involved in the surrounding development? I really hope there is some local involvement in the design process and it's not just an HOK template...

Posted by: spycake at April 20, 2006 1:19 PM

Too bad that there is no economic development occuring with the stadium's close proximity to Block E. Nope, no economic development at all.

Curt in Grand Forks

Posted by: Curt Hanson at April 20, 2006 4:24 PM

When do the expect to vote on the bill? Tonight?

Posted by: joey at April 20, 2006 4:40 PM

I would doubt that they would bring ballpark opponents to a hearing then vote for the ballpark right in front of them. If they vote tonight it goes down. If they vote on Friday it will pass.

Posted by: freealonzo at April 20, 2006 6:55 PM

Based on your photos above, I'm concerned about tailgating options at the new stadium. Another trackback for you, Greet Machine.

Posted by: bjhess at May 23, 2006 7:16 AM

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