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May 11, 2006

So close

• Friday morning, between 8:30 and 9:00, the conference committee will start. Watch it online, and keep us all informed on how it is going. There have been some positive developments which lead me to believe something will work out.

• First of all, Sid Hartman reported this morning:

Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, says he will meet with Pawlenty this morning and present some plans he believes the governor will like.

And why, you may ask, is this good news? Because we didn't hear anything about it. This means either a) the meeting was cancelled or b) it went reasonably well. No news is good news I say.

• Secondly, I was excited to read these comments from Steve Sviggum, who obviously is much closer to the situation than I am:

"My guess is that the committee will come up with a bill that's very close to the House's," Sviggum said. House members include the author of the Twins bill and the others were "very involved in the debate," Sviggum said.

This statement is much more positive than some of the other statements Sviggum has said since the Senate passed their bloated bill a few days ago. It leads me to believe that behind the scenes negotiations have been positive, and that the Senate and the House are willing to negotiate.

• And let's take a look at the conferees:

Senate conferees are: Sens. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins, chief author of the Senate combination bill; Don Betzold, DFL-Fridley, Senate author of the Vikings bill; Linda Higgins, DFL-Minneapolis; Sharon Marko, DFL-Cottage Grove; and Julie Rosen, R-Fairmount.

House conferees are: Reps. Brad Finstad, R-New Ulm, the Twins bill author; Barb Sykora, R-Excelsior; Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead; Neil Peterson, R-Bloomington; and Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis.

Did you catch that oddity in the Senate conferee list? Yes, Julie Rosen, a republican from Fairmount, is on the committee. Julie Rosen, by the way, voted NO on the Senate version of the Twins bill. This development proves a couple of things 1) I don't know what I'm talking about and 2) legislators that vote no on a bill that passes CAN be on the resulting conference committee. That is good news for this process.

Dean Johnson's appointment of Julie Rosen on the committee is what I would consider to be "throwing a bone" to the Republicans in the House and Senate. If this isn't indicative of Johnson's willingness to negotiate, I don't know what is. I wouldn't be surprised if Dean Johnson is looking for something in the bonding bill, or maybe even wiggle room with a possible Vikings bill. But needless to say, I am enthused by the appearance of a Republican on this committee. Very good news indeed.

On with the show!

• Finally, I got this press release from the New Ballpark Inc. people. If you are going to the game tomorrow, you might want to check it out:

To: All Media Outlets

From: New Ballpark Inc.

Event: “It’s Rally Cap Time;? a pre-game public rally on the Metrodome Plaza for a new Twins ballpark. Featuring former Twins; Tony Oliva, Dan Gladden & Tim Laudner.

When: 6:00 to 6:30p.m. Friday, May 12
** Please note PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES between innings of Friday’s Twins-White Sox game !

Where: Metrodome Plaza; The Plaza is located on Kirby Puckett Place on west side of the stadium.

New Ballpark Inc. is hosting a pre-game rally encouraging Minnesota baseball fans to show their support for a new outdoor stadium in Downtown Minneapolis. Fans are invited to the Metrodome Plaza to join former Twins Tony Oliva, Tim Laudner , Dan Gladden along with other personalities from the Twins broadcast team for a special pre-game rally to watch the easy steps on how to transform a baseball cap into a Rally Cap – and also learn details how fans can show support for a new Twins ballpark during the game. Friday night’s game against the defending World Champions is Dairy Queen Cap night; the first 20,000 fans going through the gates prior to the game will receive an adjustable Minnesota Twins cap.

After the Twins bat in the bottom of the 2nd inning, all fans will be asked to please stand and tip their “Rally Caps? to show their unified support for House File 2480, encouraging lawmakers to pass the Twins ballpark bill.

2006 is the 20th anniversary of the Rally Cap. The Rally Cap was conceived during the 1986 World Series when the New York Mets were playing the Boston Red Sox. The Mets were losing Game Six and already down 3 games to 2 in the series. In the seventh inning, something amazing happened; the Mets all started wearing their caps inside out while sitting in the dugout. Catching on, the fans also started to sport their caps inside out and called it the 'Rally Cap'." That unique symbolic act has become a baseball tradition to try and help ignite a rally in support of your team. The Mets’ “Rally Caps? help the team overcome big odds and succeed, just as Twins fans hope their rally will spark a win at the Capitol.

New Ballpark, Inc is a grassroots organization made up of business leaders whose goal is to find an acceptable public/private solution to the long festering ballpark dilemma in Minnesota.

• Finally, if you have any thoughts or insights, let us all know! Especially if you think I am being too positive about all of this. I blame spycake for that. His well reasoned rebuttals to almost all of my "flying off the handle" posts have finally calmed me down for good I think. Unless, of course, the conference committee goes poorly. Then you are going to see some true "freaking out." Later!

Posted by snackeru at May 11, 2006 9:00 PM | Stadiums 2006


I like the names on the list. There appears to be a lot of careful consideration to include a bipartisan face. Dean Johnson may have redeemed himself with naming Marko and Rosen (both seemingly pro-stadium). I hope they are willing to get the twins part of the bill done.

Posted by: Ryan at May 12, 2006 8:59 AM

Thanks for the props. I'm listening to the Conference Committee right now...

Also, I do have to say that the Vikings have been far less forthcoming about the details of their plan recently. Their own web site (and the "Minnesota Momentum" site) are just filled with the same propoganda and pictures, with very little in the way of actual documents and summaries related to the deal. (I was looking for info about non-football revenues at the new stadium -- apparently they all go to the Vikings too -- but I could only find this tidbit in the original news release with Anoka County.)

Posted by: spycake at May 12, 2006 9:47 AM

The conference committee NEEDS to concentrate on getting the Twins bill acceptable to the legislature and the governor. While I think there are good things in Senator Kelly's senate bill it is a killer as far as the Twins chances are concerned. Yes, it would be great to get this whole stadium (Twins, Gophers, and Vikings) done this legislative session. But for sure, we need to take care of the Twins. Let's get the house bill moving and keep the referendum out!!!

Posted by: Myron Peterson at May 12, 2006 10:37 AM

Since the Conference Committee is in recess (10:40 am), can anyone explain what has happened so far. Are they negotiating behind closed doors? Will we see any action today?

Posted by: freealonzo at May 12, 2006 10:41 AM

Anybody watch the committee meeting this AM and have a report? It's in recess right now, so all we've got is muzak and a side view of Steve Kelly chewing somebody's ear.

Posted by: N. Looper at May 12, 2006 10:42 AM

Yes, can anyone fill us in? I have been in a meeting all morning and have been unable to keep up at all.

Posted by: Shane at May 12, 2006 10:43 AM

I watched about 45 minutes. Pretty much all procedual stuff, reading through the bills- comparing the two. I didn't see much that is noteworthy as of yet.

Posted by: Ryan at May 12, 2006 11:16 AM

Sen. Julie Rosen is my state senator from Southern MN, she is very pro-Twins stadium (based on personal contact that I have had with her), and I am very encouraged by the fact that she is on the conf. committee.

Posted by: Brad at May 12, 2006 11:19 AM

Rybak is on now and doing a great job explaining why he does not support a referendum. He said that he just went through his own referendum in being re-elected, and he made it very clear to the voters that he would stand in support of the Twins stadium. If they didn't like it, they wouldn't have put him in office. Rybak also explained how the stadium would further stimulate the warehouse district because the entertainment infrastructure is already there and would only be expanded with a stadium.

Posted by: AW at May 12, 2006 11:36 AM

The committee is wrapping up listening to testimony from all involved parties... twins, hennepin county, minnapolis, etc etc. It is very interesting. The questions lobbed up by the committee members, they know they answer to. They are trying to debate their own version of the bill throught their questions and the responses they extract.

The enviroment seems cooperative, however you occasionally catch a glance or two that suggest otherwise

Posted by: zooom at May 12, 2006 12:21 PM

I watched about 45 minutes,too, Ryan. It was the
usual outline of the two bills(House and Senate versions) which took a lot longer than usual because they are so different. Also Shane I would
like to comment on tonight's "RALLY". While I obviously am glad it's happening it is another example of the Twins and stadium supporters "horse
and buggy" approach to P.R. vs the Vikings and the
Wilf's big budget 21st century methods! SID HARTMAN is right! If we don't get a bill passed
in the next 10 days the TWINS are history!

Posted by: jimj at May 12, 2006 12:23 PM

The conversations on the roof are also interesting. It is ironic that the outstate reps who don't want their constituents to pay for the stadium, are also the ones who are pushing a roof option.

I also have changed my mind on the roof. As I am outstate and originally wanted one, I see now that the planning for the ballpark is going to minimize the "cold minnesota" effects as much as possible. Rain happens at all the open air parks, and we have just been spoiled with the Dome the past 25 years.

Wow... did I say the Metrodome "spoiled" us??

Posted by: zooom at May 12, 2006 12:28 PM

I think the horse-and-buggy approach works better for the Twins now. After 10 years, people really don't want an in-your-face ad campaign and mountains of focus-group-friendly propaganda. The current Twins ballpark movement might finally have its first real significant "grassroots" effort behind it, and I think this has given the proposal an aire of legitimacy and acceptance. The Vikings obviously are still trying to get their proposal and "needs" out there, but eventually they too might benefit from switching gears (especially for an "outsider"/developer like Wilf).

Posted by: spycake at May 12, 2006 12:32 PM

Committee just adjourned. The announced plan is for them to get together Monday from 9-11am to hear details on the transit portion of the Senate Plan, and to hear modifications that Anoka County and the Vikings are making to their plan to make it more palatable for everyone. It just seems a waste... you would think all the details covered today should have been known by now by all committee members.

The good news is that all players involved seemed to genuinely want to build a stadium for the Twins. It will be interesting to find our who blinks first. I just hope ego's and partylines can be put aside just this one time!!

I am going to email my representatives once more and urge them to find a solution this time around.

Posted by: zooom at May 12, 2006 1:11 PM

Thank you spycake. I always know how to get you to
post; just say anything that you percieve as anti
DFL,anti McClatchy Press and now anything that critizes the anemic P.R and lobbying efforts of
the Twins on the ballpark! As for your statement
regarding "...focus-group-friendly propaganda."

Posted by: jimj at May 12, 2006 1:48 PM

Hi - Does anyone know if the conference committee livecast is archived, and how to access it? Would like to watch, but can't at work (IT limitations). Thanks

Posted by: htg at May 12, 2006 2:37 PM

To see todays session... http://ww3.house.leg.state.mn.us/htv/htv.asp

on the top of the page pull down on the publication tab and choose "daily sessions". The stadium debate file is listed there. You may have to choose "weekly sessions" if you try tomorrow.

Posted by: zooom at May 12, 2006 3:02 PM

Thanks much zooom

Posted by: htg at May 12, 2006 4:06 PM

Wow, jimj. You're awfully quick with the labels. Now I'm suddenly a Twins PR partisan?! That doesn't even make sense -- if I'm anti-stadium as you say, why would I bother defending the Twins? I enjoy the community here at Greet Machine, but honestly, it gets a little tiresome to be labeled something different by you everyday. I hope it's tongue in cheek, but it's awfully hard to tell. I don't know what kind of pleasure you derive from it, as I've never felt compelled to label you as anything. I just like to discuss issues here, and although we may sometimes disagree, I've always tried to be more than respectful.

My point earlier was that the ballpark battle has become a war of attrition. The Twins made some major PR mistakes early that were very difficult to recover from. I think a lot of people would be put off by a major PR push from them right now, whether they perceived it as propaganda or not. They came up with their best proposal yet last year, and since then they've pretty much let their bill do the talking (and supportive third parties like Greet Machine and New Ballpark Inc have helped immensely). And they're closer now to a stadium than they've ever been before.

Posted by: spycake at May 12, 2006 4:27 PM

The Star Tribune is often accused of being too 'pro-stadium' but its hard to accuse them of that when they conducted thier little poll when the stadium is finally close to happening.

It really does depend on how you ask the question. In theory, I think the owners should build thier own stadium too, but that's not reality and asking the question that way is pointless. The real question is, if we don't build the stadium, the Twins will leave Minnesota. Given that, are you in favor of this plan? I think the #'s would be very different.

Posted by: David Howe at May 14, 2006 10:44 AM

The Star Tribune is Pro-Ratings. If there is a subject that can continuously get their ratings up, they'll support it.

Sports are a selling point for them. They have a vested interest in keeping a team here, but they have a more vested interest in selling as many papers as possible NOW, and polls, and votes sells papers.

Posted by: drake33 at May 15, 2006 11:08 AM

Rybak bore false witness in his testimony then. RT Rybak used the stadium issue against his opponents Sharon Sayles Belton and Lisa McDonald. After he got elected in 2001, he reversed his position. When he was running for reelection in 2005, he deemphasized his stadium position - and his opponent, Peter McLaughlin was big stadium tax proponent on the Hennepin County board.

Posted by: Eva Young at May 15, 2006 7:58 PM

In the article you linked, Dane Smith took the spin hook, line and sinker.

Here's the numbers for the Hennepin County Plan:

38% approve, 55% disapprove, Outstate 40% approve, 48% disapprove and metro, 36% approve, and 61% disapprove.

Here's the numbers for the Metro wide sales transit/stadium tax:


45% approve
49% disapprove

Metro: 41% approve, 53% disapprove
Outstate: 50% approve, 42% disapprove.

The strib is leaving out crucial information in their spun article.

Posted by: Eva Young at May 15, 2006 8:20 PM

I read the comment wrong on RT Rybak.... on the RT Rybak issue, if he was only referring to his reelection, he was not lying - but he was definitely spinning things.

Posted by: Eva Young at May 15, 2006 8:23 PM

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