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May 19, 2006

Sounds like the Twins bill is moving on!

I just got back to my desk. I'm going to have to rely on a couple of commenters but it sounds like the Twins bill (sans trasit) has finally been approved and is moving on. First we have a comment from an anonymous reader saying:

I just caught the end of the session, and they took a vote on some motion which I can only assume is to adopt the language presented by the Senate this morning which was basically the House bill. So I *think* it's through for final passage by the House and Senate! Kelly decided to recess the meeting rather than adjourn to leave open the possibility of reconvening if there were any questions about the final language of the bill. But for now, things look very good! Finstad was very happy at the end of the meeting.

I am guessing they recessed just to get all their ducks in a row, because then the illustrious "zooom" made this comment:

It appears to me that an agreement has been reached on an open air Twins Stadium.

Channel 17 is replaying the vote right now

Oh glorious day! Couple this fantastic news with this comment from Dean Johnson in Sid's column today:

But we will see how much power Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, has. He called again Thursday and assured me the Twins bill will pass.

Things are looking good people! Very good! I dare say my optimism is at an all time high! On to the floor of both the House and Senate, and then to the Governor's desk. Could it be? Could this finally be it? Keep thinking positive thoughts!

Posted by snackeru at May 19, 2006 10:47 AM | Stadiums 2006


MPR has a story up on their website right now, with the AP as their source. Click on my name to get to the story.

Posted by: Transic at May 19, 2006 11:13 AM

According to the AP story, Dan(n) Dobson is threatening legal action. Pretty sure a legal challenge will be thrown out, but delay is $$$.

Posted by: freealonzo at May 19, 2006 11:21 AM


Then the LAWSUITS start to stop it and there will be many.

This stadium will NEVER be built on taxpayer money.

Posted by: No stadiums at May 19, 2006 1:22 PM

... Dann Dobson needs to take his one tweed jacket to the cleaners.

things are looking very good folks.

:) can you feel it shane? that's what hell freezing over feels like!

Posted by: BT at May 19, 2006 1:30 PM

So, the people who don't want the government wasting taxpayer money are going to try and tie up this whole thing in the courts. I'm willing to be corrected on this point, but wouldn't a lengthy legal battle against the state cost taxpayer money?

I'm on higher-than-usual alert for the ironical lately, so again, I'm willing to be corrected.

Posted by: robotologist at May 19, 2006 1:33 PM

Any word on when the House and Senate will vote?

Posted by: BJ at May 19, 2006 1:48 PM

Uh, so Dean Johnson is a buddy of yours? Ask him how much he got from the Pohlad family in campaign contributions to do their dirty work for them, or check it out yourself:


Remember Mancur Olsen's logic of collective action argument: When a few people stand to benefit greatly from a measure that will hurt many people slightly, the small highly motivated group usually wins out.


Posted by: penny at May 19, 2006 2:03 PM

You people who don't want the stadium want the Twins to leave? That stadium brings revenue to the state. Maybe not immediately but eventually. I also find it ironic that these people would tyry to go to court If the state governemnt approves it then it will get built it has been talked to death for over 10 years it is time to get it done! There has been opposition but if they can't convince the state and they pass it I don't see who can go above them and stop it. I really don't get why people would want to lose the Twins which is almost gauranteed to happen without a new stadium.

Posted by: Nora at May 19, 2006 2:13 PM

Penny... sounds like sour grapes...and an empty threat... see you at the ballpark!!

Posted by: zooom at May 19, 2006 2:14 PM

Yeah bring it to court. It will get thrown out quicker then you can say "I'm a joyless twit". A Twins ballpark is good for the people of MN. For two seconds why don't you look past the fact that Pohlad benefits from this. The people win. A whole generation of Twins fans has grown up watching the game how it was NOT meant to be played. Thank goodness it now appears I will be bringing my kids to an outdoor professional baseball game in Minnesota for the first time in 30 years. This is a great day. Noone's going to rain on my parade. Squak all you want.

Posted by: BJ at May 19, 2006 2:17 PM

Nora, you are right... they are wrong. Don't sweat it... speaking of the small minority... that would be they who whine the loudest!!

Posted by: zooom at May 19, 2006 2:18 PM

I had never seen an outdoor professional baseball game until two years ago. I still have never seen one in the state of Minnesota. So this ballpark is for me and all the other Twins fans who've had to watch baseball in a blue football studio their whole life. Stop worrying about Carl Pohlad, there's a very good chance he won't see the opening of this ballpark anyway.

If you folks want to sue over this, I hope someone sues over the Guthrie theatre and every other similar funding that passed without a referendum. Plenty of us have never used the Guthrie, but we have better things to do then sit around being bitter about it and begrudging the people who do use it.

Posted by: David H at May 19, 2006 2:25 PM

Universally, economists know the costs to society as a whole from publicly subsidized sports facilities exceed any perceived benefits.

The benefits that do accrue go to team owners, a few businesses that will benefit from a new facility, property developers and hard-core fans. The cost will be borne by some millions of people who will pay higher taxes for decades.

Stadium deals also validate the arguments of Nobel Prize winner John Nash and other early game theorists whose work described how an organized entity — like a professional sports league — can bamboozle isolated and uncoordinated cities populated by a few nincompoops with the threat of moving beloved teams.

Stadium financing also validates the work of a more recent Nobel-winning game theorist, Thomas Schelling. He argued that perceived credibility of threats is key in negotiations. The threat of "if you don't build us a new stadium we will move to Paducah" is a hollow one. But it scares some nincompoops enough to mute any objections they have to being extorted.

Posted by: buster at May 19, 2006 2:44 PM

What's the status of the referendum at this point?

Count me among those who would love to see a new Twins stadium, but supports a referendum.

Posted by: Nick at May 19, 2006 2:48 PM

Oh, yes, this is such a joyous occasion. [sarcasm if you missed it]

I'm so happy that my "representatives" voted to allow Hennepin county to raise the sales tax without a referendum (in violation of state law).

I also find it telling that a majority of Hennepin County legislators opposed the stadium funding bill in the House.

I'm so happy I'll be paying for a stadium that will likely continue costing the state money. Cost over-runs are to be paid for by the state. Stadium deals keep getting more and more in favor of the owners and teams - do some research, there is little or nothing in it for the state. To grab a quick quote from the Taxpayers League of Minnesota: "Every serious economic study ever conducted has debunked the assertion that professional sports franchises make a serious contribution to economic activity at all. In fact, according to one of the most comprehensive studies available comparing similar cities with and without professional baseball teams, incomes are higher in cities without professional sports."

Posted by: Steve at May 19, 2006 2:49 PM

Hey Buster. . .

How does that song by the Scarecrow go? "If I only had a brain. . ."

Nice strawman.

The Northstars did leave. Have you ever seen a lake in Los Angeles? Where did the Lakers get their name? Have you ever heard of the Washington Sentators? They're now called the Twins. Don't you have some Legislator's house to picket at? :)

Posted by: Anonymous at May 19, 2006 2:54 PM

Didn't the Taxpayers League also propose buying everyone a Lexus instead of building that Boondoggle Light Rail Line?

[did you note MY sarcasm] fun.

Posted by: Anonymous at May 19, 2006 2:57 PM

I don't think a lawsuit would have merit. Remember, what they are passing is an exemption to the sales tax referendum requirement from a statute. This year's legislature has every right to alter a prior legislature's statutes. Arguing that it is bad idea for the legislature to grant an exemption and that it is illegal for the legislature to do so are two different things.

Personally, I think the sales tax referendum statute did its job. The statute prevented Hennepin County from imposing a sales tax without a referendum unless the state gave its blessing. My understanding is that before the statute, the state did not have any such protection. Hennepin County could have struck the deal, gotten the 4-3 vote from the commissioners and started building, all without a referendum. The statute created an additional hurdle for sports teams by forcing counties seeking to raise sales taxes without a referendum to bring their proposals to the capitol, air the proposals out in both houses and a litany of committees, and get a bi-partisan backing for the tax. The Twins simply cleared all of the legal hurdles. The statute served its purpose, even if the opponents are not happy with the results.

Legal challenges will not make any difference. Opponents could only stop construction with an injunction. Filing a lawsuit alone would not stop construction. To get an injunction, the opponents would have to prove that they are likely to win the lawsuit. As I mentioned, I don't see that happening because the legislature can overturn or carve out exceptions to any prior legislation, because they wrote it. Meanwhile, construction continues.

And yes, it seems hypocritical that people so worried about their pennies are willing to try to tie up the court system. The state or hennepin county would be one of the defendants, so all of those lawyer fees would come from taxpayer money.

Posted by: Grant at May 19, 2006 3:04 PM

Also, I may be overly cynical, but I think part of the reason that some Hennepin County reps voted against the proposal was because they didn't have to vote for the proposal for it to pass. Follow me here. If you were a rep that really wanted a ballpark in downtown Minneapolis but was afraid of the backlash from your constituents, what's the safest vote? No, right? Now imagine that you already knew the proposal was going to pass without your vote... Now what's the safest vote? I'd say the safest vote is still no, because you can proclaim your innocence to the stadium opponents at the next election, because, after all, you voted against the tax. Like I said, maybe I'm too cynical, but I didn't expect any Hennepin county legislators to vote for this because other legislators had already stuck their necks out. They already knew that the votes were there in the house because Sviggum had said so for weeks before that vote.

Posted by: Grant at May 19, 2006 3:15 PM

Hey Steve and Taxpayers League,

From US Census, 2003 Income by Households

Cities with 4 sports teams:
San Fran $57,833
Mpls. $42,010
Chicago $40,879
L.A. $40,733
NYC $39,937

Cities with no sports teams
Omaha $40,436
OK City $35,694
Tuscon $32,414
Memphis $32,315 (2003 was pre-NBA Grizzlies)

Posted by: freealonzo at May 19, 2006 3:27 PM

We've still got a little bit to go, but any politician stupid enough to change their vote from
for to against now will be risking a swift political death this fall !!! A few thoughts:
Grant,one of the oldest axioms in politics is that
"you never lose on a losing vote!" which means that voters who supported your stand on the losing
side of an issue, still like you because you supported their position (even though you lost)while the issue winners aren't as mad or negative
toward your stand because they got what they wanted ! Now,admit it everyone! Aren't you just a little less mad at Steve Kelley's posturing and
brinksmanship now that this bill has passed the
conference committee than you would have been if
we were still waiting through another evening of
unproductive hearings ?

Posted by: jimj at May 19, 2006 4:20 PM

Why do I get the feeling that "No stadiums", "Penny", "buster" and "Steve" are the same person??

I think Steve's study is strictly refuting claims that a stadium will "revitalize" a downtown neighborhood all by itself. Those numbers/arguments from the early 90's HAVE been refuted, but there are secondary benefits to having teams.

This is for the NFL, but I think you get the same idea with a baseball stadium:


In a study of 53 cities, the Fed report found that NFL "teams create value for residents" because NFL cities tend to have higher property values. In other words, people are willing to pay higher prices and higher rents in order to enjoy the NFL, regardless of whether they buy a ticket.

There's more, both pro and con stadiums. I'm not saying it's 100% air-tight and perfect correllations occur, but there is a "quality of life" with having a team.

Even if you don't believe that the Twins have any realistic options in terms of relocation or contraction.

This is a good day. :) A very good day indeed.

Posted by: Drake33 at May 19, 2006 4:20 PM

Another thought about the value of Pro sports teams: While I do tend to give some credence to
the Rolnick/academic study concept regarding opportunity spending.I myself have always enjoyed the fact that I can spend my money enjoying the TWINS or the VIKINGS,rather than living in OMAHA were I could visit the World HQ of
Berkshire-Hathaway or drive 100 miles or so to
watch the Nebraska Cornhuskers play in Lincoln.And
somebody help me out,what is the name of their
MINOR league baseball franchise?

Posted by: jimj at May 19, 2006 4:38 PM

Referendums don't work. Plain and simple. Nothing would ever get done if everything went to a referendum. People will almost always vote against anything that will raise their taxes. That's why we elect people to represent us. We would not have the MOA if it had gone to a referendum. That was a pretty bad idea wasn't it? And yes, the Twins leaving was a legitimate possibility. Baseball's patience has run out with Minneapolis. As a state we need to ask ourselves if professional sports are really important to us and if we want to be a "major league" state. If yes, we're going to have to contribute a minuscule amount of our tax dollars to the cause. If we don't, another city will. That new stadium is going to be a monument that we all can be proud of. (See Reusse's column today)

Posted by: BJ at May 19, 2006 4:39 PM

The state of Minnesota sued MLB to prevent contraction on the grouds that there were 'intangible benefits' to having the team that could not be paid off by the Twins no matter what the amount. We won that lawsuit. The judge agreed that you couldn't put a value on these intangible benefits such as hunderds of thousands of people lining the streets of Minneapolis for victory parades in '87 and '91. The arguement was that even though the Twins are technically a private business, they are in fact a quasi-public enterprise at the same time. That's what makes they and other pro sports teams different from other private businesses. Never mind that we do give other private businesses subsidies too.

You cannot sue on these grounds on the one hand, and on the other refuse to build a stadium on the grounds that the team is a private business and brings no benefits to the state. When Minnesota filed that lawsuit they were admitting that this arguement is not true.

Posted by: David Howe at May 19, 2006 5:23 PM

Who wants to get together on Saturday and watch the Twins and Brew Crew to celebrate a new Twins ballpark??? Click on my name if interested.

Posted by: freealonzo at May 19, 2006 9:10 PM

House and Senate have adjourned for the night. Marathon Saturday here we come!

Posted by: Transic at May 19, 2006 9:27 PM

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