January 24, 2007
The Taxes Committee is to blame
Although I haven't been able to figure out the exact legislator who put in the $90 million limit for the Twins ballpark land and infrastructure, I have been able to locate its source: Krinke's Taxes Committee. In fact, I actually documented it when it happened (Friday April 21, 2006):
One of the amendments on the bill does appear to be somewhat problematic. According to the Pioneer Press:
"The Taxes Committee considered several amendments Friday in a hearing that was far more sedate than a boisterous Thursday meeting in Bloomington, where stadium proponents and opponents made their voices heard.
The committee passed one amendment capping Hennepin County's infrastructure spending to $90 million."
My opinion is that this is bad. But I'm going to ask around to get the straight skinny. From what I've read, though, the infrastructure costs are probably higher than $90 million. We'll see.
Well, I was half way right. It is definitely a problem, and the problem seems to be focusing on the purchase of the land, not the infrastructure (at least today). Putting more money aside for the land, though, will definitely impact the infrastructure around the park. It is my hope, however, that they just bit the bullet and get the ballpark built. Maybe some of the infrastructure needs that are pushed to the curb now can be taken care of after the park is built. The bill does require the County and the Twins to set aside money yearly for improvements. Maybe this money can be used for purposes of infrastructure.
Back to the Taxes Committee. Even though it won't matter much, I want to know what anti-stadium legislator put this crappy amendment into the bill. Was it Krinke? Was it Erhardt? Was it Lenczewski? The meeting minutes do not say. But I can imagine they are pretty happy with themselves right now.
I am optimistic at this point though. A Hennepin County judge has determined the ballpark is for "public purpose" which allows for a "quick take" of the land. Barring some unforseen problems, the County could have the title to the land by the end of the month. Again, the only difficulty with this arrangement is the continuing negotiations between the land owners and the County for the extra compensation. It sounds like the land will initially be purchased for $13.35 million (or $13.5?) and that Land Partners II is definitely expecting something more to come from the condemnation process. At this point, I think it will be interesting to find out what infrastructure need will be pushed aside to make sure the County has the extra funds/land necessary to finish the purchase.
Posted by snackeru at January 24, 2007 7:45 AM
I may be way off base on this, but can the County save infrastructure money by NOT extending the Light Rail line to the ballpark? From what I understand, extending the line may create additional problems anyway due to the lack of space. Couldn't the line be kept where it is today because it is already such a short walk to the location of the new park? Minnesotans need the excercise anyway. For all I know, the money earmarked to extend the Light Rail is not even included in the $90 million. I do know, however, that this issue is getting tiresome, and they need to start building the ballpark.
Posted by: Jeff T. at January 24, 2007 11:23 AM
Im pretty sure they already started extending the light rail.
Posted by: MOJO at January 24, 2007 11:31 AM
I don't think not extending the light rail is a realistic option. One of the attractive options of this site is having a transit hub where all lightrail lines meet, along with the Northstar line.
Regarding the space constraint, they are moving the outside wall of the stadium in five feet to provide more room for the lightrail platform.
Posted by: Aaron at January 24, 2007 12:55 PM
I'm pretty sure the light rail extension is paid for from Northstar funds, not ballpark funds.
Posted by: Alex at January 25, 2007 7:38 AM
It's sad that at this late stage in the game Twins fans have to keep their fingers crossed to finally see this dream come to fruition. It seems things such as this are never done easily in this state. Light rail was a drama for years and people have embraced it. The ballpark saga is turning out to be similar.
Posted by: mullen at January 25, 2007 11:06 AM
You're so right Mullen!! And can you imagine the drama which will be created when the Vikings stadium is up for debate at the capitol?? If Hennepin Cty is involved at all, Penny Steele will be up for an Oscar...Cue the tears and vallium Penny!
Posted by: kevin in az at January 25, 2007 6:04 PM
OK - so this is actually a comment on "Links of the Day" but I didn't have anywhere else to put it. I got a 26 on the "Smart or Stoopid" IQ test.
Posted by: Mark at January 26, 2007 2:14 PM
Woo hoo! Hey Mark I got a 27! Man that clock was freaking me out.
Posted by: freealonzo at January 26, 2007 3:35 PM
Well, you guys beat me. I only got 25.
And thanks for joining in on the discussion mullen! I have confidence now that everything will work out. It may not have the best infrastructure around it, but we will have a ballpark.
Posted by: Shane at January 26, 2007 3:38 PM
Mark your calendar Shane!!! Feb 15 is the date that the stadium design will be presented to the HC board...I guess final approval is 10 days or so after that...Let's hope it's not ugly.
Posted by: kevin in az at January 26, 2007 5:19 PM
This blog has been a great source of information for a ballpark obsessed rube like me. Thanks for getting to the bottom of this land aquisition issue, Shane. Can't wait to see the schematics and model.
I think the county will be putting them on display in the government center after the board presentation on the 15th.
Posted by: mullen at January 26, 2007 7:34 PM
Hey, did anyone else go to TwinsFest?
I saw that the "Smell 'em" guys are back with a new shirt design this year, and hats, too!
Also saw some pretty keen slogans promoting the new ballpark on the staff shirts. I'm not sure which I liked better:
"Take home a souvenir sunburn" or "Bring on the farmer's tan"
Posted by: Mark at January 27, 2007 9:31 PM
I'm really anxious to see what it the ballpark looks like...Let's just hope it's not as hideous as the previous 2 stadiums we've built..esp the Met...I could never understand the "Save the Met" people...Not that I was advocating for a horrible Dome stadium, but thank god they tore down the old bitch. That being said, MN should have kept everything outdoors.
Posted by: kevin in az at January 28, 2007 7:55 PM
I wanted to let you all know that Bruce Lambrecht, from Land Partners, was considerate enough to respond to my letter from last week, and exchange a few emails with me about this situation.
He couldn't share much, considering the legal proceedings, but he outlined a little bit of history for me, and told me that he and his company are doing what they can to get this resolved. It sounds as though there is a way forward, despite the issues that have come out in the newspaper.
I appreciated him taking the time to explain his position to me. I expressed my (our) frustration with the issue and he seemed to understand.
Posted by: Derek Robertson at January 29, 2007 4:37 PM
Thanks Derek! This is very good news to read!
Posted by: Shane at January 30, 2007 10:31 AM
go ahead and cook up conspiracy theories about the source of the $90 million cap on infrastructure, but at the end of the session, it survived in the final bill, and our fake-conservative governor signed off on it.
How dare governmental entities attempt to put limits on wasteful spending? What the heck are they thinking?
Posted by: Mark at February 8, 2007 11:36 PM
I got 26 too on the IQ test.
Posted by: Patrick at April 21, 2007 10:03 AM