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February 7, 2007

I am a little flummoxed

UPDATE: I'm mulling all of this over. My gut reaction is to start assigning blame and then write a slash and burn post that will lay waste to everyone involved. But I'd like to be more thoughtful than that. Let's just put it this way: I am becoming more and more of a Gopher fan everyday. Stay tuned. Later.

UPDATE: For a more optimistic take on all of this, please check out Freealonzo's Lost Forest After Dark and more specifically his post Twins Ballpark Woes(?). Good stuff. Also, the comments below have some very interesting thoughts on this situation.

For those of you that are new to the Greet Machine, here is a little history. I started this blog on a server in my basement in November 2003. I started it because I was frustrated with the lack of stadium news in the local newspapers, and I was upset that the Twins Geek wouldn't write about it more. Seriously. I used to forward the Twins Geek what I thought was some pretty good information, and he would never use it! I quickly found out that not all Twins fans care about the stadium as much as I do. In fact, I was surprised to find that the average Twins fan doesn't care about the stadium at all. Stadium talk to most Twins fans is like an annoying mosquito. Most Twins fans think it will all just work out.

For three years I have been writing this blog because I disagree. I thought it was important to get involved. I wrote almost every day about the Twins stadium and gave commentary on what I thought was happening. Based on questions from readers, I put together what became known as the Greet Machine Voters' Guide. This guide listed out every legislator in the Minnesota House of Representatives and how I thought that legislator would vote if a stadium bill ever reached the floor of the House. If you click on the link above you can still see my predictions if you look at the source code of the file.

This Voters Guide proved to be amazingly accurate. More accurate than I ever thought possible. I have been told that it gave many people involved hope and confidence that the votes were actually there. In more tangible terms, though, the Voters Guide put me in touch with a lot of people involved in the process. People in government and others working almost full time to make a new Twins ballpark a reality started to correspond with me. These people began to share information with me, and I in turn shared this information on the Greet Machine. We all had a common goal: we all wanted a new Twins ballpark.

When the legislature passed the bill, we all celebrated. It was a very fun time.

I don't tell you all of this to "toot my own horn." I just want to point out that I have somewhat of a history with this topic. Stadiums in Minnesota are my bread and butter. The topic has become my hobby.

If you've been following the Greet Machine lately you know that there has been a bump in the road. In fact, I have to admit that recent developments have me a little flummoxed. Let me make one thing clear, though, a ballpark will be built. Money is being collected for this purpose. Increasingly the questions are becoming not if, but when and where. The land purchase is a real obstacle and it is not something that will easily rectify itself.

I don't want to sound like a broken record, but Land Partners II wants at least what was agreed upon in 2004 (cash and a land swap), and Hennepin County does not have the money or resources to make it happen. It is clear this is not as simple as sitting down at a table and just "working it out."

In fact, I've heard that Hennepin County is currently preparing amendments to bring to the legislature that will allow them to change the site. I know some of you don't believe me. Heck, even I hope I am wrong. The Rapid Park site has some great aspects to it, namely all the transportation possibilities in the area. But it doesn't appear to be working out.

The City Pages posted a great article on the topic today. It provided some great context to the current land acquisition problems and spelled out more clearly just what is at stake in all of this. What it didn't mention, though, is the possibility of the County building the ballpark somewhere else.

So, I asked Rich Pogin this question. Rich Pogin is the spokesperson for Land Partners II. I asked him if he had heard the County is preparing amendments to change the site. This is his reply:

Shane I did here that from a clip on Sid Hartman's radio program. Let me know if you want us to email you the clip. Regarding our position on this, we see it as good news. This is America where you have freedom of choice and that's what makes this country great. If there are practical alternatives, not only should the County and the Twins pursue them I believe they are obligated to pursue them. I see this a good news for our investors and Twins fans.

I expect the County to drop their Minneapolis ballpark effort by the end of this month. I expect they will attempt to blame the cancellation of their effort on "the greedy land owners" rather then face up to the facts that the legislation is flawed. I presume that when they go back and ask for site unspecific language they will request that the land can
be acquired at "fair market value via eminent domain."

As the Twins Geek would say, "Blink blink." Did I read that correctly? If this is accurate, and not a counter-bluff, we are definitely a couple of years off on our 2010 date with outdoor baseball.

People, I honestly don't know what to think anymore. Like you, all I want is a ballpark. Sadly, however, I'm not sure I am helping in this process anymore. I like the people at Land Partners II. I think they are justified in their demands. I like the people at the County. I also think they are justified in their offer of $13.5 million. That is all they have. It would seem that the County has decided since they don't have enough money that they will start looking around for a different site. Obviously this is a dangerous proposition because who knows what will happen when they go back to the legislature. I'm still unsure how I feel about this. I guess I am still hoping that when Randy Johnson says there is a 50/50 chance the Rapid Park site will work out there is still a chance we won't have to worry about this.

Before I start just rambling I will wrap up by saying again that the County is currently collecting a large amount of tax money for the purpose of building a ballpark. A ballpark will be built. I think ...

I wish it could be at the Rapid Park site, but I will withhold judgment on other possible sites until we hear for certain that new sites are being considered, and until we hear where those sites are. Maybe there is a site out there that will make more sense. All we can do is wait and see.

Posted by snackeru at February 7, 2007 9:22 PM

Comments

Shane, those of us who've read your blog and contributed our comments know that you're by far the stadium guru of Minnesota. I know you're a very mild-mannered individual, which is probably why you've been so successful. I'm sure you replied to Mr. Pogin with a nice, tactful, political resopns. Mine would go something like this......With all due respect Mr. Pogin, you're a moron!!! If you think it's in the landowners' best interest that HC shop around and find other sites and build the park somewhere else, your days are numbered as the leader of this group of land thugs. If I was an investor and I heard the leader of my group say this, I would be incensed! This is absolute genius!! Maybe he'll run for office too, he's obviously got da smarts dontcha know!!!!

I hope HC finds a new site with more room...and LP2 can continue to hold onto a piece of blight next to a garbage burner...hmmmm, yeah, that's where i'd want to build my new condo....WHATEVER!

Posted by: kevin in az at February 7, 2007 11:26 PM

Yawnnnnnn, oh, did Rich Pogin say or write something smarmy and condescending? What wonderful people these men are turning out to be. Didn't play with the process at all. Nah, they we're honestly lobbying in good faith to have the ballpark sited there. What decent people....

Posted by: mullen at February 8, 2007 12:08 AM

and i forgot to mention that when the twins leave the state for lack of a ballpark deal, (there is zero chance in hell the planets will align again for this to pass the legislature) we can all park our cars at rapid park for a tailgate party in honor of the land partners II "powerbrokers" who made it all possible.

Posted by: mullen at February 8, 2007 12:12 AM

Shane,

Thanks for continuing to be a voice of reason during this whole debacle. It is amazing how we Minnesotans are so good at complaining about our current stadium and the competitive disadvantage it puts the Twins and Viking in... yet we bury our heads in the sand and refuse to do anything about it.
You got us all stirred up last summer, and I truly believe a portion of the stadium bill success must be credited to your efforts on this website.
I became active in the lobbying efforts and was surprised how easy it was to be heard by my local legislators.
Please... continue to be the voice... hold these clowns accountable for their misdeeds. We, the Minnesota general public, will not jump in the fray until the 11th hour.
We are the same people who complain about Walmart threatening the lively-hood of our small town business, yet we welcome them into our communities and then shop at Walmart because it is convenient to us personally.
Alas,it is not convenient to raise our voices about the stadium right now, so continue to do the work for us Shane.
Thanks for keeping us posted on a regular basis.

Posted by: zooomx at February 8, 2007 6:33 AM

Shane, I also want to thank you for this blog. It has been a great source of information, and you have always come accross as level-headed on the issue (but always on the right side.)

Regarding the switching sites, I have to believe this is posturing on both sides. The statement by Pogin makes no sense, other then it is his attempt to counter the county's new 'leverage'.

More then anything, I cannot believe the Twins will let this happen. Switching sites? Going back to the legisluature? Are you kidding me? They know better!

If they attempt to ammend this legislation and switch sites, it will delay the construction by at least two years. Assuming only a moderate rate of inflation, the cost of the stadium will likely go up at least $60 and possibly as much as $100 million. The Twins will be expected to cover at least thier current % of is (1/3), or $20-33 million, or possibly the whole increase. They will also be robbed of two years of extra revenue in thier new stadium or about $40 million. So, conservative math suggests that switching sites at this point will cost the Twins somewhere between $60-$140 million dollars.

This assumes that the legislature will even consider passing an ammendment for this. One of the reasons it passed last year was stadium fatigue. People were tired of the issue and wanted it to go away. Now, it's back the very next year? I think alot of the pro-stadium legislators will be very angry, and the John Marty's will be as ready to fight as ever. I don't think it would pass this year, to be sure. So you might be talking a 3-year delay.

So, since we know this is going to cost the Twins at least $60 million, and possibly several times that amount, they simply cannot allow this to happen. Even if the Land Partners are asking for someting obscene like $50 million for the land, the Twins would still have no choice but to simply swallow hard and cut a check. The county truly can't negotiate, they are blocked by the legislation. But the Twins can, and they must. The Pohlads are alot of things, but one thing they are not, is stupid with money.

Posted by: David Howe at February 8, 2007 7:54 AM

From Charley Walter's column today:

"Despite land acquisition controversy, the Twins will end up getting their new ballpark on the planned site in downtown Minneapolis. But if a deal were to fall through, don't think St. Paul wouldn't try to bring the club across the Mississippi River."

One, what do he and Mike Max, who said something similar a couple weeks ago know and who are they talking to?

Two, there is zero chance, i repeat, zero chance, a twins bill will survive the gauntlet that is the state legislature. And we know from experience that anything sited in st. paul will require state money, which is dead on arrival.

It has to get done this year, on this site, come on guys, let's get this done.

Posted by: mullen at February 8, 2007 8:23 AM

It's all a big game of chicken these guys are playing. LP2 thinks the county will give into their demands else make the Twins go back to the Legislature (which as everyone says the Twins don't want to do). The County thinks LP2 doesn't want to face the wrath of the public if the deal falls through.

It's all about who's going to swerve first.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at February 8, 2007 9:03 AM

Well the last few posters stole a lot of my thunder but I agree, little chance the Twins ballpark is NOT built at Rapid Park. For more of my thoughts on this issue, click on my name

Posted by: Freealonzo at February 8, 2007 9:11 AM

One thing that bugs me about this whole deal. Where are Pawlenty and our state senators and representatives?? Pawlenty essentially took credit for getting the bill passed, which I feel got him re-elected. Where is his leadership now?? Doesn't he have an obligation to step in and make this work? I know pundits will say it is the county's problem, but it is not. The state spearheaded the push and needs to accept responsibility to finish the job.
I am going to contact our governor and remind him of my expectations on this topic. I encourage others to do the same.

Posted by: zooomx at February 8, 2007 11:04 AM

and the governor is close to the principals of LP II. it's frustrating because the twins are climbing so much in popularity, while the vikings are going the opposite direction. i'd hoped by this time twins fans biggest worry would've been how the starting rotation will fill out, or getting truly excited over the balpark renderings coming out next week and what views there will be from seat locations. but no, this is minnesota, and we're back to money and men in suits and possibly learning the names of committee heads in the legislature. i want the legislature to be in the rear view mirror.

we're getting posture and lawyer speak, wake me when it's over....

Posted by: mullen at February 8, 2007 11:50 AM

All I can do is commiserate a bit and hope things work out for you guys. It was a long hard battle to put Miller Park up, but I think most people in the city feel it was worth it in the end... so far, that is.

Posted by: Vicki at February 8, 2007 12:37 PM

I know Shane is trying to be balanced in his coverage of this saga and I respect that, but if the Rapid Park site falls through, I'm sticking the blame solely on LP II.

Others have mentioned the cheerleading role they played in getting the ballpark deal done and I was one of those who drank their Kool-Aid along the way, even going so far as to buy one of those "Twinsville" shirts they were hawking at one point.

If Pogin and the LP II folks screw this up, I think all of us who were as naive as I was should have a gathering at Rapid Park to have a ceremonial burning of whatever "Twinsville" memorabilia we have.

Posted by: Mark at February 8, 2007 1:10 PM

1) A huuuge shout out to Shane for his work on this subject. Greet Machine, was (and still is) a near daily stop for this ex-pat Minnesotan who still loves the Twins. This blog transcended mere reporting into actually being a major part of the landscape - and it is my belief the straw that broke the camel's back of the stadium haters. Thanks again Shane.

2) I disagree with Zoomx that this is Pawlenty's problem. The county and the Twins crafted this legislation and it up to them to fix it. I disagree with Alonzo. Bringing this back to the state politicians would be the worst idea since Israel decided to bring Yassir Arafat out of exile back into Israel. It would completely move the goalposts and open this thing up again to obstuctionism from the Krinkie Krew, who after being given their last rites, would be resurrected to torpedo this whole project.

3) The eminent domain proceedings will favor the County and will screw the landowner as such proceedings nearly universially do. Land Partners does not hold the card here - and they are at the mercy of the court system, that is why they are posturing this way. I do not blame land partners for this fiasco, but certainly they and the county should have had the forsight to have resolved this issue once the original option deal expired - shame on both of them. I cannot quite figure out what the strategic value for doing so would have been -- possibly, Land Partners thought that if they bill passed without an agreement on the land, they would have more leverage, and maybe the County thought that they always had eminent domain on their side and could then lowball Land Partners. The county will get the land without the land swap - which parcels it can sell to offset any slight increase in cost for the rapid park site.

Whatver the case may be, I think Land Partners will come out the loser on this, making the stadium proponent in me cheer, but the preoprety rights/free marketeer in me cringe.

Posted by: jlichty at February 8, 2007 1:55 PM

jlichty... I truly hope you are correct on this.

Also, I did not intend to lay it all on Pawlenty. He, however, did push lawmakers and used his political clout to get a bill through. He also, made a bill deal of signing the bill at the dome, in Twins attire, basically taking the credit for the bill passing.
I just wish he would speak up on this issue and at least publicly push all parties to figure it out soon.

Posted by: zooomx at February 8, 2007 2:02 PM

The county and the twins didn't totally craft this legislation. Like any bill, it was disected and amended as it made its way through committees, some of which headed by vocal stadium opponents. The county and twins didn't push for the land acquisition and infrastructure spending cap. The county and twins thought they had a "willing seller". I think they still have that, but it's the people's money the county is playing with. They're offering twice what the land is worth.

Posted by: mullen2k at February 8, 2007 2:34 PM

I hope this all falls apart. Financing the construction of buildings to benefit private investors is not a proper role of government.

If somebody ever dared to raise the gas tax to fix the roads, I'd be all for it. Buildings roads is part of governments role. Why is that difficult, but supposedly 'conservative' politicians can levy a 30 year tax on 1/4 of the state's population, and not blink an eye?

Posted by: Mark at February 8, 2007 6:28 PM

If this goes back to the legislature this will be harder to pass. After all, Steve Kelley lost his bid for governor and AG over the stadium. (Kelley underperformed in Hennepin County in the AG primary - and remember, he had DFL endorsement, which should have helped him. Why do you think he underperformed in Hennepin County?) Terri Bonoff nearly lost her seat over her stadium vote. (Other western burb dems were doing much better, and the DFL sunk tons of money into that race).

I asked Terri whether she'd gotten any help from Twins fans pushing for taxpayers to pay for the stadium on her campaign, and she did not.

The judge on this case was absolutely right - there's no good reason for the county not to have negotiated the land price in 2006, rather than after the election in 2007.

Pawlenty signed the bill he did, because he wanted to tax it to Minneapolis - and the spineless Minneapolis legislators - like Linda Higgins, didn't fight hard enough to get the entire metro area to pay this tax. Take a look at how the Governor is now opposing the Vikings stadium.

People who oppose this deal aren't "anti-stadium". The people who oppose this, believe this is bad tax policy, and not an appropriate use of government resources. I'd be very much in support of a privately funded stadium.

Posted by: Eva Young at February 8, 2007 11:04 PM

Zoomx sez:

'One thing that bugs me about this whole deal. Where are Pawlenty and our state senators and representatives?? Pawlenty essentially took credit for getting the bill passed, which I feel got him re-elected. Where is his leadership now?? Doesn't he have an obligation to step in and make this work? I know pundits will say it is the county's problem, but it is not. The state spearheaded the push and needs to accept responsibility to finish the job.'

Wrong, wrong and wrong. You're pretty naive about how our governor's mind works.

The only reason he supported this swindle is because he didn't have to actually dirty his hands with the details, but could look heroic at the end with minimal political cost. People who live in Minneapolis are not the people who vote for him. He would have never supported a sales tax in Eagan.

The state has no obligation to make this work (nor does the county, for that matter....). This isn't the business of government. The only thing the legislature did was give Hennepin County permission to levy a local option sales tax with no referendum (allowing an exception to the law).

The State of Minnesota didn't want their fingerprints on this deal. Even Brad Finstad was quoted in the Strib saying he wouldn't help with another legislative effort. These people might have survived the 06 election, but they learned some lessons along the way.

Posted by: Mark at February 8, 2007 11:47 PM

I've been pro-stadium from day one, but as far as I'm concerned, the Twins and Hennepin County should be forced to handle this on their own. They have no right to go back to the legislature. How can they be so stupid as to not work out these huge details ahead of time? When will the buffoonery end? Only in Minnesota.

Posted by: Bruce at February 9, 2007 1:11 AM

In all Seriousness, hears an email I sent to Shart... (teehee his web address still makes me laugh) err.. I mean Sid Hartman, I hope his doomsday sponge for a bains obsorbs these words very well:

"First of all, thanks for ruining my New Years' Eve
with your chicken little column.
Secondly, on May 21st, I was glad to see this 10
Year-old Nightmare over! But no, you just had to ruin
my New Years Eve, with your little "The Sky Is
Falling" Column, and it's back to the old drawing
board again! Prior to the passage of the Twins bill
on May 21st, I pressed my state legislators, a Rep.
and State Senator who'm I don't care for in the least
BTW, begging them to finally get this thing done, and
of course both of them did!
You tell your "close and personal friends" with the
Hennepin County Comissioners, LP II And the Twins that
if this has to go back to the State Legislature, I'm
gonna press my state reps again, but THIS TIME, I"M
GONNA URGE THEM TO VOTE NO!
It's the current plan or nothing! Tell all your
"friends" in all parties to get their heads on
straight, because I'm NOT gonna urge my Legislators to
vote for it again!
IS THAT CLEAR?!"

So that's my official position on the subject matter now, it's the current way, or the highway.. 10 years is way to long, and I"M SICK AND TIRED OF THIS!

Posted by: Col. Sanders at February 9, 2007 1:52 AM

In all Seriousness, hears an email I sent to Shart... (teehee his web address still makes me laugh) err.. I mean Sid Hartman, I hope his doomsday sponge for a bains obsorbs these words very well:

"First of all, thanks for ruining my New Years' Eve
with your chicken little column.
Secondly, on May 21st, I was glad to see this 10
Year-old Nightmare over! But no, you just had to ruin
my New Years Eve, with your little "The Sky Is
Falling" Column, and it's back to the old drawing
board again! Prior to the passage of the Twins bill
on May 21st, I pressed my state legislators, a Rep.
and State Senator who'm I don't care for in the least
BTW, begging them to finally get this thing done, and
of course both of them did!
You tell your "close and personal friends" with the
Hennepin County Comissioners, LP II And the Twins that
if this has to go back to the State Legislature, I'm
gonna press my state reps again, but THIS TIME, I"M
GONNA URGE THEM TO VOTE NO!
It's the current plan or nothing! Tell all your
"friends" in all parties to get their heads on
straight, because I'm NOT gonna urge my Legislators to
vote for it again!
IS THAT CLEAR?!"

So that's my official position on the subject matter now, it's the current way, or the highway.. 10 years is way to long, and I"M SICK AND TIRED OF THIS!

Posted by: Col. Sanders, Deep frying Chicken Littles is the game. at February 9, 2007 1:54 AM

I think Brad Finstad's quote in the Strib says it all. If HC thinks this is a simple little ammendment they can take to the legislature and get rubber-stamped, they are dead wrong.

If this is not a bluff and they truly are giving up on this site, I think the Twins in Minnesota are done. Another stadium bill will not be passed by this legislature. The Twins need to either step up and do whatever it takes to get this land, or start negotiating with Las Vegas to quicken thier move. I prefer that to lingering in the Dome for several more years.

Posted by: David Howe at February 9, 2007 2:28 AM

I am positive that if a Twins-related issue was brought back to the Legislature it would be DOA. However if they started work and everything was proceeding nicely and then went to the Legislature NEXT YEAR for minor technical changes to the bill, it would probably receive a fair hearing.

If with today's Strib article I still think the County is bluffing. I think it was Stenglein who said that there are many 10-acre parcels available in Hennepin County for a ballpark. What he doesn't get is that the only reason the Rapid Park site works is that there are acres of parking Off-Site in downtown Minneapolis. Any other site would need a minimum of 10 acres for a ballpark and another 10-20 acres for parking. How many 25 acres sites are there in HC? Not many and if they are vacant they are vacant for a reason (pollution, poor soils, etc)

Posted by: Freealonzo at February 9, 2007 7:28 AM

i guess i don't understand why the county doesn't just sacrifice some infrastructure to get the ballpark itself built. the ballpark is the thing here, not how expansive the plaza is or how wide a pedestrian bridge is. the site won't be hard to get to. it'll be like going to timberwolves games. i think they have to start work, digging earth and let the condemnation hearings play out. i refuse to believe that a panel looking at this situation would rule that this site is worth the money it seems LP II is asking. i think the county has to have faith and if that means some infrastructure loss on the front end, so be it. this is the bottom of the ninth and the last at bat for the twins situattion. the previous posters are correct, the county will not get off first base trying to amend this bill at the the legislature. they must proceed with condemnation. i believe they know this and what we are reading in the paper is a lot of huff and puff and leverage. the twins have to step up also, if they don't want to sacrifice some of the infrastructure.

if the deal falls apart in the end, after the dust settles, which i still believe it won't, then i would urge the twins to contact MLB and inquire about selling the team in the manner the montreal expos were dissolved.

and don't get me started on my feelings about LP II. it's unfortunate they don't seem to want to negotiate.

Posted by: mullen at February 9, 2007 8:30 AM

How can they be "tens of millions" apart? It was appraised at $13.5 million, so Land Owners think their property is worth at least double the appraised value?

As for the County, does it typically take eight months (or however long its been since the stadium was approved) to purchase land for a new ballpark?

Posted by: Aaron at February 9, 2007 8:43 AM

Mark and Eva...your arguments are the same ones posed when the stadium bill was going through the state legislature. It's a moot point as the bill already passed. We are now talking about the land acquisition. Please keep up.

Mark, you basically repeated my words in a different way. The governor took credit and the glory without really doing the work. I am saying he SHOULD help bring the two sides together. I never said I was naive enough to say he actually WOULD.

You make it sound like it was a small thing for the state to allow HC to apply this tax. Obviously by your post and Eva's and others, it was a HUGE thing the state did. Thus... it is still a state problem too. The tax is being collected already. The state ok'd the deal, they also have the responsibility to make sure that money is not mismanaged.

Posted by: zooomx at February 9, 2007 9:12 AM

I used to think my homestate was pathetic....It's now beyond pathetic.

Just throw all the Twins, Vikings, HC Board members, LP2 reps in the metrodome and blow it up.

HC can then buy the Rapid Park site for $50 million and build a huge jail - heated by the garbage burner of course - to house the locals that troll nightly around city center and block e.

There, that takes care of all our problems...

Posted by: kevin in az at February 9, 2007 9:12 AM

slash and burn...slash and burn...slash and burn!!!!

Posted by: Freealonzo at February 9, 2007 10:21 AM

if this deal falls apart i believe the twins should just enact the nuclear solution route and put the team up for bid with major league baseball as the broker, a la the expos solution. MLB could own the team for a period while a sale is negotiated. this state just can't or doesn't wan't to grasp the realities of professional sports today. there's nothing wrong with that if that's what the majority of citizens who pay taxes sincerely think. it's not good or bad, it will be our reality and what our state brand will be. we will be the ones to draw the line in the sand and say "no" to funding this business. and we will be on an island to ourselves holding to that belief as the team goes to another city who will grab baseball and all it offers, gleefully opening their present we handed to them like a toy that we became bored with. and sports fans like me will find other teams to follow from afar. and we'll hold onto our memories of our favorite team and the role it played in our lives and our relationships to friend and family. my dad passed away last year and i hold close to my heart all the games he took me to as a kid at the old met. bat day, jacket day, and anything having to do with my boyhood hero, rod carew. and i'll toast and thank the twins for over 40 years of memories.

and we'll then subsequently give the vikings anything they ask for in our desperation and sense of loss.

Posted by: mullen at February 9, 2007 10:22 AM

The Twins should move if this falls through. Plain and simple.

It's NEVER going to happen if it doesn't happen this time.

Posted by: mlb2131 at February 9, 2007 10:23 AM

The video of the commuter rail is pretty cool. One thing struck me as being wrong though: with the incinerator there, shouldn't the people be falling down and vomiting from the smell? I mean, this was one of the main arguments from the anti-Americans err... stadium opponents.

Stir the pot, stir the pot

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at February 9, 2007 11:51 AM

Cheesehead Craig is dead-on.

Contrary to what the haters claim, nobody's going to be dying from the incinerator smell because there's not much of one.

Hennepin County has folks, one of whom is a friend of mine, that check the area around HERC for odors. Here's a reprint of a Strib article about it a couple years ago.

http://www.nasalranger.com/media/Minneapolis%20garbage%20burner%20passes%20smell%20test%2014May2005.pdf

Posted by: Mark Snyder at February 9, 2007 12:35 PM

interesing analysis:
http://www.twinsballpark2010.com/baseball/minnesota-twins/stadium/Home.html

Posted by: mullen at February 9, 2007 2:22 PM

Mike Opat is on KFAN w/ Hartman right now if anyone is interested.

Posted by: vince at February 9, 2007 2:34 PM

Vince, can you provide a synopsis/commentary of what Opat says?

Posted by: Shane at February 9, 2007 2:48 PM

yea, many of us baseball junkies can't listen to it at work. is their still any hope? i'm like a crackhead looking for a fix here, hehe. i just wanna take my kid to an outdoor game in a few years.

Posted by: mullen at February 9, 2007 2:54 PM

I missed the beginning, but here were the main things to take away.
- Time is running short to stay on the schedule for construction, but didn't seem to be urgent yet. Opat has yet to visit any other sites and now has decided that he is going to need to start doing that, but it didn't seem dire.

-emminent domain is a possibility, and under the law the County could take the land right away to stay on pace and pay later when the court verdict comes out 1-2 years later. However, Opat seemed very concerned by the possibility of a screwy jury on a bad day over valuing the land and then the ballpark would be half way built and there would be no money for lights or the proper bridges, escalator, or detail really envisioned.
-Land A@#s II have yet to give any monetary amount, they won't even give a figure to start negotiating with.
-As for the park, it will be built up about four levels if I heard correctly so there so the blearchers are about the same level as the target center and the views will be good.
-The soil quality is poorer than expected from an environmental impact point, but nothing major.
-The garbage burning facility can operate around games if the smell does prove to be bad.
-The stadium will extend over the RR tracks, if you've ever visited the site
-and the stadium will be compact, but still larger than SF's park and about the size of PNC in Pittsburgh
-Both the Hiawatha and Central corridor would still meet up there
-Opat still wants teh stadium there it seemed like and is trying to keep it there, but now he realizes that things might have to change.
-also he said that even though the bill is site specific, he doesn't think they would have to start all over with the legislation process if they move the park, he thinks a technical amendment could be made without opening up the floor.
Finally, he has no interest in Hennepin County putting together a Viking stadium that would cost twice as much as the Twins' Stadium and would only host 8 games a season.
I think those were the major poiints.

Posted by: Vince at February 9, 2007 3:05 PM

Godo stuff Vince. The same was posted over at http://www.battleyourtailoff.com, a Twins site. Go visit if you haven't already.

I say screw LPII.

Posted by: Erik at February 9, 2007 3:08 PM

Sorry on the URL above. I added a comma in there that shouldn't be.

http://www.battleyourtailoff.com

Posted by: Erik at February 9, 2007 3:09 PM

so the design unveiling at the county board meeting has been canceled, what about the twins presentation to the mpls chamber of commerce on wednesday the 14th? this pisses me off, i'd at least like to see what the final product possibly will look like. throw us a bone here, give us a look at what we are dealing with. i can understand postponing votes on the deal with the twins because of the land uncertainty, but the public has the right to at least see renderings. i think it would only help the county's cause.

Posted by: mullen at February 9, 2007 3:18 PM

They've all been postponed I believe. Sorry. I was getting excited too. They really can't unveil it though, they'd look like fools if they haven't secured the land yet, and then if they do build elsewhere the designs would surely change. I don't know, I'm still pretty optomisitc that it will get done after hearing Opat. He doesn't seem desperate yet. Maybe he or someone else on the commission could blacklist the members of Land A#@ II for all city projects/developments/purchases. :)

Posted by: vince at February 9, 2007 3:23 PM

the twins presentation was going to be their own, to the chamber of commerce. they still have a "renderings countdown" going on their website. couldn't they just unveil something? they're essentially designing the park afterall.

Posted by: mullen at February 9, 2007 3:46 PM

Shane - first of all, thanks for putting a link to my "What Jeff Thinks" blog on your site. As far as I am concerned, your site is the best place to go for stadium information. Also, I agree with you that most Twins fans do not want to talk about the stadium issue. I am continually amazed how many fans are more concerned with signing Mauer, Santana and Morneau to long term contracts than the building of the stadium. How about "signing the team" to a long term contract? Without the stadium, long-term contracts for these players become a moot point. Who cares if Joe Mauer signs with the Las Vegas Twins for the next ten years? Lastly, if you want a good laugh (or cry), visit the Twinsville Web site created by Land Partners II. Complete hypocripsy. Here it is:

http://www.mntwinsville.com/topics/welcome/index.shtml

Posted by: Jeff T. at February 9, 2007 10:33 PM

Call me an optimistic minnesota chowderhead but I think a deal will get done. The Twins will step up to see this through. It's been such a rollercoaster up to this point, over all these years, did we really think it would end so smoothly? I think if it has to come to that, the county shouldn't be worried of their position regarding condemnation. But I think this will be resolved to avoid that. I was negative from last weekend but hearing Mike Opat today made me hopeful.

And thanks for this blog, I echo the other comments that it's been THE source for stadium info. A place to vent and share with baseball fans who want this team to stay and flourish.

Posted by: mullen at February 10, 2007 12:16 AM

I too am still optimistic that they will work this out with the current site and plan. My concern is how quickly it will unravel if they do try to return to the legislature and switch sites, etc.

I think the county is being overy cautious about the eminant domain proceedings. This is why eminant domain exists. As others have pointed out, the outcomes tend to favor the government, not the private citizen. If the ruling did come in over the $13 million, it would probably be by a small amount, not 'tens of millions' that they are currently apart in the negotiations.

If they are so concerned about what an extra $5-10 million for the land might do to the rest of the infrustructure, why don't they just sit down with the Twins and get them to agree to cover whatever the difference is in writing? I know they are not obligated to cover infrustructure over-runs but I suspect they would gladly agree to rather then the current alternatives.

I also, realize they would still be bound by the $90 million cap. But returning to the legislature a year from now when the stadium's already under construction, saying 'the land cost $10 million more then we budgeted, and Twins have agreed to give us $10 million to cover it, can you ammend the cap from $90 to 100 million?' will not face nearly the same resistance.

Posted by: David Howe at February 10, 2007 12:55 AM

You hit the nail on the head with that post David. I agree the county is worrying more than they should about the eminent domain. It is a concern, but not enough to sacrifice years of work and getting a bill to finally pass the state legislature. The tax is being collected, I think they have to make a leap of faith. If that means getting more bells and whistles later on, than so be it. Lots of recent ballparks have been built and then improved upon after their initial opening. Look what the Cardinals are doing to new Busch Stadium this offseason, and that park's not even been open a year.

Posted by: mullen at February 10, 2007 1:29 AM

'One thing that bugs me about this whole deal. Where are Pawlenty and our state senators and representatives?? Pawlenty essentially took credit for getting the bill passed, which I feel got him re-elected. Where is his leadership now?? Doesn't he have an obligation to step in and make this work? I know pundits will say it is the county's problem, but it is not. The state spearheaded the push and needs to accept responsibility to finish the job.'

EY: What planet are you on? Public opinion was clearly against public funding for this stadium boondoggle - and especially so in Hennepin County. That's why they didn't want a referendum, because they knew they could not win a referendum.

Pawlenty won reelection because Hatch was a bully - and he unravelled during the last week of the campaign. Hatch also didn't campaign seriously for the seat. Many DFLers didn't like Hatch - and were refusing to take his lit pieces during lit drops. There was also Texas money dropped into the Governor's race at the last minute.

The reason Pawlenty supported this bill, is it was a way to keep the Twins in Minnesota, and had the added benefit to stick it to people who don't vote for him (Minneapolis residents). This hurt him in Western Hennepin County where people do vote for him.

If the Twins had put the effort into private fundraising they did to forcing the taxpayers to pay for their stadium, they'd have a stadium by now.

Posted by: Eva Young at February 10, 2007 11:01 AM

oh geeze, what is this, 1997? and that ladies and gentleman, is why we are flyover territory. i seem to recall an election just a scant four months ago where all four county board members who supported this "boondoggle" were reelected rather handily. you're a ballpark opponent from long ago who needs to expend your negative energy elsewhere. you had your years to bitch and moan about this. trains left the station and you still need a reality check.

Posted by: mullen at February 10, 2007 11:46 AM

Eva, you seem very knowledgeable about politics and well plugged in. But the political part of this is basically over and this probably isn't the best forum for continuing discussion about it.

If, God Forbid, this blows up and we're back at square one at the Capital, you can again make your arguements against it. I for one will have given up by that point and be looking forward to catching a Twins game or two when I visit Las Vegas.

Posted by: David Howe at February 10, 2007 12:17 PM

Shane,

Fantastic work as always. And yeah, I don't think the stadium had [i]ANYTHING[/i] to do with the latest elections.

The main thing that mattered was the little "D" or "R" on the campaign ticket. Bye bye Krinkie, welcome back Marty.

Pawlenty is a teflon politician. And that's both good and bad.

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