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April 26, 2007

Reading Material

Some light reading material for everyone! These are the County documents detailing the lease agreement signed by the County, the Twins, and the MBA yesterday. The first four documents are the executive summaries and as such they are short and sweet. The final three documents are the actual "legal" documents and they are huge. Download those at your own risk. All of the documents are PDFs.

It is my hope that we can all look over these together and find interesting tidbits to discuss. So, take a look and if you find anything interesting, confusing, or up until this point unknown, please share with the rest of the group!

Executive Summary of Development Agreement
Executive Summary of Grant Agreement
Executive Summary: Ballpark Lease Agreement
Executive Summary for Baseball Playing and Use Agreement

(Download these at your own risk! They are very, very large!)

Ballpark Legals Part 1
Ballpark Legals Part 2
Ballpark Legals Part 3

By the way, Sid reports today:

Jerry Bell, president of Twins Sports Inc. and the team's point man for the new stadium, said everything is signed and sealed to start construction except for an agreement with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. "We thought everything was all set, but they came back with some other things," said Bell, who is still confident all will be worked out.

This is the final hurdle (at least as far as the ground breaking is concerned). I asked my contacts about this and they all said that it is "working out" and that it shouldn't be a problem. So, I'm not going to worry about it. Quite simply, the County and the Twins would not have made these agreements yesterday if it looked like a deal wouldn't be made with the RR. So, I think we can take yesterday's lease agreement signing as a very good sign that we will be completely out of the woods soon. Things are moving along as they should. 2010 can't come fast enough!

Having said that, I have to tip my hat to Mike Opat who has steered all of this through very troubled waters. All of you naysayers, quite frankly, have no idea how difficult this project has been to get to this point. No idea whatsoever. Without Mike Opat's leadership during the past 3 years we would not be talking about outdoor baseball in 2010. You can try to tell me all you want that with someone else in charge we wouldn't have seen all these problems, but the fact of the matter is no one else stepped up. No one had the guts. So, I say thank you to Mike Opat and the rest of his staff for their tireless efforts on our behalf. This is the most complicated building project in Minnesota state history. For us to finally be at this point takes solid leadership. Thanks Mike!

And to all of you that don't want a ballpark at all, and think that it is unjust and criminal and all that other mumbo jumbo, yes, I get it. Thanks for sharing. That ship has sailed, though. You better get used to the idea of people enjoying themselves in the sunlight while watching a little outdoor baseball, as sickening as you find that activity to be. Since this inevitability is a Minnesota state law I'm going to keep on talking about it and keep on being happy about it.

Posted by snackeru at April 26, 2007 9:11 PM

Comments

Contrare my friend.

The County had everything to gain - politically - by signing the documents.

This serves to put further delay on the next guy and makes more Twins positive spin possible. People that really know and care will tell you this thing is in deep trouble.

Posted by: onpat at April 27, 2007 8:55 AM

Huh, really? Can you share anything more than a cryptic comment on this? Please, enlighten us all "onpat."

Posted by: Shane at April 27, 2007 8:59 AM

I'll concede that Oputz has been effective in this endeavor. Much like Al Capone was effective in his endeavor. While Al maybe revered as a historical figure as his legend has grown; Oputz will go down in the annals of history as a man who bamboozled his constituents to further his own agenda. This effort, this stadium, and his public service will jointly be remembered as cataclysmic failures.

Posted by: STM at April 27, 2007 9:21 AM

People that really know and care will tell you this thing is in deep trouble.

Given that Shane has been running this site for years, and has been in contact with the "people that really know and care" throughout, I'm more inclined to believe his assessments of the situation than your vague and unsupported doomsday pronouncements. Nothing personal.

Posted by: The Tube at April 27, 2007 9:25 AM

I agree with Shane on Mike Opat

***bowing in the general direction of Hennepin County Government Center***

Posted by: Snyder at April 27, 2007 9:41 AM

Nope, STM. Try again.

Posted by: STM at April 27, 2007 9:54 AM

Hey onpat:

In the classic words of Boz Scaggs:

"Why can't you just get it through your head, it's over, it's over now."

Posted by: Freealonzo at April 27, 2007 10:00 AM

Sorry for the previous crude reference, although I retain the sentiment.

"DOpe-at" has taken government in a terrible direction. If you guys want to crown him, go ahead and crown him. But your short sighted desire for a stupid stadium is going to create an onslaught of backlash.

Remember; "the thrill is in the chase." When the stadium is done, and it's only half as romantic as you remember....what will your minds lust for then?

Posted by: STM at April 27, 2007 10:16 AM

STM makes a good point. It has been a thrilling chase. Painful, but satisfactory nonetheless. As I said before, though, I suppose the Vikings stadium is next (to answer your question STM).

Along those lines, I think it is inevitable that one day we will miss the Metrodome. Yes, as hard as it is to believe, one day we will look back on the good old days and remember the good times. I even wrote a post on it a while back:

http://blog.lib.umn.edu/snackeru/greet/2005/05/16/why_i_love_the_dome.html

Posted by: Shane at April 27, 2007 10:24 AM

I have to agree Shane, it would have been easy for Opat to just let it slide by. He took real leadership, and put his career on the line for what he believed in. That's no small thing.

He's be slandered and maligned by people who know very little about him, based one position... this is nothing new in politics per se, but at the County Commission level, it's rare.

What's amusing is that he won reelection last fall with 60%+ of the vote... so much for "backlash" there gang. backlash is what happened to the republican congress, the MNGOP in the state house and senate, the Democrats in 94, Randy Kelly in 2005... that's backlash.

on an unrelated note, am i the only one who is excited to see what the renovated Farmers and Mechanics building looks like in Minneapolis? I'm really glad they saved the building, I just hope it holds up as a hotel.

Posted by: CJ at April 27, 2007 10:35 AM

so i guess pawlenty took government in a terrible direction, swiggum took government in a terrible direction, and so on, and so on. spread around your bitching, this wasn't a one person show. yea, lots of backlash on all those counts. guess all those terrible public servants were thrown out of office last year. people have moved on whiner!

Posted by: mullen at April 27, 2007 10:47 AM

Great points mullen and CJ. A lot of people like to think this was only one or two people cramming this through. Quite frankly the Twins stadium was the most truly bipartisan bill to pass through the state legislature in years. And the backlash was non-existent. One of the only Minneapolis legislators to support the plan was Margaret Anderson Kelliher, and she is now the Speaker of the House! As CJ pointed out, Opat won his vote by over 60%!! It wasn't even close.

Posted by: Shane at April 27, 2007 10:53 AM

Shane, at least we both agree that we need a new stadium and we are close to getting it. Please remember your spouts on O-Putz the first time you are sitting in the HC box (you are on the short list I assume)when you need them. The reality is he has toally bungled the process and has made alot of lawyers much richer. The process could have been completed less costly, less emotional, and less a natioanl embarrassment if he had just sat at home and had even a 10 year old handle the process.

Posted by: Jimmy Jack at April 27, 2007 10:54 AM

I'm speaking from a simple election analysis point of view. Pawlenty is the only MNGOP official left standing. Kennedy got embarasssed in the Senate race, Gutknecht lost a seat he'd had for 12 years, these arent things that happen in your average election year in MN... it was an all-around backlash election... Just like 94 was the other way around.

Posted by: CJ at April 27, 2007 10:56 AM

The reason DOpe-at was re-elected was because nobody was paying attention (they will now). Pawlenty didn't "win" Hennepin County and he knew he wasn't going to, that allowed him to "rationalize" screwing us. Swiggum doesn't represent anybody in HC either, what's your point mullen, you don't know politics?

Oputz runs again (if he's got the guts and survives that long) in 2011. He'll not be re-elected. Hands down.

Top 10 things you won’t hear (and miss) because of the new ballpark

10. We have to go in at gate “H?
9. I had to pay 7 bucks for these seats?
8. He lost track of the ball against the roof!
7. I’m glad we got a dome when its 37 degrees out there.
6. I’m glad we got a dome when it’s raining out there
5. I’m glad we got a dome when it’s 90 degrees out there
4. It’s a double off the baggie!
3. Fouled off and he’s got plenty of room to make the out.
2. Rumor has it that they turn the AC on when they’re up to bat.
1. What we need is some good ole’ fashioned DOOOOME cookin!

Posted by: STM at April 27, 2007 10:56 AM

nvm... i misunderstood mullen's critique, my bad

Posted by: CJ at April 27, 2007 10:56 AM

Opat was reelected in NOVEMBER, with 60%... if people were that pissed about the ballpark he'd championed for 3 years prior... you'd think they'd have voted him out... didnt happen

Posted by: CJ at April 27, 2007 10:59 AM

Shane - You're smarter than that. Don't tout bipartisan support when this was simply "everybody else ganging up on someone else" the only bipartisan support this legislation had was getting somebody else to pay for it!

If there was so much as a penny on a 100 dollars cost spread over the whole state, this thing would've died easily. Don't kid yourself!

Posted by: STM at April 27, 2007 11:01 AM

And STM, you are smarter than that to suggest nobody was paying attention last November. This was the most highly publicized bill to ever go through the state legislature. People were paying attention just fine because they were being bludgeoned to death with news about it. If anything, last November demonstrated that no one really cares about this issue as much as either of us. You really think people will start caring in a negative way when a stadium is actually built and staring them in the face? Ha!

When that new stadium opens in 2010 people will be giddy, and Opat will be given the credit. He has nothing to worry about. I guarantee it.

Posted by: Shane at April 27, 2007 11:09 AM

Um, Pawlenty signed the bill even though it raised taxes. I know, I know, it only allowed Hennepin County to raise taxes, but still. He dropped his "read my lips" stance for this one occasion. Which probably helped him get re-elected.

Posted by: Dave T at April 27, 2007 11:10 AM

This was (and rightfully so) only regarded as a HC issue. Outstate legislatures weren't punished because they touted (if they even brought it up) it as protecting their (outstates) interests.

Shane - Highly publicized yes. But people weren't impacted yet. As taxes continue to rise, standards of living slide down (especially in Oputz's poverty ridden district) this monument to largesse will be a shining example of mis guided politics and become an anchor around Oputz's neck that will drag him down to the bottom of the political cesspool.

While you can still hold out hope for the ringing success you believe this will become, it has a greater chance of becoming exactly the opposite of what you hope for.

Posted by: STM at April 27, 2007 11:18 AM

He also raised "fees"

thing is, this had 0 impact on any election anywhere. the only place stadiums had an impact was Anoka County, where a couple of Commissioners went down for getting in with the Vikings... the voters weren't happy 1. that it was proposed, or 2. that it didnt happen... they got slammed on both sides, among other issues.

Posted by: CJ at April 27, 2007 11:22 AM

STM -- Nice list. For an avowed non-baseball fan, you certainly know the Twins/Metrodome lingo.

As for this: Oputz runs again (if he's got the guts and survives that long) in 2011. He'll not be re-elected. Hands down.

I think I would take that bet. I doubt that the masses who "weren't paying attention" enough to vote (read: didn't care?) last November are ever going to be so "impacted" by a .15% sales tax to motivate them to the polls, much less with a purpose in mind.

Posted by: spycake at April 27, 2007 11:42 AM

After 25 years of reading the Strib sports page, I suppose, through osmosis, I picked up some of the terminology.

I realize making predictions of events 4 years out doesn't require alot of guts. However, in 2011, when presumeably this atrocity will be visible, with all its further publicized short comings, and is properly "hung" around Oputz's neck and with all his smarmy photo op's, mugging with the Billionaires, Union Bosses and other sleazy benefactors of this terrible pursuit of his; I will thoroughly enjoy watching for the exact moment in time when he realizes his political career is over. Unless, of course, he trumps me by accepting some cushy PR job with the Twins in 2010. Which I wouldn't put past him.

Posted by: STM at April 27, 2007 11:54 AM

Mike Opat for governor! :-)

Posted by: Snyder at April 27, 2007 12:17 PM

CJ -- I don't know if you saw this gallery of pictures of the Farmers and Mechanics renovations. The place looks pretty sweet.

http://www.startribune.com/10001/gallery/1146973.html

Posted by: The Tube at April 27, 2007 12:37 PM

STM - just wondering, are you "for" a new Vikings stadium? You seem to be a big football fan. If so, how should it be funded?

Lastly, if taxes are involved, should there be a referendum? I personally believe a referendum would kill any chances for a new Vikes stadium, especially after they shafted Anoka county.

I actually hope they get one, by the way.

Just curious.

Jeff T.

Posted by: Jeff T. at April 27, 2007 1:21 PM

This was the most highly publicized bill to ever go through the state legislature.

Shane, I'll let you off the hook on this one because of your age (based on the pic you posted). But the most highly publicized bill was either the institution of the sales tax in 1967 or the "Minnesota Miracle" funding in 1974.

Posted by: pragmatic_cynic at April 27, 2007 1:25 PM

Again, I'm not against stadiums or even public financing. I'm railing against Oputz's arrogance and how this got done.

When you have to change laws and advocate legislators passing a tax on OTHER people, something is seriously wrong with that precedent.

Posted by: STM at April 27, 2007 1:56 PM

STM,

There is a silver lining here for you: you won't have to read about the legislature haggling over a new Twins ballpark for a couple dozen years. This has probably been a front page story more times than any other topic in the last ten years, and I am sure every time you saw it, you cringed. Well, no more! You are free!

STM, you also need to address another question of mine from a couple weeks back that I don't think you answered. How do you feel about the Gopher football stadium? If I missed your answer, I apologize, but I don't think I did.

Thanks,

Derek

Posted by: Derek at April 27, 2007 2:06 PM

STM you say:

When you have to change laws and advocate legislators passing a tax on OTHER people, something is seriously wrong with that precedent.

So you have been fine if the county had used its regular bonding authority to pay for the ballpark and therefore use property taxes to pay for it instead of sales taxes?

Posted by: pragmatic_cynic at April 27, 2007 2:21 PM

Fact- The U is a public institution

Fact - The football program makes more money than the costs to operate it.

Fact - The monies contributed for the stadium, came from statewide sources.

To the extent this will help the U make more money that could arguably be used to reduce or contain tuition or other costs, then it makes sense.

Posted by: STM at April 27, 2007 2:28 PM

Prag -

Was that an option without changing laws or pursuing a referendum?

Posted by: STM at April 27, 2007 2:32 PM

Prag, yes, thanks for the history lesson. You are right, in my lifetime, the Twins stadium was it. I'm sure some old-timers would argue with your picks too!

And STM, I am also interested and I've asked you before, are you a Vikings fan? Do you have an opinion on the draft tomorrow?

Posted by: Shane at April 27, 2007 2:56 PM

thanks for the link Tube! I love it! now if we can save the Minneapolis Armory, I'll be totally satisfied.

Posted by: CJ at April 27, 2007 3:00 PM

http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1145898.html

Trouble brewing for the stadium.

Read between the lines and not what those with a vested interest (the Twins & County) are saying for the public to suck up.

Posted by: larry at April 27, 2007 3:04 PM

STM:

Hennepin County has general bonding authority (note the several building they have downtown, libraries, roads, the garbage burner). Those are paid either by taxes (libraries, roads) or fees (garbage burner). They could have bonded for this like any other project.

I just checked their web page for their financial statement (I don't see 2006 yet), but look at 2005 starting at page 100 (126 on PDF) it list all of their bonds

http://wwwa.co.hennepin.mn.us/files/HCInternet/YCG/About%20Hennepin/Financial%20Information/Financial%20Reports/2005CAFRWeb.pdf

Thanks for asking because now there are some interesting things there that I want to find out more about, e.g., "Augsburg financing" and "Lease Revenue Certificates".

Posted by: pragmatic_cynic at April 27, 2007 3:10 PM

Hey larry:

In the classic words of Boz Scaggs:

"Why can't you just get it through your head, it's over, it's over now."

Posted by: Freealonzo at April 27, 2007 3:38 PM

What is getting lost in this is that we all wish that the ballpark did not have to be so heavily subsidized by the public. Many of us proponents also may think it wrong to do it this way. But, our desire for outdoor baseball, and the enjoyment we will derive from it outweighs those concerns.

And, STM is right, I justify it by comparing it to all the other egregious payouts to thousands of private companies and special interest groups from which I derive no benefit. Much like the expansion of 494 from two lanes to three, I finally can see my tax dollars at work with this ballpark, and I can't wait to see it.

Sports is important to me, not as important as God, my family, or my friends and countrymen, but important nonetheless.

P.S. My waistline is 32.

Posted by: Derek at April 27, 2007 4:04 PM

Well said Derek. I wish there were no public subsidies for ballparks, or that it was treated for what it is, income to the team and therefore taxable.

But reality is reality. And in reality

1. Mr. Pohlad will be a billionaire whether or not the ballpark is built.
2. Mr Mauer, Mr Morneu, Mr Santana, Mr Hunter, et al will be paid huge sums of money to play baseball somewhere whether or not a ballpark is built.
3. Major League Baseball is a monopoly. There area but 30 franchises. Its not like a Starbucks that leaves a mall to be replaced by a Caribou Coffee.
4. Major League Baseball requires host community (local or state) participation via ballpark subsidies from small market teams as a condition of allowing a franchise to remain in the location.

Given 3 and 4, if we want Major League Baseball in Minnesota we have to have taxpayer subsidies.

Posted by: pragmatic_cynic at April 27, 2007 4:41 PM

The most frustrating misconception here, is the belief that the Twins or this stadium are in ANY way similar to; libraries, roads universities or any other truly public infrastructure.

I don't believe the County could've bonded for this like any other "public" project without similar or even more subversive tactics.

and Prag - Isn't St. Louis a smaller market than us? Of course Pohlads going to push for 12+ plus years. That's worked out to about 20 million a year! Hell, he'd have begged for 10 more.

Posted by: STM at April 27, 2007 5:15 PM

I'm not sure what STM's point about St. Louis was but if was that the Cardinals built a ballpark with little or no subsidy, he's mistaken.

The Cardinals did build the ballpark on their own but the City gave them something like 6 downtown blocks that the Cardinals can develop as they see fit. They can develop them, they can sell them, they can put surface parking on and charge $20 a car until someday when they are developable, they can enter into partnerships for development. In essence they got a sweet, sweet deal. Carl Pohlad would have leapt out of his wheelchair to gain control of 6 development parcels surrounding the new ballpark site.

Posted by: freealonzo at April 27, 2007 7:40 PM

I can't find anything that supports your assertion. Don't take me wrong, I'm inclined to believe you considering my cynical view on government.

The most concise link I can find regarding Busch stadiums financing is at ballparksofbaseball.com

Posted by: STM at April 28, 2007 7:09 AM

No agreement with RR.
Why at this point is there no agereement with the RR? All I heard was how the landowners were holding up the process and being greedy. What happened? Why didn't somebody raise this RR issue at the start of the process because the issue was there? Or did the landowners suddenly change the property well into the process(I doubt it)? Another example of O-Putz not being able to do more than one task at a time. He does a great job of using tax paid resources to cover his ineptness. The latest example is Freeman. A crime has not been committed (unless you agree the way O-Putz has handled this project is a felony because of the money being spent to cover his mistakes), so why is he involved in this at all because the leagal aspects are all a formality. Each party submit a price and the court decides which is fair market value. The judge should be questioning the HC tactics. The only people further out in left field than Jason Kubel are the ones saying what a great job O-Puts has done. The Twins are going to get a walk off homerun and I hope someone will "follow the money" after this is all said and done.

Posted by: Jimmy Jack at April 28, 2007 9:49 AM

the governor/legislature wanted a partnership to get this done. the governor solicited proposals from anyone, specifically municipal bodies of government, on ballpark presenataions that didn't directly involve state money. we got the twins/county project through that process. some people have short memories or only choose to believe what fits their limited world view. and the cardinals ballpark was a partnership also, it wasn't all private money by any means. go do a simple search at the st. louis post dispatch. the legislature and governor demand a partner for the vikings also, nothings changed. you seem to want to signal out certain pubic officials but not others. i remind you, it was because of the governor that the bill passed. that final, fateful night, he was personally and agressively lobbying on the bill's behalf. but whatever gets you through your dreary, single issue life.

Posted by: mullen at April 28, 2007 10:00 AM

Politician tonight called the stadium dead in the water over, among other issues, land value, railroad right of way, and Pohlad backpedaling again

oh oh

Posted by: misty at April 28, 2007 10:28 PM

I just love how these anonymous posters who have never written anything on here before are suddenly showing up to give us vague messages of doom about the stadium. It's dead in the water, huh? According to 'a politician'? Wow. You'd think the Star Tribune would be all over this story, but nope, not a mention.

I have to agree on giving credit to Opat. I don't know enough of the inside details to say whether or how much he may have bungled a few of the ensuing details, but he certainly showed he had more courage then most politicians by taking the lead on this in the first place and not wilting under the pressure.

Posted by: D Howe at April 28, 2007 11:59 PM

I'm a lonely young single female that has just learned some critical information about why the new stadium is doomed, and I'd just love to talk about it with someone.

Please respond with your bank acct. info and social security number and I'll give you all the details...

(sorry, my lame pass at a joke. I too think the cryptic doom and gloom one hit posters are pretty entertaining. Presumably they aren't that interested in a stadium, yet they still bother. Too much free time I guess...)

Posted by: tato at April 29, 2007 9:47 AM

Hey Misty,


In the classic words of Boz Scaggs:

"Why can't you just get it through your head, it's over, it's over now."

Posted by: freealonzo at April 29, 2007 4:59 PM

Hennepin County Commissioners having a meeting Tuesday behind closed doors....?????

Anybody else hear this?

Posted by: mary at April 29, 2007 8:51 PM

what does the meeting have to do with? does anybody know?

Posted by: victor at April 29, 2007 9:51 PM

Oh my god Mary....What are we gonna do???

THE SKY IS FALLING
THE SKY IS FALLING
THE SKY IS FALLING

Don't you have some laundry to do?

Posted by: kevin in az at April 29, 2007 11:21 PM

The Twinkies will get their sand box. Goody for them. We'll see how big Opats kahona's are when he has to step up for the Vikes new play ground! Every single argument he made for the Twinkies is "times 10" for the Vikes! Get 'er done!

And wheres the hunyuck who predicted 4 blackouts for the Vikes this year? Yo Adrian! Boooya!

Posted by: PurpleNurple at April 30, 2007 8:24 AM

For all of you O-putz lovers:
If he was doing the job you keep complimenting him for, why are people still asking at this point about secret meetings and other comments about the deal being blown up? Also, I will say it again, why no anger with the RR at holding up the deal? The RR deal should have been done a long time ago as the land has not moved. These all add up to the incompetence of the O-putz. Lastly, I hope all of you O-putz lovers have your ticket requests in for the HC box and tickets they are getting as part of the deal. I bet opening day tickets are hard to get but they might give you D-Ray tix in September.

Posted by: Jimmy Jack at April 30, 2007 8:25 AM

So what's the latest on this?

Is there ANOTHER road block?

Posted by: Erik at April 30, 2007 9:39 AM

STM,

St. Louis is considered a "large market" by baseball standards because it contributes to revenue sharing.

With the their new ballpark they effectively transfer the money they paid into revenue sharing to help pay the cost of the park. Ongoing payments for facilities is deducted before determing what you owe to the revenue sharing pie.

Posted by: pragmatic_cynic at April 30, 2007 9:49 AM

STM,

St. Louis is considered a "large market" by baseball standards because it contributes to revenue sharing.

With the their new ballpark they effectively transfer the money they paid into revenue sharing to help pay the cost of the park. Ongoing payments for facilities is deducted before determing what you owe to the revenue sharing pie.

http://www.efqreview.com/NewFiles/v21n4/stateofthegame.html

Posted by: pragmatic_cynic at April 30, 2007 9:51 AM

St. Louis is considered a "large market" despite being several places behind small market minnesota. The Twin Cities are the 14th largest Neilson market, whereas St. Louis is 16. However, for MLB's purposes St. Louis is "larger" based on astronomic season ticket sales, tv ratings, radio ratings, merchandise sales, etc.

The Cards are one of the most profitable teams in MLB outside of the NE... but then they also have the benefit of being the best pure baseball market in america.

Top 5 baseball markets in america (in my view, others may have a case to differ)

1. St. Louis
2. Cincinnati
3. Boston - only lately, people tend to think they've always been die-hard fans... not so
4. San Diego
5. Baltimore - once the colts left, they became THE attraction... that helped

the bottom 5:

1. Atlanta - 15 years of winning and they don't sell out playoff games, even when Clemens was pitching
2. Miami - not helped by awful stadium
3. Dallas - in Texas, if it's not football, it just doesnt count
4. Philadelphia - the Phils fall off the planet every August when Eagles training camp opens
5. Oakland - bad park yes, but good teams... no support

oh and by the way i heard that a super-secret meeting took place with some prominent politicians and they decided to fully fund a new nuthouse next door to the new ballpark to house the moonbats who talk about super-secret government meetings and their nefarious schemes - yeesh, get help.

Posted by: CJ at April 30, 2007 10:28 AM

Good take CJ, you are on the money. St. Louis has managed to become a large-market for baseball while being a small market for hockey and football. They are the best baseball market in the country.

My top five would have been same top three in that order, Baltimore at four, and New York at five. But I guess I didn't know San Diego would be so high. Please expound on that.

My bottom five would have to include Tampa Bay in there and bump Philly to number 6.

Posted by: Derek at April 30, 2007 11:07 AM

Hey Shane,

Where are those ceramic frogs from that you posted a picture of? My aunt would love those!

Anyone have thoughts on the Vikings draft? I'm surprisingly pleased so far.

Posted by: Snyder at April 30, 2007 12:46 PM

Where is this anger at Opat coming from?

There's a process that must be followed. He can't finalize negotiaions with BNSF until he had an agreement with the land owners, and he couldn't negotiate a final agreement with the landowners until he had approval from the government and the Twins.

You simply can't just snap your fingers and this is "done". They are negotiating the rights to land permanently. I'm sure the RR has some last minute things that they need to resolve.

Sheesh.

Posted by: Drake33 at April 30, 2007 12:48 PM

Oputz is a coward. Courage would've have been to craft a proposal and submit it to the people for a vote. Not sneaking around the capital with his Twins buddies, convincing outstate legislators to change a law that wouldn't impact them or their constituents.

Posted by: STM at April 30, 2007 12:50 PM

Mike Opat for governor! :-)

Posted by: Snyder at April 30, 2007 1:47 PM

The need for honesty, courage, integrity and leadership in politics will keep Oputz from reaching any higher than where he is now. He wouldn't survive the scrutiny of any higher office

Posted by: STM at April 30, 2007 1:56 PM

Why not? It worked for Norm Coleman.

Posted by: kevin in az at April 30, 2007 2:07 PM

My take on San Diego is based on their strong ticket sales, even when they played at that dump called the Murph. As for New York, their fans are actually pretty fair-weather. Look at attendance in the 80's and early 90's (for the Yankees) or the 70's and mid 90's(Mets)... for a city of 14 million people, not impressive.

As for the bottom, I won't fire tampa under the bus yet. 10 years without even a mediocre team to watch in an oversized hockey arena despite a gorgeous sub-tropical locale. You might still be right, but unlike Marlins fans (2 world series in their 14 year history) who are appalling for their lack of support, the Rays have had nothing to cheer for.

STM - I say this for things I support and oppose, the "refferendum" is the last refuge of a scoundrel. It's a way to defeat something, or pass it with bumper-sticker politics and sloganeering... it's a terrible way to make decisions (even if I'd agree with them). Let's stick to the representative democracy we have and keep our refferendums limited to the ones we have every other November.

As for Opat and his career. I think County Commish would be a great gig for the most part. Nice salary, you make important decisions, but with a few exceptions you arent in peoples cross-hairs. not a bad way to serve your country if you ask me.

and kevin - spot on.

Posted by: CJ at April 30, 2007 2:40 PM

Just read this, and as a stadium geek figured you might be interested... the Target Center is looking at a 'green roof'
http://www.startribune.com/418/story/1152461.html

i dont know about sports-wise, but it would go a long way in establishing Minneapolis as a green city, that is for sure.

Posted by: CJ at April 30, 2007 3:10 PM

CJ wrote:

"the "referendum" is the last refuge of a scoundrel"

Hear, hear.

Contrary to STM's assertion. The referendum is the domain of the cowardly politician that is afraid to (gasp!) govern.

Are you a politician that has to make a tough decision and aren't sure how it'll play in the next election?

Avoid it! Demand a referendum!

For those so enamored of referendums I repeat the obvious.

We have referendums all the time: we call them elections.

Posted by: tato at April 30, 2007 3:12 PM

Maybe we can put sheep up there on that roof to keep the grass mowed.

Posted by: kevin in az at April 30, 2007 3:30 PM

Tato writes: Contrary to STM's assertion. The referendum is the domain of the cowardly politician that is afraid to (gasp!) govern.

Are you a politician that has to make a tough decision and aren't sure how it'll play in the next election?

Avoid it! Demand a referendum!

For those so enamored of referendums I repeat the obvious.

We have referendums all the time: we call them elections.

If referendums are so wrong; why did the law require one years ago and then changed to eliminate the requirement for one in the stadium?

I find your argument self serving and lunatic at best.

The Politicians decided years ago that the best way to protect residents from unfair taxation by rogue politicians was a referendum...; then the referendum is canceled for a rogue idea of taxpayer financing for a stadium. Just why the referendum was IN PLACE IN THE FIRST PLACE!

The stadium financing was pure theft of public tax money.

Posted by: koko at April 30, 2007 3:47 PM

Tato writes: Contrary to STM's assertion. The referendum is the domain of the cowardly politician that is afraid to (gasp!) govern. Are you a politician that has to make a tough decision and aren't sure how it'll play in the next election? Avoid it! Demand a referendum!
For those so enamored of referendums I repeat the obvious. We have referendums all the time: we call them elections.

Tato: If referendums are so wrong; why did the law require one years ago and then changed to eliminate the requirement for one in the stadium?

I find your argument self serving and lunatic at best.

The Politicians decided years ago that the best way to protect residents from unfair taxation by rogue politicians was a referendum...; then the referendum is canceled for a rogue idea of taxpayer financing for a stadium. Just why the referendum was IN PLACE IN THE FIRST PLACE!

The stadium financing was pure theft of public tax money.

Posted by: koko at April 30, 2007 3:48 PM

1. your assertion about the law is simply untrue - there was always a provision to go around the referendum

2. more importantly - the referendum on tax bills is not some white knight there to save "poor ol joe taxpayer" it's a cheap political stunt devised by the tax evaders and their ilk to ensure that complex decisions are reduced to cheap chants and lowest common denominator campaigning.

as it is, what their little stunt has resulted in is flat tax rates and increased spending. here's why, and it's the dirty little secret of politics. people want lower taxes and MORE government. hard to comprehend, i know... but that's how it really is. (We've seen this with the national GOP since 2001, they can't stop spending, but they won't raise taxes to get the budget back in line)

truth is, referendums, as stated above, are a dodge; a way out of the tough decisions that we pay lawmakers to make. They have access to far more information on the matter, they have the time to truly deliberate on the matter, and for that - they shouldn't be allowed to kick it down the road.

Posted by: CJ at April 30, 2007 4:13 PM

CJ, again, nails it:

"people want lower taxes and MORE government. hard to comprehend, i know... but that's how it really is. (We've seen this with the national GOP since 2001, they can't stop spending, but they won't raise taxes to get the budget back in line)"

If anyone here has actually LIVED in a place where it is easy to launch voter sponsored initiatives (which are defended like referendums on the basis that they are 'direct democracy') you have seen CJ's statement in action. As a former resident of AZ and OR, I can tell you that I have seen multiple elections where the people voted overwhelmingly for the "Save our Schools Act" increasing education spending, while simultaneously enacting the "Truth in Taxation Act" lowering tax revenue.

Inevitably, such inconsistencies end up with wacked out legislation to resolve, or even worse, are resolved in the courts.

THAT, Koko, is LUNACY, and is precisely why we live in a representative democracy, not a direct democracy.

Posted by: tato at April 30, 2007 5:45 PM

Representative democracy is a principal rooted in the concept of REPRESENTING the people. Where you guys get off on rationalizing that this is a license to do whatever they want inspite of what the people want, is a ridiculous presumption!

There is always a loop hole. The route around the law requiring a referendum for stadiums was not more than a path identified to pursue a change. It WASN'T intended to be used the way Oputz manipulated it, and it will be closed because of this. If it was used properly, it wouldn't be. End of story.

You two also seem to revel in your intelligent observation regarding more government and less taxes. So, you again seem to rationalize and "back slap" the politicos for making what you deem tough decisions; increasing government AND increasing taxes. Here's a suggestion: JUST SAY NO. But that would've been alot tougher.

The proof in this pudding will come out when Oputz takes his high level Twinkies, Mortenson or AFSCME position.

Posted by: STM at May 1, 2007 7:20 AM

My top 5 baseball cities:

1. St. Louis-For all the reasons you guys have already stated

2. Boston-They sell out almost every game in a stadium that is over-rated at best

3. Chicago (for the Cubs)- They sell out almost every game for a team that is over-rated at best

4. Cincinati- I think they are sometimes over-rated as a baseball city. Thier fans have hung in reasonably well though 15 years of relative futility, but it's not like they sell out every game as the Cubs and Red Sox do.

5. Detroit- I also think they hung in well through several awful seasons and are now back in full force

Just of the list-New York, San Francisco, Baltimore.

Worst:

1. Tampa- There's no excuse for this franchise, it never should have been brought into existence. True they've never had anything to cheer for, but they're not even close to the most popular MLB team in thier own city.

2. Miami- I have a friend who swears they got hurt by the '94 strike more then anyone as they had huge crowds thier first two years of existence. The break-up of the 97 team didn't help either. But they've still won 2 World Series in the last decade and draw no one. South Florida fans are fair-weather at best unless it's the Dolphins.

3. Washington- I know they're getting a new stadium, but the current state of affairs is awful and there's a reason the Twins and Rangers moved. I predict by year 3 of the new park they won't be drawing.

4. Pittsburgh- This is a dying city in general. The Penguins nearly moved, and should have. Only the Steelers will survive there long-term IMO. The Pirates have a buitiful new stadium, but can't draw and are in serious financial trouble.

5. Chicago- For the White Sox. In the 3rd largest city in America, they barely outdrew the Twins the year after winning the World Series. Enough Said.

Posted by: D Howe at May 1, 2007 7:26 AM

STM - the "just say no" method hasn't worked. so called "just say no" types eventually can't say no... that's for a reason. they find a project that their district BADLY needs, and they have to either vote for it (in their constituents interest) or stay beholden to their ideology. Just ask Phil Krinkie how that's working out for him these days... all of his bloviating earned him a swift defeat last year.

Here's the thing: if the public had a super-serious problem with it, the elected officials who engage in it would be defeated. but most voters are more rational than that. they understand that it's a give and take, and while they'd rather not have their taxes go up, sometimes they will, and then they have to decide whether what we invested in was worth that increase.

Thing is, if elected officials "subverted the will of the people" why were they reelected?

D Howe - Good lists... does anybody else feel that Fenway is overrated? I agree with that assesment, it's charming and old and quirky, but from a straight-up baseball point of view... it's not that great. The fans there are dreadful too. They're getting to be as bad as Yankee fans. Their inferiority complex was bad enough, but now that they've won one in their lifetimes, they've become unbearable.

As for the Cubs... here's the thing, it's the same thing i attribute to the Rockies in Denver. I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon than lounging outside in the sun and the warmth, and watch a baseball game, and not care terribly about the outcome. That sounds like Cubs fans to me. They sell well, only because they play in one of the most charming parks in America.

As for your take on DC - I think their problems currently stem from RFK, and when their yard is opened 8 blocks south of the Capitol, there will ALWAYS be attendance. They won't be great fans per se, because DC is FILLED with people from other places. But the expats from everywhere will come when their team comes to town. There are also the lobbby firms and corporations who will buy up luxury boxes and blocs of season tickets. they won't be rabid fans, but they will come out.

Posted by: CJ at May 1, 2007 9:42 AM

CJ - Here are your stats from the Strib;

a Star Tribune Minnesota Poll showed that just 23 percent felt the Twins needed a new stadium the most over the Vikings and the University of Minnesota football team; two-thirds opposed public funding for a new stadium; and 78 percent felt that, should public money be spent on the stadium, a referendum should be required.

Those should be pretty damning numbers. The truth is nobody really was paying attention to the HC commissioners, Nor should they be. AND their re-election is during an off year (lucky for them.) None of the higher level HC politicians voted for this. Think about that....NONE! The legislators that voted for the approval of this legislation were all outstate and out of HC. This is classic hijacking by one individual OPUTZ! He pleaded to Randy Johnsons "Urban Core" sentiment, appeased Mclaughlin with the library promise and it in Stengleins district. That's IT! there was no concensus, no referendum, no bi-partisan support, no recognition of the Twins or the importance to the State. This is about money. Unions, Contractors and Oputz when he gets his deal.

Posted by: STM at May 1, 2007 9:58 AM

Regarding the referendum, I must say I'm quite tired of the argument. If the elected board of Hennipen County Comissioners want to raise a tax, for whatever reason, within Hennipen County they should be able to do so. They shouldn't need the state legislature's blessing at all, much less an exemption from a referendum law that only went into effect 10 years ago. I guess for the previous century the state law was horribly flawed because it didn't require one?

The Minnesota State Legislature meddles in the affairs of the local governments way too much. They are not a wise group of elders who know better. Minnesota is one of the few states that doesn't have initiative and referendum for other issues, why should get to have one only for tax increases?

Posted by: D Howe at May 1, 2007 11:13 AM

I too am tired of the referendum and "representative government" arguments that keep surfacing. This issue had little to do with either one of. The result here is not justified by the "representative government" arguments and the only reason "referendum" gets brought up is because an exemption from a State law requiring one, had to be gained for this to move to where it is today.

This is about lies, deceit, egos and the slimy under belly of politics and money. While I don't expect our representatives to be lilly white, I do hope for more than bald face lies, even if it means sacrificing their pet projects.

Stadium supporters are lucky they're in the 20% minority of the public that wanted this project. As this type of government is allowed to propogate, they'll get to you, eventually.

Posted by: STM at May 1, 2007 12:04 PM

Yep, they got me when they passed the conceal and carry law. According to the Star Tribune, there was nearly two-thirds opposition to this bill and yet after 6 years of trying the legislature still passed it. Check this out:

"At least three-fifths of college graduates, DFLers, liberals, Twin Cities-area residents and those in the lowest income bracket also believe the state will become more dangerous. The view of a safer Minnesota is most prevalent among Republicans and conservatives. But even in those groups, more think it will be more dangerous than safer."

That one really ticked me off. Was the legislature in bed with the gun manufacturers? Or the gun lobby? Outstate legislators hijacked the bill and slammed it down our throats.

Posted by: Shane at May 1, 2007 12:13 PM

Koko asks
"If referendums are so wrong; why did the law require one years ago"

Years ago meaning 1997?

STM states:
"Representative democracy is a principal rooted in the concept of REPRESENTING the people."

STM, what country do you live in? I live in the United States whose constitution:
"The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government" Article 4, Section 4.

A republican form of government is a system of government in which power is held by the voters and is exercised by elected representatives responsible for promoting the common welfare.

As Edmund Burke said:
"But his unbiased opinion, his mature judgement, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.."

An elected official who governs merely by opinion polls betrays his constituents.

Posted by: pragmatic_cynic at May 1, 2007 12:21 PM

PC - That's a nice concept but presumes the elected official "knows better" or is "better informed" on issues. In pioneer days, it didn't make sense to pull people out of the field to inform, educated and check the pulse of the "will of the people." I don't think they envisioned the education level and access to information we enjoy today.

You suggest that representatives vote their conscious over the will of the people and yet you argue that the people should vote out the representatives that don't look out for their perceived best interests....sounds like having it both ways to me. It's presumptious and arrogant to believe "you" as a representative, know better than the majority, in this day in age.

Shane. Principally I appreciate your attempt to empathize on this issue, but what does the gun law cost you? are you reminded of if every time you buy something? (other than "this establishment bans guns" signs everywhere). that was a joke.

Posted by: STM at May 1, 2007 12:36 PM

Interesting discussion, and very respectful as well. I have to say, from experience though, that I don't believe STM will ever be convinced that this whole thing was not an underhanded, deceitful, and egregious violation of the citizenry's democratic rights. Sometimes you just have to agree to disagree.

Following up on the import of opinion polls, I think they tie in with some of the other observations made above. People act in inconsistent ways (vote to spend more money on schools and simultaneously vote to reduce tax revenues) and are constantly drawn to the promise of a "free lunch." Hence the appeal of deficit spending. Politicians are entrusted to attain what people WANT while navigating the minefield of what people DON'T want to do to get it. Some segment of the population will inevitably be pissed off, but if you're going to make an omelet sometimes you have to break a few eggs.

Posted by: The Tube at May 1, 2007 12:48 PM

Yes, I am angry every time I see those signs. I am reminded that the legislature went against public opinion.

And it cost me my peace of mind. I don't like the thought that there are more guns in the hands of the public now. Personally it is every bit as upsetting to me as your 3 cents on every $20.

And I am still upset even though I have been proven wrong. Minnesota has not turned into the lawless wasteland I thought it would turn into.

The fact of the matter is the legislature went against prevailing, overwhelming public opinion to pass a very controversial bill. And it worked out. Hopefully we'll be able to say the same thing about a Twins stadium.

Having said that, if the legislature ever overturned the conceal and carry law I would be thrilled, just as you would be happy with the Twins stadium bill being overturned. I understand it probably won't happen though.

Posted by: Shane at May 1, 2007 12:50 PM

It's not presumptuous to presume that a representative knows better. It is presumptuous and condescending to imply that the business conducted by representatives is rudimentary enough to be thoroughly processed and acted upon by someone surfing the 'net or paging through a newspaper.

The gun law doesn't "cost" us anything, but if what matters to you is limited to its impact on your pocketbook then your range of interests is pretty narrow. What the gun law costs me is piece of mind, knowing that in just about any public space I am now at the mercy of many more human beings--prone to accident, mistake, malice, or rage--than I was previously. I'm no gun-control nut by any means. Keep them in your home for protection, take them out for hunting, have a blast. Just don't bring it with you for dinner and a movie.

Posted by: The Tube at May 1, 2007 12:56 PM

Tube - I hate when you're right (which I'm not convinced has ever happend before), but I don't think I'll ever concede that this Stadium and the way it was brought about, was ever done in "our" best interest.

Prag - We don't live in a "representative democracy" anyway. It's a constitutional republic. Look it up.

Shane - I don't think more people own guns. Certainly the people that owned guns and now want to carry them, can. But I believe that purchasing guns became much harder as a result of the CC law. So, that's not all bad.

Posted by: STM at May 1, 2007 12:59 PM

Tube - condescending? I'd rather risk that than subjecting ourselves to the idealistic vision you have of a noble representative truly putting the peoples interest above his own, or money grubbing lobbyists. Absolutely, I'll take my chances on majority rule on that stuff.

Posted by: STM at May 1, 2007 1:03 PM

20% of the public wanted the project? could you source that please mr. respectful poster? quit pulling crap out of your butt and stating it like it's fact.

Posted by: mullen at May 1, 2007 1:06 PM

STM -- trust me. My concept of the average politician is far from noble. I think that politicians are humans as well, and are exceedingly prone to losing sight of what is in their own best interests and what is in their constituency's best interests; especially with all of the pressure from special interest groups. What I am willing to concede, however, is that these same politicians are generally more knowledgeable about the intricacies of governing than I because that is their job. And that they "generally" make tough decisions based on their superior knowledge of these things. That's all I'm saying.

Posted by: The Tube at May 1, 2007 1:23 PM

I know that's how its supposed to, and should work, but?

Speaking of which, mullen - I don't remember pulling you out of my butt?

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: STM at May 1, 2007 1:32 PM

a couple of quick takes:

The HC commissioners were up for reelection in November of '06. That's not an off year. There were federal elections held, that's an on year. Oh, and Margaret Anderson-Kelliher voted for the Twins bill in the house... she's from Minneapolis, and she's now Speaker.

do i think my legislators are more informed than i on most matters? yes! they damn sure better be! that's their job. i may not always agree with my legislator, but when i dont i ask... and usually the answer is satisfactory, even if i disagree with the ultimate conclusion.

my point is this: there are a lot accusations about "shady behavior" in this process... the problem is that at every single step of the way, the public and the media have been in the room... to the point that it's annoying as hell. the commissioners voted, as they are elected to do, the voters returned EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM to office. Due process has been done here.

Posted by: CJ at May 1, 2007 1:38 PM

any non presidential election year is considered an off year. Otherwise, when isn't there some federal election of some sort?

Gee, somebody from Mpls in favor of a 1/2 billion dollar expenditure in HER community. Shocking.

Just because no laws have been broken, doesn't mean its ethical, morale or just.

Stadiums have proven to be of no economic value. Are those are the types of "informed" decisions you believe your representatives are making correctly? Is this where government should be spending their time and your money?

Posted by: STM at May 1, 2007 1:50 PM

STM, didn't you malign the Star Tribune for being totally unreliable? Now, you are using their statistics to support your argument? Wait, are YOU a politician?

I also notice that you didn't mention the numbers when a Statewide poll was conducted on the HC bill that was passed. That received FAR more support than the one you referenced...because, just like what happened at the legislature, the majority of people wanted it over and done with, and if their people weren't taxed, it was fine with them.

I would bet that the majority of bills passed in St. Paul are done so by making side deals, involving backroom discussions and underhanded schemes. That's politics. It's all about barter and trade.

Nothing would ever get accomplished if these lawmakers played by the rules and conducted everything on the up and up. The system is too broken for that.

Opat wanted to build a Twins ballpark. He got the votes he needed on the HC Board. He found a legislator willing to sponsor a bill within each house. He worked to get votes. He got the votes needed. Now, he has worked out the majority of issues related to the land and infrastructure. The guy might not be smart. He might not be working in the best interests of every one in his jurisdiction. But, he thought a Twins ballpark was a good idea for a downtown that needed a shot in the arm. So, he made it happen. Now, we'll see if it is a shot in the arm.

Posted by: Derek at May 1, 2007 2:08 PM

just to clarify (as an elections nerd i feel i must)

federal elections are held every even year 2000, 02, 04, 06, etc)

presidentials every 4 years 2000, 04, 08, etc

OFF years, are the odd years 01,03,05,07 where we have municipal elections, local elections, but not much else (in st. paul we elect a mayor and city council)

point being, if you wanted to bury a re-elect bid, you'd do it in an off year like 05 or 07... voter turnout for those years is lucky to reach the low 30's, even in MN. a non-presidential "on" year in MN nets 55-65% depending on the races, presidentials in MN 60-70% (we are WAAAAY above average)

Posted by: CJ at May 1, 2007 2:13 PM

I guess that sums it up.

And, I don't remember specifically skewering the Strib on this issue, but I'm not above doing that.

My fundamental problem with Oputz is just that. He thinks/believes government should be involved in this while it absolutely shouldn't be. Government was never intended to cater to the publics (majority or minority) whims and fancies by providing everything it "wants". Its sole purpose is to ensure the health and welfare of its people by providing essential services and protecting rights. (that's a big period!)

Posted by: STM at May 1, 2007 2:18 PM

Its sole purpose is to ensure the health and welfare of its people by providing essential services and protecting rights. (that's a big period!)

Now who's being idealistic? ;)

(Sorry, couldn't resist)

In a perfect world, I agree. But we are where we are, and what government was intended to be is now a long reach from what many people expect it to be.

Posted by: The Tube at May 1, 2007 2:44 PM

Agreed. In the end, we get the government we deserve.

Posted by: STM at May 1, 2007 2:50 PM

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