Category "Stadiums"

August 29, 2006

Hold the phone!

antistadium.jpgWait a minute here ... I can't believe I missed this before, but I was reading this article about Hennepin County voting to approve funding for a new Twins stadium when I chanced upon these snippets. I am really quite stunned:

"The county levy will go up by 0.15 percent, which works out to an additional 3 cents on a $20 purchase.

Though Tuesday's outcome was expected, several protesters were on hand to vent their anger that it was done without a referendum."

What? Did I just read that correctly? There won't be a referendum? And the county is going to tax me 3 cents on every $20 purchase? This is an outrage! How could I have missed this important information for so long? This is taxation without representation! But it gets worse! Check this out:

"In May, the Legislature approved a financing plan for the $522 million stadium project. The sales tax increase will finance three-quarters of the stadium's cost. The Twins will pay $130 million and get all game-day revenue and in-stadium advertising proceeds. The team's annual revenue is estimated to grow by at least $40 million."

The Twins are only paying $130 million of the $522 million cost? Why wasn't I told any of this? Next thing you'll tell me is they're going to build this monstrosity next to a garbage burner!

That's it! I am now officially anti-stadium! If I had known any of this was going to happen I would have fought this long ago. Please write your representatives! And write your senators! We can't let this go forward!

In addition, I just found this great web site, CCARL.com, which is trying to fight against this tyranny! I encourage you to visit this site and sign their petition! Although only a little over 200 people have signed it I think we could make our voices heard here and make a difference!

Who is with me? Is it too late?

Posted by snackeru at 10:32 PM | Comments (13) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

March 21, 2006

Pogemiller and the Senate Taxes Committee

First I must ask you all to forgive me for freaking out concerning the Gophers stadium bill and what I wrote about it last week. While I still think the legislature needs a good tongue lashing, I feel I may have come across as someone who is losing hope. Let me assure you that my hope is already painfully low to begin with. There really isn't much hope to lose. I just wanted to clear that up.

Anyway, this post is about Phil Krinkie's DFL twin, Larry Pogemiller and his Senate Taxes Committee. If you'll recall, Pogemiller threw a wrench in the U's plan to fund a new stadium with student fees and naming rights for TCF Bank. There are a few rumors as to why he would do this:

  1. The CEO of TCF Bank is Bill Cooper, who is also one of the state's leading conservatives and is also the former chair of the state Republican party. If there is one thing Pogemiller likes to do it is stick it to Republicans.
  2. There is also a rumor that a lot of legislators are concerned that the $7 million the bill requires from the state is only that high so the Gophers can make $3 million more per year than they do in the Metrodome. The Gophers only average 50,000 fans to begin with (which is the seating capacity of the new stadium) so it is thought that they are trying to make extra money out of general fund dollars. This I don't agree with at all.
  3. Shooter also reported that:
    A notion floating around the state Legislature is that owners Zygi Wilf of the Vikings and Carl Pohlad of the Twins might be inclined to assist funding for a Gophers football stadium if their respective stadium proposals could get approval.

    This is an interesting notion. Could Pogemiller be trying to get more money out of Zygi and Pohlad by forcing them to pay for a Gopher's stadium if they want legislative support? That is interesting. It probably wouldn't work, but it is interesting.

  4. Finally, there is a rumor that Pogemiller just feels that more public money, and less private, should be used to fund a Gopher's stadium given the Gophers are a state entity. I can't say I agree, but it is a rumor.

So, having said all of this, Pogemiller's recent stance on the Gopher's stadium got me to thinking: just where does he stand on a Twins stadium? Unfortunately, Pogemiller hasn't said much about my favorite topic. He did vote in favor of the 2002 Twins stadium bill, and he has gone on record as saying he would like more private funding of the stadium (wouldn't we all), but I am just getting the feeling that he will not vote for the Hennepin County plan. And unfortunately I think this time his reasoning will be politically motivated. Essentially, in an election year I think Larry will do anything to make T-Paw look bad.

What about the rest of the Senate Taxes committee? Well, after a little research this is what I can come up with:

Pogemiller - No
Tomassoni - Yes
Belanger - Yes
Bakk - Yes
Betzold - Yes
Johnson - No
Limmer - No
Marty - No (duh)
McGinn - ?
Moua - Yes (actually she is a pretty strong supporter)
Ortman - Yes (this is an educated guess)
Skoe - Yes

So, on the Senate side, the Taxes committee looks to be 7 - 4 in favor with 1 unknown. This is good news if you are a stadium supporter, but certainly disappointing if you are against mom, baseball, and apple pie. That's all I got for now. Catch ya later!

Posted by snackeru at 8:05 AM | Comments (7) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

March 10, 2006

Confirmation: Greg Davids is a Yes

Thanks to an anonymous reader, we have this tidbit from the Fillmore County Journal in Preston, MN:

You might want to refine your stadium scorecard for Davids(31B)
Journal: There is a lot of talk about stadiums - are any of them viable? All of them [U of M, Twins, Vikings]?

Davids: Two of the three are viable. I think the Gopher stadium could go ahead because they have done so much private fundraising. I think the Gopher stadium gets done this year, and I will support that.

If the Twins proposal is as it was in '05, where Pohlad puts in $125 million and then there's a designated sales tax increase in Hennepin County only, I would support that.

On the Twins or the Vikings, I will not use general fund money, because then we are taking money out of education, nursing homes and health care.

The Vikings have a ways to go. They have another proposal out there, it is hard to keep up with the different proposals they come forward with.

My prediction is, one for sure (Gophers); two pretty good chance (Twins); three (Vikings) is not going to happen.

This means that the House Taxes Committee now sits at 13 no, and 16 yes for the Hennepin County Twins stadium bill. This is very, very good news (for some of us). Thanks for sending and keep those updates coming!


And as an aside, for the life I me I don't understand why the Vikings aren't getting more support for their initiative in Anoka County. Check this out from the PiPress from a couple of weeks ago:

Trying to pull even in the stadium race, Vikings lead owner Zygi Wilf says he might back off his request for a politically sensitive state subsidy if lawmakers grant his wish for an Anoka County sales tax.
...

If they get permission to impose the tax, Wilf said, they might withdraw the state subsidy request, which would take the form of an unprecedented $115 million tax-increment financing district.

"If a TIF district is not possible, we have to find another way to fund it,'' he said, adding that he already has had meetings with financial consultants on the matter.

Did you catch that? Not only would Zygi sink $1 billion dollars of private investment in the deal, but he would also pay for some of the infrastructure (which is what the bulk of the state contribution would have covered). Aside from Zygi paying for the stadium himself, I don't know how this deal can get any better.

Could someone explain to me why legislators are so reluctant to embrace it? In many ways it is superior to the Twins plan, yet most legislators say they won't go near it. I know they want to handle the Gophers and Twins first. Maybe it is just an issue of priorities and lack of time.

Posted by snackeru at 3:29 PM | Comments (10) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

March 9, 2006

The usual stuff

• Hello all. While it has been difficult around here with the passing of Kirby, life goes on and the battle for justice and the American way continues at the Greet Machine.

• While I would love it if Kirby's final gift to Twins fans in the upper Midwest was renewed focus from our legislature to finally solve this stadium mess, I would still be surprised if that is how it shakes out. Some of our legislative leaders' hearts may have softened a bit but give it a couple of weeks and we'll be back to the status quo of cold, hard rocks intent on only one thing: getting reelected. Sorry to be so pessimistic, but I'm not Norwegian-Lutheran for nothing. If I'm wrong please convince me otherwise.

As always, I believe the votes are there if a stadium bill ever got to the floor of the House. Getting to the floor though ... that is another story. The Taxes Committee and the Ways and Means Committee are too close to really call right now. The trouble with these committees is that Ron Abrams is on both of them! Curse our luck...

Before I leave this train of thought, Jeff A from the beautiful state of South Dakota has this to say:

I'm obviously not very close to the situation, but I wonder whether the death of Kirby Puckett, sad as it is, will result in people remembering why and how much they love the Twins and result in a new ballpark being built. I don't know how likely that is, but it seems like it might be possible.

Kirby has already been credited with saving the franchise once. Wouldn't it be something if, with his death, he wound up saving it again?

Yes, Jeff, that would be wonderful. Is Kirby saying "Jump on my back" one more time? Time will tell.

• Speaking of Ron Abrams, he was recently quoted in the Minnetonka Sun Sailor where he had a few things to say about my favorite topic. When asked about the chances for a stadium bill passing the legislature this session Abrams replied:

It is difficult to predict the outcome of any stadium initiative. The Twins are insisting that any stadium bill not include a referendum requirement. If the Legislature complies, it will call into question a number of other provisions in Minnesota law calling for voter approval. Additionally, some drafts of the Twins proposal call for the bonds issued by Hennepin County be general obligation bonds, meaning that if revenues from a sales tax fall short, Hennepin County property tax owners will be required to pay higer taxes to make up the shortfall.

While his first two points are valid, the last point about general obligation bonds is flat out false. The only option for these bonds are revenue bonds funded by the sales tax. The sales tax alone will be more than enough and will probably retire the debt early as it did in Denver for Coors Field. While this will be a small consolation for people opposed to any tax whatsoever, it does mean that the Hennepin County plan won't touch property taxes at all. I shouldn't be surprised with this piece of disinformation from Abrams given his anti-stadium stance, but I am. Again, though, it probably doesn't really matter to those people who are against apple pie anyway.

That's all I got for now.

Posted by snackeru at 8:30 AM | Comments (5) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

March 2, 2006

Interesting Comment

I just received a rather hateful comment from a person that seems to be kind of upset with my entry from almost 2 years ago called Restaurants to Avoid. The post lists out restaurants that voted "no" on a survey concerning whether or not they would be in favor of a 3% tax in St. Paul to build a new Twins stadium. Here is the text of the comment:

Typical old school liberal Minnesotan… always trying to spend my money.

If you want the Twins to stay so bad why don't you and your friend’s volunteer a 3% increase in your own income taxes for the next thirty years and while you're at it, leave your entire estate to billionaire Carl Pollad. Excuse me I meant the Twins organization.

Next time you want to put someone on your McCarthy style list why don't you think first? The St. Paul restaurant list-to-avoid you posted sometime ago has several ma & pa restaurants on it that do many great things, but you don't care about that because your form of baseball communism runs over everything just like Mao did.

I won't isolate any one of them on the list. Just know this, many of these restaurants support fire fighters, police and the disadvantaged. To make a claim to boycott them because of one issue is ignorant and says volumes about you.

My question for all of you is did I really overstep my bounds here? What if the reasons for the list were different ... What if I had eaten at all of these restaurants and I found the food to be really bad, or the service to be poor? Is it OK then to list them out as "restaurants to avoid"? Or should I always keep a negative opinion to myself, regardless of the reason? I mean, even if I didn't like the food at the restaurants on this list there would still be "several ma & pa restaurants on it that do many great things."

For me, my reasons for listing them out were the same as if the food was poor. I am essentially giving them a negative review because they are doing something I don't care for (they are against a Twins stadium being built in St. Paul). Is that so bad? Don't restaurants get negative (and positive) reviews all the time? In fact, I've received many comments from people that tell me they are going to support these restaurants because of their stance. I think this is great! Why not? That is what makes democracy and freedom of speech work: having the freedom to make your own decisions for your own reasons.

These restaurants took a stand on an issue they felt strongly about. Good for them. Can I not take a stand myself? I'm really wondering ... please let me know.

Until then, let's just review what this commenter compares me to: A "typical liberal Minnesotan," McCarthy, a communist, Chairman Mao, and seemingly just a flat out ignorant person. Cool! (Not that I think I am like any of this, I am just impressed with the amount of vitriol this person could pack into one comment. Well done sir!)

Ain't freedom of speech wonderful?

Posted by snackeru at 4:11 PM | Comments (16) | Stadiums

Category "Life"

Category "Stadiums"

My thoughts on various topics

• Let's start with the most obvious. I have been doing a lot of updating to the Voter's Guide, the votes in the House Taxes Committee, and the votes in the House Ways and Means Committee. Right now I am pretty confident that I have them correct, and right now they all show that a Twins stadium bill will pass (sometimes barely). I had to switch a bunch of people back to no since I seem to have misunderstood some of the information I have been receiving. If anyone has any insight to these predictions, please drop me a line at snackeru@umn.edu (if you'd like to remain anonymous) or leave a comment below. Things are looking good!

• Speaking of which, thanks to a late night phone call from Cheesehead Craig last night I was able to catch the last half of TPT Almanac on channel 2 (PBS). They were interviewing both Dean Johnson and Steve Sviggum and asking them about various issues that might come up in this legislative session. A lot of time was spent on an amendment to the Minnesota constitution to ban gay marriage (which I find to be a ridiculous waste of time), and then they got into stadiums. Both Sviggum and Johnson said they want to vote on both a Gophers and Twins stadium, and both said they think the Hennepin County plan is a pretty good one. Sviggum said he didn't think they could get to a Vikings stadium this session, but Johnson actually said he hoped they would take care of that one too.

This isn't exactly earth shattering news, but it still puts a little bounce in my step today. Of course, nothing will happen until T-Paw and/or "legislative leadership" asks Hennepin County to begin negotiating with the Twins again, but I will let you know if that is happening as soon as I hear something.

• Last week I also heard that Tony Cornish could be switching his vote from a No for a Twins stadium to a Yes. This was shocking news to me since last year in the Local Government committee Cornish made it quite clear that he would only vote for a Twins stadium if the Twins put up half. So, I wrote him an email asking him if he was now in favor of the Twins stadium, and if he was also in favor of the Vikings stadium in Anoka County since Zygi Wilf is putting up at least half. Here is the response I got:

You were given bad information. I plan to vote no on Twins Stadium.

Well, at least he isn't wishy washy about it. He also avoided my question on the Vikings stadium which I take to mean he would also vote no on that. Bummer.

Why am I telling you all of this? Please, I am begging you ... write your legislators and let me know what they say. They will write you back (most of the time) and sometimes their responses are very insightful. Plus, by writing your legislators we can put extra pressure on them to finally get this job done.

• Finally, as most of you know I recently purchased an iPod Video as a gift to myself for everything I do for me. I know, how thoughtful of myself. Anyway, for the past three nights I have been pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to get a full length DVD onto it. Specifically, I've been trying to put The Matrix onto it. Well, don't you worry your pretty little head about it. Behold, my triumph:

The Matrix on my iPod

Yes, I finally got it to work. My main problems were 1) I was using free software and sometimes that can be unreliable and 2) I couldn't get the audio and video to sync up. After trying a whole bunch of different settings on the software it finally went through. If you are interested in my process and/or settings, please let me know.

So, do you understand what this means? It means that I can now watch The Matrix on the 2.5 inch screen of my iPod! Aren't you jealous? I mean, you still have to watch The Matrix on your big screen TV with your surround sound system! I'm sorry, but that is truly pathetic! Get with the times, man.

Posted by snackeru at 8:24 AM | Comments (7) | Life | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

February 28, 2006

The first hurdle has been passed

Hennepin County is ready to play ball with the Twins. The vote went down 5-2 with Steele and Koblick voting against the measure. While Dorfman voted in favor, she is probably only voting in favor of the process, not the resulting plan. At least she isn't wasting everyone's time like some other commissioners. The text:

WHEREAS, the Minnesota Legislature convenes on March 1, 2006 for the second year of the biennium and will conduct its business in a short session with compressed deadlines for committee action; and

WHEREAS, Governor Tim Pawlenty has convened several meetings with Minnesota Twins officials, Hennepin County Commissioners, state legislative leaders from both political parties in the House of Representatives and Senate to consider a new initiative to build a ballpark in Hennepin County; and

WHEREAS, the adopted 2006 Hennepin County Board calendar has no scheduled meetings of the County Board in the month of March; and

WHEREAS, Governor Tim Pawlenty or legislative leadership may request that Hennepin County and Minnesota Twins officials renew negotiations on a new ballpark agreement in the near term and may request that a revised agreement be presented to the Governor’s office and the Minnesota Legislature
during the 2006 session;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that in the event Governor Pawlenty or legislative leadership request that Hennepin County and the Minnesota Twins conduct negotiations on a new ballpark agreement to be considered during the 2006 session, that County Administrator Vargas and County staff are authorized to work with the Board Chair and staff to comply with this request; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that in the event a revised ballpark agreement is acceptable to both County negotiators and the Minnesota Twins officials, that the Chair shall schedule a special meeting of the Board to consider the proposal for Board approval as soon as practical.

What I find interesting about this text is that the onus is clearly on T-Paw, or the legislative leadership, to get the ball rolling. It will be by their request that the Twins and Hennepin County start negotiating again. This looks like a shrewd move by the county. In essence they are forcing Pawlenty or Sviggum to play a stronger role ... they are actually forcing them to lead on this issue. Well, you can bring a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

We'll see what T-Paw does. I for one am excited to see what happens in the next couple of weeks.

Posted by snackeru at 5:35 PM | Comments (1) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

A flurry of activity

• What a magical time of year. Stadium season is upon us and is in full swing. I've made some more changes to the Voter's Guide and the totals are now:

   Pro-American (Pro-stadium) legislators: 78
   Anti-American (Anti-stadium) legislators: 49
   Unknown: 7

Can you believe it? Could this be the year? Truth be told, I would be stunned. I know people are feeling more optimistic than ever, but if a stadium bill ever passed I would be absolutely amazed. I don't want to bum you out, but it would just plain be amazing to the point of almost being impossible. Let me put it this way: when this stadium bill passes the House Taxes committee, that is when I will start feeling optimistic. Not before.

Recent changes to the Voter's Guide include Zellers, Erhardt, Mullery, Walker, and Vandeveer all now in the YES column. Of course, I can't confirm any of this (this is all a guess on my part) but I am hearing a lot which leads me to believe the votes are there. Can it get to the floor of the House? We'll see.

Also, I changed Otremba back to a No. I just don't believe she will vote Yes. Curt in Grand Forks is checking that for me.

• Secondly, today should be an interesting day for Mike Opat. According to the PiPress, Opat will seek a HC board resolution authorizing him to renegotiate a contract with the Twins to build a stadium in Hennepin County. As per usual, I'm sure my good friend Linda Koblick will have all her ducks in a row and give Opat all that he can handle. Please, Linda, please go easy on him. As you know there are a lot of people in Hennepin County that want this to happen, myself included, of course.

According to the article, the added $30 million to the overall stadium price tag will be the biggest sticking point in any future negotiations. I really have no idea where this will go, but I hope Pohlad doesn't ruin what seems to be some stadium good will out there by throwing it back in the County's face. Unfortunately, I think we can all see the writing on the wall on this one: the Twins will expect the County to pay. This, in my opinion, will be a huge mistake and may change some votes back to the No column.

• Finally, I got an interesting email from Jim in St. Paul yesterday that went a little like this:

I was tempted to throw this out last year but maybe this is the year. If our esteemed legislators can finally see the light and pass a Twins ballpark bill this session I would like to extend an invite to all loyal Greet Machiners to come down some Saturday afternoon to my place of business, Summit Brewery, for a tour and celebration. I may even go through my archives and get out for display all my St. Paul related ballpark campaign items (I have a bunch). Like I said, hopefully this is the year and some celebration would definitely be in order.

How about that! A celebration at the Summit Brewery in St. Paul would be awesome. Thanks for the offer Jim! And of course, all "Greet Machiners" would be welcome (even you anti-stadium bums). And I must say, if Jim in St. Paul is feeling optimistic ... that really gives me pause. I dare say Jim knows more about this issue than me! Thanks for the day brightener Jim! I will be there!

Posted by snackeru at 8:30 AM | Comments (4) | Stadiums

Category "Life"

Category "Stadiums"

February 27, 2006

Weekend update

• So, as we gear up for the upcoming legislative session, I've been getting some notes from people concerning my Voter's Guide and changes that should be made to it. Here is what I've heard so far:

Maxine Penas (1A): changed from a No to a Yes.
Pete Nelson (17B): changed from a No to a Yes.
Scott Newman (18A): changed from an Unknown to a No.
Greg Davids (31B): changed from a No to a Yes.
Tom Emmer (19B): changed from an Unknown to a No.
Dan Larson (63B): changed from an Unknown to a Yes.

This brings the grand total so far to:

   Pro-American (Pro-stadium) legislators: 75
   Anti-American (Anti-stadium) legislators: 52
   Unknown: 7

I have also been told that Tony Cornish (24B) should be changed to a Yes. This is surprising to me since last year in the Governmental Operations committee he made it quite clear that he wanted the Twins to put up at least half before he would approve. In fact, I was going to write him to ask him if he was therefore in favor of the Viking stadium bill since Zygi is putting up half. I may have to contact him and ask him what is up. Not that he'll get back to me. As David has said, I think legislators are avoiding me now.

Also, I was stunned to hear that Mary Ellen Otremba is now in the Yes column. Stunned. Curt, isn't this your former district? Can you contact Otremba and ask if this is true?

Finally, I know pro-stadium people are feeling optimistic, but let's take a moment for a little reality check here. The session starts on Wednesday and that is when the partisan politics will begin. Both sides will say, "We can't deal with stadiums until we get all our other business taken care of." Two months later they will still be arguing, the session will end with the stadium bill never reaching the floor, and we'll begin the long summer of "should we call a special session?" I'm not saying I am giving up, no no no... I am just steeling myself for this inevitability.

• And on a completely different note, awhile back I alluded to the possibility that the Greet Machine would soon cease to exist and that changes in my life could be coming. Well, you'll be happy (maybe not?) to know that neither will be happening. In November I applied for a new position at the University of St. Thomas. I had an interview at the beginning of February, but in the interview I think we could both tell that it just wasn't the right fit. I found out last Friday that I didn't get the job.

This process was both painful and exiciting. After the interview, I was pretty confident that I might get offered the job. So, at that point I had to make a choice of telling my boss and his boss that I might be leaving. This was a hard decision because, obivously, I didn't know how they would react. Fortunately, they were happy for me. They understood that I wanted to take a step up in my career. But what made me even more surprised, and actually touched, is that they said they would make me a retention offer.

So, even though I didn't get the new job offer, or the retention offer, it still felt good that my work is appreciated here at the U. In fact, this whole process has really showed me how much I enjoy working here.

However, back to the fact that I got nothing for my troubles. This kind of bothered me, so I bought myself a 30GB iPod Video. Sure, I slept on the couch that night, and yes, I really can't afford it. But I justify it based on all the pain I went through, and because, quite frankly, I deserve something nice every once in a while.

ipodv.jpg

Talk to you later!

Posted by snackeru at 8:27 AM | Comments (6) | Life | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

February 24, 2006

Spycake was right!

You know, it is not often that I am wrong, but I'd like to think that I am man enough to admit when I am. Two nights ago I wrote a piece that suggested Matt Entenza was playing partisan politics in witholding the results of a survey to gauge support for the Hennepin County ballpark plan. Spycake chastised my carefully crafted work of genius with these words:

But it seems like right now, there's nothing more to these accusations of "political gain" than Steve Sviggum's fear and Shane's lack of information. There's still plenty of time to discuss the stadium reasonably and get Estenza's honest opinion -- the session hasn't even started yet! Let's not rush to conclusions and label people (and whole parties!) political opportunists ...

Ha! I thought. While Spycake might make more sense than he usually he does, his words of wisdom would fall on deaf ears yet again, I decided. "Let's not rush to conclusions ..." Bah! Rushing to conclusions is what I am best at! It is something I take pride in! You can't take that away from me! Then, I read this in today's Shooter column:

Within the past 24 hours, the Twins have heard from the four major political caucus leaders who have reported a positive vote count for a new ballpark in downtown Minneapolis without a referendum, as the plan was constructed a year ago. The next step for the Twins is to re-engage with Gov. Tim Pawlenty in the near future. A state legislative vote on a ballpark isn't expected until late April or May.

Although Shooter doesn't spell it out in great detail, I would wager that the four major political caucus leaders would be Sviggum, Dean Johnson, Dick Day, and ... Matt Entenza.

Taking it a step further means that yes: Spycake was right! Oh the humanity! Does this mean that David Wintheiser is sometimes right? No, I don't think we can jump to that conclusion, but my world today has been turned upside down! It is like I am Superman in Bizzaro world! Nothing is as it should be. I should have never got out of bed.

What else could Spycake be right about? Nothing much I would wager ... but I've been proven wrong before.

• And now I would like to explain something to all of my new readers. You aren't going to change my mind. We can debate about things in a civil manner, hopefully, but if you are here just to blather about how much the Twins suck, or the Hennepin County ballpark plan sucks, then you have come to the wrong place. I won't listen to you. In fact, I might even lose respect for you which is sad because I don't even know you. This is not to say that I don't respect anti-ballpark types. If you write something to me in a coherent manner with good reasoning and well crafted sentences I will read what you say and ponder it for a while. Take my good buddy David Wintheiser, for example. For as much pain and suffeiring that he brings me I actually am quite fond of the guy. I wish I had half the writing skills as he does, and I dare say if we ever met we would probably have a good time discussing various topics over a pint of ale. The fact that he is anti-stadium doesn't matter. I welcome his opinion. So, in other words, treat me with respect and I will do the same for you (sometimes).

Also, I thought it might be handy for all the newcomers to read a little bit of where I am coming from. So, without futher ado, here is a list of some of the things I believe:

So, there you have it. Those are just some of the things I believe. You may think I'm wrong, but difference of opinion makes the world go round.

Thanks for stopping by!

Posted by snackeru at 8:50 AM | Comments (12) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

February 22, 2006

The DFL is playing games

Sigh. Well, sorry for the delay, but I've been trying to get a hold of Matt Entenza today, the House Minority Leader, in order to ask him about the DFL response to the survey sent out by the governor concerning support for a Twins stadium bill this session. A little birdy tells me that the DFL has yet to turn in their responses, and that Entenza may be holding things up. Could this be for political gain? Could the DFL be looking for something to pin on T-Paw as another example of his failure as governor to get things done?

Aron Kahn had a another great article today discussing this issue:

For example, Sviggum, a ballpark supporter from Kenyon, said there are 41 Republican House members who'll vote for the measure, but "I'm not sure I want the number to rise higher than 41.''

In other words, with 68 votes needed for passage, Sviggum wants DFLers to make up the rest of the winning tally. "There has to be Democrats because it could be used (against Republicans) in a partisan, emotional election,'' he said.

Entenza's lack of response concerning stadium issues and the infamous survey I mentioned above demonstrates, at least to me, that the DFL may be contemplating using either the passage, or defeat, of a stadium bill against the Republicans in the upcoming election. If Sviggum got more than 41 votes, it would look like the Republicans in the House were the driving force behind its passage. Obviously, this could come back to haunt them.

However, if a stadium bill doesn't pass, again the DFL can blame the governor for his lack of leadership. It is definitely a sticky wicket for T-Paw.

The fact of the matter is I am excited with any headline that says "Twins stadium bill has might." I am also excited that Sviggum claims to have 41 Republican votes. That is three more than I count.

So, for the next few weeks I will be watching the comments of both Entenza and Dean Johnson very carefully. When they start breaking out the partisan rhetoric I will be very, very let down. I know I shouldn't be so naive, but to sacrifice the Twins for their own political gain will be disheartening to say the least.

One more thing, Steve Sviggum is the leader of the Republican party in Minnesota, plain and simple. T-Paw doesn't have half the leadership skills of our friend from Kenyon. I know actions speak louder than words, but I have a feeling Sviggum is going to step out on a limb this session in a way that would make T-Paw wet himself.

Ain't "stadium season" a fun time of year?

Posted by snackeru at 6:37 PM | Comments (10) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

I'm working on it

I'm working on some stuff based on what I've read in this article. Sviggum says he's got 41 votes, but the DFL seems to be remaining silent. Who says Entenza won't be important?

Posted by snackeru at 8:41 AM | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

February 15, 2006

OK OK OK ...

OK everyone. You've got to understand something. I've been writing about this Twins stadium mess for 3 years now. And I've been thinking about it for probably more than 10. Words cannot express both how much I want a new Twins stadium and how tired I am of thinking about it.

So, I'm not sure I can totally stop writing about this issue. I have too much invested in this at this point in time. I also believe that this might be the last year. I have learned not to make any predictions, so I won't do that, but I think there may just be one more big push for a new home for the Twins. And then that is it. We'll have what we have.

In other words, now is not the time to say I will be stopping. No, I'm all talk. The Greet Machine will live. However, I've been encouraged to start thinking about something different for a little while. At least until the legislature starts their predictable bickering, partisan politics, and do-nothing ways.

I need to refresh my thinking. So, I will be writing about some other stuff for a while. Family, maybe some politics, maybe some religion. Who is the better singer: Jessica or Ashlee. You know, important stuff. Whatever strikes me as interesting.

So there you have it. Hope springs eternal and all that jazz.

Posted by snackeru at 3:32 PM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

February 12, 2006

Is a referendum really required by law?

So, I finally read Nick Coleman's recent piece of crap concerning the Twins and their never ending quest for a new stadium. As far as Coleman columns go it was exceptionally weak. I know, this in iteself is shocking, but stay with me for a second. Nick wants the people to vote whether or not we should build a new stadium. Yes, the same people that vote down school referendums. Yes, the same people that were NOT given the chance to vote for the Xcel Energy Center, the Mall of America infrastructure, the Guthrie, the Minneapolis Convention Center, and the Metrodome itself. Would any of these things have been built if it was given to the people to vote on? No, absolutely not. Is Minnesota a better place because of these amenities? Yes, it absolutely is.

But I'm not writing today to flip out on the genius that is Nick Coleman. I'm here to look at the actual Minnesota law that supposedly requires a referendum.. We've all heard John Knight (where has he gone to? it seems he can't stand the heat in the spotlight) and Laura Lehman from Citizens for a Stadium Tax Referendum moan and groan about the requirement for a referendum. Let's take a look at what the Minnesota legislature actually says about this.

From a document entitled "Local Sales Taxes in Minnesota" from the House of Representatives comes this snippet:

Summary of the Local Sales Tax Provisions in Minn. Stat. § 297A.99

Local Taxes Subject to the Statutory Provisions

The statutory provisions apply to all local sales taxes authorized after June 2, 1997, unless the enabling legislation specifically exempts the local authority from these rules by reference.

Hennepin County isn't proposing to circumvent the law, as they have been accused of. The referendum requirement on local sales taxes was just added in 1997--and it includes a specific provision ALLOWING a local sales tax to be enacted without a referendum. Just like recent sales taxes enacted in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington, and Rochester, all of which were imposed by local ordinance.

Let's break it down even further. According to a 2004 report from the Minnesota Department of Revenue (page 21):

[T]he uses to which local sales tax can be put should be limited to large projects that would otherwise not be able to be funded by other means. These projects should have broad benefit and encourage multi-jurisdictional cooperation. Projects that cross boundaries or will be utilized by surrounding communities are examples of proposals that meet this criteria. While this may sound like another name for "regional benefit," the focus here should be on the scope of the project and the inability to fund it from other sources.

According to the Department of Revenue, what Hennepin County is proposing to do is completely within the boundaries of the local sales tax statute. On page 23 of this same report there is this little tidbit:

The local sales tax is best used as a mechanism for financing large, special, multi-jurisdictional capital projects.

In addition, the Governor's bipartisan 2004 Stadium Screening Committee determined a local sales tax was an appropriate mechanism to fund the local share of a stadium project. And speaking of governor created committees, after extensive debate the Stadium Screening Committee voted 18-1 that local taxes should fund stadiums and that they should NOT be subject to a referendum requirement.

To me, the law and the legislature are clear. Local sales taxes are an appropriate funding mechanism for the Twins stadium, and a referendum, while certainly encouraged, is NOT required. So, I wish anti-stadium folk would quit saying it is.

Finally, a local sales tax, such as Hennepin County is proposing, is a dependable and predictable revenue stream that allows the County to issue tax-exempt debt (thereby saving the public money). In addition, because the money is predictable, the interest rate on the loan should be lower thereby saving taxpayers even more money. In the Denver area, they used a .1 percent sales tax to finance Coors Field and they were able to retire 20-year bonds in less than 10 years. How soon will Hennepin County be able to retire the debt on a new Twins stadium? That is unknown, of course, but I doubt it will take 30 years.

And to wrap this up, when a new Twins stadium is built people will be giddy. Who in their right mind will wish that we hadn't built it? It will be the jewel of downtown Minneapolis and people will flock to it. How do I know? No one wishes we didn't build the Xcel Energy Center, no one wishes we didn't build the Metrodome. And these were both built with taxpayer money. I don't see Nick Coleman complaining about the Xcel Energy Center and the half-cent sales tax that pays for it. Why? Because it has been proven to be a good idea.

Posted by snackeru at 10:52 AM | Comments (9) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

February 10, 2006

All editorials point to Hennepin County

• Wow! Now this is a surprise! The Pioneer Press has reversed its stance and now favors a Twins ballpark in Hennepin County. Plus, this editorial also calls on Zygi Wilf to privately finance a new Vikings stadium. Check this out:

So what to do to ensure Minnesotans can continue to enjoy baseball and pro football? Here's our advice on Minnesota's stadium conundrum: Wilf should build the Anoka complex after lining up financing, which is his specialty as a real estate mogul. He could then build a Vikings stadium as he wants it, reaping all the benefits — and profits.

By doing this, Wilf would free up the Legislature to focus first on the Twins, who are the greatest threat to pack up and leave. The Legislature should then give Hennepin County the exemption on the 0.15 percent sales tax. That would avoid the costly referendum — which quite possibly could fail. At the very least, it would keep the price from going up another $30 million.

In short: Problem solved.

Problem solved indeed. I wish it were that easy. Again, though, what is interesting about this is the shift of the Pioneer Press editorial staff to now favor the Hennepin County plan. This could be because the PiPress has a new editor, or it could be because they realize that Chris Coleman doesn't have a plan or the desire to create one. I, for one, welcome this shift in their stance, but I expect Jim in St. Paul is weeping in his Summit right now.

• Today I received confirmation that the Greet Machine Voter's Guide has indeed been placed in the hands of Speaker of the House Steve Sviggum. I can't express to you enough what a thrill this is, although in looking what I have written for Mr. Sviggum himself it appears I have a little updating to do. I'm still confident in the votes I have predicted, but my pithy commentary is a little stale. I'm going to try to work on it this weekend.

And speaking of Sviggum, I have heard that he spoke at a breakfast this morning with Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, and he said that the Twins and Gophers have stadium priority over the Vikings. I know, this is stunning news, but I thought I would just mention that Sviggum does appear to have the Twins on his mind. I'll take that as a positive, no matter how small it is.

• The more I think about this stadium mess, and how T-Paw screwed the pooch by not getting this bill done last year, the more ticked off I become. Because of this delay, the stadium will cost at least $30 million more? Ouch, ouch, ouch. I can't help but think this will be brought up over and over and over again as we battle through the legislature this year. $30 million. Who is going to pay for it? Probably the County, and for that reason this will be a really sticky issue. Thanks a lot T-Paw.

• More later. I've got some interesting news on the state law that supposedly requires a referendum. It seems there is room for interpretation (as always). Until next time...

Posted by snackeru at 12:52 PM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

February 9, 2006

Ways and Means Committee

UPDATE 2/28/06: I've been informed that Vandeveer and Walker will now vote Yes on the Hennepin County plan. Add that to Dan Larson's yes vote and that brings the total to 22 for and 16 against. Yep, that would do it!


Ouch. Once the stadium bill gets past the Taxes committee (ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!! that is a good one!) it would have to be passed by the Ways and Means Committee. From what I can tell, this will be another huge battle. It is also where the Pawlenty/Sviggum stadium bill was killed two years ago. Here is the breakdown:

Chair: Jim Knoblach (R) rep.jim.knoblach@house.mn No
Vice Chair: Jerry Dempsey (R) rep.jerry.dempsey@house.mn Yes
Lead-DFL: Loren Solberg (DFL) rep.loren.solberg@house.mn Yes
Jim Abeler (R) rep.jim.abeler@house.mn Yes
Ron Abrams (R) rep.ron.abrams@house.mn No
Irv Anderson (DFL) rep.irv.anderson@house.mn Yes (?)
Michael Beard (R) rep.mike.beard@house.mn Yes
Fran Bradley (R) rep.fran.bradley@house.mn Yes
Mark Buesgens (R) rep.mark.buesgens@house.mn No
Lyndon Carlson (DFL) rep.lyndon.carlson@house.mn No
Karen Clark (DFL) rep.karen.clark@house.mn No
Dan Dorman (R) rep.dan.dorman@house.mn Yes
John Dorn (DFL) rep.john.dorn@house.mn Yes
Ron Erhardt (R) rep.ron.erhardt@house.mn No
Mindy Greiling (DFL) rep.mindy.greiling@house.mn No
Bob Gunther (R) rep.bob.gunther@house.mn Yes
Rod Hamilton (R) rep.rod.hamilton@house.mn Yes
Bill Hilty (DFL) rep.bill.hilty@house.mn Yes
Mary Liz Holberg (R) rep.maryliz.holberg@house.mn No
Thomas Huntley (DFL) rep.thomas.huntley@house.mn Yes
Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL) rep.margaret.kelliher@house.mn Yes
Karen Klinzing (R) rep.karen.klinzing@house.mn No
Philip Krinkie (R) rep.phil.krinkie@house.mn No
Dan Larson (DFL) rep.dan.larson@house.mn Yes
Carlos Mariani (DFL) rep.carlos.mariani@house.mn No
Denny McNamara (R) rep.denny.mcnamara@house.mn Yes
Bud Nornes (R) rep.bud.nornes@house.mn Yes
Mary Ellen Otremba (DFL) rep.maryellen.otremba@house.mn No
Dennis Ozment (R) rep.dennis.ozment@house.mn Yes
Michael Paymar (DFL) rep.michael.paymar@house.mn No
Tom Rukavina (DFL) rep.tom.rukavina@house.mn Yes
Connie Ruth (R) rep.connie.ruth@house.mn Yes
Marty Seifert (R) rep.marty.seifert@house.mn No
Steve Smith (R) rep.steve.smith@house.mn No
Barb Sykora (R) rep.barb.sykora@house.mn Yes
Ray Vandeveer (R) rep.ray.vandeveer@house.mn Yes (formerly No)
Jean Wagenius (DFL) rep.jean.wagenius@house.mn No
Neva Walker (DFL) rep.neva.walker@house.mn Yes (formerly No)

19-19 and one unknown. Actually, a couple of unknowns. Again, this is all an educated guess on my part. And I'd like to know how and why after we get done with Krinkie, Abrams, and Knoblach in the Taxes committee we have to see these turkeys again in the Ways and Means Committee! That bums me out.

I'd also be surprised if the stadium bill got out of either committee without a referendum attached. I'm not sure that is a bad thing either. We need to get this bill to the floor of the House. Once it is there I think there would be enough votes to strip off a referendum. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see this bill fly through without any referendum attached, but every single committe will try to attach one, and then there will be multiple attempts on the floor. It will be fun (?) to watch.

If anyone has any insight on this committee please let me know.

• Secondly, Charley Walters reported yesterday:
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, some legislative leaders, and Hennepin County and Twins officials are expected to meet again next week to continue dialogue about a new ballpark in downtown Minneapolis.

And the beat goes on. Another year, another round of talks. Let's see if anything happens this time.

Posted by snackeru at 9:03 AM | Comments (1) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

February 8, 2006

More drivel

• You all probably already saw this, but according to the Pioneer Press:

House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, said the 2005 bill had the support of 69 House members, enough to guarantee passage if it came to a vote. The DFL-led Senate has been more receptive to stadium bills.

I wonder if some of this calculation is based on the Voter's Guide. I would like to think it is. And speaking of the Voter's Guide, I've been told that it was given to Erik Paulsen, House Majority Leader, at a GOP fundraiser last Friday night as proof that the votes are there to pass a stadium bill in the House. Of course, Erik Paulsen is the main reason there was no special session last summer to deal with this issue. His lobbying against a special session will cost taxpayers millions of extra dollars in increased stadium costs if not for a Twins stadium then certainly for a Gophers stadium.

Thanks Erik! You are a genius!

And speaking of Erik Paulsen, check out this website that he and some other state senators put together for our edification. I pray when the Twins are gone that Mr. Paulsen takes some extreme heat for his stance on this issue.

• You probably already also saw this article concerning Bruce Lambrecht and Rich Pogin of Twinsville fame by Mark Kaszuba of the Star Tribune. I truly can't believe how stupid this article is. First of all, if Lambrecht and Pogin had T-Paw wrapped around their little fingers as the article claims, we would already have a new Twins stadium! For goodness sake, I wish Lambrecht had T-Paw in his pocket!! I wouldn't have to worry about this anymore! Where is the logic in this article?

Secondly, God forbid anyone make money or use their connections in this state. I can't believe how anti-capitalism we are in the great state of Minnesota. What? You mean someone might actually make money? Someone might actually better their life at my expense? No! I won't let this happen! Me, me, me, me me!!!

People make money. People have friends in high places. Neither of these two things are inherently evil! So get over it!

Posted by snackeru at 8:38 AM | Comments (6) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

February 7, 2006

I am still not optimistic

UPDATE (2/28/06): I have been informed that Zellers, Erhardt, and Mullery are now going to vote YES on the Hennepin County plan. That brings the vote total to 18 for and 11 against. That would be amazing. Can you imagine if a Twins stadium bill got out of Krinkie's Tax committee unscathed?


I have heard from a connected anonymous source that Hennepin County was not encouraged by the governor's words yesterday.

And while I personally am encouraged that Entenza at least kept the door open giving the stadium plan at least the tepid support of the 4 caucus leaders, there is one thing that needs to be made clear:

T-Paw has to lead!!!!

There is no getting around this. In order for a stadium bill to go through normal legislative protocol, T-Paw is going to have to give it a great deal of support. Normal legislative protocol has a stadium bill going through at least 3 committees before it gets to the floor, and in the case of any stadium bill that means a stop in Krinkie's Taxes Committee. Last year I do not believe the stadium bill would have gotten out of that committee.

You may also be wondering why a bill can't just be pushed onto the floor for a vote. In order for that to happen the legislature would have to vote to suspend normal legislative protocol for that bill and it would take a 2/3 majority. I believe the stadium bill has enough votes to pass, but I don't think it has a 2/3 majority.

So, back to T-Paw. If he wants this bill to at the very least get to the floor he is going to have to put pressure on not only the legislature in general, but also specifically the Taxes committee. Here is the current breakdown for where I see the votes falling in that committee:

Chair: Philip Krinkie (R) rep.phil.krinkie@house.mn No
Vice Chair: Dean Simpson (R) rep.dean.simpson@house.mn Yes
Lead-DFL: Ann Lenczewski (DFL) rep.ann.lenczewski@house.mn No
Ron Abrams (R) rep.ron.abrams@house.mn No
Irv Anderson (DFL) rep.irv.anderson@house.mn Yes
Joe Atkins (DFL) rep.joe.atkins@house.mn Yes
Connie Bernardy (DFL) rep.connie.bernardy@house.mn Yes
Laura Brod (R) rep.laura.brod@house.mn Yes
Gregory M. Davids (R) rep.greg.davids@house.mn No
Jim Davnie (DFL) rep.jim.davnie@house.mn No
Chris DeLaForest (R) rep.chris.delaforest@house.mn No
David Dill (DFL) rep.david.dill@house.mn Yes
Dan Dorman (R) rep.dan.dorman@house.mn Yes
Ron Erhardt (R) rep.ron.erhardt@house.mn Yes (formerly No)
Larry Howes (R) rep.larry.howes@house.mn No
Mike Jaros (DFL) rep.mike.jaros@house.mn No
Jim Knoblach (R) rep.jim.knoblach@house.mn No
Lyle Koenen (DFL) rep.lyle.koenen@house.mn Yes
Paul Kohls (R) rep.paul.kohls@house.mn No
Morrie Lanning (R) rep.morrie.lanning@house.mn Yes
John Lesch (DFL) rep.john.lesch@house.mn No
Paul Marquart (DFL) rep.paul.marquart@house.mn Yes
Joe Mullery (DFL) rep.joe.mullery@house.mn Yes (formerly No)
Peter Nelson (R) rep.peter.nelson@house.mn Yes
Tom Rukavina (DFL) rep.tom.rukavina@house.mn Yes
Katie Sieben (DFL) rep.katie.sieben@house.mn Yes
Ray Vandeveer (R) rep.ray.vandeveer@house.mn Yes
Andrew "Andy" Westerberg (R) rep.andy.westerberg@house.mn Yes
Kurt Zellers (R) rep.kurt.zellers@house.mn Yes (formerly No)

As you can probably tell, no other issue in all of the legislature is as non-partisan as stadium politics. Thanks to some reworking of where I think the votes will fall it appears that the vote in this committee is 15 for and 14 against. However, it is all a guess on my part. If T-Paw can convince a couple of other Republicans it would be a done deal.

And thanks to the Twins recent court victory, I think the pressure is more acute than ever before for our do-nothing governor. Will this be the year? Only if it can get to the floor of the House.

Posted by snackeru at 8:34 AM | Comments (7) | Stadiums

Category "Life"

Category "Stadiums"

February 3, 2006

A couple of things

This will be completely stream of consciousness ... please forgive me.

• A little birdy tells me that the meeting that was supposed to happen a couple of weeks ago will actually happen this Monday (2/6). The same people are rumored to attend: Opat, Bell, T-Paw, Day, Sviggum, Johnson, and Entenza. And like I said before, my focus will be on Entenza. He is the only one of these people that I still would consider anti-stadium. If he comes out of this meeting even remotely favorable towards a new Twins stadium I will consider it a victory. For example, if he comes out of this meeting and says, "The plan doesn't suck as much as I thought it would," I will take that as a positive.

• Speaking of Entenza, I heard that he was on WCCO radio today talking about the stadium. According to my sources he said that he wanted to study any new plan in detail before making any judgements. A step in the right direction, I think.

Again, if T-Paw can get Entenza on board that would mean he would have the Speaker of the House, the Minority Leader of the House, the Majority Leader of the Senate, and the Minority Leader of the Senate all in favor of the Hennepin County plan. That would be a nice little coalition. Right now T-Paw has 3 out of 4.

• T-Paw was on WCCO radio last week again touting St. Paul as a better location for a new Twins ballpark. I have no problem with St. Paul being the new home of the Twins, but Governor ... they have no plan. And any plan they do promote will have to include state money. The 3% stadium tax Kelly promoted would not be able to raise the same amount of money a .01% tax would be able to raise in Hennepin County.

Is Coleman even that gung ho about a new stadium in St. Paul? My impression is no. Jim in St. Paul, if you are reading this, help me out with this. Would you take a stadium in Hennepin County right now over the possibilty of the Twins giving up and packing it in? Or do you prefer waiting for another chance for St. Paul?

• Unfortunately, however, as we all know any chance we have relies on T-Paw taking a stand. In fact, it would probably come down to T-Paw playing the bonding bill card ala Arne Carlson and saying, "I won't sign until a Twins stadium bill is approved." How likely is that? Not very.

I was talking with another stadium expert today when I asked him, "What chances do we really have this year? Less than 50?" And he looked at me and said, "The chances are better in 2006 than 2007." What he means by this is that the Hennepin County plan, the Twins desire to try again, the governor's even tepid support ... none of these will probably be the same in 2007.

• However, it seems we do have some reason for optimism. I have heard that stadium supporters might be happy with the outcome of Monday's meeting, for whatever reason. We'll see.

• And I can't believe I didn't write about this before, but last week was our Cub Scout Pack's Pinewood Derby. As you can see below, my son came in second out of about 40 cars! We both were thrilled, especially my son, but I was really happy too because I worked really hard on that car! It was a nice way for my son to end his Cub Scout career. He gets the Arrow of Light later this month.

pinewood2006.jpg

Posted by snackeru at 8:02 AM | Comments (4) | Life | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

February 2, 2006

I choose anger!

Someone just sent me a picture of this huge sign that sits on the outskirts of the Rapid Park ballpark stadium site in downtown Minneapolis.

I have a number of emotions when looking at this picture. Hope. Sadness. Hapiness ... and anger. I choose anger!

rapidball.jpg

Anger is a good emotion for me today. It is better than "woe is me" depression. Why? Because I can blame other people for my problems! Anti-stadium people! Bah! A pox on all your houses!

There, I feel better now. Hope again springs eternal. I'm sorry you had to witness that.


Posted by snackeru at 2:38 PM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

Category "Life"

Category "Stadiums"

January 30, 2006

Now that is an interesting plan

• I'll cut right to the chase, someone tell me how this isn't a good plan:

Published estimates are that Pohlad has a net worth of $2.8 billion. Assume conservatively that only half that amount would be subject to the estate tax. If he remained a Minnesota resident, the state would collect 16 percent, or about $224 million. But there would be no such windfall if he moved.

The state, the Twins, and its owner should consider an arrangement whereby the owner would agree to remain a Minnesota resident and expose his estate to a tax of at least the amount of the state contribution to the cost of a new Twins ballpark. The state would then lend that amount to the Hennepin County project. Along with the $125 million the Twins have already pledged, and the expected infrastructure contribution of local government, the state loan would get the job done. The state loan would be fully secured by the expected Pohlad estate tax, from which the loan would be repaid.

Did you understand that? Pohlad will be paying an estate tax anyway when he dies. This gentleman, William Brody, estimates that it will be $224 million. Assuming that Pohlad dies while a Minnesota resident, why don't we take that money and use it to build a new Twins stadium? How does this plan not work? Someone please inform me because I think it is a fantastic plan (if not a little morbid). Combine that $224 million with Pohlad's already agreed contribution of $125 million, and you've got $349 million: the cost of the ballpark itself. That way, much like the Mall of America, the county would only have to pay for infrastructure around the faciltiy.

Any lawyers in the house? Any reason why this wouldn't work? Under this plan you've suddenly got Pohlad paying for well over half of the total cost, which is something a lot of representatives and senators want.

OK. Now for reality. As much as I'd love this plan to work, I would be very surprised if it went anywhere. Why? We are governed by morons, plain and simple. So, I'll let you know if anything comes of this. I will certainly be monitoring the situation.

• Lastly, if you have multiple children like me, you know how sibling rivalries can develop. Well, my family's most outrageous sibling rivalry is between my middle son and my youngest child, my daughter. I say outrageous because it seems that no matter what my daughter says, my son has got to disagree with her. My daughter will say anything, and my son will point out where she is wrong. For example, my daughter will say, "This peanut butter is crunchy," and my son will say, "No, this peanut butter has peanuts in it which makes it less smooth." Or my daughter will say, "The sky is blue," and my son will say, "No, the sky is blue." Do you see what I mean? It drives me nuts.

So, yesterday while going to church, my kids started to talk about the topic of frogs. My daughter, who is only 5, chimes in and says, "Frogs eat bugs with their tongues." And my son says, "No, that is actually a myth that frogs eat bugs with their tongues. Actually, frogs tackle bugs and then eat them." Can you believe this guy? Of course, my wife and I had to correct him, but where does he come up with this stuff? And all so he can disagree with his sister. It is amazing to me.

Posted by snackeru at 10:32 AM | Comments (14) | Life | Stadiums

Category "Books"

Category "Stadiums"

January 26, 2006

Nothing coherent, just more "dashed off tripe"

• I was watching the T-Wolves a little bit last night and I was just blown away by how bad they are. I mean YIKES! It is definitely "panic time" at the Target Center. KG must be beside himself with anger. McHale has seriously built a sub-.500 team.

• And speaking of KG, I don't know how many of you saw this, but a couple of weeks ago KG was asked about his time with Stephon Marbury when he started to talk about his own childhood. He had this to say:

"I was a gym rat, man," he said. "I loved hoops, and when I'm done with this game, I'm gonna hoop. You're going to catch me at the Minnetonka YMCA busting some of those old guys' butts. You think I'm [kidding], but I can't wait to get back on the blacktop."

That is why I love KG: honesty, loyalty, and the Minnetonka YMCA is the one I frequent! Man, I would love to get dunked on by KG! And if I ever scored on him ... wow, I would launch some serious trash talking. I hope KG sticks around.

• In case you missed this, Sen. Don Betzold, Senate author of the Vikings stadium bill in the illustrious Minnesota legislature, wrote an interesting piece discussing the problems with a referendum. His argument is that only allowing Anoka County residents, or Hennepin County residents, to vote on the fate of our favorite sports teams would be "too narrow to be fair." Betzold writes:

The referendum issue raises a basic question: Who should get to vote on it? It would seem that if it is a local sales tax, then the local citizens should vote. But that means that nearby citizens, also affected by the sales tax, cannot vote. Some of my constituents live in suburban Anoka County, and some live next door in suburban Ramsey County. In fact, the city of Spring Lake Park is in both counties, so the Anoka County Spring Lake Park voters could vote on a referendum but the Ramsey County Spring Lake Park voters could not.

It is true that a state law requires a referendum approving a local sales tax to fund a local project, such as a city convention center. However, referendums have not been required for projects that have broad regional or statewide significance, such as the Minneapolis Convention Center and the Metrodome.

It is an argument I happen to agree with. The Metrodome and the Convention Center were built without referendum and I don't think anyone would ever say that they were a mistake. They have proven to be cost effective and important pieces of our metropolitan infrastructure. Betzold also writes:

That raises other questions: Should the voters of one county decide the future of a statewide asset? Do the Twins fans who live in Anoka County want the Hennepin County voters to decide if their team stays in Minnesota? Will the legislators who represent the other 87 counties want only Anoka County voters to decide the future of the Vikings? If Anoka County were to drop its plan and a new Vikings stadium proposal were to be proposed in, say, Dakota County, would Vikings fans in Anoka County want the voters in the southern suburbs to decide this issue? Should the students at the university vote on the possible tuition increases to pay for a new Gophers stadium?

The Legislature can't send tough questions like these to the voters. We have to figure them out ourselves.

This raises two important points: 1) since these are statewide assets, it is a shame that only one county will pay for these stadiums in the first place, and 2) the legislature should definitely figure these issues out themselves. The more salient point is point number two. Do your jobs senators and representatives! We elected you to make informed decisions on controversial topics, not put your head in the sand and pass these decisions back to us. What are you good for then? If you don't want to do your jobs then I want to vote on everything. Referendums are a cop-out and an example of weak-minded legislators doing whatever it takes to keep their jobs.

Grow a backbone and make a decision, up or down. But don't pass it back to me.

• You'll note over on the right side a new section listing out all the books I've read so far in 2006. It is only three right now, but I hope to grow this list as the year progresses. That way, at the end of the year I won't have to wrack my brain trying to remember what books I've read in the last 12 months.

And just to let you know, Empire Falls was excellent. The Planets was a quick read, but not as good as I thought it would be. Camouflage was very good. It had not one, but two aliens in it and I am a sucker for alien books. The book is about two almost immortal aliens who live on Earth and interact with life here for thousands of years. One alien spends most of its time with humans and becomes quite a nasty fellow, while the other alien spends most of its time in the ocean, and only begins spending time with humans during the 20th Century. Meanwhile, in the not so distant future, a strange metallic artifact is found in a Pacific trench and scientists from all over try to figure out what it is. Could it have something to do with one of our aliens? Read Camouflage to find out. I enjoyed it.

• That's it for now. I'm back to liking clapping again. Yesterday it seemed kind of stupid, though. Sort of stupid like hitting a small white ball with a stick and racing around a diamond shaped playing field. Who came up with that?

Posted by snackeru at 8:28 AM | Comments (9) | Books | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

January 24, 2006

I guess there was no meeting

UPDATE: I just heard that the meeting did not take place yesterday as planned, and that a make-up meeting has not been scheduled. Bummer. I bet it was that anti-stadium Matt Entenza screwing everything up. Blast him and his hatred of the Twins!

• Well, I guess there wasn't a Twins stadium related meeting with the governor yesterday. This kind of ticks me off since stadium news to me is like heroin to an addict. I need my fix. Maybe they are meeting today? Why hasn't anyone reported this yet? This is very upsetting. Although, I should learn to accept that I will never get my way when it comes to stadiums in Minnesota. This is just yet another example of that fact.

• Jim in St. Paul wrote in a comment last night about a recent editorial that appeared in the St. Paul Pioneer Press entitled: Why we still support a Twins stadium in St. Paul. I wonder if their new managing editor wrote this. It is very good. First it lays out some of the economic realities of Major League Baseball and why a stadium is important for the Twins' long term future. Then it zeros in on St. Paul. Among the editorial's more salient points:

A St. Paul ballpark would be a significant driver of economic development in the capital city. As we've said before, spending the same $300 million in public money to move the stadium a few blocks up the street in Minneapolis would be less transformative than if it were spent to build a new ballpark in downtown St. Paul.

That may be true. I think the Twins leaving Minneapolis for St. Paul would also have an economic impact on Minneapolis, though, only in a negative sense. Anyway, I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I don't care if they build a stadium in Bemidji, just build the stupid thing so we can assure the Twins will stay around. As John Lennon said:

You say you've got a real solution
Well, you know
We'd all love to see the plan

Show me the money!

• And speaking of money, Shooter recently reported (and sorry, I can't find the link) that if St. Paul were to get into the stadium game again, there is no way they could put a plan together without state money. I would think this requirement would immediately put them at a disadvantage. Besides, how gung ho is Coleman about trying to bring the Twins to St. Paul? My impression is that his attitude towards this possibility is tepid at best.

• If anyone has any news about the meeting that was supposed to happen, please let me know! Has it been rescheduled? Shelved indefinitely? What is the deal?

Posted by snackeru at 8:32 AM | Comments (4) | Stadiums

Category "Life"

Category "Stadiums"

January 20, 2006

Random musings, odds, and ends

I don't have anything coherent to say today, so I'm just going to write and write until I have nothing to write about anymore.

• A few days ago, Tim M. asked me what kinds of story lines I would like to see in a Serenity sequel. I think the story of Book is a given. He was a mysterious character, and we definitely didn't get the truth about him. I would also love to see more about the bounty hunter "Jubal" that showed up in the last Firefly episode. He was a very interesting dude. But more than anything, I would like to know more about the Independence movement and the Browncoats. What were they really fighting for? I know "independence" but what else? I'm sure there were other grievances. I would also like to know what happens now that Mal and his crew unleashed the truth about the Reevers. Does this create another revolution attempt? I would think some people would be kind of upset with the Alliance.

So, there you have it. I think there is a lot of story left to tell. I hope Joss Whedon gets the green light.

• If I was to have another child, and that child turned out to be a boy, I would name him "Augustus Octavius." You know, to boost his confidence. And I would force everyone to call him by his complete name, "Is Augustus Octavius present?" That would be awesome. Of course, I would call him by his nickname: Skippy.

• I was listening to KFAN a couple of days ago when Dan Barreiro said something that made me chuckle, and think. He said one of the biggest mysteries in the whole sporting world is how Matt Millen still has any kind of position of authority within the Lions organization. I used to think Mike Tice had some sort of blackmail working against Zygi to keep his job (ticket scalping, whizzinator, sex boat, 2-5 start, etc.), but Millen must have some naked pictures or something that are working to keep him employed. Yikes.

• So, if you are a stadium fanatic like me, you would have to have been blind to miss this snippet from Sid Hartman yesterday:

Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, reports Gov. Tim Pawlenty has called a meeting Monday at the governor's estate to talk about how to solve the stadium proposals for the Twins and Gophers football.

Attending the meeting will be House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon; House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, DFL-St. Paul; and Senate Minority Leader Dick Day, R-Owatonna.

Also attending will be Brad Finstad, R-New Ulm, author of the house ballpark bill, and Sen. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins.

"I hope that Hennepin County will continue to stay with the bill they proposed to build the Twins baseball stadium," Johnson said.

What is most interesting about this is that T-Paw is inviting Matt Entenza, an anti-stadium legislator and House Minority Leader. I honestly think that coming out of this meeting Entenza will be the barometer of possible stadium action. If Entenza comes out of the meeting even remotely optimistic towards the possibilty of a new Twins stadium I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief. If he comes out of the meeting with his typical anti-stadium rhetoric, though, that means the opposition is still there and isn't budging much. That probably means we should all keep our hopes in check.

I know Sid thinks Dick Day is also somewhat anti-stadium, but I disagree. He just wanted to vote for stadiums in the regular session. If push comes to shove he will vote for the Hennepin County plan.

Sid also alludes to the fact that inviting Entenza and Day takes T-Paw off the hook if a stadium bill isn't supported. That may be true. I think Sid is pessimistic that Entenza will come out of the meeting in favor of the plan. I would have to agree with him. We'll see on Monday though.

• Yesterday I linked to the Prejudice Map that uses Google to unveil the prejudices we have towards the people of various countries. I found this map, and the technique to build it, to be highly entertaining. So, I decided to try it on myself. In Google I type "Shane is known for" and this is what I get out:

"Shane is known for taking that extra time to assure that everything is done to the level of his high standards."
So true, so true...

"Shane is known for his boisterous personality and fun-loving attitude."
Again, how do they know me so well?

"Shane is known for pulling rabbits out of hats in competition."
I am a pretty crafty guy. And now that I've mentioned "rabbits" again on this site I'll get even more hits from search engines for this word.

"Shane is known for an aggressive drumming style and in the interest of crowd safety; we have recently been forced to put him in a Plexiglas cage."
Needless to say, I ROCK! The crowd must be protected from ME because I go crazy on those skins! And do they really think Plexiglas can hold me? I'm gonna go Incredible Hulk on that Plexiglas!

"If there's one thing Shane is known for, it's perserverance."
If you fail, try, try again I always say.

Is there anything you are known for? Put it in the comments below...

• Lastly, a few weeks ago something I dearly love was taken away from me. At first I was very upset about this. And then I became very saddened. "Why are they doing this to me?" I thought. "What have I done to deserve this?" I was promised something even better, but I didn't believe it. How could something new be as good as what I had come to love so much. Well, I am happy to say I was wrong.

bcvanillacoke.jpg

Black Cherry Vanilla Coke ... oh how I love thee. I must say Coke is forgiven for dropping Vanilla Coke in favor of this taste sensation. I am satisfied.

Posted by snackeru at 12:27 PM | Comments (5) | Life | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

January 18, 2006

It's that time of year again

• First of all, thanks to everyone for your birthday greetings yesterday. I would like to especially thank the anonymous commenter for taking the time (see, that wasn't so hard!), and spycake for actually writing "Happy B-day, Shane. Hopefully T-Paw and Old Carl have a present for ya..." That really choked me up, given that spycake is not what I would consider "pro-stadium," at least not in the same way that I am pro-stadium.

And speaking of spycake, did any of you happen to see his letter to the editor in yesterday's Strib? First let me say shame on you spycake! We're trying to get a stadium built around here, not point out the obvious! However, I must also say that if I was against the Hennepin County plan I would have written the exact same letter. Spycake does a nice job of pointing out the "sleight of hand" in Brehm's piece that I alluded to yesterday. But that doesn't mean I am happy!

Spycake also writes in his letter:

Also, the Metrodome didn't pay for itself through indirect tax revenue from local businesses -- its operating agreement allowed for some stadium revenue to be directed back into the publicly owned stadium, something the new ballpark agreement fails to do.

Yes, but unlike the plan that built the Metrodome, the Hennepin County plan also commits the Twins to operation, maintenance and routine repair expenses, plus the Twins will be required to make additional annual contributions for capital improvements to the stadium over the course of the 30 year use agreement. In other words, the Twins themselves will be required to direct money back into the stadium. I'm sure some of that money will come from stadium revenue.

• So, T-Paw unveiled his bond plan yesterday to much fanfare and joyous celebration. Tucked in with his comments about his $897 million plan were comments about stadium construction:

While they are not part of the bonding proposal for the coming year, Pawlenty said he also wants proposals for a Gophers football stadium and a Twins baseball stadium to pass the Legislature this year.

Huzzah! T-Paw wants a Twins baseball stadium bill to pass this year! Oh happy day! Because we all know if T-Paw says he wants something, it is done! I think we can all rest easy now knowing that T-Paw has said the magic words and made his desires known.

Yeah right.

• Of wonderful. Nick Coleman has again graced us with his opinion about stadiums in Minnesota. This time, it is an attack on the Vikings and their plan to turn Anoka County into a place Minnesotans may actually want to visit. I've written about Coleman's hypocisy and stunning ignorance before, so I won't go into tirade mode again today. Let me just say I'm starting to think that if Nick Coleman doesn't like the idea, it is probably a pretty good one. So, Zygi, well done. Spend your money on your new consultants. If Nick (aka Gollum) is unhappy, then you are on the right path.

• And speaking of the new Vikings stadium, I've been thinking about what Zygi can do to help his efforts when it suddenly dawned on me that I don't like the new design of the stadium. I don't like it at all. Especially not compared to the old design:

vikings700.jpg
New design (click for larger)
vikings802_thumb.jpg
Old design (click for larger)

Do you see what I mean? The new design looks like crap! And what is with the two garish yellow towers jutting out of the front? I don't get it. Whoever drew this thing up could have done a better job. I mean, look at the old design. Sleek lines. And those cool stainless steel rounded beams coming out of the top evoking thoughts of the Viking longboats of old ... man, that was a cool design. I gotta give Red credit for that one. This new stadium needs some more pizazz if it is going to get the attention and excitement of the people of Anoka County. That is what I think anyway.

That's all for now. Have a good one!

Posted by snackeru at 8:14 AM | Comments (13) | Stadiums

Category "Life"

Category "Stadiums"

January 17, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me (and SBG)

• Greetings and salutations, loyal reader! I'm not sure that anyone out there cares, but today is my birthday. Now, last year was an interesting birthday because I found out that January 17 is also Stick and Ball Guy's birthday. So, after you stop by here go over to his site and wish him a happy birthday from me! And just for your edification, here is a list of other people who were also born on January 17th:

Benjamin Franklin, 1706
Al Capone, 1899
Rock Hudson, 1925
James Earl Jones, 1931
Muhammad Ali, 1942
Jim Carrey, 1962

Good company for me and SBG, heh? Drop me a comment for my birthday! You can even do it anonymously! In fact, I command you to leave me a comment! It is my birthday wish!

• If you are looking for stadium news today, there isn't much to report. In case you missed it, you should check out Andy Brehm's commentary, Replace the Dome or Lose the Twins. A little sleight of hand with the numbers, but overall a good and well written effort.

UPDATE: Of course, just when I think there isn't any stadium news, the Vikings go ahead and create some. My initial impression of this turn of events is that the Vikings are wasting a whole lot of money by trying to ram their plans through this year. Unless this firm is going to start promoting a Twins stadium too, I don't see the legislature giving the Vikings the time of day. And that is a shame because in many ways the Vikings stadium bill is better than the Twins stadium bill. Well, I guess in one big way: it includes a bigger chunk of change from the owner. We'll watch this situation closely, I can guarantee you that, but I don't think much will come from it. I wish Zygi the best though. If we can get one of these stupid stadium bills out of the way that would be a good thing.

• I must admit that I hate the song "Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is" by Chicago with a burning passion that rivals the Sun. It may even rival my hatred for Tom Petty songs. I heard it yesterday while I was enjoying a delicious Snuffy's malt and it just about ruined everything. I'm still humming that stupid song.

madsen.jpg I just gotta ask, does this man deserve the money the T-Wolves gave him? I know he is a great guy and all, but what does he play, maybe 10 minutes a game? What does he average, a little over 1 point a game? I can't help but think that Mad Dog is the poster child for the ineptness of Kevin McHale as VP.

• Well, I watched all the Firefly episodes. Loved 'em. Couldn't get enough of them. And that Wash character! Such a funny guy. Then I watched the movie Serenity and I was loving it. It had action, suspense, comic relief ... it answered questions and had an awsome plot. And then the unthinkable happened! Why did Joss Whedon do what he did? Why? Both my wife and I sat there stunned. Very upsetting. If you've watched it, you know what I'm talking about.

Luckily, it looks like there will be a Serenity sequel of some sort (probably on TV) so Whedon can redeem himself.


That's all I got time for now. See you later!

Posted by snackeru at 5:52 AM | Comments (18) | Life | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

January 14, 2006

What T-Paw really thinks about losing the Twins

tpawbye-thumb.jpg
Click image for larger version.

Posted by snackeru at 10:57 AM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

January 12, 2006

This just in ...

Wow. I'm hearing news from everywhere now. I was just informed of a few items from yesterday's lunch with the governor, Twins, and Hennepin County. One is that Opat may be feeling more optimistic than the news reports. That is certainly good news. However, I was also informed that Bell is really, really disappointed. I mean dangerously disappointed. That is not so good.

I was also informed that Sid Hartman had a serious breakdown on WCCO radio this morning and he literally freaked out about all of this stadium business. This was in part because of the Twins' disappointment over the lunch yesterday, but also because he has heard from other sources that the governor has admitted it would be "political suicide" to attempt a stadium run in 2006. This is not that surprising, but what had Sid really upset is that the governor is telling the media one thing, and his minions another.

I guess Sid also freaked out on Eric Eskola, calling him a "brown-noser" and saying he (Sid) isn't afraid to tell it like it is, that the governor is in jeopardy of losing the Twins and that his political games are getting a little tiresome. I think we all wish T-Paw would just say what he truly thinks and let the chips fall where they may.

I'm trying to get a hold of a recording of this exchange. I'll post it if I can get it.

Posted by snackeru at 9:16 AM | Comments (8) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Don't give up

• Hello everyone! I know yesterday's news was a little depressing, but a little birdy tells me not to give up hope yet. So, I won't.

• I don't have much time today, so I'm going to leave you with a few thoughts and a document for you to peruse. The document highlights the differences between T-Paw's '04 stadium bill and Hennepin County's '05 stadium bill. Seriously, looking over this document it is obvious T-Paw should have been jumping up and down for joy that Hennepin County was willing to step up to the plate in this way. Hennepin County's plan didn't include any shaky TIF schemes, no arbitrage, no state money, a predictable source of revenue, a clear, up-front contribution from the team, and a very good chance that the debt would have been retired well in advance of 30 years. To put it bluntly, the governor really screwed the pooch on this one. Especially considering the votes were there.

T-Paw '04 vs. Hennepin County '05 (PDF)

Amazing...

Posted by snackeru at 8:19 AM | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

January 11, 2006

Enough slacking off!

• OK people. Enough slacking off. Enough with the excuses. I've got some things to say, and gosh darn it I'm going to say them.

• As many of you probably know, T-Paw, Hennepin County, and the Twins are going to meet this morning to discuss the possibility of a new stadium bill for the 2006 session that extends the Hennepin County plan. I am confident that T-Paw will say all the right things, but I wonder if Bell is going to put up with the same old rhetoric. There are three things that could happen in this meeting: 1) T-Paw could convince the Twins that he is going to really back a plan and everyone leaves happy, 2) T-Paw could do an adequate job of convincing the Twins he will go to bat for them, the meeting will break up cordially, but Bell will feel pessimistic at best, or 3) T-Paw talks his talk, Bell says he's heard it all before, and the meeting breaks up with nothing accomplished. Obviously I'm hoping for scenario number 1.

• And now to toot my own horn a little bit. I've heard from two different sources deeply involved in the stadium battle that my Voter's Guide is actually having an impact at the state capitol right now. According to my sources, lobbyists are impressed with my work and may even help me finish it off, or suggest places where I am wrong or votes have changed. One of my sources even informed me that lobbyists are "usually paid thousands of dollars" to do what I have done. My next question should have been, "Where is my money then?" but I usually think of the right thing to say well after the conversation has ended. Shoot!

So, my plea for all of you is to make sure that I have the right stance down for your representative. I have been informed that more and more representatives will now be seeing the Voter's Guide and that maybe even the governor himself may be shown my work to prove that the votes are actually there to get a stadium bill passed in this god-forsaken state.

I gotta admit that I have always wanted this site to have an impact. I started the Greet Machine because I was upset with the level of commentary and news concerning the stadium issue, and I wanted to maybe change a few minds, or educate the public with my unique form of propaganda. To hear now that the Voter's Guide is actually making the rounds in the hallowed halls of the capitol is extremely gratifying. If a stadium is ever built, I'd like to think that I have done my part, no matter how small that part may be.

• From another one of my sources I have heard some interesting reasons why the Hennepin County plan does not include user fees. Check this out:

Hennepin County has always advocated for using tax-exempt bonds to finance the public's share of the ballpark's cost. Tax-exempt bonds carry a lower interest than taxable bonds and that keeps the public's cost down. (Similar to a homeowner wanting to find the lowest possible mortgage rate).

To make the public's bonds tax-exempt, the IRS requires that the taxes used are unrelated to revenue streams connected to the team, the facility, or events at the facility. That means the ever popular 'user-fees' (ticket taxes, parking surcharges, etc.) don't work if the public entity wants to use tax-exempt debt. That's also why the revenue streams are directed to the team. If the County directly benefitted from the team's activities the public bond issue could not be tax-exempt.

Interesting, no? So there you have it. While some of you still may feel that user fees are more important that a tax exempt status on the bonds, the County's stance is that they will save money in the long run by striving for this tax exempt status.

Of course, there are other reasons why user fees are not a very good source of revenue, and I've written about those reasons before.

• Finally, I must admit that my new contacts in the stadium games are pessimistic that a bill will be voted on by the legislature this session. One source puts the chances at 70-30 against. Of course, it has also been pointed out to me that 30% is an all-star MLB batter so we shouldn't give up hope yet. We'll see how the meeting goes today.

Posted by snackeru at 8:18 AM | Comments (5) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

January 4, 2006

Expect a plan, but no ballpark

In case you missed it, Aron Kahn of the Pioneer Press had a good article concerning a possible plan for a Twins stadium in this upcoming legislative session. As has already been pointed out, Kahn highlights that we should expect a plan to surface, but unless something drastic happens with the collective thinking in the legislature we shouldn't expect that the plan will actually result in a new stadium:

Indeed, Twins point man Jerry Bell, who could challenge the golden horses for most time spent at the Capitol in the past decade, abandoned his diplomatic style last week to say loud and clear that the Twins' problem in the Capitol dome is politics, not the merits of the deal.

The team won't spend time lobbying this year, he said, until Pawlenty and lawmakers take the lead and shepherd a stadium bill to a vote on the floor of the House and Senate.

I'm sure you'll all agree that this is not likely. In addition, the article has this to say:

Bell also doesn't know where the future lies. Neither does Pawlenty, Pohlad or baseball commissioner Bud Selig. The ballpark issue is a creature of mood, timing and politics, and no one can foresee the exact time of a harmonic convergence, should it come.

But sports-business professionals believe the Twins' status quo at the Metrodome will not exist five years from now.

The first option: The team could indeed get a new stadium deal, but each year it likely would cost more. With the $478 million project missing construction deadlines, the Twins say, a ballpark will cost another $30 million if approved this year, but they insist they will not increase their $125 million portion to cover the difference.

Also, the team could be sold and perhaps moved by a new owner who isn't interested in years of debating the stadium question. There are eight groups currently bidding to buy the Washington Nationals. Will one of the seven losers go after the Twins?

Nothing good in this article, I'm afraid. 5 years from now I think we'll finally know what is the fate of the Twins, Vikings, and Metrodome. Scary to think about.

Of course, I'm interested in the meeting that will take place between the team, T-Paw, and Hennepin County this week, but unless T-Paw really decides to ram a plan through, we should not get our hopes up.

Posted by snackeru at 9:15 AM | Stadiums

Category "Books"

Category "Gophers"

Category "Sports"

Category "Stadiums"

Category "Vikings"

January 3, 2006

Coaches and other random thoughts

• First of all let me say that I was happy that Zygi gave Tice the pink slip. It is time to put the Red McCombs years behind us and the best way to do that was to fire the Tice. McCombs only hired Tice, who had questionable head coaching credentials to begin with, because he could save some money. With the Wilfs now in charge, I think we are finally going to see some changes at Winter Park that make sense if the organization is really interested in winning a championship. And this may sound callous, but I hope all the assistant coaches under Tice get the pink slip too. Here is my list of who will probably be considered:

  1. Gregg Williams, defensive coordinator for the Redskins. It sounds like he is the top pick amongst the players.
  2. Ron Rivera, defensive coordinator for the Bears. I've heard a lot of talk about this guy being given a chance somewhere in the NFL to be a head coach. We'll see if it is the Vikings.
  3. Ted Cotrell, defensive coordinator for the Vikes. Say it ain't so. I want to fully clean house.
  4. Scott Linehan, offensive coordinator for the Dolphins. Again, his credentials aren't quite there yet, but Daunte sure would be happy. I expect the Vikings will give Linehan a shot.
  5. For the rest of the possible choices, check out this post from Mr. Cheer or Die, plus the comments.

And concerning Tice, let me just say that I think he is a top notch guy. One of his best qualities is how gracious he is in defeat, and he showed this quality off again by praising the Wilf family after he was fired. I will remember Tice, the person, fondly.

• I was also happy that the Gophers retained the services of Glen Mason. Letting Mason go would have meant rebuilding, again, for the Gophers. The Gophers cannot afford a "big name" coach to replace Mason, which would have meant hiring some kind of "no name." Retaining Mason means recruiting will continue (and Mason has done pretty well with this considering he has to recruit with the Metrodome), and it means continued respectability for Gopher football. I've said this before and I'll say it again, the Gophers will not win a Rose Bowl until they are playing on campus again. Mason is the right coach to bring them to this point.

• In case you missed it, Sid reports that this week will include a big meeting between T-Paw, the Twins, and Hennepin County concerning the shape of the latest (and greatest!) new stadium plan:

A meeting next week to include Twins officials, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat and maybe other commissioners will no doubt decide if the Hennepin County plan to build a new baseball park will be extended into next year or dropped.

At this point, it is apparent that nobody involved in the negotiations for the baseball stadium are convinced Pawlenty will stick his neck out in favor of building the stadium that not only will assure the Twins remain in the state, but result in million of dollars in labor contracts and building materials.

There is no assurance that the site in back of Target Center will be continue to be available if something constructive isn't done soon.

Count me in the group that doesn't believe Pawlenty will push to get this baseball stadium built.

Amen to that. There is no way that T-Paw sticks his neck out for this, not in a year when the Republicans will undoubtedly be fighting for their political lives. I'd like to think that Pawlenty will want to solve this problem, but right now he is in extreme politician mode as he tries to make everyone as happy as possible while really getting nothing accomplished. Meanwhile, stadiums get more and more expensive ...

• Just finished my first book of the year, Empire Falls by Richard Russo. This was a fantastic and very well written book, but I couldn't help but think that I've read it before. It was very similar in feel to Minnesota author Jon Hassler's Staggerford and Grand Opening. In fact, another Russo book I've read, Straight Man, was eerily similar to Rookery Blues by Jon Hassler. So, I dug around a bit to find out if anyone else has these same feelings, and I find that Russo is a big fan of Hassler. What does this mean for you? Probably nothing. But if you've read any Russo and you enjoyed it, I encourage you to pick up Hassler's books, especially Grand Opening.

Now I'm reading Planets by Dava Sobel. Pretty good so far, but nothing can top her writing in Longitude, the story of a clockmaker's attempts to solve the biggest maritime problem in the age of discovery.

That's about it. See you soon!

Posted by snackeru at 8:23 AM | Comments (8) | Books | Gophers | Sports | Stadiums | Vikings

Category "Stadiums"

December 28, 2005

Let's make this clear...

In the famous words of one of my favorite comic book characters growing up, "Big fat hairy deal." Let's spell it out in a mathematical equation type format:

$30 million increase in cost + "absolutely" no more money from the Twins + moronic legislators + "talk is cheap" governor = No New Twins Stadium

Whatever plan Pawlenty is going to put together will go absolutley nowhere. The sooner we come to this conclusion, the better.

This is my immediate reaction...

Posted by snackeru at 9:27 AM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

November 29, 2005

Sqwaking about all three stadiums...

Howdy everyone! Well, just a quick word about the upgrade of the software that runs this blog. If you didn't know, the Greet Machine sits on the UThink system at the University of Minnesota. Yesterday, we upgraded the entire system from Movable Type 2.661 to Movable Type 3.2. This was not a trivial change so it was a little nerve wracking yesterday. Well, for the most part things went OK. I did have to work on the system last night to fix comment submissions and allow people to change templates, but everything is looking good. On with the crux of this post.

Let's start with the Vikings. If you didn't get a chance to read Mark Craig's story in the Strib this Sunday, Saying No Way to the Cleveland Way, you should definitely check it out. Again, Wilf is emphatic that he won't move the Vikings. And up to this point I have always believed him. Unfortunately, after reading the story of how Cleveland lost the Browns, I am now of the opinion that while Zygi is a great guy, there is now way that he stays in the Metrodome forever. No way. I still think the Vikings have a better shot at a new stadium than the Twins, but if the Vikings situation turns into a repeat of the Twins fiasco, I don't expect Zygi to be patient and understanding forever. I don't know what it was about the article, but I just got a bad feeling.

The part of the article I foud most interesting though was this quote from Zygi:

Wilf said if anyone is waiting for him to pay for the entire stadium project, “it won’t be happening. We have a partner that is willing to throw in $280 million, the county of Anoka.?

That shouldn't surprise anyone. However, what I take away from this snippet is that I think Zygi is beginning to realize he has got to take the state out of the equation. Right now the state is expected to kick in $115 million. Forget about it Zygi! If Zygi came out and said, "OK, $280 million from Anoka County and the rest from me." Well, I think we would have a done deal. It would also demonstrate to Pohlad how to open up his wallet a little more.

Secondly, let's talk about the Twins. You probably saw this editorial/commentary from Hennepin County Commissioners Mike Opat and Randy Johnson so I won't get into it too much, but I was thrilled to see that Opat and Johnson still have hope. Obviously, they blame Pawlenty more than anyone over this mess, and I can't say I disagree. Pawlenty has shown zero leadership on this deal, even though it meets all of his criteria for stadium construction for the Twins. Again, though, the fact that Opat and Johnson are still discussing this is a good thing. We may see some action on this front in December.

And to back up that notion we have news about the Gophers stadium situation. Today in the Minnesota Daily there is an article discussing the sponsorship deals the U has put together and how they are in danger of expiring. That we all knew. However, the article also quotes University Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter as saying they haven't given up yet on a special session:

Pfutzenreuter said the University will attempt to renegotiate the deals if they are in danger of expiring. Before the University contacts the businesses, it will make another effort to reach out to Gov. Tim Pawlenty, he said.

“(This week), we’ll take the temperature of the governor about a special session,? Pfutzenreuter said.

So, in other words, we may get another flurry of activity soon concerning the possibility for a special session. This is certainly good news, but I'm not sure we should get our hopes up yet.

Well, that is about it from here. There is more UThink work to do!

Posted by snackeru at 8:39 AM | Comments (4) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

November 23, 2005

Wow! Lots of stuff to chew on ...

Wow! I leave for Boston for a couple of days and the travesty that is the Twins stadium debacle just explodes with news. Let's get it on!

Today it is being reported that the Florida Marlins will begin exploring a move out of Miami. Of course, the same old cities are trotted out as possible new homes: Las Vegas and Portland to be specific.

If you'll recall, the Marlins had a bill before the Florida legislature that called for a team contribution of upwards of $190 million, almost half of the cost. The Florida House approved the bill, but the Senate balked at a state contriution of $60 million in the form of a sales tax rebate. It is this kind of flat out stupidity from the Florida legislature that has me convinced that no matter how much the Twins offer for a new stadium, our illustrious legislators will tell them to take a hike unless it is 100% of the cost.

According to the article above Portland has already given the Marlins office an exploratory phone call inviting them to consider western Oregon as a new home. Portland has an interesting web site discussing their efforts to build a stadium and land a team. You'll note that in the upper right there are a bunch of articles that highlight the difficulties the Marlins, A's, and Twins are having building new stadiums. It seems Portland won't be picky, they'll take any of our teams. How nice of them. Anyway, they are hot for the Marlins now.

Portland also seems to have a stadium financing plan in place, but it is a very weak plan from what I've read. According to an article in the Oregonian, the financing plan looks like this:

Portland does have the baseball stadium financing bill in place, passed in 2003, that would contribute an estimated $150 million from the income taxes of players and team officials to the construction of a ballpark. There also has been progress on moving the U.S. Post Office from downtown and freeing up what could be the best stadium site -- that could be accomplished within five years, Kanter said.

$150 million? Wow, that is weak. It would appear that Portland is far from ready for this.

That leaves Las Vegas, which Jayson Stark recently listed as the odds-on favorite to land the team:

One baseball man familiar with the situation says there is "no way" Vegas could get a ballpark up and operable before 2010. But since the Marlins have a lease in Florida till then, they could, in theory, stagger through four lame-duck seasons while they're waiting for the moving vans. It's not a perfect situation. But people who know Loria continue to predict that if Vegas builds it, the Marlins will come. ODDS: 2 TO 1.

Stark also writes that Loria considers the Las Vegas market to be a "gold mine" so I look for the biggest push for the Marlins to be towards Sin City.

The big question in all of this, though, is how does this affect the Twins? Is this good news or bad news? Obviously one less city to worry about as a possible future home of the Twins could certainly be looked at as a good thing. However, the way I see it there will be two cities (Portland and Las Vegas) that will now be going ape over trying to land the Marlins. Only one of them will win the team, but they will both do a ton of work trying to land the team. I would wager that the losing city, having worked so hard to land the Marlins, will then make a huge push for the Twins or the A's. And by 2010 the Twins in particular will be willing to listen.

Thankfully, the Twins haven't made any kind of overt threat like the Marlins yet saying they are exploring the possibility of a new home. But I wouldn't be surprised if they do after December 31. Recently I began thinking about just what are the Twins options after Dec. 31 when the Hennepin County plan expires?

I think Major League Baseball and the Twins have a bunch of options: 1) they can threaten a move ala the Marlins, 2) MLB can purchase them ala the Expos, 3) MLB can threaten contraction, 4) the Pohlads can sell the team, or 5) they can keep quiet and realize they are stuck.

Given that the Marlins beat them to the punch, I don't think the Twins will make the same threat to move. At least not this year, or probably even next year or the next. As Stark mentions above (and Jay Weiner mentioned a couple of weeks ago), Las Vegas won't be ready for a new team until at least 2010, and Portland won't be ready for a team ... well ever probably. It was probably a big problem to get the public to pony up $150 million, let alone the $400-$500 million Pohlad will expect to move the team out there. So, I really don't expect the Twins to make any threats to move.

I also strongly don't think MLB will buy the Twins ala the Expos. They don't want that headache again. ESPN reported last week that the Nationals still don't have a stadium deal hammered down (Baseball is balking at Washington DC's request for guaranteed rent, believed to be about $6 million a year. Can you believe it?), they still don't have an owner (about 8 groups are rumored to be ready to pay upwards of $450 million for the team), and they don't even have a budget for next year ready. MLB has made a total mess of this situation and it doesn't look like it will be cleaned up soon. Does MLB want the same situation with the Twins? No, not at all.

And now with the Marlins threatening to move, contraction would appear to be off the table as an option for the Twins. For contraction to work, the Twins would need a dance partner and without the Marlins there would be no one left.

Selling the team also seems to not be an option given that Pohlad has already made it quite clear he doesn't want to sell the team. Plus, who would buy the team? Reggie Jackson has already been proven to be the second coming of Donald Watkins, and what other idiot would want to buy a team without a decent stadium?

That leaves the Twins one option, it would seem, and that is to shut up and do nothing. I suppose they could threaten to move, but where would they move to? Las Vegas will already be courting the Marlins, and Portland is a joke. The Twins will be stuck, and they know it. I can't say for how long, but for the next 4-5 years the Twins have zero options besides staying in Minnesota.

Why am I writing all this? Well, it is my sincere hope that Pohlad realizes that the game is up. It is my sincere hope that he knows he is stuck until at least 2010. Again, he has a choice: he can either sit there and "lose money" every year as he claims, or he can bite the bullet and offer more money.

The Hennepin County plan is a good one. Again, I wonder what would happen if Pohlad cracked open his wallet just a little wider and bumped his contribution to $200 million? Would the legislature throw it back in his face or would they stand up and take notice? Given that in 4-5 years any new stadium plan, any last gasp of an effort, will probably require a $200 million contribution from Pohlad (or probably more). So, why doesn't he "shock the world" and just get this deal done NOW? There is room to negotiate Pohlad! Please, for the love of Pete start thinking about this and make this plan work!

All bets are off after 2010, but I can't see the Twins doing anything but sticking around in our sorry excuse for a stadium for the next 4 to 5 years. Pohlad has got to know this. Sadly, it would appear the Minnesota legislature knows it too. As much as I would love Pohald to "pull an Irsay" as Kevin in Arizona has written, I just don't think it is going to happen.

Posted by snackeru at 2:49 PM | Comments (7) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

November 16, 2005

Stadium news update

Believe it or not, there has been some stadium news as of late that may or may not be of interest. The first item of business comes to me from long time reader freealonzo who pointed me in the direction of this recent post on the City Pages blog The Blotter. In the post, Mike Opat voices his disgust with T-Paw and his inactivity on the Hennepin County Twins stadium bill:

"The disaster scenario is that they think we're going to be there next year with this proposal," Opat continued. "But I'm not going to sit across the table from the Twins this spring and tell them we don't have a deal yet. If this doesn't happen, there will have to be a proposal that uses state dollars."

...

Either way, Opat seemed resigned to walking away. "If this proposal isn't hashed out, I'm done," Opat said, with just a hint of bitterness. "I've got to move on with my life."

So, there you have it. I suppose this is nothing really new (Opat has hinted at this before), but you can really read the frustration in his quotes now. The post also includes some interesting comments from Frank Hornstein, Minneapolis representative and moron extraordinaire:

Hornstein, who has expressed distaste for public funding of stadiums in the past, said that the current proposal might have legs in the legislature--"the Minneapolis delegation would vote against it, and half of the Hennepin County delegation, but everybody else seems fine with it"--but that he would rather see a proposal that involves the Twins ponying up more than one-quarter of the cost. And, he said, if the deal changes to the Twins needing state money, all bets are likely off.

So we have Opat saying if another deal is struck it will include state money and Hornstein saying if state money is involved "all bets are off." A bit of a conundrum, don't you think?

But really, again, this is nothing new. Hornstein does offer a ray of hope in saying that the Twins need to offer more money and it is beginning to look like (actually it has always looked like) this is exactly what needs to happen. How likely is this? Not very, but I sure wish Pohlad would get his head out of his butt and start seeing the inevitable.

As has already been pointed out, Vegas is a long shot to be a future home of the Twins. Best case scenario is 2010 and only if "all the stars are aligned." So, your probably really looking at 2014 or 2015.

So Pohlad has a choice, it would seem to me. He can either stay in the Metrodome and "lose money" or he can offer more and get this deal done. What if he decided to bump up his contribution to $200 million? What if as a last ditch effort he said, "Screw it all, I'm old and I can't take it anymore. Here have an extra $80 million." Would a special session be called then? I would hope so. But again, what are the chances of this happening? Probably zip.

Well, I'm just rambling now. The fact of the matter is I want this to be over.

I also wanted to send a big Shout Out! to Jim in St. Paul for recently sending me some really, really interesting old documents detailing the history of Met Stadium and its construction. Fascinating material. I became so enamored with the documents and the stories of how the Twins and Vikings decided to make their homes here in Minnesota that I decided to scan them myself and make them available on this here blog.

Unfortunately, due to copyright concerns, I was only able to scan one of them titled "A Decade at the Met: The Twins and the Vikings." Download it with the link below:

A Decade at the Met: The Twins and the Vikings

For the purposes of getting the file to be as small a download as possible I stripped out all the pictures and just left the text. But it is very, very juicy. The story of the building of the Met is quite fascinating, especially the claims that it was built without a dime of tax payer money.

Most of the work of building the Met fell upon the broad shoulders of a group of Minneapolis businessmen who called themselves the Minute Men. The Minute Men sold many of the original bonds that financed the original construction of the ballpark in 1954-56. Without these phenomenal leaders the Met would have never been built and who knows if the Twin Cities would be major league even today. The document states:

The Minute Men's initial task has been accomplished. But the work of the group has not ended. It committed itself early to support those enterprises which have made the area big league. "Screaming successes" have faded in other towns because boosters became complacent and figured that they had no further obligation to back and promote the sports attractions they had won.

As one wag said, "And who would be stupid enough to let such a dynamic collection of talent disassemble?"

It seems we are stupid enough as the Minute Men are no more. Sadly we need them now more than ever.

More on these documents from Jim in St. Paul at another time.

Posted by snackeru at 12:40 PM | Comments (4) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

November 7, 2005

Ellen Anderson, my new enemy

Let's see ... my list of enemies is growing. The "list" has always been topped by Phil Krinkie and John Marty, followed closely by Ron Abrams. New additions to my list have included Frank Hornstein, Ann Lenczewski, and Eric Paulsen. Now, thanks to this article in last week's Star Tribune, I must also add Sen. Ellen Anderson.

It seems Ms. Anderson is in favor of a special session to deal with heating costs and heating aid. That is certainly a noble cause and one I would also favor. However, towards the end of the article, she also had this to say:

Anderson said she doesn't want a special session that would have energy assistance as its primary purpose but would also produce hundreds of millions of dollars in stadium subsidies for privately owned teams.

"If that was the result, I think we'd all look really bad," she said ..."

Sigh. No, Ellen, I'll tell you what would make you look "really bad": waiting and waiting for a mythical "better deal" until stadium costs are so prohibitive that any savings you hoped to achieve are all eaten by inflation.

A new basebal stadium is inevtitable. We can either do it now and save ourselves a lot of money or do it later for probably 10 times as much.

Back in the late 80s/early 90s U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago was built completely with public money for $167 million. You know what? They look like the smart ones now given that any public investment for a stadium in Minnesota will probably be twice as much as that. Even if the Twins paid for half, the public investment on a new stadium would probably be around $250 million.

How in the world has this fight against stadium financing benefited Minnesota? This is what we fought for? The opportunity to get a "better deal" that will actully cost us way more than if we had just built the stupid thing back in 1995? Gee, thanks Ellen! Its a good thing I have you on my side!

And by the way, if you are wondering what it means to be on my list, well it means Ellen Anderson can look forward to a nasty letter and less than flattering commentary on this blog! Take that!

Posted by snackeru at 12:46 PM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

November 2, 2005

Stadium in the North

Good article in the Strib today:

Time is now for stadium in north

Among other salient points, the author makes these arguments:

This development will produce thousands of jobs, generate millions of dollars in economic activity, improve infrastructure and help ease the local property tax burden. It's estimated that the two impacted school districts each will see their property tax base strengthened by $5.4 million, and the city and the county each will see their tax base grow by $10.8 million. This provides the schools, city and county an enhanced tax base enabling property taxes to remain the lowest per person in the metro area and among the lowest of all 87 counties in the state, while funding education and human services programs for residents.

Interesting. It sounds good to me, but how likely is this actually? What is the "reality check?" Personally I have no doubt that a stadium would benefit Anoka County, so what would the anti-stadium crowd say to these claims above?

Regardless, Anoka County won't see this project approved for quite a while. I'm thinking not until the Twins leave.

Posted by snackeru at 3:06 PM | Comments (11) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

I know, I know!

I know what you are thinking, "Where is Shane? I need my Greet Machine!" Well, I'm very sorry about my absence yesterday. I decided to take another day off from work to help my wife recuperate from the festivities of "Halloween at the Creek." Obviously, I'll have to describe this, but at a later time.

Because I have taken two days off, I am now swamped under a tidal wave of email. So, I must keep this brief. In my time available I would like to point this little tidbit out that you may have missed:

Dean Johnson, the Senate majority leader, credited Gov. Tim Pawlenty with making phone calls to various members of the Legislature trying to get the votes necessary to hold a special session. The session would include voting on the Gophers and Twins stadium. Johnson said he's still hopeful something will be done.

My prediction: there will be one more weak attempt to call a special session, but surprise, surprise it won't go anywhere. Pawlenty is playing both sides right now in hopes that he can placate enough people to get re-elected. This stadium business is just part of the game. Oh well, I'll keep my fingers crossed. Although, they've been crossed for over 11 years now and they are starting to hurt.

Posted by snackeru at 8:52 AM | Comments (1) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

October 27, 2005

Random thoughts

• First of all congratulations to the Chicago White Sox. 88 years is a long time to wait. Although I wouldn't have minded if the Astros had won, I am happy that A.J. got a ring. He deserves it.

• Now, it wouldn't be right if I didn't somehow turn this into a stadium rant, I mean, that is probably what you expect. So, I'll try not to disappoint.

Minute Maid Park cost $250 million back in 1998-1999 when it was built. $180 million was publicly financed through a 2 percent hotel tax and a 5 percent rental-car tax. The rest came from a $52 million contribution from the owners (20% of the cost) and $33 million from a no-interest state loan (about 12% of the cost). This is a beautiful, retractable-roof stadium built for $250 million. I'm sure most Houston residents are thrilled with it (even though their team lost) and wouldn't ever decide to go back in time and not build it.

U.S. Cellular Field cost $167 million when it was built in the 1989-1990 and was 100% publicly financed through a 2% hotel tax in Chicago. We can argue forever on whether or not it is a "nice" ballpark, but I think we can all agree that it is better than the Metrodome.

My question for all the anti-stadium baseball fans out there is how can you stand to even watch this game anymore? How do you stomach the fact that 90% of the teams out there play in stadiums that are so heavily publicly financed? I mean, just look at the White Sox. They are riding the public gravy train for all it is worth. Doesn't that just make you turn off the TV in disgust? And if not, why not? Why do you choose to perpetuate this situation by continuing to support such a "flawed" system?

I truly would like to know how anti-stadium folk that are also baseball fans can justify their continued support of MLB. Is this public fleecing OK for other cities, but just not OK for the Twin Cities? Do you feel better about the situation just because you aren't the one being fleeced? I gotta admit, if I was anti-stadium I would have turned off the TV, I would have watched my last professional game, a long, long time ago. Why do you continue to watch MLB? I have to know.

• Finally, yesterday was Day 2 in my quest to figure out if my life is interesting or boring. Yesterday was a pretty ho-hum day at work, only one meeting, and I got some nice stuff accomplished. However, last night I went to church with my family. My church puts on a production every Wednesday night called Mission 6~7 that is geared towards kids. There is singing, there is a little play staring the Mission 6~7 clubhouse kids (a bunch of hilarious adults), and there is a message to take home. This last month the theme has been "determination" which has been defined in kids language as "deciding it is worth it to finish what you've started" and the play and other little skits are geared toward getting that message across, that working hard for a goal is well worth it. Of course, being a church, there is a heavy focus on the Bible and what it has to say about determination. As you might imagine, there are a ton of examples in the Bible that demonstrate determination.

Anyway, my kids love Wednesday nights. How often do kids actually like to go to church? Well, my kids do, and that is great. There is also a good message coming out of the production that my kids can use in their daily lives. Hey, it sure beats watching Cartoon Network all night. Plus, we hang out together as a family. I practically dance around with my daughter the whole time.

So, I'm going to give yesterday the rank of Interesting. Not as interesting as backpacking in Thailand, but better than sitting on my butt watching TV. That brings my tally to:

Interesting days: 2
Boring days: 0


Posted by snackeru at 8:51 AM | Comments (11) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

October 24, 2005

Little known Einstein equation

einstein.jpg

BERLIN -- A little understood Einstein equation has finally been explained as proof that besides being a genius Einstein could also predict the future.

"We've been scratching our heads over this for over 70 years," says Helmut Konigkaiser, curator of the Einstein Museum of Chalkboard Equations. "Now we understand it as a very prescient prediction of the ineptitude of the Minnesota state government in the year 2005."

Originally written by Einstein while sleep walking, the equation has been shown to be proof positive that the current government of Minnesota is filled with morons to the 36th power. How Einstein came up with the number 36 will never be known, but it is obvious that he intended to show that the moronic level of the Minnesota state government is very, very high.

"While the 'moronic level' of anything is difficult to measure," added Mr. Konigkaiser, "I think it is safe to assume anything above being 'squared' or 'cubed' is truly a hopeless situtation."

Indeed, the people of Minnesota are, in fact, being governed by a group of people that have difficulty mustering the mental fortitude to tie their own shoes or even cross the street. Unfortunately for them, while Einstein figured out a way to measure the 'moronic level' he did not suggest a way for Minnesotans to get themselves out of this mess.

"I've got a solution," says Cheesehead Craig, long time hater of all things Minnesota and fan of all things Wisconsin. "There is always room for you all on the Wisconsin bandwagon. Come to the dark side and finally be happy."

It would appear that Minnesota sports fans are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Posted by snackeru at 4:26 PM | Comments (13) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

October 20, 2005

I crush your head!

philcrush.jpg

Posted by snackeru at 6:46 PM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Krinkie for Congress

Krinkie for Congress official web site
Krinkie for Congress blog

Let me just say that I am in full support of Phil Krinkie becoming a U.S. Congressman. It is my opinion that he can do less damage to our state in Washington than if he is working in St. Paul.

Go Krinkie, go!

Really, please go ...

Posted by snackeru at 4:08 PM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Oh boy, here we go ...

Well, I can't hold back. Not with all this stadium news and debate going on. "No Sports Week" at the Greet Machine has now been put on hold. This should make Cheesehead Craig happy since (and I kid you not) two days ago he was outside my backyard window chanting, "We want sports! We want sports! We want stadium news!" That gave me a chuckle.

Where to begin? How about with Sid's column today. Unless you live under a rock you have probably already read:

With the governor refusing to call a special session and the Twins going to court to make sure they are free to move if they so desire, it's beginning to look more and more like that the 2007 Twins will be playing in Las Vegas.

Holy cow, I don't like to read stuff like that. It gives me the willies. True, Sid has made some crappy predicitions before, but as my father-in-law says, "Even a pig finds a cherry every now and again." Translation: you make enough predictions, sooner or later one of them will turn out to be true. So, what say you Sid?

You want my prediction? Baseball will buy the Twins from the Pohlad family one of these days, just as it did with the Montreal Expos. Then the Pohlads will be off the hook. And a stadium will be built, or this team will be on its way out of town.

Well, there certainly is precedence for this. Plus, Shooter is reporting the same thing today:

If the Twins are unable to get approval for a new ballpark, one option for Major League Baseball might be to buy the franchise, as it did the Montreal Expos for $120 million, then operate it until it can be relocated. The Expos, under the ownership of Major League Baseball, played part of their schedule in Puerto Rico.

I know what you are thinking, between Sid and Shooter you have maybe 1/4 of the actual truth. Well, what we do know for sure is that MLB is fed up with this situation. How do we know this? Why else would T-Paw be calling Bud Selig on a Sunday to discuss stadiums?

I've been critical of Pawlenty, and for good reason, but it does appear that he is "fervently" working in the background to make something happen.

Pawlenty, who resolved to not lose professional teams on his watch, hosted the private meeting on Sunday at his Summit Avenue home.

According to people familiar with the meeting, the governor received Doug Baker, chief executive of Ecolab; Jim Campbell, former chief executive of Wells Fargo of Minnesota; Dick Ames, chief executive of Ames Construction; Dave Mona, a public relations executive and sports booster; Jim Pohlad, son of Twins owner Carl Pohlad; Dave St. Peter, president of the team; Jerry Bell, president of Twins Sports Inc., the Pohlad company that owns the club; and various support staff.

Man, what I would have given to have been a fly on the wall at that meeting. What was discussed? Were there any new proposals floated? Did Bell and Jim Pohlad exit the meeting feeling better or feeling the same? Well, I think we know the answer to that one. Shortly after the meeting the Twins sued the MSFC.

So, I gotta cut T-Paw a little bit of slack. It would appear he is doing something. However, the proof is in the pudding. We'll see if T-Paw has anything to show for this activity come December 31.

Again, we know T-Paw wants to call a special session. We know that he is in favor of this plan. He would sign off on it if it came to his desk. But we also know that this issue of a new Twins stadium would not make for a short and sweet special session. First of all, T-Paw, Sviggum, and Johnson will never be able to get the 2/3 majority in both chambers to circumvent legislative rules of procedure. That means that a bill has to pass at least one committee and be heard on the floor 3 times. If you put the Twins stadium bill through that, we are really talking about a long, painful, drawn out process as every anti-stadium legislator beats away at the bill with amendments and their two-cents.

So, I gotta cut T-Paw a little slack. True, he is showing a real lack of leadership in not being able to convince his some of his party members to get in line, but getting this Twins stadium bill to a House floor vote is flat out a hard thing to do.

Finally, check out what St. Peter had to say when Bob Sansavere asked him how much more a Twins stadium will cost next year:

Losing another year will cost $31 million. Those are real, not mythical, numbers.

$31 million. Gee, thanks a lot Krinkie, Marty, Paulsen, and all you other anti-stadium legislators that are fighting so hard so that I'll have a few extra pennies in my pocket. Fighting so hard is only costing me and the state of Minnesota more than any savings you think you are giving to me!

That's all I got time for. More later...

Posted by snackeru at 8:21 AM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

October 10, 2005

Clarification

• First and foremost congratulations to the University of Minnesota football team for reclaiming the Little Brown Jug this Saturday. What a great game. If you missed it, you missed out on something special. Bring on the Badgers!

• I need to clarify that I am not anti-Gopher stadium. I'm not against any stadium. I think a new Gopher stadium will be great, and I am going to have a blast watching it being built. However, it perplexes me to no end that we are bending over backwards to build a stadium for the only team that cannot leave our state. You will never see a University of Minnesota home game live from Los Angeles.

So, again, I love the idea of a new Gopher stadium. I love the idea of bringing the tradition of Gopher football back to campus, and the stadium designs I have seen are absolutely beautiful. But I have always given the Twins priority.

• Finally, I need to clarify that I am not against a stadium being built in St. Paul. I would love a stadium in St. Paul. But T-Paw's recent comments concerning building a new Twins ballpark in the capital city are so transparent to me I am almost speechless. Almost.

From my standpoint, T-Paw is only bringing St. Paul back into the picture because Minneapolis will soon be out of the picture. Mike Opat has made it clear that if the Hennepin County plan is not approved they will be taking it off the table. T-Paw knows this. So, in order to keep the Twins placated he is now suggesting St. Paul again as a possible new home. Then, when he screws over that plan I suppose he will then suggest Minneapolis again.

As Sid said today, T-Paw doesn't care if the Twins move. He only wants to do enough so that it looks like the state is interested in keeping the Twins. When the Twins are gone, I am going to hold him personally responsible.

Posted by snackeru at 8:49 AM | Comments (6) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

October 7, 2005

I'm tired

Well, I've had my fun. I'm tired. I'm angry. I'm spent. If you live under a rock, outside of the state of Minnesota, or if you don't keep up with stadium politics at all, today I received some very bad news. At least for me. If you are anti-stadium you should be thrilled. Good for you.

It looks like the special session (if there is one) will only deal with the Gophers stadium. In addition, if another issue is to be taken up it will probably be the hospital in Maple Grove. This is a big let down for me. I don't know how else to put it. I want a Twins stadium. It doesn't look like it is going to happen anymore.

Why? Well, as I said a few days ago, the votes are there, but anti-stadium legislators promised to turn the special session into a circus if the Twins stadium was a part of it. Remember that 2/3 majority vote to suspend legislative rules for a possible one day session? Yep, John Marty pretty much promised he would use that against any efforts to pass a Twins stadium bill.

So, I must face facts. I must come to grips with the inevitable. It ain't gonna happen. I think my hope is at an all time low. Is there still a little bit of hope? Yes. But less than ever.

Really, why should I get upset about this anymore? 10 years of let downs should have made me immune to this kind of feeling.

Not next year. Not ever. Not in Minneapolis. Not in St. Paul (Pawlenty is such a moron!). Do what you will, Mr. Pohlad.

See you all later. I don't know when...

Posted by snackeru at 4:40 PM | Comments (7) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

October 6, 2005

Optimism increases

• Holy cow am I feeling good today. It is surprising what just a little snippet from Charley Walters can do for my outlook on life in general:

Latest word is the Twins and Gophers now have the legislative votes to approve new stadiums if agreements can be reached, so Gov. Tim Pawlenty can call a special session. Pawlenty wants to hear a firm commitment first, though.

So, there you have it. The votes are there. T-Paw is willing to call the session. It sounds like the legislative leaders just need to cross the t's and dot the i's.

Ha! Phew, I almost got ahead of myself there! As Kevin in AZ says, it is all just talk right now. We've got a long way to go. However, I feel good about what I am hearing.

• You know what I can't stand? Hypocrisy. I know, you probably can't stand hypocrisy either. That is why I'm sure you'll agree with me that Nick Coleman is an idiot, but worse he is being very hypocritical.

Nick is anti-stadium. As examples, there is this, and this, and many more that demonstrate his anger towards stadium financing, especially towards building a Twins stadium.

I am really quite stunned by the level of anger demonstrated by this usually coherent author. First of all, Nick, why don't you calm down, clean the spit up off your chin and the drool off of your bib, and take a moment to consider just what you are all upset about. As a Star Trib has already pointed out 30 other cities and states have figured out how to make this work, but somehow we are different. I'll tell you how we are different: we are filled with morons like Nick Coleman that would rather we end up with nothing, no worse than nothing, a freaking $10 million gap in our state budget so he can stick it to an 80 year old man.

Oh no, the Gollum-like Nick Coleman says, you can't have my precious pennies, I would rather 10 years pass by after the Twins are long gone so we can spend 3-4-5 times as much on a new stadium then. By that time Minnesota will realize its huge error and we'll be begging for baseball to return. Thanks a bunch for that, Nick. You seem to have a real knack for seeing the forest through the trees. Save now and spend way more later. Where do I sign up for that?

Nicky also thinks he is somewhat of a ballpark design expert. I had no idea he was so knowledgeable concerning the placement and design of new baseball stadiums. Nick has called the design a "boxy thing" that won't get hardly any sun and where the spectators will be treated to the smells of "roasting garbage." Hyperbole? Meet your new king. I tell you what Nick, besides the fact that it has already been proven that the smells from the burner are minimal at best, I think I'll trust the Twins and the architects to design the new ballpark. God knows whatever they design will be better than the Metrodome, which by the way doesn't get any sun-light at all.

But here is what has me really angry towards Nicky today: he has written an article full of praise for the Minnesota Wild and the Xcel Energy Center. The Minnesota Wild. A team that is a part of the NHL. Yes, the same exact NHL that cancelled an entire season.

But more importantly, the Minnesota Wild is a team, much like the Twins would be, that is accepting millions of dollars in public subsidies to pay for their arena. Why isn't Nicky upset about this? Why isn't he railing against the half-cent sales tax that St. Paul residents currently pay for the X? Why isn't he spewing his vitrol towards the interest-free state general fund loan that the Wild received to build the X? Where is the same level of anger towards the ownership of the Wild that Nicky launches towards Zygi Wilf and Carl Pohlad?

Is it because the X cost less than a Vikings or Twins stadium? Is it all about price then rather than the principle of giving billionaire owners public money?

Or is it because the X is built in St. Paul? Coleman is quite a homer for St. Paul, so maybe if public money is going to be given to billionaire, as long as it is in St. Paul it is OK.

Or maybe it is because Nicky likes hockey. If I remember correctly, Nick has written before that he laces up the skates every once in a while. Maybe Nick feels public money for billionaires is OK as long as he likes the sport the money is going to.

Whatever the case, if he was ever against the X (and he should have been given his diatribes against the Twins stadium) he isn't anymore. It seems his principles are lost as soon as the new venue opens and he can see for himself how beautiful and meaningful these new buildings can be. But before they are built he goes out of his way to prove his stunning and hypocritical ignorance.

I am sick of it.

• Finally, there was a decent letter to the editor in the Strib today that had this to say:

There are at least four issues that the governor and legislative leaders need to get together on: new stadiums for the Minnesota Twins and the University of Minnesota football team, a proposed hospital in Maple Grove and the Minneapolis teachers pension fund. Each of them is very important.

All parties need to take a stand, call a special session and resolve these issues.

Amen, Mr. Crosland. Here is what is remarkable about this letter. Mr. Crosland combines stadiums, health care, and education issues all in the same grouping of "we should get all of these done." Yes! I don't have time to expound on this point, but I think all of you get the picture.

Posted by snackeru at 8:35 AM | Comments (8) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

October 5, 2005

Same old, same old

• So, the headlines today and yesterday read "Pawlenty's special-session offer drew no takers", "Agreement on agenda unlikely", and "Special session menu fails." One troubling thing I have read in these articles is this set of quotes from Geoff Michel:

Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, author of the Gophers stadium bill, said hes encouraged that the governor is going to meet with legislative leaders.

These are difficult issues, and they should be decided face to face, not through the mail, he said.

Asked what should be done about the Gophers stadium proposal, Michel said he would encourage people to consider holding a one-day University session with no legislator pay.

One day. No pay. Gophers only, Michel said.

I think it is a given that the only reason a special session is still being considered is because of the financial realities of the Gophers stadium plan. Two of their big donations expire before the beginning of the next regular session, so there is an urgency to get this plan approved.

The troubling thing about Michel's statements is that I wouldn't be at all surprised if this is the kind of discussions T-Paw and the other legislative leaders are having. What is the only bill they can count on passing in a timely fashion? The Gophers bill, of course. What is the only bill that is keeping the hopes for a special session alive? The Gophers bill. What is the only bill they can all agree on? The Gophers bill.

As I said before, T-Paw wants to call a special session. I am especially convinced of this given that yesterday he still wanted to talk about the possibilities with legislative leaders even after they made him and his "menu" look stupid. However, the agenda is narrowing.

I pray that the session will deal with the Gophers and the Twins, but realistically the only bill that meets Pawlenty's criteria for a quick and painless session is the Gophers bill.

Here is hoping that Sviggum and Johnson can convince T-Paw to take up the Twins bill. We shall see...

• In addition, I have a few words concerning my claims that "the votes are there" to pass a Twins stadium bill. Check out this snippet from a MN Legislature document describing special sessions:

During special sessions, the House and the Senate often pass bills shortly after they are introduced. This is accomplished by declaring an urgency and suspending both the constitutional requirement that each bill be considered on three different days in each house and the requirement of legislative rules that each bill be referred to a committee when it is introduced. The two-thirds vote required in each house to expedite passage in this way usually is forthcoming, because legislators generally wish to curb the length of the session.

People, 2/3 majority in the House is 88 or 89 votes. While it is possible, it is highly unlikely that there are 88 yes votes for the Twins stadium bill. Again, I count 66 yes and 21 unknown. Even if all 21 unknowns came out in favor of the bill, that would only be 87.

Am I missing something here? Will 2/3 majority be necessary, or is there some other legislative procedure I don't know about? Any anti-stadium people out there know for sure? David Wintheiser?

If 2/3 majority is necessary ... well, that would suck. I don't know how else to put it.

• Finally, I just wanted to say that I love the Johnny Cash song "The Man Comes Around." It is approaching "Songs for a Desert Island" status. That voice, the understated guitar, the lyrics! Just wonderful...

Posted by snackeru at 8:53 AM | Comments (7) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

October 3, 2005

Pawlenty speaks

Well, the moment I have been waiting for has come. Pawlenty has spoken favorably about the chances for a special session. Or has he? Let's take a look at his actual words, from the pages of Sid's illustrious column in the Strib today:

"I'll bring them in, but you know, the point is, they all want to shoot their traps off -- not all of them, but a couple of them on the other side of the aisle -- and it's put-up-or-shut-up time. If you're for the stadium, then say it, but limit the session to that -- the Gophers or Twins, or whichever other of those issues -- and that they've got the votes to back up their words. So, you quit talking the talk and start walking the walk.

Hmmm ... it sounds like he is talking about Dean Johnson. Deano has come out with some pretty harsh words towards T-Paw, and for good reason. However, Johnson has also come out strongly in favor of both the Twins and the Gophers stadiums, and he has repeatedly stated that the votes are there in the Senate.

Who else could he be talking about? Matt Entenza? Entenza is a strong supporter of the Gopher's stadium, but I'm not so sure about a Twins stadium. Here is hoping he puts aside his differences with the Twins stadium bill to get the Gophers stadium bill passed. However, he is also heavily criticizing the governor for his lack of leadership.

Dick Day? Day is the Republican minority leader in the Senate, but he has certainly been "shooting off his trap" recently. He has said that he and his Republican cronies don't want to come back to the capitol to do their jobs in a special session, and that he would rather sit at home with his thumb up his butt (OK, I made that last part up). In fact, according to Entenza it is the Republicans themselves that are holding up the special session.

Truthfully, we have a huge mess on our hands, and a special session hasn't even been called yet. Everyone is pointing fingers. T-Paw is showing a huge lack of leadership by reamining wishy-washy on the issue itself which has let his Republican underlings off the hook of taking a stance. And the DFL leadership is simply trying to make T-Paw look bad, plain and simple.

It is partisan politics at its finest. Let's see what else Pawlenty had to say:

"I'm ready, if they're ready, but right now all they want to do is yap a little bit. I'm ready to put my reputation on the line, take a risk and call it; they just have to agree on the issue and demonstrate they've got the support to pass it and reasonably control the situation so we don't have a runaway session, which would be a huge, ugly situation for the state."

That last part is the key: "reasonably control the situation." Truly the real reason a special session has not been called isn't because the votes aren't there. The real reason is that Hennepin County legislators would turn the special session into a zoo. Looking at the Voter's Guide we have 66 pro-stadium legislators in the house, 47 against, and 21 unknowns. I believe the votes are absolutely there.

However, in the House we also have a lot of vindictive HC legislators that are right now planning how they will muck up the proceedings. I'm sure Ann Lenczewski has already written 50 amendments that she will use to try to derail the plan. HC legislators are more concerned with keeping their jobs than doing what is right for Minnesota. Make no mistake, it is the potential circus atmosphere of never ending amendments and floor debates that Pawlenty is trying to avoid.

Here is the way I see it. Right now Sviggum is trying to convince anti-stadium legislators in the House to let their vote be their voice. He is trying to determine how many anti-stadium legislators are willing to allow the House to simply vote on the matter without making a huge fuss about it. Right now, I am not confident he is getting the answer he wants. If he can pull some strings, if he can demonstrate some leadership and convince the anti-stadium crowd to be satisfied with voting "No" rather than doing their best to grandstand ... well, how likely is that?

Finally, for some good news. You probably saw this, but Shooter reported on Sunday:

People who should know now believe Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will call a special legislative session in early November that will approve new stadiums for the Gophers and Twins.

Sigh... the soap opera continues. In conclusion, I believe Pawlenty wants to call a special session, but he doesn't want it to be a circus. If Johnson and Sviggum can assure him that they will tame the anti-stadium crowd, or that the anti-stadium crowd will put up a minimal amount of resistance, then we will finally get this monkey off our backs.

What do you think?

Posted by snackeru at 12:51 PM | Comments (8) | Stadiums

Category "Life"

Category "Stadiums"

September 30, 2005

What else is new?

The Strib wrote an interesting editorial yesterday regarding the lack of leadership from our friend T-Paw. It ended with this sentiment:

What's needed is a mature and sincere commitment on all sides to clear the decks on stadium issues -- first the Twins and Gophers in a special session, then the Vikings next year. If the intent is to wave goodbye to the Twins now and the Vikings later, then the governor and key legislators should have the courage to say so. If not, they should scrape together a few hours this fall to invest in Minnesota's quality of life and competitive future.

This is an interesting thought. If it just ain't gonna happen our legislature should have the guts to just come out and say so. Then we would finally know what really is going to happen. No more threats from the Twins. Pohlad would know with definitive certainty that the state will never approve of public funds going towards stadium construction. Finally, we could move on and just say to Pohlad, "Do what you will." I would welcome that.

• But enough about "the issue that will never die." I'm sick of it. In fact, I'm sick of everything. Nothing is good, everything is bad, and I'm not happy about it. You stink, I stink, the whole world stinks. So there.

• I will end this post with interesting facts. If you don't like them you can just go jump in a lake.

• Finally ponder this quote from Charles Schulz the rest of the weekend:

"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia ."

Have a good one everybody!

Posted by snackeru at 3:35 PM | Life | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

September 28, 2005

No direction home

• First things first, once again our hopes of a special session are being dashed. And what really surprises me about this is the fact that it isn't just the Twins the legislature is screwing over, it is the Gophers. The Gophers recently released new figures that indicated that due to the delay of stadium construction, it already costs $13 million more. I can't imagine what this delay does to the Twins stadium costs.

Yesterday Pawlenty passed around a special session questionnaire of sorts which asked legislators in the House and Senate which issues they would be willing to vote on, including all three stadium requests (Twins, Vikings, Gophers). In addition, he gave legislators three different scenarios for a Twins stadium specifically:

The three Twins stadium proposals are the Hennepin County proposal for a downtown Minneapolis ballpark paid for in large part by a new county sales tax; the same plan with a guarantee that Hennepin County voters could decide whether to impose the tax; and an alternative that would allow any other community to schedule a referendum and try to raise taxes for a ballpark if legislators rejected the Hennepin plan.

Hmmm ... I wonder which scenario will be the one everyone can agree on.

Based on T-Paw's recent move, both Matt Entenza and Dean Johnson (it seems) are not very optimistic that a special session will be called. I will have to say I agree with them. This is especially true considering that Pawlenty wants the session to end in 2 days. That is a tall order and everyone knows it.

Hopefully Pawlenty will reveal the results of the questionnaire, but as I said a couple of weeks ago, I think you can stick a fork in the chances for a special session, and, of course, any resolution or leadership concerning stadiums in this fine state.

But what else is new?

• But that isn't actually what I wanted to talk about today. Over the past two nights I have been watching the PBS documentary "No Direction Home" about Bob Dylan, and I must say it has been wonderful. I've never really been the biggest Bob Dylan fan, but his impact on rock and folk music is undeniable. The documentary covered his childhood, his move to New York, his song-writing and creative explosion, his switch to electric, and his motorcycle accident in 1966. It was absolutely riveting.

Througout the show I was struck with what a genius this man was/is, and how subtle his message was. Dylan abhorred labels, or people trying to categorize him, and as a result his songs are truly timeless. His lyrics are beautiful, and haunting, and they are as true and appropriate today as they were in the 60s. Seriously, if you want to be absolutely blown away, if you are in the mood for overwhelming poignancy or stunning simplicity, take a listen to The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, his second album. "A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall" ... absolutely beautiful.

I was struck by one of the comments of an interviewer in the show who said that God didn't speak through Dylan as much as he kicked Dylan in the ass. Dylan had no choice but to heave up his amazing output of material. It flowed out of him almost effortlessly, as if he had no say in the matter. The interviewer went on to say that just looking at him you could see the Holy Spirit surrounding him. Amazing to think about.

I was also struck with Dylan's relationship with his audience. Dylan seemed to care about his audience in the beginning, but as he became more and more popular it was almost like he purposefully tried to alienate himself from the people who cared about him the most. Again, his audience tried to box him into the label of a "protest" singer, and Dylan rebelled. They tried to make him into only a "folk" singer with only the permission to play an accoustic guitar. Obviously, Dylan would have none of that. In a way, it seems Dylan went out of his way to confuse and tick off his audience. Or did he? Again, he wrote the music he wanted to write. If you like it great, but if not then don't listen.

Anyway, I don't know where I'm going with this, so I'll just stop for now. If anyone else watched this documentary please by all means let me know what you thought of it. I was blown away.

See you all later...

Posted by snackeru at 8:36 AM | Comments (7) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

September 22, 2005

U2: See you at the show...

Greetings and salutations loyal readers! If you need your stadium fix you should check out the Strib's excellent editorial on the subject today. I'm pretty sure I can't say it any better. Also, did you see Shooter's column in which he suggests the Twins front office are less than thrilled with Zygi's recent proposal for a new Vikings stadium? I wonder why that is. Is it because Zygi and the NFL are putting up close to half? Or is it just because the Twins must now compete for the attention of our esteemed legislators? Whatever the case, I am still convinced that Zygi's announcement has only put more pressure on the legislature and the governor to start solving some of these problems. We'll see...

But today's main discussion is not about stadiums. Tomorrow night I will be attending the U2 concert at the Target Center with Curt in Grand Forks and I am quite excited about it. This will be my first U2 concert, and my first rock concert since seeing Pink Floyd at the Metrodome in (I think) 1995. I've tried to see U2 before, but I have never been able to get tickets through the jammed phone lines. This time, however, Curt purchased the tickets in Grand Forks. Needless to say, the line at the local Ticketmaster outlet (at his neighborhood grocery store) was not very long. So, finally, I will get a chance to see the greatest post 70s rock band in existence.

I've been keeping a close look at their set lists to see if I can guess what they will play in Minneapolis. Here is there set list from last night in Chicago:

City of Blinding Lights
Vertigo
Elevation
Electric Co.
The Ocean
Wild Horses
Beautiful Day
Miracle Drug
Sometimes You Cant Make It On Your Own
Yahweh
Love and Peace or Else
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Bullet The Blue Sky
Miss Sarajevo
Pride in the Name of Love
Where the Streets have no Name
One

Bad
Original of the Species
With or Without You

Fast Cars
All Because of You
40

All of this is, of course, good stuff, but I would take out a few of these songs. "Wild Horses"? Let the Stones sing that one and replace it with "Until the End of the World." "The Ocean"? If you are going to sing something off of Boy stick with "Electric Co.", "I Will Follow" and "An Cat Dubh." Or better yet, replace "The Ocean" with "Gloria" off of October. That would be cool.

And I gotta say, you can sing "Love and Peace or Else" or "Bullet the Blue Sky" but I would prefer it if both weren't sung in the same show. They may have a nice way of working them all together though.

I would love it if "Still Haven't Found" was somehow a part of the set, but they may be sick of singing it by now (it was a part of the European tour). I'm just thrilled to see "Streets" is still a part of the show. That will be wonderful to hear in concert.

Anyway, it looks like, from viewing other recent sets, that they are trying to mix things up, so I bet we'll hear at least one song that hasn't been sung in concert yet this tour. Again, I am hoping it is "Until the End of the World." That would make my night!

Anyway, that's it for now. Don't expect anything tomorrow. Curt and I will be painting the town red starting at 7:00 tomorrow morning when I pick him up from the train station. A complete report will follow.

Posted by snackeru at 12:47 PM | Comments (6) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

September 21, 2005

In case you were wondering...

I'm home sick today. I'm too sick to even write about the stupidity that is John Knight, Nick Coleman and all the other moron anti-stadium people out there. You know, the people that fight and fight and fight against any kind of plan until it costs too much, the teams leave, and we end up begging for another team that costs three times as much. Oh, and then we build a new stadium. Genius.

Don't think it could happen? Do you remember the North Stars? We could have renovated the Met Center for a pittance, but instead the team moves, we beg for a new team, and we build the X. More expensive? Yes. Flat out stupid? Oh yes. How long did it take before we had a new hockey team in this state? 7 years.

New stadiums are inevitable. We have some good deals on the table right now and we should take advantage of them before we fight ourselves out of a great deal of money. That's right, stadium opponents are actually costing Minnesota taxpayers a lot of money. Take Camden Yards for example. It cost about $100 million to build. The Twins wanted to build a new stadium right around that time, but of course, stadium opponents said no. Now a new Twins stadium will cost upwards of $500 million. Gee, thanks a lot for all your efforts Mr. Knight.

Houston Oilers ... no new stadium ... they move to Tennesee ... now the Houston Texans play in the highly expensive Reliant Field. Cleveland Browns ... no new stadium ... they move to Baltimore ... now the new Cleveland Browns play in a new highly expensive stadium.

Over 30 other communities have figured out how to get this done. It is time for Minnesota to finally figure this out and move on!

I'm going back to bed.

Posted by snackeru at 10:57 AM | Comments (7) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

September 20, 2005

A good first try from Zygi

I've said it before, but when I heard so long ago that Zygi and the Vikings were putting together a plan for a new stadium in Anoka county that relied on state money ... well, I though that it would not sit well with the state legislature. It appears this prediction is turning out to be true. However, more importantly, how does this new Viking stadium proposal help or hurt the Twins stadium proposal? That is the question. Let's go over the plan:

Vikings contribution: at least $280 million
Anoka county contribution: at least $280 million
State contribution: at least $115 million

A few things stand out for me about this breakdown.


  1. The Vikings contribution is being aided by a loan from the NFL. Although the term "G3" hasn't been used, it would appear that is the fund this is coming from. I've been wondering if there is still money in that pot and I think we have our answer.
  2. $280 million is about $130 million more than Red ever agreed to. That is very significant and a step in the right direction
  3. The Anoka county contribution is a general sales tax that breaks down to .75 cents on every $100. So on a $20,000 car purchase the extra tax would be $150. I just find that interesting
  4. And finally, the state's contribution. $115 million isn't a whole heck of a lot to ask from the state, but it is $115 million more than the Twins are asking for. Sorry Zygi, I just don't think it is going to fly.

The state's $115 million is said to be coming from a new TIF (tax increment financing) district set up around the stadium. The district would siphon off new tax monies to go towards paying off the stadium. The thinking behind a scheme like this is that without the stadium there wouldn't be any new tax monies to begin with, so the state wouldn't be losing any money any way you slice it. With or without the stadium the state would see the same amount of tax money.

TIF financing is also a financing strategy already suggested and approved by T-Paw from a couple of years ago. In fact, TIF was a major part of T-Paw's plan to build a new Twins stadium. Of course, this TIF strategy met with resistance and it was scrapped, and now the Twins aren't relying on it at all. Does that mean that the Vikings could have more success now that the Twins aren't a part of the TIF picture? No, I don't think so.

There is a great deal of animosity towards any kind of state contribution towards stadium funding (sans the Gopher stadium plan). Dean Johnson has already reacted quite cooly to this plan given the fact that it requires some form of state money.

So, my question is this: if the legislature approved the Anoka county tax, but not the TIF financing scheme would the deal still go through? I think the answer is yes.

Zygi would pick up the rest of the tab. I don't think this plan will work out for Zygi, but I definitely think it is a step in the right direction. Once they take the state out of the equation I think you will see the plan go through. $115 million more for a guy like Zygi is still a lot of money, but there is no way he would turn down all that "free money" from Anoka county if that is all the legislature approved.

According to the Anoka County propaganda site this stadium proposal will create 8,700 permanent jobs, and increase the property tax base in both the city and the county by $10.8 million. They also promise that with this stadium school districts will actually see more money, to the tune of $5.4 million. Not to mention all the construction jobs that this proposal would create. You will see a stadium in Anoka county some day. I have no doubt in my mind about that. But the plan needs a little more tweaking. We'll also see how it goes in the coming months.

Now for the Twins. Does this plan hurt or help the Twins cause? I'm still of the opinion that it helps them since it highlights once again what a brilliant strategy it was to take the state out of the equation. Everything will be paid for by Hennepin County and the team, including infrastructure around the stadium. Sviggum and Johnson love this and support the plan because of this. So, anything that can make the Twins plan look better is a good thing.

Secondly, the Vikings coming out with this plan, a plan that is so close to working, only puts more pressure on the legislature to start solving some of these problems. They know the Vikings are close to coming up with a workable plan. They also know that steel, oil, and construction costs are only increasing and that the time is now to hammer some of these proposals through. And hopefully they know that these problems aren't going to go away. Not even if the teams leave.

I see this as a good development. It is a good first try from Zygi, and it only highlights more the fact that the Twins also have a pretty decent plan. Plus, it puts more pressure on T-Paw. I think we've all read this statement from the Strib:

"The governor will be communicating with legislative leaders regarding stadiums and other issues shortly," McClung said. "We will evaluate the Vikings proposal in that context."

So, T-Paw is going to get the ball rolling soon. That is what I've been waiting for. My prediction is that support is given to the Twins and the Gophers, and a pat on the back is given to the Vikings. Would I love to see all three proposals given a fair shake? Of course, but I don't think that will happen.

More later as I have more time to think this through...

Posted by snackeru at 7:28 AM | Comments (5) | Stadiums

Category "Books"

Category "Life"

Category "Stadiums"

September 16, 2005

No, I'm not dead...

I just haven't had much to say over the past couple of days. So, in honor of my lack of things to say I will now write a stream of consciousness type post of whatever pops into my head:

• The Green Day song "Jesus of Suburbia" off of American Idiot is approaching "Bohemian Rhapsody" status for me. What a phenomenal song. 9.5 minutes of pure musical genius.

• I just read the book Magic Street from Orson Scott Card. This is a very good book that reinterprets Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream by using the characters of Puck, Oberon, and Titania in a contemporary setting. Card is a master at re-examining old myths and beliefs and trying to glean the truth of them. Why did people believe in fairies so long ago? Is there an inkling of truth to these old beliefs? What would happen if fairies were still around today? I'm not sure this book answers all these questions, but they are the questions I have after reading it.

• Of course, if you want a really good book about fairies, do yourself a favor and read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Yikes, what a good book. And I know what you are thinking, "Fairies? I don't want to read a story about Tinker-bell." Ah, but there is a lot more to fairies than that. They were actually mischievous (nasty) creatures that most people tried to avoid.

• Vince and freealonzo bring up a couple of good points in the comments below concerning my favorite topic, stadiums in Minnesota. For one thing, McLaughlin's showing in the recent Minneapolis mayoral primary was not very good, and that in itself is a very good thing. McLaughlin is a Hennepin County commissioner and one of the 4 votes needed to hammer the Twins stadium through once the legislature approves it (ha!). If McLaughlin becomes mayor of Minneapolis there is no telling who will take his place and if he/she will still support the stadium initiative.

And you may not know this, but after the legislature approves the Twins stadium plan (ha!) the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners will vote again on whether or not to proceed with the plan. So, McLaughlin's vote is very important.

Secondly, the recent announcement that Best Buy will contribute $2.5 million to the Gopher's stadium drive is a very good piece of news. Of course, this adds even more pressure for Pawlenty to call a special session. The only bad thing about this announcement is that the legislature has to approve the Gopher's stadium bill before February for the Best Buy contribution to kick in. I wish they would have made it December like TCF's contribution.

And this little tidbit came out today, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly at the U has come out against the Gopher's stadium plan since it calls for a $52 million contribution from students at the University. Luckily, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly has about as much power as I do here at the University. In other words, their stance means nothing.

I see the chances for a special session still at 50%. Why? Why am I still so pessimistic? We are still dealing with the same old idiots in St. Paul, that's why. You know, the idiots that let the state shut down? So, le't try to keep it in perspective.

• Finally, I'm going to be on TV! I was asked to appear on the PBS/U of M show Tech Talk. The taping for the show was yesterday, and the show will be aired January 1 at 9:00 PM on channel 17 (in the TC area). Of course, the show is about blogs, a topic which people seem to think I am somewhat of an expert on.

Anyway, I am on the show for about 7 minutes and I talk about how to create a blog, how to get people to read your blog, how to search for blogs, and a little about blogging anonymity. Of course, now that I think back on the things I said I can't help but think I sound like a moron, "Me likey blogs! Blogs fun! Blogs funny word! Me say it over and over, blogs, blogs, blogs!" Gah! Oh well, if you'd like to take a peak at your's truly just tune into PBS on January 1. I guarantee a riveting performance that will rival the Gopher's appearance in the Rose Bowl (ha!).

• Nothing else pops into my head. More later...

Posted by snackeru at 9:03 AM | Comments (5) | Books | Life | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

September 13, 2005

Dean adds to the pressure

What is Dean Johnson trying to do to me? I have just sworn off any hopes of a new Twins or Gophers stadium ever being built in this God-forsaken state and then Dean Johnson comes out and says that not only does he favor a special session to deal with stadium issues, he also favors voting on all three stadium proposals during the same special session!

Johnson said the unfinished business from the regular session and optimal conditions for stadium-building provide the right opportunity. "The costs of construction will continue to increase, the economic benefits to the state are more positive than not, and this is the best overall package we're going to see from the Vikings, the Twins and the [University of Minnesota] Gophers," he said. "There are not state taxes, no property taxes, just local sales taxes and maximum contributions from the teams."

I ... will ... not ... get ... my ... hopes ... up. No, no, no, no! I can't take it anymore. I am still getting over the last time my hopes were dashed! So, I will play devil's advocate.

Like I said this morning, all of this is just talk until T-Paw calls a special session, or even comes out and says anything favorable about the chances for a special session. So far, he remains "skeptical." So, there is reason number one I will not get my hopes up.

And here is reason number two: Deano wants the special session to be called two days before Thanksgiving. What? On the positive side this will give our state ample opportunity to do whatever it intends to do concerning Hurricane Katrina victims from the Gulf region. In fact, I am positive this is why Deano wants to wait so long. That is fine. However, by waiting so long stadium opponents will have well over two months to bash us over the head again and again concerning why it is such a bad idea to build stadiums for billionaire owners.

Coincidentally, the third reason I will not get my hopes up also deals with the number 3: as in how the heck do we expect our fine legislators to agree to build three new stadiums when they've never been able to agree on one? Three! I'm laughing as I am typing this. Three! Oh my goodness! That is a funny one!

Talk, talk, talk, talk ... that is all our legislators are good for. They tell us what we want to hear and then do absolutely nothing but collect their paychecks. Bah! I'm sick of it.

(Sublminal message: If T-Paw ever comes out and even says something favorable about the chances of a special session being called ... well let's just say hope will spring eternal!)

Posted by snackeru at 4:07 PM | Comments (4) | Stadiums

Category "Gophers"

Category "Stadiums"

Today's bit of wisdom

• First things first, by now you've all heard that Minnesota state basketball star Isaiah Dahlman has given a verbal commitment to attend Michigan State. My question is, how long before he decides to attend the University of Minnesota? Check out this list of former state high school basketball stars:

What is going on here? What kind of voodoo magic does Monson have over these players? And again, when should we expect Dahlman to wear the maroon and gold? My bet is after his sophomore year. The writing is on the wall: Dahlman goes to Michigan State, plays decently, but realizes he'd rather be closer to home and his family. He will be a Gopher some day. I think that is a given.

• And now for the issue that just won't die, stadiums in Minnesota. I refuse to get my hopes up. I just flat out refuse. But the news coming out of St. Paul is very intriguing. Here is what Dean Johnson has recently said regarding not just one, but three stadiums in our fine state:

"I just got done talking to constituent groups, and they were fairly positive for a one- or two-day special session and a vote on all three stadiums. ... There's now an attitude of getting the job done," he said.

Holy crap. That would be so amazing. But again, I refuse to get my hopes up. Dean Johnson is smoking some pretty powerful wacky-tabacci if he thinks this state can pass a bill to fund even one stadium. Or is he? Of course, T-Paw still refuses to commit to a special session in the wake of Hurricane Katrina so this is all moot until he starts speaking more favorably concerning the possibility.

If no special session is called, though, Mike Opat had some depressing things to say:

"The economics are time-sensitive -- steel prices, oil prices, construction, inflation. That's going to change," said Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat, who led the county's negotiations with the Twins for a ballpark deal that includes $125 million from the team and a proposed countywide sales tax. "If the Legislature is unwilling to take us up on this offer, I can't see going through the considerable time and effort to renegotiate with the team."

Does T-Paw think this issue will go away? Because it won't. The Twins and Vikings could leave our state after 2011, we could be without these teams for years, but sooner or later new stadiums for NFL football and MLB baseball will be built in Minnesota. That is a given. It would be a whole heckuva lot cheaper to just do it now.

But I refuse to get my hopes up. There will always be higher priorities. I will be amazed if all this talk actually results in even one stadium being built.

Posted by snackeru at 8:49 AM | Comments (13) | Gophers | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

September 8, 2005

Things are not looking good

Reading this blog is like watching a tennis match. Back and forth, back and forth I go from optimism back to pessimism back to optimism. Well, I'm back to pessimism. People, it was fun while it lasted, but let's call it like we see it: a special session will not be called. A new Twins stadium will not be built.

Let's look at the news. First of all we have Charley Walters reporting today:

A senior member of the state Legislature said Wednesday he feels there is "zero" chance of a special session to be called by Gov. Tom Pawlenty, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

This can only be expected. Hurricanes and other natural disasters have a tendency of showing us what is really important, especially after the devestation of Katrina. Plus, it does not surprise me at all that a "senior" member of the legislature would say this since, as I've said before, they don't want to come back to the state capitol to deal with these issues. Our legislators want to stay home. So, if you think you are punishing our fine legislators by refusing to make them do their jobs, well, that is exactly what they want.

So, we have Katrina and the fact that our legislators don't want to come back anyway. But those two aren't really the reasons I am so pessimistic. No, we have another reason that pretty much squashes any chance we have to finally put this issue to rest.

At the State Fair, fairgoers filled out the annual Senate (PDF) and House questionnaires. And as you might expect the results were pretty much against the current Twins stadium proposal. The House survey shows almost 70% of the almost 9,000 people surveyed are against a special session being called for stadium issues. Is this a representative sample, or scientific in anyway? No. Could this even be considered a good sample of the over 1.6 million people that attended the fair? No. But will it impact Pawlenty's decision on whether or not to call a special session? You better believe it.

Other interesting statistics come from the Senate survey. According to this survey, a little over 50% of the people polled are actually in favor of a new Twins stadium, but only 23.2% of the people are in favor of the current proposal without a referendum.

The Senate survey also gives away just who these people are that took the survey. Almost 80% of the people surveyed are either from Minneapolis/St. Paul or a Twin Cities suburb. Typically, Twin Cities residents are usually the most anti-stadium, so I suppose these statistics should come as no surprise.

In summary, we have Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath (which is definitely a worthy distraction). We have our legislative body's own laziness. And we have these stupid surveys. 1 + 1 + 1 = no Twins stadium. 3 strikes you're out. Pick your cliche.

If anyone can think of anything to be positive about concerning this I am all ears, but I am not optimistic. Another year, another disappointment. Stadium costs continue to rise and the CBA expires next year which means contraction becomes an option again. Your guess is as good as mine concerning what happens next, but I can feel myself becoming more and more of a Gophers fan.

Posted by snackeru at 8:53 AM | Comments (16) | Stadiums

Category "Life"

Category "Stadiums"

September 6, 2005

Don't have much to say

• The students have returned to the University of Minnesota. I am always surprised at how much more crowded the campus becomes today compared with last week. I prefer having the students around though. Makes things a little more exciting.

• And because the students are back, The Minnesota Daily is back in print every weekday. Today, they had a good article discussing the chances for a special session to deal with the Gophers stadium issue. According to the article, Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, chief author of the bill sets the chances of a special session being called at 50-50. Also according the article: "But Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, said she doesnt think the governor will call a special session in light of the government shutdown earlier this summer." So, we are still up in the air on this one, it seems. I personally still think a special session will be called.

• This is especially true since the governor is going to start getting more and more pressure to call a special session now that the State Fair is done. Bob Sansavere of the Pioneer Press wrote a very short article voicing his support for a Twins stadium and a special session in today's paper. I think we are going to start seeing more of this.

• Lastly, and I don't know why I am thinking of this right now, but something from my childhood needs to be rectified. When I was a child in elementary school my teacher (and I can't remember what grade I was in) asked the class to think of interesting questions about nature or space or weather, etc. to ask that would encourage the class to research the question and find the answer. Stuff like, "Why is the sky blue?" or "Why does toilet water drain in a clockwise direction?" Questions that you have always wondered but never quite knew how to answer.

So, I started thinking really hard. And I came up with what I thought was a pretty decent question. When it came to my turn I asked, "Where does dust come from?" Well, you would have thought I asked the dumbest question in the history of time. My teacher, in fact, told me that was a dumb question because everyone knows that dust comes from dirt swirled up from the wind. With that she moved on to the next question which, of course, was "Why is the sky blue?"

Anyway, I'm here to tell you that was not a dumb question and that my teacher answered the question wrong. Dust is way more interesting than that. Sure, the bulk of dust outside comes from dirt, but "house dust" actually is a bit more disgusting. According to Wikipedia.org, "house dust" comes mostly from sloughed skin cells. Skin cells! That is interesting!

So there, Mrs. Eilers. Your arrogance prohibited you from answering my question in a respectful and accurate manner. And although I wish I could go back in time and express this all to you in person, writing this out today has actually made me feel better. I suppose this also proves that there are no stupid questions and that one shouldn't think one knows everything. That is the lesson for the day. Let's all humble ourselves and practice a little more humility.

Posted by snackeru at 9:14 AM | Comments (8) | Life | Stadiums

Category "Life"

Category "Stadiums"

September 1, 2005

Stuff on my mind

• First things first, it appears that a special session will indeed be called. I've heard this from two sources now. The more reliable report comes from Cheesehead Craig who has said that Randy Shaver says T-Paw told him one would be called after the Fair. This is, of course, good news. The other report comes from my brother-in-law who is a teacher in Hennepin County and who could benefit from some additional health care legislation if a special session is called. He tells me that his union/teacher compatriots are being told that there bill will be heard in a special session. So, I'm feeling more and more confident our legislators will make a glorious return to the capitol in a couple of weeks.

The big question is will the Twins stadium be heard? Will it pass? Again, the Twins stadium chances have definitely benefited from the Gophers stadium efforts. However, Gopher fans and the Gopher stadium drive has recently been grabbing all the good press and the favor of the legislators. At the fair:

Oh, they were talking about some matters of state at the fair on Saturday. A few with their dander up about the Legislature's dawdling ways got some digs in when they met up with some of the legislators making their fair appearances. And the No. 1 serious statewide topic appeared to be sports stadiums, followed by the prospects for a fall special session.

"I'm hearing a lot of support for a Twins stadium," said Rep. Mike Charron, R-Woodbury. "But the e-mails I'm getting are more for a Gophers stadium."

Did you catch that subtle dig? The Twins stadium is important, but not as important as the Gophers stadium. And it appears that emails are more important to our legislators than actually talking. How peachy. Anyway, I think it is obvious a special session will be called and that a Gophers stadium is a slam dunk. We'll see if the same can be said for a Twins stadium in a couple of weeks.

• And speaking of stadiums, the evacuation of the Superdome seems to be put on hold right now due to shots being fired and arson fires being lit. I can't imagine what people are going through right now down there. I read an interesting piece about the looting happening in Louisiana, a piece that actually speaks in favor of the looting. Very interesting and thought provoking. Can't say I disagree.

Needless to say, my wife and I will be making a donation to the Salvation Army to help with their relief efforts.

• Cheesehead Craig and I resumed our Border Battle last night with round two of Stratego. I lost. It was all my fault. I was right next to his flag but I moved back instead of right. Kaboom. Game over. I was very upset to be so close and to lose thanks to my own stupidty. Quite frankly I don't even want to talk about it. Craig leads the battle 3-2. Mini-golf is next.

That's all for now. See you soon.

Posted by snackeru at 8:44 AM | Comments (4) | Life | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Category "Twins"

August 24, 2005

How about those Twins?

Santana for Cy Young

I'm speechless. It really doesn't happen too often that you watch a game that will be remembered, not just for a couple of years but I would wager for a long, long time. So much drama! The pitching, the fielding (!), the fact that Jacque Jones seems to always come through when most of us would have been hobbled by grief ... Man! What a game.

Too bad Mays is pitching tonight.

• Charley Walters is reporting today that:

Although talks have picked up in recent days, no decision on whether to have a special Legislative session that would include stadium issues is expected until after Labor Day, and insiders say odds are no better than 50-50 that it will occur.

50-50 is better than nothing. Our best bet still remains in the fact that the Gopher's stadium bill needs to be heard before December:

In the past seven days, almost 2,000 e-mails have landed in the offices of Gov. Tim Pawlenty and state legislators, asking for a special session to pass a bill providing the public's share of the football stadium's projected $235 million cost.

Apparently, a large group of Gopher stadium backers have been successful in catching the ear of the governor. In addition, the article included this quote:

"Their Web e-mail thing works,'' Brian McClung, the governor's chief spokesman, said Monday. "It's a noticeable volume of e-mail.''

Too bad the thousands of letters they've received in favor of a new Twins stadium seem to have gone unnoticed. I guess its only when they all look the same and have the same content do they start counting them.

But whoever would have thought that the best chance for a Twins stadium bill would be to piggy back on another stadium bill's chances? I still say a special session will be called.

Posted by snackeru at 1:05 PM | Comments (2) | Stadiums | Twins

Category "Stadiums"

August 18, 2005

Special session news

There has been a flurry of news on the special session recently that somehow I have missed. Why didn't anyone tell me? Oh well, better late than never. First of all, Brian McClung recently had some interesting things to say about the possibilities for a special session:

"It's only been a month and two days since the second-longest special session in state history ended," said Brian McClung, Pawlenty's press secretary. "The governor has said he'd be willing to call a special session that is controlled, productive and limited, but for now we think legislators should enjoy the few remaining days of a beautiful Minnesota summer. We can revisit these issues after Labor Day."

So, Pawlenty's press secretary has said that these issues can be revisited after Labor Day. I'm going to hold you to that McClung!

Secondly, Sviggum recently spoke to T-Paw concerning the parameters of a special session including what would be discussed and how long the special session would be. Sviggum favors these topics or issues:

Sounds good. But what sounds really good is this little snippet from Sviggum:

"I agree with the governor about not calling a session unless we have prior agreement for a one-day session," he said.

One day ... one day and all these problems could go away. One day and we would never hear about the Twins or Gophers stadium issues again. What a glorious day that would be!

What else is there. Again, I'm sorry that I am so late in getting this out to you (and again, why didn't anyone tell me!) but Mike Opat (my hero) wrote a great OpEd piece on August 14 detailing why it is "now or never" for a Hennepin County ballpark:

Simply put, without approval in a special session this year, the Hennepin-Twins proposal will not survive. Oil and steel prices continue to climb--as do interest rates. There is a new developer making plans for the ballpark site. Without authorization to move ahead soon, the budget estimates and the development schedule for a 2009 opening will no longer be valid.

This is not a chest-thumping threat. Rather, it is a very sober (and somewhat somber) realization that Hennepin County cannot help solve important state problems without support from other elected officials.

Well said. To reiterate, if a ballpark bill does not pass this session then Hennepin County's plan is nullified. Stadium opponents would obviously say this is a good thing, but with Hennepin County pulling out of the game, and the fact that St. Paul already seems to have thrown in the towel, it would seem the Twins would have no other suitors (besides Las Vegas). Opat also adds:

We answered the governor's call for ballpark proposals and presented a viable plan that includes no state money. And we negotiated an agreement with the Twins that guarantees the team's contribution before the first pitch is thrown and an unprecedented sharing of any gain should the franchise be sold within 10 years of the ballpark being built.

This is so true! Hennepin County put together a plan using the governor's own guidelines. It takes the state out of the equation and it enables a representative from Willmar to tell his or her constituents that if they don't want to pay a dime they won't have to. There is a guaranteed contribution from the team (not enough some would claim) and community safeguards concerning a possible sale of the team. What is not to like about this plan?

Oh yeah, Carl Pohlad will make money ... that is a bummer (heavy sarcasm). Man! These rich people just won't stop making money! What about us? What do we get? Opat writes:

The city of Minneapolis will benefit directly from the new ballpark. Fans attending Twins games will generate millions of dollars of new tax money each year. The Warehouse District and all of downtown will benefit from the vitality created by the ballpark and the fans. It is time for more elected officials in Minneapolis to step up and support the Hennepin County ballpark proposal.

Amen. It is time to get this monkey off of our backs. There is an electricity in the air right now that points to this problem finally being fixed. Do you feel it? I sure do.

Posted by snackeru at 8:20 AM | Comments (1) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Category "Twins"

August 17, 2005

Yoo hooo ....

• Sorry for my silence yesterday everyone. I am working on a new, redesigned University of Minnesota Libraries web site and it is sapping all of my time. But enough about that ...

• What a joy it is to watch Justin Morneau play baseball. I see nothing but good things in his future (as long as Scotty Ulger stays away from him). His blast in the White Sox game last night seriously had me launch myself out of my chair to sing the introduction to the "Also Sprach Zarathustra" which, as you probably know, is pretty hard to do considering it doesn't have any words. In fact, the introduction to the "Also Sprach Zarathustra" should be Morneau's walk up music. That would be awesome. Man can he smack the ball!

• And speaking of last night's game, as you probably also already know, the Twins play the White Sox 11 more times. If the Twins win all 11 games they will probably win the American League Central. The chances are slim, to be sure, but there is a chance! This "jinx" was officially brought to you by McDonalds: you deserve a break today at McDonalds! Seriously though, sweeping the White Sox for this series would be quite spectacular for this team. Tonight's game should be a doozy (unless you've been living under a rock it is Santana vs. Buehrle). If the Twins can manage to get even one run, Santana better hold on tight...

• So I walked out of church last Sunday and turned on the Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave (which I normally do) only to hear Sid say, "Well, that was Dean Johnson on the phone. Sorry about the length of the conversation everyone, but there was some important things that he said concerning a special session." Argh! I was beside myself with grief for missing the contents of that call. Anyway, knowing Sid I knew that he would discuss the call in his Monday column. Well, while he did discuss it, his recap was a little disappointing because of its brevity:

Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, said Sunday he was going to talk to House Speaker Steve Swiggum, R-Kenyon, about sending a letter to Tim Pawlenty suggesting that the governor call a special session this fall to discuss a limited agenda including stadium bills for Gophers football and the Twins. Johnson said everything would have to be agreed to before calling the special session, but that he was for it.

So, let's do our own recap. A couple of weeks ago Steve Sviggum, the Speaker of the House, spoke in favor of calling a special session for stadium issues, and now we have Dean Johnson, the Senate Majority Leader, also publicly giving his approval to the possibility of a special session. This is good people. So, so good. It makes me happy, jubilant, thrilled, and wholly too optimistic. I need to calm down.

Of course, Pawlenty has been silent for a while on the chances for a special session, but we should here from him pretty soon concerning the possiblity. My guess is after the state fair.

And even though I missed the call itself, I listened to Steve Thompson's show afterwards where he asked callers to call in and let him know whether or not they (the people!) approved the idea of a special session to discuss the stadium issue. Of course the vast majority of the callers expressed their strong approval for this idea, but there were definitely a few misguided individuals who were against a special session. But not for the reasons you think. Sure, some of them were just flat out against a Twins stadium being built with taxpayer money, but a lot of them were against calling a special session because our legislators "don't deserve another chance." According to some callers, our legislators had their chance to pass meaningful bills and they shouldn't get another. What?

This reasoning is pure stupidity. These callers think we should punish our fine legislators by NOT letting them come back to the state capitol to take care of their unfinished business. This is exactly what those morons want! They don't want to come back to the state capitol. They would rather play tic-tac-to, or stare blankly into the distance, or change their drool bibs (or whatever it is morons do when they aren't working) than come back to the state capitol and finish what they started! Gah! I say we demand that they come back and finish their business! If you haven't already, please write Pawlenty and demand that a special session be called to deal with the stadium issue.

I'm still of the opinion that a special session will be called. Our saving grace is the Gophers stadium and the fact that it must be dealt with before December. Keep the faith people. Just like the Twins are proving on the field, it isn't over until it is over.

Posted by snackeru at 8:34 AM | Stadiums | Twins

Category "Stadiums"

August 5, 2005

What? Smells fresh to me ...

• Well, I'm glad I can make at least one reader happy with my day to day ramblings on the stadium issue. Well, maybe not happy ... maybe I just entertain him. ("I'm funny how? I mean, I'm funny like a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh?") Anyway, since David was kind enough to call me a "heck of a good guy" I must reciprocate and say that David is probably an equally "good fella" with a sad hatred for rich people making money. He also seems to take a lot of pleasure in crushing my already dwindling stadium hopes while at the same time alienating himself from the majority of other Twins fans. To his credit, David doesn't have anything to prove to anybody and he isn't afraid to write passionately about what he believes in. Nothing wrong with that. It is what blogging is all about.

But if David is waiting for Reusse to write an article about stadiums, don't hold your breath buddy. I say this for two reasons: 1) While I was at the press conference for the Twins announcement of this proposal, I overheard Reusse say, "I haven't written a stadium article for 5 years now and I'm not about to start." So far he has kept his word. And 2) as far as I can tell, Reusse supports this plan. I've heard him speak favorably about the Hennepin County proposal on his Sunday night show with Sid, Mike, and Dark so it is my impression that if he ever did write about stadiums it would probably be a more eloquent version of what I write on these pages. That is just my guess, though. I could be wrong.

But what really perplexed me about David's post was this snippet concerning our favorite baseball team:

Given how badly you guys are disappointing the fans and citizens of Minnesota, why should the people of this state feel excited about building a new ballpark for you? Why should the people of Minnesota feel at all worried at the thought that the club will pull up tent stakes and depart for Las Vegas, or Puerto Rico, or Hoboken?

Wow. One mediocre year and we should jeopardize the long term viability of the team? Why don't we just stop going to games, stop watching them on TV, and stop cheering for them all together? Those jerks! How dare they win 3 division championships in a row and then barely reach .500 this year! Honestly, this kind of thinking perlexes me to no end. I would be stunned if Reusse wrote an article that suggested this kind of response. It is "fair weather" at best, but more than anything it is extremely short-sighted.

Whatever, though. David is free to have this opinion. I'll just chalk it up as yet another example of one of his misguided opinions I don't understand.

And I say this mostly in jest, David. I don't want to you to get snarky with me again. We will never see eye to eye on this issue. I want to save money in the long run by getting a deal done, while you want to fight and fight and fight until the Twins are gone, we beg for a new baseball team, and we finally build a stadium that costs 10 times as much. Again, though, that is just the way I see it.

Finally, I told you not to read this. In fact, I made it quite clear that you shouldn't read it. Maybe next time you'll heed my advice, hmmmm?

Anyway, that's all I got for now. Next week's postings will be pretty sporadic since I will be in usability testing all day Monday, Tuesday, and half of Wednesday. So, don't expect much (not that you ever should).

Posted by snackeru at 3:46 PM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

August 4, 2005

Sviggum says 50/50

• Boy, it doesn't take much to make me happy. For a while I've been living under the dark cloud of T-Paws 60/40 odds against a special session being called. No fun. And then Charley Walters, the great Shooter, comes out with this fantastic tidbit today that seriously made me so happy I could burst:

Speaker of the House Steve Sviggum said Wednesday that chances for a special legislative session appear to be about 50-50 if Gov. Tim Pawlenty can be convinced there will be a focused, structured agenda.

A special session could be called by mid-September.

Sviggum, who supports the Twins' Hennepin County ballpark plan, believes lawmakers, who are elected to vote, should have to make a decision one way or another.

"And if it gets to the House and Senate floor, it will pass," Sviggum predicted.

I'm pathetic. According to Sviggum chances for a special session have only increased 10%, and I treat the news like the first shovel full of dirt will be dug tomorrow. Sheesh! However, I just can't help it. News like this keeps me going.

After I read this news I wrote Brad Finstad, the rep. who authored the bill, to ask him what's up from his end. I will certainly let you know if I hear from him.

Further down the Shooter article, Sviggum also had some interesting words about Carl Pohlad:

Sviggum, who has been Speaker of the House for seven years, said he's convinced that as long as Twins owner Carl Pohlad is alive, the team will remain in Minnesota. He's not certain beyond that, however, because the Twins are not bound by lease to the Metrodome, as are the Vikings through 2011.

That is very interesting. He might be right. I'm not sure Pohlad wants his lasting legacy to be "the man who moved the Twins to Las Vegas." He'll leave that for his kids I guess. While I agree that Pohlad probably won't be the one to move the Twins at this point, I would still like to solve this stadium mess once and for all. Duh. Maybe it would be wise to start putting some pressure on Pawlenty to call a special session.

• As I've said before, our big hope is the fact that The Gopher's stadium would be heard in the same special session. The Pioneer Press had another good article called U stadium hopes wane which was a little too pessimistic for my taste. It did have this interesting comment though that is so obvious it is painful:

Herbstreit, an ESPN college football color analyst, said bringing a recruit to the Metrodome as opposed to, say, Wisconsin's renovated and rowdy Camp Randall Stadium is "not even close" as an experience. The Gophers averaged 47,581 fans (about 19,000 below capacity) in six games last season; the Badgers averaged 82,368 in six sellouts. This season already is sold out at Wisconsin.

Once again, Wisconsin shows us the way. Wisconsin has three fantastic stadiums that just put us to shame. Quite frankly I am stunned with how well Glen Mason has done recruiting with the Metrodome. We should be at the bottom of the Big Ten every year. I'd like to see what Mason can do with a new stadium.

• Finally, what about the Vikings. Shooter also mentions:

Pssst: New Vikings owner Zygi Wilf had limited partners Alan Landis and David Mandelbaum, New Jersey real estate developers, meet with Blaine and Anoka County officials Wednesday in Blaine about land for a new Vikings stadium.

People, I don't worry about the Vikings. They are here to stay. Wilf is right now gobbling up land and it isn't so he can just have it sit empty. There will be a Vikings stadium up in Anoka County. Let's just hope PSLs aren't a part of the plan (right COD?).

Posted by snackeru at 12:41 PM | Comments (1) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

August 1, 2005

Questions for Lester

Mr. Cheer or Die has asked me to supply him with some possible questions for his podcast interview with Lester Bagley in the coming week(s). Here are the questions I would love Mr. Bagley to answer:

1. How much state support does Zygi expect for a new Vikings stadium? (hopefully nothing)

2. Given what he has seen from other NFL teams (Eagles, Patriots, Giants, Cowboys), and considering that the Gophers are privately financing over half of their own stadium, would Zygi also consider privately financing the majority of a new Vikings stadium?

3. Being a developer at heart, is Zygi somewhat excited that he can design a stadium (and some of the surrounding entertainment options) himself, or would he have preferred to come into an environment where a new stadium had already been constructed?

4. Outdoor vs. indoor. Most Vikings fans were thrilled with Zygi's announcement that he prefers an outdoor stadium. Is he still leaning that way? Does he understand that if he decides to go that route he will probably have to fund the majority of the stadium himself?

5. Zygi has already made the statement that even if the Vikings don't get a new stadium by 2011 the Vikings are staying in Minnesota. Come on! Red McCombs and the old ownership told us over and over again that the Vikings cannot stay competitive in the Metrodome. Was Red just flat out lying? Can the Vikings stay in the Metrodome past 2011 and hope to compete?

6. Would Zygi consider the possibility of renovating the Metrodome?

7. Zygi has probably read about the difficulties the Twins have had getting a new stadium. Heck he has probably even spoken to Carl Pohlad about their difficulties. Are there any lessons that Zygi has learned from the Twins' difficulties? Do their difficulties hopefully convince Zygi that he will need to come up with a plan that uses more private money than public, and one that offers tangible benefits to the host community?

What does everyone think? Decent questions? Any questions that I have missed?

Posted by snackeru at 4:03 PM | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

July 28, 2005

Relax ...

As you might have noticed by my lack of postings, things have been kind of busy for me. Couple that fact with the idiots in the legislature and governor's office, and you've got a very stressed out author of the Greet Machine. So, I've been thinking about ways to relax and take all this stuff off of my mind. Or maybe even to just change my focus and rethink how I relate with the world around me. Then out of the blue, I got an email from long time Greet Machine reader "Jim in St. Paul" who gave me a great idea: why don't we try some haikus?

Now, before we try some haikus we all have to get in the mood. You know, think about gurgling brooks, chirping birds, the smell of fresh cut grass inside of a new Twins stadium ... ahhh, my mind is clear. Let's try something else. Focus on this picture for a while:

brook.jpg

There ... how do you feel? Are you mentally ready for the relaxing atmosphere of the haiku? "Jim in St. Paul" provides the first example of bliss:

No special session T-Paw says ballparks can wait Twins to Las Vegas?

Yes ... the universal truth of Pawlenty's stupidity is like a relaxing stream trickling around my feet. Let me give it a try:

Idiot T-Paw Leadership of a lemming State headed for cliff

Are you with me? Because after those two haikus I am in my happy place. And in my happy place there is a unicameral legislature, a governor that cares more about the citizens of this state than the Taxpayer's league, and all the Sunkist orange pop I can drink. Shall we try another? I think we shall:

Morons in St. Paul Twins stadium too hard for Pea size brains to grasp

I'm almost there. I have almost achieved nirvana ... the moksha of my existence is within sight. Could you help me reach that plane? Please submit your own haiku for all of us to enjoy, and you may also attain enlightenment ...

Posted by snackeru at 8:47 AM | Comments (7) | Stadiums

Category "Libraries"

Category "Lists"

Category "Stadiums"

July 21, 2005

Tidbits

• Tonight I shall pick up my copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from the library. If you'll recall, I was number 484 in the waiting list of well over 2,000 library users. I actually got a note from the library that my copy of the book was ready on Monday, but I have waited a little because I was not ready to read it. Anyway, to recap, I could have picked up this book from the library only two days after it was released.

In other words, what in the world are all of you doing still buying books? The last book I bought because I just had to read it and I couldn't wait was The Lost World by Michael Crichton. It was a let down and I vowed to never buy a book again but to use the library to its fullest potential. Now, I have a big list of library holds and they trickle in about as fast as I can read them. Save yourself some money and use the library. And if you are worried about fines don't feel bad about keeping a book a few days longer. Most libraries count on a certain amount of fees and fines coming in. By keeping a library book a little longer you are just giving them a little donation that they most likely desperately need anyway.

• I gotta say I am really enjoying the show "Rock Star: INXS" on CBS Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights. The talent on this show blows "American Idol" out of the water (not that I watched that show all that much). Why am I watching "Rock Star" then? I am a fairly big INXS fan and I think this is a pretty interesting way of picking a new lead singer. Although, I must also admit that I am preparing for a let down concerning whoever they pick to replace Michael Hutchence. Hutchence co-wrote most of their songs. I would be very surprised if they can re-create the magic they had when Hutchence was the lead singer. But I don't blame them for trying.

A quick list of my favorite INXS albums:

  1. Welcome to Wherever You Are: Highly underrated. Good from beginning to end (although I do skip the last song).
  2. Kick: Phenomenal album that launched them as one of the top three acts of the time. Can't get enough of it.
  3. Listen Like Thieves: Features their first big hit "What You Need." I like "Kiss the Dirt" too.
  4. X: "Bitter Tears" ... great tune. "Stairs" is good too. This album was the follow-up to Kick and it didn't really set the world on fire.
  5. Full Moon, Dirty Hearts : Again, highly underrated. A "dash-off" album that has definitely grown on me over the years.

• I like reading the "Letters" section of the Star Tribune, especially when those letters relate to stadium issues. Honestly, I could write every day about the stupid letters I read about this issue. They are highly entertaining. Today there was a letter from a gentleman from SLP who wrote:

I fail to see what the state has to do with a stadium in downtown Minneapolis or the pension program for Minneapolis teachers. If Minneapolis wants stadiums and funded teachers' pensions, let it pay for them.

Do any of you recognize the concept at work in this letter? That's right, it is the Me First platform! Good stuff. Since a new Twins stadium and teachers' pensions in Minneapolis don't directly affect him (and most likely his wallet) then he shoudn't have to worry about them. That's the spirit! A selfish Minnesota is a strong Minnesota! I like how he deftly ties the stadium and Minneapolis educational issues together inferring unequivocally that he doesn't care about either and therefore they are unimportant. Beautiful. Makes me feel all fuzzy inside that I live in such a "progressive" state.

• That's all I got time for. Talk to you later.

Posted by snackeru at 4:26 PM | Comments (18) | Libraries | Lists | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

July 20, 2005

Let the wondering begin

So, I was reading the paper today and an article about Pawlenty and his no new taxes pledge caught my eye. It sounds like T-Paw is done signing pledges like this. That is a wise move. But then I started to read further and I came across this snippet that quite frankly made me sick to my stomach:

"The governor also said that while he hoped to call a special session this fall to deal with, among other things, the Twins stadium proposal, that appeared improbable.

Putting the odds at 60-40 against such a session, Pawlenty said that the closely divided Legislature is too polarized to reach a preagreement on such a controversial issue and commit to a short session of less than a few days.

However, Pawlenty made it clear that he wants to keep the Twins here, and to find 'reasonable' ways to fund the arts, transit, natural resources and other amenities."

Well, there you have it. There is a 60% chance a fall special session WON'T be called. But it is nice to hear Pawlenty say that he wants to keep the Twins in Minnesota. I guess by just saying we want to keep the Twins in Minnesota over and over again for 10 years straight we can somehow assure that they do just that. Needless to say I am growing more and more pessimistic that this "strategy" will continue to be effective.

Grant had a great comment below concerning how long we can continue to talk about keeping the Twins and yet do nothing. I couldn't say it any better, so please take a look. Talk to you later...

Posted by snackeru at 8:27 AM | Comments (1) | Stadiums

Category "Politics"

Category "Stadiums"

July 14, 2005

Me first

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY DO NOT READ THIS POST. CLICK YOUR BACK BUTTON NOW!!! PLEASE! STAY AWAY FROM THESE INCOHERENT RAMBLINGS! DON'T SAY YOU HAVEN'T BEEN WARNED!

I have seen the light. What in the world have I been doing for the past 10 years? Year after year, session after session I have been begging for a new Twins stadium but to no avail. I suddenly realize that all these years I have been fighting for the wrong cause. Allow me to introduce my new cause, my new platform, which I'm sure the vast majority of Minnesotans will quickly understand and be able to relate to. Allow me to introduce the "Me First" platform.

The "Me First" platform is based mainly on a single principle that is rapidly becoming more and more important to the average Minnesotan: what is in it for me? I have seen this principle at work in the stadium debates of the last 10 years and I gotta admit it is starting to have some appeal. Seriously, what is in it for me? You say you want to build a new light rail line? What is in it for me? I never ride the light rail. You say you want to build a new Guthrie theater? Holy crap, what the heck is in it for me? A bunch of pansies dressing up and acting like idiots, that's what. You say you want to build a new downtown library? What, so more people can surf for porn for free? What is in it for me? You know, I could really get the hang of this...

And don't give me this "community" crap. I've tried that argument before and it just doesn't work. If you don't care about the millions of Twins fans in the upper midwest, if that community doesn't matter, then I for sure don't care about you. You see, the only thing I care about from now on is my own pocketbook and how to make it fatter and sealed more air tight.

As you might imagine my new hero is Phil Krinkie. What an American hero! Phil Krinkie's tireless fight against all forms of government spending has truly been an inspiration, and he has taught me the all important concept of the "boondoggle." What a phenomenal word. Of course, this is Krinkie's favorite word. Say it with me: boondoggle. If you aren't familiar with how to spot a boondoggle then let me give you a crash course. It is essential if you want to follow the "Me first" platform:

Does the project cost money? If so, it is probably a boondoggle.
Does the project make anyone else besides me any money? If so, it is definitely a boondoggle.
Does the project require any tax money? Ding, ding, ding! It is a boondoggle.

No good can come from any projects like these! The LRT? It cost a lot of money, it definitely made some contractors a lot of money, the bulk of that money has come from taxes, and I haven't benefited from it at all. I mean, I never ride it. Yep, boondoggle all the way. Let's go back in time a little ways. The Metrodome? Back in the early 80s it cost a lot of money, it has made the Vikings and the Twins a whole lot of money (and they only paid for 9% of the building -- their locker rooms and offices -- the public the rest), and what have I gotten in return for that building? You guessed it. Not a dime. How about the Xcel Energy Center? Tax money ... check. Rich sports owners making money ... check. Have I ever set foot in the building? Nope. Boondoggle.

I think you are beginning to see the point. Gone are the concepts of sharing, community, investment, and civic pride ... what a rube I have been! These concepts do not make for a better Minnesota! What will make this state a great place to live in the future is if we all start thinking more about ourselves than our neighbors. I mean, who cares about millions of Twins fans? Not me anymore. And I don't care about schools (except the one my kids go to), roads (except for the one in front of my house), parks (except the ones I visit), etc. etc. You get the picture.

"Me First," baby. That is the only way to go. I have seen the light, and I want more of it for myself.

Posted by snackeru at 12:40 PM | Comments (10) | Politics | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

July 13, 2005

Misery and pessimism

DO NOT READ. IT IS NOT WORTH YOUR TIME.

I've tried to hold back. I've tried to spare you all from my words of misery and despair. All day long I have held off writing on these fine pages in the hopes that my mood would brighten a little. Well, it hasn't. I am angry. I am bitter. Why is this so hard? Why is building a stupid stadium so freaking hard? Why can 30 other communities figure this out, but we can't?

So, the legislature is finally going to pass a budget and everyone is going to go home. So what. Idiots. Morons. Slimy, bad-breathed, good-for-nothing, stupid, ugly, pea-brained, polyester wearing, pus filled, slack jawed MORONS. Gah! Why do I even waste my time on all of this. Why do I ever put even a shred of faith into this supposed body of my "representatives?"

Pawlenty is showing absolutely NO leadership on this or any other issue for that matter. Mike Opat is suggesting that the Hennepin County Board is losing interest, especially if this carries over into next year. St. Paul is trying to get Target to move onto the plot of land they had designated for the stadium, and Minneapolis will build on the Rapid Park site with or without a stadium. Peachy. Just PEACHY!!!! That means new stadium prices will go up while suitable plots of land decrease. Could someone put me in touch with a Montreal Expos fan? I'd like to know how I should start planning for the inevitable.

Pawlenty is hinting at a special session this fall. Big hairy deal. So my misery will be prolonged. Oh goody. You say Selig was optimistic after talking to Pawlenty about the issue? Pawlenty is the KING of feeding people with the crap they want to hear right before he does absolutely NOTHING. Where is Tom Ridge when we need him?

I am in pain right now. Not even the wonder that is Bret Boone can cheer me up.

Thank goodness I live in such a progressive state! I mean Wisconsin?!?! What a bunch of rubes with their refurbished Lambeau Field and their brand new Miller Park (not to mention their 80,000 seat, newly renovated Camp Randall field). What are they thinking taking care of these assets? Let em rot! Or what about Illinois with their brand new Comiskey Park and renovated Soldier Field? We must be a whole lot smarter than them. Or Michigan with their brand new Ford Field and Comerica Park? That All-Star game (not to mention the upcomng Super Bowl XL) they just had sure demonstrated what a dumb idea it was to invest in their sports teams.

What is the use. We are just way too smart. The atmosphere that made this state great during the 60s and 70s is gone. "Me first." That is the new state motto. What is in it for me? Light rail? I'll never ride it. Tear it down. School referendum? Bah! My kids don't go to school there. Health care? I've got insurance, why should I care about you? Twins stadium? Where is my return on this investment? I don't care if my neighbor, my co-worker, those senior citizens, that construction worker are all Twins fans. I've got my eye on that quarter pounder with cheese at McDonalds so you can take your new Twins stadium and shove it.

Thanks. Thanks for nothing. There is a reason we love living in the state of Minnesota. There was a time when we invested in our community, there was a time when we had something to prove and we worked hard to make Minnesota a great place to live. That attitude is gone. I sincerely hope it comes back before it is too late.

Posted by snackeru at 7:41 PM | Comments (6) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Category "Twins"

July 12, 2005

Chances

• I like that the Twins have acquired Bret Boone. Some interesting facts that I've been reading about Boone:

Will this be the spark the Twins need? I think the chances are good. This is an upgrade at second base no matter how you slice it.

• OK, now let's talk about stadiums. Of course, you've probably heard by now that the legislature will most likely adjourn without dealing with this sticky problem. It has already been suggested that Pawlenty may call another special session to deal with the Twins' and Gopher's stadia, but even if that happens it may be as much as four months away. With this reality, Bell has already stated:

"We're going to find out if the numbers still work," Bell said. "We calculated this on beginning work in June, foolishly believing that the Legislature would end on time."

Bell hinted that the delay caused by waiting for a special session this fall may collapse the proposed deal entirely.

You know, at this point I wish Bell would just shut up. That is a stupid thing to even hint. Here we have Hennepin County raising over $1 billion dollars over 30 years for the ballpark, and Bell "hints" that a delay of 4 months may kill the deal entirely. Of course, he may be saying this to try to convince the legislature to deal with the issue now, but you know and I know that that Twins will take whatever they get whenever they can get it. 4 months shouldn't make a lick of difference and if Pohlad has to pay an extra $10 million then so be it.

The best shot the Twins have at even being heard in a special session is the fact that the Gophers stadium bill will also need to be dealt with. The Gophers stadium lobbyists are working hard right now to try to convince the legislature to deal with their bill now. If they are successful, if the legislature decides to take up the Gophers stadium bill in the waning moments of this special session, then the Twins stadium bill is dead.

In other words, I can see the governor calling a special session to talk about stadiums if the Gophers are part of the mix, but if it is just the Twins (and Vikings)? Forget about it.

• What are the chances then of a special session being called for stadium discussion? I would say they are pretty good. The Gophers deal with TCF hinges on a financing plan being in place by this December to build their stadium. Since the next legisaltive regular session doesn't begin until after that another special session will need to be called this fall to pass the Gophers stadium bill.

In addition, I was listening to Mike Max last night on WCCO and he had former Senate Minority Leader Duane Benson as his guest. Benson said the chances for a special session to deal with stadiums is very good. He would not give the same chances to a Twins stadium bill actually passing in a special session, but the bill will be heard. He also said that part of a Vikings stadium plan could also be dealt with. The Twins, the Vikings, and the Gophers ... the legislature would indeed have a lot to discuss.

Here is hoping that Pawlenty does the right thing and calls another special session to deal with the stadia issue in Minnesota once and for all. It is all in his hands now. I know, this is a scary thought.

Posted by snackeru at 7:45 AM | Comments (10) | Stadiums | Twins

Category "Life"

Category "Stadiums"

June 22, 2005

Like watching a train wreck

I'd be surprised if you haven't seen this news yet, but apparently the projected state budget deficit is about to get larger. To the tune of between $250 to $300 million due to a state Supreme Court decision that will allow corporations in Minnesota to claim tax breaks for foreign operations. The state, it seems, expects a lot of corporations to begin claiming these tax breaks which could add up to a lot of money in a hurry. According to some lawmakers, this deficit won't be dealt with until the next legislative session and until after the state's budget forecast in November, but that didn't stop both sides of the aisle from taking turns pointing fingers (DFLers) and discounting the severity of this problem (Republicans).

What a mess. And after reading about the DFLers reaction to this fiasco, and the Republican's vigil outside the door of Dean Johnson's office, I'm beginning to sense a government shutdown is almost a given. Look at this from the DFL point of view. By standing firm on their desire to raise taxes for the wealthiest Minnesotans to fund programs like MinnesotaCare they effectively have the high ground in this battle. Especially when you factor in this growing deficit. Many Minnesotans are beginning to see the raising of taxes as an inevitability and they are starting to look at Pawlenty and Sviggum as too inflexible. If Pawlenty capitulates he will need to break his no new taxes pledge, and in political-speak that will be a "gift that keeps on giving" for the DFL come the next elections. However, if Pawlenty does not give in, his budget cuts will look/be so extreme that I don't know how he will survive.

My prediction: The DFL stands firm, the government shuts down, and Pawlenty ends up taking the heat. What do you think Oracle?

And what does all of this mean for a new Twins stadium? Stick a fork in it, as Douglas has already said. I can't even see them getting to the Gopher's stadium in this climate. Of course, I continue to pray that I am wrong about all of this.

• Secondly, check out Mr. Cheer or Die today as he continues his series on advice for Zygi with a discussion about the stadium. In his post he writes convincingly that the new Vikings stadium needs some kind of signature attraction, ala the pirate ship at Raymond James. I made some suggestions in the comments focusing on Norse mythology. Please add some more!

• Finally, as many of you know, I am big on trying to find the "signs from God" in everyday things. For example, a while back I wrote about "whatever song comes on next ..." and how I play that game to determine the outcome of the future or my present course of action. Well, as many of you know I also subscribe to Netflix, and out of the blue Netflix sent me a movie that wasn't even on my queue. In fact, I already had three movies at home so to get a fourth for no reason was totally unexpected. What movie did they send me? It was Dumb and Dumberer, the sequel to Dumb and Dumber.

At first I thought, why did they send me this? Do they think I will enjoy this based on the other selections in my queue? I was offended! I was outraged! But then I thought, well, I do have both The Ladies Man and Hot Chick in my queue so I guess I should keep my moral indignation to a minimum.

Then it dawned on me, this is a sign from God! He is trying to tell me something through Dumb and Dumberer! I mean, what other explanation is there for getting this random movie, one that isn't even in my queue, and especially when I already have three movies at home? So, I watched the movie last night, and I watched it very closely as I tried to decipher the message meant only for me.

Unfortunately, the only message I could get out of this movie is that I have somehow offended God in a most egregious manner. What a bad movie. It is so bad it might have to go on The List. Last night I lost two hours of my life that I can never get back for a movie that Gitmo is probably using as a torture device. What have I done to offend thee, Lord? Well, fortunately it seems my punishment is over. Believe me, I am trying to think of the offense that caused my punishment so as to avoid this in the future.

If anyone else has seen this movie and can think of what other kind of message God is trying to send me, I would be grateful for any ideas you have. Otherwise, I will continue to think I have been chastised.

Posted by snackeru at 8:07 AM | Comments (6) | Life | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

June 20, 2005

Painful to read the newspapers

There must be some hint of action on the Twins stadium bill at the capitol since both TC dailies are coming out fast and furious with stadium news. This could slightly be corroborated by something I heard cadidate-for-governor Steve Kelley say at the Parktacular parade this last Saturday. When asked if the budget stalemate is nearing an end Kelley responded, "I expect we'll get our work done before June 30." Of course, we've heard these "expectations" before. Let's hope our legislators can get the job done, especially for for the sake all those people about to be laid off.

Even with all this stadium news, though, it is still painful for me to open the newspaper. I read the paper with one eye shut and a cringe on my face since it seems the anti-stadium forces are gathering a pretty impressive amount of steam. In the Pioneer Press today, the four biggest opponents are outlined, including "rookie of the year" candidate John Knight. Does anyone know what law firm he works for? I'd like to avoid it if I ever need a lawyer. Nothing personal, I just don't like his vehement opposition to something I would give almost anything to have.

And even though the Strib had an article in today's paper that seemingly discussed the virtues of the St. Louis Cardinals plan for a new ballpark, I still found some interesting tidbits that we could look at a little closer. First of all, you'll recall that last Friday I discussed how I thought that the history of the team, their nostlagia, and the time the Cardinals have spent in St. Louis could actually work against them in their efforts to get a new ballpark. This idea was reiterated in the article, but this time with a focus on their success:

Jim Baker, St. Louis County's director of administration, said it quickly became clear that the team's relatively good financial standing in fact hurt the Cardinals' chances for public money. "I think it was a real shock to the Cardinals to realize the more successful you are as a sports franchise, the less leverage you have," he said.

Again, the Cardinals have far less leverage than the Twins in that they make a ton of money, the team is worth at least two times more than the Twins, and their fan base and local media revenue is also twice as large. Given all this success, the Cardinals threats to move, even across the river into Illinois, were probably met with a chuckle.

Even with these differences, and even though our situations are hardly the same, most anti-stadium people around here still look at the Cardinals plan as the way to go. I am of the opinion, though, that it still wouldn't matter if the Twins did agree to put up $300 million of their own money. People around here would still be against the plan. According to the article above, people are ticked off with the $85 million the Cardinals are getting from the city and state:

"When I was younger, the sun rose and set on whether the Cardinals won or lost," said Fred Lindecke, a retired St. Louis newspaper reporter and a leading critic of public subsidies for professional sports. "I'm never going into that new ballpark."

The team, Lindecke said, is getting $310 million through naming rights, public seat licenses and other revenue -- giving the Cardinals what Lindecke calls a "free ballpark."

Stunning, isn't it? Even with the $300 million pledge, there is still sizable opposition. I am convinced this would also happen in the Twin Cities. During the Local Government committee hearing just last month Tony Cornish make the statement that if the Twins agreed to put up half that we wouldn't even be having this conversation. It would be a done deal. Given the difficulties the Cardinals have had, I just can't agree with this sentiment. Some people will always be against any plan and determined to see the Twins wave goodbye. (Another example of this just happened in Florida, with the Marlins agreeing to put up almost $200 million of their own money and the rest coming from Miami and the state. They, of course, were turned down).

Something the article does not discuss that definitely needs to be mentioned is the fact that even though the Cardinals are one of the most successful franchises in baseball, even though they make more money than most teams, even though they have a higher payroll than most teams, with a new stadium their revenue streams are about to get even better. Recent success aside, the Twins cannot continue to compete at this level, either financially or on the field, without a new ballpark.

Posted by snackeru at 12:58 PM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

June 17, 2005

Issue 6

Issue 6: What is the Vikings stadium situation?

I will admit that I was very depressed to read this statement in the Strib today concerning Zygi Wilf:

Wilf said he hopes to persuade the Legislature to form a stadium authority in Anoka County to centralize stadium planning. He said he has pledged to pay one-third of the stadium cost, in addition to buying the land for a multi-use development.

Shoot! That is a little bit of a let down. I had heard so many rumors that Zygi would be more willing to pay for the stadium himself. Maybe he has changed his mind? It also appears he has changed his mind on a roofless stadium saying:

Wilf hedged on his previous insistence on building an outdoor stadium, saying he is amenable to "elements of a controlled environment."

Shoot again! I was so looking forward to outdoor football. Maybe Zygi was told in no uncertain terms that if he wants an outdoor stadium, he would have to pay for it himself. I still have hope for this, but it is dwindling fast. Man!

What a rube I am. Obviously I have way too much hope when it comes to all of this stadium nonsense. Truthfully, here is what I really think. I am almost certain that the only way the Vikings will get a stadium is if the Twins leave or are contracted. The fear of God has to be put in the legislature to do anything, and the Twins leaving would definitely put the fear of God in them. It is a high price to pay, but at least we'll still have the Vikings.

Having said that, Zygi has made some very refreshing statements concerning the Vikings long term viabilty in the state of Minnesota including, "If we're stuck in the Metrodome, then we'll be stuck in the Metrodome." How long he keeps singing this tune is anyone's guess, but it is sure nice while it lasts. I just hope he keeps talking like this until LA gets its own football team.

Posted by snackeru at 4:03 PM | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Issue 4

Issue 4: Why can't the Twins pay for the stadium themselves ala the Yankees or the San Francisco Giants?

This will be "off the cuff." The Strib had an interesting editorial that mentioned this topic a while back that I will quote from now:

As we've said numerous times, it would have been wonderful for teams to have built new ballparks on their own. The Giants were actually able to do that by riding the Bay Area's dot-com bubble of the late 1990s, but they couldn't do it today. The Yankees can do it because of their huge local TV contract. The Cardinals can finance most of their new digs because they own development rights on the adjacent real estate. Other teams lack those advantages.

SBG also points out that the Yankees can deduct the cost of the stadium against their total revenues, thereby reducing their payment to the other teams. It actually makes financial sense for them to do this.

What it all comes down to though is money. The Twins don't have a lot compared to these other teams and Pohlad has already made it plainly clear that he won't use his personal fortune. The Cardinals and the Yankees have huge cable TV packages that roll in the cash, and they have huge, rabid fan bases that also increase their revenue. The Twins, quite frankly, have neither. According to the Twins, if they built their own stadium they would not increase their revenue enough to stay competitive over the long term. We can argue that point until we're blue in the face, but that is what they are telling us.

And if I could, I'd like to stick with this stream of consciousness for a little bit and discuss maybe one more thing that the Twins actually have that the other teams don't that might also make all this blackmail from the team possible. The Twins have leverage. The Twins have the leverage to threaten contraction, or to threaten that they'll move away from the state if they don't get what they want. The Yankees, the Cardinals, and the Giants do not have this same leverage. At all. Can you imagine Steinbrenner threatening to move the Yankees out of New York? He would be laughed at by the state, the city, the fans, heck even MLB would snicker at something that outrageous. The Cardinals, the Giants, and the Yankees will never leave their respective areas. Everyone knows it, and therefore they have no leverage.

The Twins have this leverage, and they are using it to its maximum potential. I don't like it, you don't like it, no one likes it ... but that is the way it is. I would be interested in any comments on this point as I am sure it is full of holes. Am I on to something or am I off my rocker?

Posted by snackeru at 1:53 PM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Issue 3

What chance does the stadium bill have to pass during this special session?

If you have been wondering let me assure you that I have definitely been paying attention to all the stadium news coming out of the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune lately. My problem is that every time I try to write about it I end up getting so disgusted both with myself and the situation that I stop. I read about the Hines group and how they are now in charge of the Rapid Park development, and more importantly how they don't care if a stadium is built or not. I read Nick Coleman's vitrolic diatribe against the stadium using all the same idiotic anti-stadium arguments that I've read so many times before. Truth be told, I was so angry about Coleman's column that I actually wrote a response to it. It is sitting in draft mode on this site, but will probably never see the light of day. And, of course, I read the tepid and conditional support the Minneapolis City Council is giving to the stadium plan. Actually, I read it last night, after which I seriously couldn't sleep as I planned my attack against this outrageous stupidity. How could the very city that this stadium will reside in be so wishy-washy? It boggles my mind.

Every time I sit down to finish a post off about any of this, though, I just plain fall flat. I still believe passionately about the benefits a new stadium, and of course keeping the Twins, would have on our community, but deep down inside I am steeling myself for the inevitable. The anti-stadium crowd, with their twin arguments of "this money should go to education" and "no corporate welfare for billionaires," have again vanquished any hope I have of seeing outdoor baseball in this God-forsaken state any time soon. Couple this with the state budget fiasco, the fact that Sviggum's support is hanging by a thread, the apathy of your average Twins fan, this horribly rainy weather we've been having ... it all spells doom and depression for your's truly.

Back to the question at hand. Do I think the Hennepin County plan has a shot in this legislative session? Is there still a chance? Yes. But it is slim and with every passing day of the budget impasse it is getting slimmer. Too slim, actually, for me to have much hope.

And to all the anti-stadium people I have just one thing to say: I hope you are right. I sincerely hope we can keep saying "no" and still expect to keep the Twins.

Posted by snackeru at 11:41 AM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

June 9, 2005

The Roof: Part II

You may recall that I've written about a roof (or the lack of roof) on the new Twins stadium before. Even with all the rain we've been having I still think it is a luxury and not a necessity, but let me clarify something: I would LOVE to have a roof on the new ballpark. No doubt about it.

As you probably know, there were two articles about "the roof" in the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press today:

Lawmaker calls for Twins stadium roof
Twins plan on playing outside at new home

Let's start with the Star Tribune story. In it we have some of the same old points that have already been made concerning the proposed ballpark. First of all, it will not have a roof and it will not be built "roof ready." This makes sense from a Hennepin County standpoint since they will be assuming all of the debt. A roof is not a necessity for a Hennepin County resident since we can all just look out the window and decide if we should go to the game or not. Truly, why should Hennepin County residents pay for a purely out-state necessity? I'm OK with that.

There were also some interesting comments from architechts concerning just how roof-ready the stadium could be made. Some suggested that it would be cost-prohibitive to even make it roof-ready, and some suggested anything is possible. Some even suggested that a roof could be put on even without it being made roof-ready. I am in the "anything is possible" camp. Given enough will-power and technical know-how, it could be done, even after the fact I should think. The main issue, as it is right now, is that no one will want to pay for it. No one wants to pay for it now, and no one will want to pay for it then. So, we probably shouldn't worry about it.

What struck me most about this article, though, was a quote by Steve Sviggum:

House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, said this week that it was his understanding that the proposal before the Legislature was for an open-air stadium capable of adding a roof in a few years if the public wanted it.

"I thought this is something that could be done incrementally. It could be my misunderstanding of the proposal. ... It makes it a little less attractive."

That is not good to hear. Not good at all. First of all it suggests that there are many legislators that probably still think the ballpark will be built roof-ready, and even worse it suggests that Sviggum's support is waning. Ouch ouch ouch. We'll have to watch this development carefully. He did suggest he will still support the bill, but his tepid support is definitely not a good thing.

Enter Rep. Loren Solberg. Today in the Pioneer Press Solberg said that he has an amendment ready to use the TIF method of financing to put a roof on the ballpark. As with any new development I try to look at it from the perspective of "does this help or hurt the chances for a ballpark to actually be built in the Twin Cities area." In this case, I am still not sure. In fact, I don't know what to think.

Let's get the obvious out of the way. Solberg's amendment suggests that he is in favor of the Hennepin County proposal. I have him marked as anti-stadium, but I may have to change that. I have written him to ask him to clarify his stance (for example, would he still support the bill even without a roof?) and I will certainly let you know if/when I hear back from him. If he is now pro-stadium, that means we'll have 66 pro-stadium legislators in the House that I can identify! That would be fantastic.

However, regardless of how many different ways you can justify using TIF money to finance a roof, it is still state money and it would bring state money back into the equation. One of the best things about this bill is that it is simple. There is one funding source with predictable revenue streams. Bringing TIF money back into the mix confuses the issue and could cost the bill some votes.

On the other hand, the votes we would probably lose the most of would be Hennepin County legislator votes, and we could never count on them anyway.

Is it conceivable that Solberg's amendment could strengthen the base of out-state votes, given the fact that they already support the bill and this amendment would probably make their constituents, especially the Twins fans, even happier.

Like I said, I am a little confused over what to think about this development. Again, hopefully we'll get a chance to see this played out.

• Speaking of which I saw Pawlenty on KMSP this morning and he again said he favors the Hennepin County proposal, that he expects it to be heard after all the important business of the legislature is taken care of, and that the lack of a referendum is not a deal breaker for him. Hallelujah!

• Finally, there was a point in time that the Metrodome was an outdoor ballpark. Take a look at this photographic evidence.

Posted by snackeru at 12:29 PM | Comments (5) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

June 8, 2005

Bork! Bork! Bork!

swedishchef.jpg Zee Tveens need a noo stedeeoom. Zee Hennepeen Cuoonty plun is a reesuneble-a vey tu feenelly get zee jub dune-a. Vetcheeng zee Tveens in un ooootduur stedeeoom is leeke-a ieteeng a vell-cuuked cheeckee. It joost duesn't get uny better.

Pheel Kreenkie-a duesn't vunt tu booeeld a Tveens stedeeoom. Vhet un ideeut! Ell stedeeoom ooppunents shuoold be-a poot intu a put a bueeled leeke-a lubsters! Zeen zeey shuoold be-a chupped up leeke-a cerruts und drooned in a stoo. Stedeeoom ooppunents ere-a ell ifeel peuple-a thet prubebly secreeffice-a nooburn keettens tu zeeur inseteeeble-a guds ooff despeur und meesery.

Iff a noo Tveens stedeeoom is booeelt zeere-a veell be-a heppeeness und dunceeng und juyuoos celebreshun. I veell prepere-a und feest ooff sooccoolent steeks und lesegna! Iff nu noo stedeeoom is booeelt zeere-a veell be-a peeen und surroo und nu feest. Zee Svedeesh Cheff needs ooootduur besebell!! Vhy du yuoo inseest oon turmenteeng zee Svedeesh Cheff?

Bork! Bork! Bork! Bork!

Posted by snackeru at 1:01 PM | Comments (6) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Time to be quiet

I'm sick of spinning my wheels. The votes are either there, or they aren't. At this point there is probably little that you or I can do to change this situation one way or the other. Whatever happens, I am looking forward to this being over.

Have a good day everyone.


"There was never much hope. Only a fool's hope." -- Gandalf, ROTK.

Posted by snackeru at 8:15 AM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

June 7, 2005

Bigger fish to fry

• A few things about my favorite topic, Stick and Ball Guy and Frightwig have been having an interesting debate over the stadium issue again (that spilled onto the comments section of this page in yesterday's post). I encourage you to read SBG's post today which, yet again, does a wonderful job of seeing the big picture when it comes to stadium politics. Essentially, SBG builds up to the fact that the current stadium plan is "small potatoes" compared to other tax injustices the American people deal with.

The trouble, as I see it, is that this baseball stadium is easy for people to pick on rather than some of these other injustices, or even rather than getting up off of our fat butts and actually really fighting for education funding, or police funding, or health care. It appears to me that most people limit their moral indignation towards inadequate funding for education and their fight to gain more funding to a battle against a Twins stadium. The argument, "I'm against a Twins stadium because that money should go to education" quite frankly makes me very angry because 1) the two issues are mutually exclusive on a number of levels and 2) no new Twins stadium does not automatically mean more money for education. Truly, I would love it if that actually happened. No, no new Twins stadium means no new stadium and continued inadequate funding for education.

So, taking SBG's post as my inspiration, I would like to suggest that stadium opponents stop focusing on the stadium and start actually focusing on the issues they would like to rectify. Or better yet, stop focusing on the Twins stadium because there are more important issues to focus on. I know the Twins stadium is easy to pick on, but defeating this proposal will not bring your pet issue any closer to your desired solution.

And the irony is not lost on me ... I could have probably cured cancer by now with all the time I have spent fighting for a new Twins stadium. We have a proposal on the table right now where the two parties, Hennepin County and the Twins, are both satisfied. Let's get it done and move on with our lives.

Oh, and one more thing, Carl Pohlad is rich. Get over it.

Posted by snackeru at 8:57 AM | Comments (1) | Stadiums

Category "Libraries"

Category "Stadiums"

Category "UThink"

June 6, 2005

Long time, no see

Hey everyone. Sorry for my extended absence. You know how it goes, though. Between travelling to Baltimore and the nice weather we've been having, it has been hard to sit in front of the computer for too long. Anywho ...

• Nothing to report on the stadium front. There was the Krinkie/Marty attempt to grandstand a little by proposing that the majority of the profits from the new stadium go to the county, but other than that nothing is happening. I must admit I'm getting a little pessimistic. This is even with Shooter reporting yesterday that ,"[c]hances appear favorable for legislative approval of a new ballpark for the Twins before the end of the current special session." I wish he would give more details about why he thinks the chances are still favorable.

It seems that the state budget debate has taken a turn for the worse. The DFL Senate, the governor, and the Republican House appear to be unable to agree on anything. I am beginning to think that by the time they get a budget worked out they will be so sick of seeing each other that they may not want to even deal with the stadium issue. I suppose our best shot is by tagging along with the Gopher's stadium and hoping that after our legislators handle that piece of legislation they'll want to take care of the Twins.

Did you see the poem Dean Johnson's staff wrote after Pawlenty vetoed the state poet laureate bill? It went a little something like this:

"The governor, on promotional tour,
Education is sound-bite du jour.
To govern through press, that is his goal,
But fly-arounds will take their toll."

Why, Dean, oh why do you insist on making this debate even more acrimonious than it has to be? Sigh. If anyone has any news on the budget or the stadium please feel free to share.

• As you probably know, I was in Baltimore this past Thursday and Friday to speak at Johns Hopkins University about UThink. First things first, as I said below, I promised to find out why there is an "S" at the end of "Johns" Hopkins. The trouble with blogs is that sometimes people read them. So, while I was being introduced for my presentation on Friday the gentleman introducing me told the audience that I had written about my desire to get to the bottom of this mystery. Ha! That was a little embarrassing. So, he explained (and as bjhess has already pointed out) that "Johns" is actually a family name that was given first to Johns Hopkins great-grandfather. "Johns" was the maiden name of the benefactor of Johns Hopkins University's great-grandmother. So, there you have it. Truth be told, I was just joking around about my desire to get to the bottom of this "mystery." As CC pointed out already, it is easy to find this out through their website.

Overall, my trip went very well. I got into Baltimore on Thursday afternoon and drove past both Camden Yards and the Raven's stadium on my way to the hotel. Camden Yards is just beautiful. Quite frankly, it is so beautiful I don't even want to talk about it. It made me upset just to look at it. Let's move on.

Thursday evening I went out to to dinner with some of the staff from the Johns Hopkins University libraries, as well as my co-presenter Brewster Kahle, co-founder of the Internet Archive. I guess I wouldn't be surprised if you've never heard of Brewster Kahle, but for a librarian and techy like me he is pretty famous. Kahle is an Internet pioneer and millionaire with offices at the Presidio (neighboring the new offices of George Lucas). The Internet Archive is a bi-monthly snapshot of the entirety of the WWW which allows the user to see what a specific website looked like two months ago, or five years ago. Check it out:

Google, Dec. 2, 1998
Amazon, October 13, 1999
ESPN, Dec 2, 1998
Greet Machine, Dec 25, 2003

You get the picture. As you might imagine, the Internet Archive has a huge storage capacity and currently contains approximately 1 petabyte of data and grows at a rate of 20 terabytes per month. Yikes, that is huge.

Brewster Kahle came to speak about this project and also his new initiative to digitize the entirety of human recorded knowledge ala Google and make it all "universally accessible." His talk was awe-inspiring, important, timely, engaging, and entertaining. The scope that he is dealing with, the higher plane that his thinking currently resides in ... wow. It was awesome to meet him and talk with him. His presentation mainly dealt with different media types such as print, sound/music, video/movies, and graphics and his desire to digitize all of it. He also tried to convince everyone how relatively inexpensive it is to do so and how librairies especially are at a unique point in our history to make a huge impact in this realm. He said more than once something to the effect that right now the technology community is looking to libriaries for advice, help, and assistance in doing all of this. "We are cool to the techies right now" he kept on saying, and we need to do something before we aren't cool anymore. Of course, I'm not doing his talk justice, but needless to say it was very thought provoking and inspiring.

And then there was me. Ha! Actually, I was Brewster Kahle's warm-up band, so to speak. I presented first, and I am happy to report that my presentation on UThink went very well. I spoke about our efforts to record the cultural memory of the University of Minnesota through blogs, and our efforts to use blogs to create community on campus, give instructors another way to engage students in the classroom, and most importantly to promote intellectual freedom. Our efforts to create "communities of interest" and promote intellectual freedom seemed to resonate with the audience the most, as well as the fact that the UThink project was designed without a committee. UThink is basically just me (and the excellent work of a programmer). One audience member labled my efforts "gutsy" and extolled the virtues of taking a chance every once in a while. That was flattering.

So, I think I held my own with Brewster Kahle, and after our presentations were over we both agreed that they dovetailed nicely. Kahle is certainly working on a worldwide scale, but UThink is an example of a local based project with some of the same goals: capturing the cultural memory of a group of people and making it accessible to all. All in all, our two talks worked great together and it was a very enjoyable day.

Anyway, that is about it. If you got this far, thanks for reading. Back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Posted by snackeru at 8:37 AM | Comments (7) | Libraries | Stadiums | UThink

Category "Stadiums"

May 27, 2005

Stadium revenue sources

Frightwig has written a thoughtful piece today discussing, again, his opposition to the current ballpark plan and his desire for Hennepin County to be able to capture some of the revenue a new ballpark is sure to create. Yes, this would be wonderful, there is no doubt about it. FW also writes that since most Twins fans are so rabid about getting a new ballpark, why don't we propose to pay for it through ticket taxes, memorabilia taxes, lottery tickets, bobbleheads, license plates, etc. Could it be done?

This is actually an idea that gets thrown out there a lot. Why don't we pay for a stadium with all of these funding sources? Why don't we put a tax on tickets, have those that benefit the most from the stadium pay for it, and finally put this issue to rest?

Truthfully I think all of these ideas should be used to fund a stadium. No doubt about it. I would play a lottery scratch game every day of the week and twice on Sunday if it meant a new Twins stadium could be built. However, there are a lot of problems with building a Twins stadium in this fashion. No more problems than building a Twins stadium with tax money, true, but problems nonetheless.

First of all, there is no way any of these possible revenue streams could raise enough money to pay off the debt on a new stadium. Not even if we combined them. The Minnesota Stadium Task Force of 2003 looked at all of these funding sources and came up with these figures (PDF) for the amount of revenue each could generate. Since these figures were put together in 2003 I will generously round up the amount of money I think we could reasonably expect from each of these revenue sources:

$3 million per year -- sales tax on food and alcohol in new stadium
$3 million per year -- 10% ticket tax
$3 million per year -- clothing and memorabilia tax (statewide!)
$2 million per year -- lottery scratch game (per game offered)

Keep in mind that I am rounding up the state's figures. That is only $11 millon per year. Obviously this is a far cry from the $28 million per year needed to retire the debt. What if we just increase the fees? I think the state was wise in putting these estimates together. I think this may be all that the citizenry of our state would be willing to pay in fees.

Another problem is the fact that these funding sources would be shaky at best. What if the Twins don't draw well one year? What if no one plays the lottery game? What if the money we were counting on from these funding sources just doesn't pan out? Who pays then? Neither the Twins or the state want to have to worry about that. Quite frankly, these possible revenue streams would not produce the kind of money that anyone could count on to get the job done.

Another group that wouldn't want to worry about the lack of "hard" money in this kind of scheme are the people lending the money to build the stadium. These funding sources are so shaky that the interest rates on the debt would probably be higher, which obviously would mean that the debt would be larger.

Finally, using all these funding sources is too complicated. If we have found anything out about our legislature in the last few years of this stadium debate, it's that they don't like complexity. Too many funding sources would mean too much bureaucracy and too much red tape. The Twins don't want that, and the state doesn't want that either.

The Hennepin County plan is not perfect. But it will 1) raise enough money to get the job done, 2) produce consistent revenue that everyone can count on year after year, 3) raise enough money to probably retire the debt early, and 4) it is relatively simple. That is why it has the best chance to finally get a stadium built.

Having said all of this, I still think Frightwig's idea has a lot of merit. We should use all of these funding sources regardless of the complexity that has dissuaded the team and the state from using these revenue streams over the years. However, it won't be enough. If we lived in a perfect world we could have the team pay for the rest. But Pohlad has already made it clear he won't do that. Needless to say, it is very frustrating.

Sigh. I am sick of this argument. I am sick of thinking about this. I just want it to be over. Build a stadium or don't build a stadium. Let's just make a decision.

Posted by snackeru at 8:11 AM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

May 24, 2005

Dan Dorman is a "yes"

I just received verification that Dan Dorman is voting "yes" for the Hennepin County ballpark bill! This is very, very good news, not only because it moves the bill closer to the magic "68" votes it needs in the House, but also because Dorman is a member of the powerful House Taxes committee. According to my calculations, we may be sitting at a 14-14 tie vote right now in that committee.

Thanks, Rep. Dorman for your letter and your committment to keeping Minnesota a "major league" state.

Posted by snackeru at 1:29 PM | Stadiums

Category "Life"

Category "Stadiums"

May 23, 2005

Not much to say

• Not much to say, but I'll say it anyway. Revenge of the Sith was good. In fact, it was very good. It renewed my faith in the Star Wars franchices, and I enjoyed it immensely. While the acting was a little stilted in some cases, the story came together nicely and the action was top notch. Great fight scenes, wonderful visual elements, and all together just stunning eye-candy. If you go and see it you'll have to let me know if you agree with me on this though: I thought Anakin's decision to pledge his allegiance to Palpatine was a little abrupt. Maybe that's just me. My wife thought it was fine.

Favorite scence: when Kenobi and Anakin fly into General Greivous's ship and Kenobi vaults out of his ship doing a couple of mid-air flips and generally kicking butt ... I thought that was cool.

• I'm starting to really like Zygmunt Wilf. I think he'll be fine as a Vikings owner, especially after I read that he has pledged not to move the Vikings. That is good to hear. I think his pledge is a little more solid, too, than when Red bought the team. You'll recall what Red said: "The Vikings belong in Minnesota." There is a lot of different ways to wiggle out of that statement. Wilf, on the other hand, when asked if he will move the Vikings said, "That'll never happen," and also according to Sansavere Wilf also said, ""There's no question (the Vikings are staying in Minnesota). Listen, no way (they're leaving). It's a storied franchise. It is Minnesota.'' Wonderful. OK, what about a stadium? Wilf had this to say:

Wilf has visited Minnesota several times, looking at potential sites for a new stadium. Wilf indicated it is possible he would purchase the land for the stadium site and said he would "not necessarily" ask the state for money to build the facility.

"We feel that it's important to work with everyone involved to get a world-class venue for our Minnesota Vikings,'' Wilf said. "We're exploring all options to achieve that result. Get the best venue for our team and the fans, that's our goal. We're committed to fund our share and we have to go into details before finalizing our exact plan. We're exploring all options (for funding). I am determined to find a way (to get a new stadium).''

"Not necessarily" ... that is very interesting. Does that mean he will still seek county money ala the Twins? Or is he considering how to fund this monster himself? I certainly hope so. No one wants the Vikings to go through what the Twins have gone through. The fact that Wilf is a Giants fan is, I think, a positive thing in regards to the stadium. If you haven't heard, the Giants are paying for their new stadium themselves. I can't help but think that Zyggy has been paying attention to this development. I sincerely hope he strives to emulate it.

• Not much to report on the Twins stadium front. As you probably know, the Senate will have their first committee hearing for the ballpark bill this Wednesday. Other than that, I haven't heard much of anything new. If you have heard anything please feel free to share in the comments below.

Posted by snackeru at 8:40 AM | Comments (6) | Life | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

May 20, 2005

Friday notes

People ... PEOPLE!!! Why must I be cursed with these thoughts? I cannot, no matter how hard I try, stop thinking about this stupid Twins stadium. I pray that this year this issue is finally resolved if for no other reason than just to retain my own sanity. Gah! Let's get to the news:

• The legislative session ends on Monday. There is no way that the Taxes committee is going to tackle this issue before then. Of course, for weeks now most legislative pundits have been predicting a special session, and with Pawlenty's veto of the gas tax yesterday I think it is a given now. So, if this ballpark bill is to carry on it will have to be done within this special session. And the rules will slightly change. According to a document I found on the legislature's web site (PDF):

Each special session is a separate, free-standing meeting of the legislature, independent of the regular legislative session and any other special session. All legislation to be considered must be introduced as new bills. The legislature may not act on bills from the regular session or another special session.

Interesting. So, the ballpark bill will have to be re-submitted. Does this mean it will have to go through the same committees? Probably not, I would think it would go straight to Taxes. However, Taxes is going to be busy with more important matters (omnibus tax bills), as they should. So, is there a chance this bill could skirt by some of the legislative protocol and committee rules? I think there is. Again, according to the document above:

[T]he legislature usually uses expedited procedures to pass legislation. During special sessions, the House and the Senate often pass bills shortly after they are introduced. This is accomplished by declaring an urgency and suspending both the constitutional requirement that each bill be considered on three different days in each house and the requirement of legislative rules that each bill be referred to a committee when it is introduced. The two-thirds vote required in each house to expedite passage in this way usually is forthcoming, because legislators generally wish to curb the length of the session.

Now, I don't think the ballpark bill has a chance of getting 2/3 of the votes in the House. I'm not that stupid. The Senate? Maybe. However, what if in the special session the ballpark bill was introduced, sent to say the Ways and Means committee (given all the work the Taxes committee has to do), and passed there. Could the bill then move to the floor? Constitutionally, how many committees does a bill have to go through before it gets to the House floor? I'm thinking that in a special session the rules are a little different, perhaps.

Well, I think we are going to get a chance to find out. Should be interesting.

• As Steve pointed out yesterday (thanks Steve!), there was a great StarTrib editorial concerning our favorite topic. I encourage everyone to read it as it does an excellent job of spelling out the reasons why a referendum on this issue continues to be such a bad idea:

Second, if a referendum were somehow compelled, the expense in time, money and injury to public discourse would far outweigh any benefit. Interest rates and construction costs are rising. Already a decade of delay has added $200 million to the project's cost. A televised, California-style campaign of shallow, vitriolic attacks shouldn't be the model that Minnesota follows on this or any issue. The inaccuracies spouted in public testimony on this matter have been stunning. This alone should be a clue to legislators that they are best qualified to cooly and factually assess this issue. We already have referendums every four years; they're called elections.

Beautiful. Just beautiful. Referendums, or as I like to call them "the enemies of progress," are just a huge cop out by our legislators. Do the job we elected you to do! If you don't want the job, please step down and we'll try to find someone who does. The inaccuracies spouted by (and believed!) by the public that are sure to precede a referendum would truly be stunning. Not to mention the fact that this issue would further divide our state and just plain be nasty. Who wants that?

Also, the paragraph above reminded me of another simple fact: would any other bill of this kind of importance survive the scrutiny (public and legislative) that ballpark bills usually have to endure? Never. If we treated all of our spending bills like we treat ballpark legislation nothing would ever get accomplished. Nothing could survive this kind of scrutiny! My point is there are pros and cons to almost every kind of legislation out there, especially legislation involving money. Sometimes you've just got to focus on the pros, like we do with most other bills, and get the job done.

• Did you see that MLB has now given the Florida Marlins an ultimatum that by June 9 they must have their stadium financing in order? What MLB didn't to do was list any consequences for failure to meet this deadline. What could happen to the Marlins if they don't have a workable plan by June 9? A move to Las Vegas? Who knows. Personally, I think MLB is waiting to see what happens with the Twins. The options open up with both the Marlins and the Twins unable to secure stadium deals. The current MLB collective bargaining agreement (CBA) ends December 2006. After that, contraction becomes an option again. I can't believe MLB would try something like this again, but they've done some really stupid things before (like try contraction). Let's just pray that the Twins and Hennepin County can get the job done.

Gotta go for now. See you soon.

Posted by snackeru at 8:55 AM | Comments (1) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

May 18, 2005

I have connections

Believe it or not, I know someone on the Taxes committee. Not an aide, or some pimple faced page, but a legislator actually on the committee. I know, amazing! I told him that I wouldn't give away his identity, but let's just say that he is "family" of sorts. I have held off on writing him because I knew that at some point I would want to harass him about the Taxes committee. What follows is some of my correspondence with him today.

At first I asked him some general questions about what he thinks the chances are of this bill making it out of the committee. He gave me some wishy washy answers and then he asked me how I knew that the vote would be so close. I admitted that I actually track this issue pretty religiously and that I have a web site devoted to it. I thought this would clam him up immediately, but he sent me this reply:

Then, off the record, I'll tell you this. Ross Kramer just came around shaking me down for votes in Tax committee. He had a hard list with checks by names and he did not look too happy. Nonetheless, Kurt Zellars and I just went down the list in the red book and the numbers look pretty tight to us. That said, the only one's lobbying on this right now is the pro side. The lawyer dude from Minneapolis sent me one e-mail. Nothing else. Zero. Zilch.

Ross Kramer is a Twins lobbyist. I am not surprised that he is not happy. I was also surprised to read that the anti-stadium people he has heard from is limited to Mr. Knight. And based on his comment about lobbying, maybe we should all take this opportunity to write the committee a few pro-stadium letters, hmmm? Next I sent him my list of yes/no votes on the committee and asked if he wouldn't mind verifying my predictions. He wrote back:

I think Vandeveer is a no. But I am not certain how accurate your list is on two - Abrams & Erhardt. You could be right, it's just that the jury is out on them in my book.

This completely blew me away. Abrams? As the former chair of the Taxes committee he has consistently crushed Twins stadium efforts over the years. So, obviously, the thought of Abrams actually favoring the Hennepin County proposal was almost too much for me to believe. I asked my contact to clarify just why he thinks Abrams will be a yes:

Something weird I heard a week back. But I was waiting for confirmation, so I put him in my "dunno" column.

Do'h! I think I'll keep Abrams in the "no" column. Anyway, while I don't have any good news in terms of the Taxes committee, I do pretty much have verification that things will be tough for this bill. That is unfortunate. I will be sure to write my contact more as time goes on to try to get his impressions concerning this issue. Again, I'm sorry that my news isn't more positive.

Finally, believe it or not, I have also been corresponding with Linda Koblick, the Hennepin County commissioner most opposed to this plan. Our correspondence has been very instructive and while I understand her views much better, unfortunately I have been unable to convince her to change her position concerning this proposal. Shoot. Anyway, just tonight she sent me an email which closed with this parenthetical statement:

(I think it will pass, btw)

So, take that for whatever it is worth. I know that little statement will give me enough hope to continue fighting the good fight. See you soon...

Posted by snackeru at 10:03 PM | Comments (13) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Divine intervention

OK, remember how I said now was not the time for pessimism? That now is the time for action? Well, unfortunately, get ready for some pessimism. Oh boy, the breakdown of the Taxes committee does not look good. Not good at all. Unless Sviggum has something up his sleeve, the Twins ballpark bill will not escape this committee without a referendum attached, and it may not even escape this committee at all. Check this out (with the person's likely vote at the end):

Chair: Philip Krinkie (R) rep.phil.krinkie@house.mn No
Vice Chair: Dean Simpson (R) rep.dean.simpson@house.mn Yes
Lead-DFL: Ann Lenczewski (DFL) rep.ann.lenczewski@house.mn No
Ron Abrams (R) rep.ron.abrams@house.mn No
Irv Anderson (DFL) rep.irv.anderson@house.mn Yes
Joe Atkins (DFL) rep.joe.atkins@house.mn Yes
Connie Bernardy (DFL) rep.connie.bernardy@house.mn Yes
Laura Brod (R) rep.laura.brod@house.mn Yes
Gregory M. Davids (R) rep.greg.davids@house.mn No
Jim Davnie (DFL) rep.jim.davnie@house.mn No
Chris DeLaForest (R) rep.chris.delaforest@house.mn No
David Dill (DFL) rep.david.dill@house.mn Yes
Dan Dorman (R) rep.dan.dorman@house.mn No
Ron Erhardt (R) rep.ron.erhardt@house.mn No
Larry Howes (R) rep.larry.howes@house.mn No
Mike Jaros (DFL) rep.mike.jaros@house.mn No
Jim Knoblach (R) rep.jim.knoblach@house.mn No
Lyle Koenen (DFL) rep.lyle.koenen@house.mn Yes
Paul Kohls (R) rep.paul.kohls@house.mn No
Morrie Lanning (R) rep.morrie.lanning@house.mn Yes
John Lesch (DFL) rep.john.lesch@house.mn No
Paul Marquart (DFL) rep.paul.marquart@house.mn Yes
Joe Mullery (DFL) rep.joe.mullery@house.mn No
Peter Nelson (R) rep.peter.nelson@house.mn Yes
Tom Rukavina (DFL) rep.tom.rukavina@house.mn Yes
Katie Sieben (DFL) rep.katie.sieben@house.mn Yes
Ray Vandeveer (R) rep.ray.vandeveer@house.mn Yes
Andrew "Andy" Westerberg (R) rep.andy.westerberg@house.mn Yes
Kurt Zellers (R) rep.kurt.zellers@house.mn No

That is 13 votes for the bill, and 15 votes against. You'll recall that in the Local Government committee a referendum amendment was narrowly defeated 10-9 even though the bill itself was passed with a 12-7 vote. So, even if this bill can squeak by the Taxes committee, I just can't see it getting by without a referendum attached. I hope I'm wrong, I pray I'm wrong, but this just does not look good Twins fans.

Now for some optimism. Many of my predictions are based on 10 years of stadium debate. While it is unlikely, it is possible that many of the legislators that have expressed anti-stadium rhetoric in the past are now in favor of this plan. This is certainly true of Nora Slawik who is not a member of Taxes, but is a legislator who has been anti-stadium and is now pro-stadium. So, of course, let's keep our fingers crossed.

However, and now for some more pessimism, while I have Anderson, Bernardy, and Vandeveer in the "Yes" column, I would not be suprised at all if they came out against this bill. Truthfully, all three of these legislators are a "yes/no" at best. I know, how depressing.

That leaves us with the question of what can we do? What can we do at this point to help this bill pass? Sadly, I'm not sure. I've watched two hearings now, and the same arguments for and against were bandied back and forth in both ad naseum. Legislators on both sides of the issue expressed disgust with the nit-picking, delay tactics, and grandstanding displayed at the hearings. However, regardless of all of this debate, the hours of arguing, I'm not sure a single legislator actually changed his or her mind on how he/she was going to vote before the committee even started. We've been at this 10 years. At this point, it almost seems that all of this pomp and circumstance is a huge waste of time. The legislators know how they are going to vote and all these hours of arguing isn't going to change their minds. Am I wrong or am I right?

Legislators for the bill recognize the value of the Twins can't be measured purely in dollars and cents and they want this problem solved. Legislators against the bill think Pohlad should be contributing more, or that Hennepin County shouldn't be footing the entire bill for a statewide asset. Most legislators, I would think, have already chosen a side. Does this mean I'm not going to write all these legislators (again) and tell them what I think? No, I'm still going to write, and I encourage you to do so also, but it almost seems that we are watching a play where the script has already been written. At this point we are just waiting for the end.

OK, what if the Taxes committee actually has the votes to pass the bill, but not without a referendum? In that case, we have to count on the Senate to pass the companion bill without a referendum. When the two bills meet up in conference committee Sviggum would hopefully fill the House committee with pro-stadium legislators, the referendum would be stripped off, and the bill would go back to both chambers for another vote.

What if the bill just doesn't pass the Taxes committee? Can Sviggum resurrect the bill on the House floor even without the backing of the Taxes committee? I'm not sure. I think so, but I just don't know for certain. Can anyone shed some light on this? I'm of the opinion the House floor can decide to vote on anything they want, but that this is an unlikely scenario.

And of course, a special session is a unique animal in itself. I have no idea what the protocol is in a special session, but I would think, again, that this bill could be resurrected there if necessary. Truthfully, it seems we are in for a long, painful few weeks.

In conclusion, I think this bill has enough behind it to pass a House floor vote. I do not think it has the votes, though, to get out of the Taxes committee. I'm going to do a little more research on that and hopefully I'll be back with some better news. Until later...

Posted by snackeru at 8:37 AM | Comments (5) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

May 17, 2005

Local Government Committee: PASSED!

Just to let you know, the Hennepin County ballpark bill has passed the Local Government Committee! I don't have much time to editorialize right now, but let me say that it appears Lenczewski was strongly convinced by the other members to withold all her amendments and let the bill move on. She agreed, much to the dismay of committee chairman Mark Olson it seems. Before the vote Olson suggested that these amendments will all show up when the House floor debates this bill which will probably lengthen that process. Oh goody. Anyway, this is how the vote broke down:

Anderson- no
Charron- yes
Cornish- no
Garofalo- yes
Hilstrom- yes
Holberg- no
Hornstein- no
Hosch- yes
Lanning- yes
Lenczweski- no
Marquart- yes
Olson- no
Paymar- no
Peterson- yes
Poppe- yes
Samuelson- yes
Scalze- yes
Thao- yes
Wardlow- yes

12-7 in favor of the bill. I was off by three people: Paymar, Samuelson, and Cornish. Once again Paymar "passed" when his first chance to vote came up, saw that the bill would be approved, and then voted no. Seems like a case of "lack of backbone" to me. Samuelson has truthfully blown me away and Cornish ... well, even though he is from Mankato he still found a lot he didn't like with this bill.

I will update the Voter's Guide accordingly. On to the Taxes committee where we will surely see some real fireworks and delay tactics. I can just hear Krinkie licking his chops right now. See you soon.

Posted by snackeru at 5:59 PM | Comments (1) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

May 16, 2005

Local Government Committee: update

This committee is going to be a whole lot closer than I ever thought. First of all, there is no way they are going to finish tonight. They have 29 more amendments to deal with (most of them written by Lenczewski), and it is already 10:30. However, they just finished the biggest amendment of all: whether or not to include a referendum. Here is how the vote went (yes=for referendum, no=no referendum):

Olson: yes
Lanning: no
Hilstrom: no
Anderson: yes
Charron: yes
Cornish: yes
Garofalo: no
Holberg: yes
Hornstein: yes
Hosch: no
Lenczewski: yes
Marquart: no
Paymar: yes
Peterson: no
Poppe: yes
Samuelson: no
Scalze: no
Thao: no
Wardlow: no

So, the referendum amendment (submitted by Horstein) was defeated 10-9. It was a little nerve racking as the votes came in. Paymar "passed" on the first go around, waited until he could see that their would be enough "no" votes to defeat the referendum, and then he voted "yes." Of course, I'm not sure about his true intent with "passing" but it sure seems like a sneaky way to both support and not support this stadium bill.

Anyway, a 10-9 vote ... I'm not sure this bill is going to get out of Taxes without a referendum. We'll have to take a closer look at that tomorrow or later this week.

Now, the committee is debating whether or not to adjourn for the evening. Stadium supporters seem to be indirectly accusing Olson of trying to adjourn the meeting and by doing so delaying a vote to get the bill out of committee. Unfortunately, there is just no way they are going to finish tonight. It seems the vote will be delayed no matter what, and of course, this will delay its chances to get to the floor of the House.

UPDATE 1: Paymar is submitting an amendment that requires the Twins pay 50% of the ballpark rather than the roughly 30% they are paying now. That amendment was defeated 11-6. The Twins have said that a referendum is a "deal killer." I wonder if they would also consider paying more to be a deal killer. I suspect so.

UPDATE 2: Paymar is now submitting an amendment to use the stadium naming rights to help pay for the ballpark. The Twins say 1) it really isn't that much and 2) they gave up so much during negotiations that they fought to keep the naming rights. The amendment was defeated.

Posted by snackeru at 10:48 PM | Comments (1) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Why I love the Dome

One of the truest things I have read during this never-ending stadium debate is that if the Metrodome is ever replaced, sooner or later we will miss it and long for the days when the Twins called it home. I know, it is hard to believe, but it is just human nature. We will all forget about it's negative qualities as we remember the good times and the things that made the Metrodome unique, and yes, even special.

So, as you already know, my son and I went to the game last Friday night. Since the game went into extra innings (thank goodness I brought my son's Gameboy) it gave me an opportunity to reflect on some of the things that make the stadium unique. Here is a list, in no particular order, of some of the things I know I will remember fondly of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome:

  1. The blast of air that pushes you out of the stadium after games. I just had to get that out of the way right off the bat as it is the most obvious.
  2. The urinal troughs. I don't care how bad I have to go, the minute I see 15 guys lined up at the trough I suddenly don't have to go as bad. In fact, I could stand there for an hour and never get out a drop. When they tear down the Dome I am actually considering trying to get a hold of a trough and setting it up in my basement bathroom just to freak people out who come over. You can't put a price on that kind of entertainment.
  3. The Baggie. Really, there should be no need to explain it, but that baggie is, for better or worse, the signature aspect of our baseball field. Minute Maid Park has the hill in CF, we have the Baggie. Bank One Ballpark has the hot tubs, we have the Baggie. It is truly disgusting, but I know we will look back on this and laugh.
  4. The Field Fare concession stands. I can imagine this conversation took place during the planning for the Dome. Planner One: "I know! Let's make really narrow concourses, far too few concession stands, and then let's staff those stands with volunteers who have never worked there before!!" Planner Two: "We shall dub these stands "Field Fare" and people will love them (even though they will stand in line for an hour just to get a hot dog)."
  5. The cup-holders built into the seats. Have you ever noticed that the rows at the Metrodome have 2 fewer cup-holders than is necessary if everyone has a drink? My son and I got two drinks while at the game Friday night. We were sitting in seats 1 and 2 in our row, and someone was already sitting in seat 3 when we got there. He was already using the cup-holder in front of him. My son put his cup in the holder in front of him. This, of course, left me with no cup-holder. Who is the genius that came up with this strategy?
  6. The speakers. Have you ever looked up at the speakers over the field? They are enormous. I can't believe that the teflon dome can hold these monsters up. Scary when you think about it.
  7. The curtain. What other stadium needs a huge curtain to cover up the mass of unused seats every game? How long before we need a curtain at the new stadium? Five years? Never? Hopefully we'll get a chance to find out.
  8. The sight lines. This is my view of the game from the third base line if I look straight ahead. Like I said on this picture, absolutely pathetic. I make it a point to never sit on the 3rd base line because of how sick I get of turning my head to the right. After nine innings it literally gets painful.
  9. The roof. I know I've already said that "I don't need no stinking roof" but it was cold Friday night. I was happy to have a roof over my head and a comfortable temperature of 72 degrees to enjoy the game in. I guarantee there won't be a person alive in Minnesota that won't miss that roof at some point.
  10. The football press box area. Also known as the Cambria Sky Box. I think it is hilarious that parties are held in this press area every game. I wonder if the Vikings get the money for selling out this area too.
  11. The Astroturf. This is something I already miss and look back on with nostalgia. That old field was horrible. I think Keith Millard once said it was like playing a game out on 494. Do you remember how during the last season on this surface they painted it with faint, white stripes to give it that "just mowed" appearance? Wow. How ridiculous.
  12. The noise. A new stadium for either the Twins or the Vikings will never be able to duplicate the ear splitting noise I have experienced in the Dome. Noise so loud it disorients you for two days after the game. That is what I call home field advantage.
  13. Lastly, I'll always remember the first time I walked into the majestic Metrodome and how, as a child, I was just stunned by the enormity of it all. It blew me away how big the place was, and how it was all enclosed in a single "room." I fell in love with the place immediately. I'm sure most of you had a similar reaction.

So, there you have it. I'm sure all of you could add your own. Of course, feel free to do so.

In closing, just let me say that you will note that some of the items above are good qualities and some of the items are bad qualities. Regardless, all of them together will provide Minnesotans with countless memories of what it was like to watch baseball indoors for almost 30 years. And while I hope our time in the Metrodome is coming to a close, I will look back on all of these memories of the building fondly.

Posted by snackeru at 12:23 PM | Comments (13) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

May 13, 2005

Friday notes

• Well, I should have checked into this a little closer, but it looks like the Twins stadium bill moving to Committee on Rules and Legislative Administration is just part and parcel of the legislative process. Since the bill missed all three committee deadlines it has to be sent to this Rules committee so they can bless it to move on or whatever. I still wouldn't be surprised if Sviggum tries to circumvent the House Taxes committee, but I realize it is unlikely. Check out this Committee Deadlines page for more information.

10 days, people. That's all we have left to get this bill passed. Yep, that is a tall order, especially considering this bill has two more committees to go through.

• Speaking of stadium bills in state legislatures, I don't know if you saw this, but the Florida legislature did not approve the Marlins proposal for a new stadium in Miami. You remember that bill, don't you? $192 million from the team, $60 million from the state in the form of a sales tax rebate, and the rest from Miami Dade County. The Florida Senate refused to agree to the $60 million from the state. Actually, the Senate President refused to even hear the bill on the Senate floor saying the bill didn't have the support to pass.

Team officials are not commenting until they "review their options." You can be rest assured they are watching Minnesota right now. If we can get something passed, I'm sure the Marlins will try something similar and take the state out of the equation. However, if we also fail then I think both the Marlins and the Twins have some interesting options. I think you know what I mean.

• Well, I'll be going to the Twins game tonight with my son. As you know, tonight is the Hrbek fishing lure night, and I have the complete set of Twins fishing lures. So, I don't even have a choice. I have to go to this game. It should be fun and my son is very excited about it. Knowing him, though, his excitement will last about 1 inning before he is bored out of his skull. I'm going to have him bring his Gameboy just in case.

Posted by snackeru at 8:39 AM | Comments (4) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

May 12, 2005

Holy Cow

UPDATE: Shoot. As David points out in a comment below, this is probably nothing. Oh well, didn't hurt to dream a little.

Oh boy, people. I think Sviggum is trying to pull a fast one. If you haven't heard, the Twins stadium bill was moved to the House Committee on Rules and Legislative Administration. According to a web site I have found:

In the House, the Calendar for the Day is a list of bills the House Rules and Legislative Administration Committee has designated for the full House to vote on.

I think Sviggum is trying to move this bill to the floor for a vote. Someone tell me I'm wrong. Does anyone else have any other idea?

Posted by snackeru at 8:58 PM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Local Government Committee: CANCELLED

The Local Government Committee meeting was cancelled today. Anyone know why? I also can't find if they have rescheduled it. Is this bill heading straight for Taxes? I wonder ...

If you were wondering where my post was today, I wrote something over at Twins Territory called Return on Investment. Not my best work, but it got my point across. Of course, my buddy David Wintheiser has already ripped it to shreds. It sure is nice to have someone I can count on!

See you tomorrow.

Posted by snackeru at 4:27 PM | Comments (4) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

May 11, 2005

Local Government Committee: A Prediction

First of all, check out the Voter's Guide. Based on the outcome of the Governmental Operations committee, there are now 2 fewer anti-stadium legislators and 7 more pro-stadium legislators for a grand total of 63 known pro-stadium representatives in the House. Slowly but surely we are creeping up to the needed 68 votes. That is if my Voter's Guide is at all accurate.

Speaking of which, I will now attempt to use the Voter's Guide to predict the outcome of the Local Government committee:

Local Government Committee

Chair: Mark Olson (R) rep.mark.olson@house.mn No
Vice Chair: Morrie Lanning (R) rep.morrie.lanning@house.mn Yes
Lead-DFL: Debra Hilstrom (DFL) rep.debra.hilstrom@house.mn Yes
Bruce Anderson (R) rep.bruce.anderson@house.mn No
Mike Charron (R) rep.mike.charron@house.mn ?
Tony Cornish (R) rep.tony.cornish@house.mn ?
Pat Garofalo (R) rep.pat.garofalo@house.mn Yes
Mary Liz Holberg (R) rep.maryliz.holberg@house.mn No
Frank Hornstein (DFL) rep.frank.hornstein@house.mn No
Larry Hosch (DFL) rep.larry.hosch@house.mn Yes
Ann Lenczewski (DFL) rep.ann.lenczewski@house.mn No
Paul Marquart (DFL) rep.paul.marquart@house.mn Yes
Michael Paymar (DFL) rep.michael.paymar@house.mn Yes
Neil W. Peterson (R) rep.neil.peterson@house.mn Yes
Jeanne Poppe (DFL) rep.jeanne.poppe@house.mn ?
Char Samuelson (R) rep.char.samuelson@house.mn ?
Bev Scalze (DFL) rep.bev.scalze@house.mn Yes
Cy Thao (DFL) rep.cy.thao@house.mn ?
Lynn Wardlow (R) rep.lynn.wardlow@house.mn Yes

So far, I can identify 9 yes votes, 5 no votes, and 5 unknown votes. Of those 5 unknowns, here is my prediction based on where they are from:

Charron -- Woodbury: Yes
Cornish -- Mankato area: Yes
Poppe -- Austin: Yes
Samuelson -- New Hope: No (duh)
Thao -- St. Paul: Yes (my gut feeling)

So, based on my research, the districts the "unknowns" come from, and my gut, and accounting for probable errors in my computations I predict that the Twins/Hennepin County ballpark plan will escape the Local Government Committee with a 13-6 vote.

Could be more, could be less, but in the end I think this bill will pass through the committee. Agree? Disagree? Please let me know, but whatever the case, for the love of all that is holy write these legislators and tell them to support this plan!!!

I've already written all of them. And in my email (and I probably shouldn't have done this) I used the "legislative you" in a line that said, "Please put your hatred of a 90 year old man on the back burner, and start thinking about what is good for the state of Minnesota, the people of Hennepin County, and my family." I got an email back from Bruce Anderson that said, "I do not hate Carl Pohlad." That's it. Thanks for the info there, chief!

UPDATE: Thanks to Kevin for the great news that Bev Scalze has come out in favor of the Hennepin County ballpark proposal and will likely vote "Yes" on the bill during the Local Government committee hearing!!! Fantastic!

Posted by snackeru at 12:13 PM | Comments (4) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

On to the next committee

I am a sick person. I can admit that. Rather than watch a thrilling victory by the Twins last night, I huddled in front of my computer to watch a 3 inch display of the Governmental Operations committee. Sorry for the lack of updates, but I wanted to watch more to just get a sense of the support (or lack of support) for the bill in the legislature. I came away feeling pretty good.

As you probably know by now, the bill passed through the committee on an overwhelming 17-5 vote. Obviously, this was pro-stadium committee. In fact, the chair of the committee, Kathy Tingelstad from Andover, opened the meeting by saying she was not only in favor of the Twins stadium, but also the Vikings stadium which would be built in her district's county if Anoka County ever gets a chance at the legislature. After I heard that, I was pretty confident this bill would get a fair hearing.

After that, the Twins, Hennepin County, and Finstad made their pitch for the plan. Then the committee heard a couple of hours of public testimony both for and against the plan. I was, of course, unimpressed with the testimony against the plan, and not for the obvious reasons. Mainly I was unimpressed because it seemed a lot of the opposition were only against this plan because they thought they had a better plan. What a humongous waste of time. Of the people that signed up to speak, 15 were for the plan, and only 8 were against.

Concerning the actual committee vote, of the 5 people that voted against the bill two were from Minneapolis, DFLers Phyllis Kahn and Diane Loeffler, and one was Mark Olson from Big Lake. More about him in a minute. However, Neil Peterson, a representative from Bloomington and the former mayor of Bloomington voted in favor of the bill. This was surprising and highly welcome. As you know, Bloomington is the home of the Mall of America and from what I have heard Bloomington representatives have been very critical of this plan calling it an attempt to grab money from the MOA.

Peterson's yes vote came at an interesting price, though. During the Hennepin County Commissioners meeting of last week, an amendment was successfully attached to use any excess money from the general sales tax to fund other county projects, such as keeping libraries open longer. Peterson's amendment successfully removed that commissioners meeting amendment. According to him, the tax should only be used to pay off the stadium so that the debt can be paid off quickly and his constituency won't be taxed on unknown projects that may be outside of his district. Fair enough. Peterson's amendment passed and I don't think the Hennepin County Commissioners will have a problem with it.

There was a lot of discussion of referendums, but Tingelstad successfully fought them off claiming that this kind of discussion is probably out of the purview of the Governmental Operations committee. Mark Olson tried his best to attach one, but it was defeated 13-9. That is the good news. Now, the bad news is Mark Olson is the chair of the Local Government committee where the bill is headed for next. In his capacity as chair of this committee, Olson will almost assuredly entertain every attempt to discuss a referendum for this proposal. In other words, this is where it is going to start getting tough.

And if this bill can get through Local Government unscathed, it will head for the ultra-nasty Taxes committee where Phil Krinkie will again do his darndest to attach a referendum to the proposal. Ouch ouch ouch. I have a glimmer of hope still, but only a glimmer. This is going to be tough.

During the next couple of days I hope to look at the membership of the Local Government committee and try to predict where the opposition will come from. And whether or not I think this bill can make it through the committee. Until next time...

Posted by snackeru at 8:48 AM | Comments (4) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

May 10, 2005

Quick note

UPDATE: The Governmental Operations Committee has PASSED the Twins ballpark bill! The vote was an overwhelming 17-5. The 2nd hurdle has been cleared. On to the Local Government Committee!

I'll talk about this more tomorrow. 17-5 ... that is impressive.

You know, you can watch the proceedings of the Governmental Operations committee yourself!

Click this link

Right now they are getting into the amendments. Enjoy!

UPDATE 10:42 PM: They are still yapping. Argh! Get to the vote already! Phyllis Kahn ... I am seriously beginning to dislike her. So many stupid amendments. Mark Olson tried to slide a referendum requirement in and it was defeated 13 to 9. Phew!

UPDATE II 10:50 PM: Diane Loeffler is proposing an amendment that requires 80% fan occupancy for the life of the stadium. She admits that she knows nothing about what a reasonable occupancy rate would be. She hopes that this gives the Twins incentive to keep putting a winning team on the field regardless of owner. She says the county is making a huge investment, the Twins should also. Wow. The amendment was defeated.

Posted by snackeru at 8:58 PM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Big day today

I couldn't sleep last night due to the fact that I read this article in the Strib before I went to bed. According to the article:

The plan for financing a new Twins ballpark faces significant opposition in the House of Representatives, according to a Star Tribune survey of legislators.

With more than three-fourths of House members responding, 42 said they favored a deal that would raise the sales tax in Hennepin County. Thirty-six opposed it, and 27 members said they were undecided. The proposal needs 68 votes to pass the 134-member House.

Ugh. That is disheartening. Let's try to look at it another way, though. There are 134 members in the House. 42 have come out in favor of the plan, 36 are opposed, and 27 are undecided. OK. That leaves 29 legislators unaccounted for. Add that 29 to the 27 that are undecided, and you get 56 legislators that we still don't know about. The bill needs 68 votes to pass which means we need 26 more "yes" votes, or roughly half of the 56 legislators that still are up in the air. Is that possible? Can Finstad (the chief author of the bill) muster up 26 more votes out of 56? I certainly hope so. In fact, I still think he can.

And, unless you live under a rock, you probably know that the stadium bill will be heard today by the Governmental Operations and Veterans Affairs Committee beginning at 4:30 this afternoon. This is the second step for this bill, and our first indications of whether or not 1) it has even a small modicum of support and 2) if it can make it out of committees without a referendum.

I am guessing that two big things will happen with this bill during committee meetings. The first is every committee that hears it will try to attach a referendum to the bill. I have no doubt of that. I also expect some legislators will try to attach another tax onto the .15% general sales tax, or even increase the tax to be something like 6 cents on every $20 purchase in order to fund education, or police, or health care also. I can't say how I feel about that. I personally hope that the bill makes it through this committee unscathed and "as is" but I would be surprised if something doesn't happen to it. We'll just have to keep our fingers crossed.

I'll be watching and taping the proceedings so I should have a good sense of what kinds of hurdles the bill will have to overcome next (if it even makes it through Governmental Operations!). What a nerve racking day!

Finally, and I think this is just hilarious, Rep. Anne Lenczewski has submitted a bill to rename the Minnesota Twins to the Hennepin County Twins. Sigh. Can we just solve this problem and move on?

Posted by snackeru at 12:43 PM | Comments (5) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Endorsed by Linda Koblick

I got an email from Linda Koblick this morning. If you'll recall, Linda Koblick is the Hennepin County Comissioner most opposed to building a new Twins stadium in Minneapolis. Well, she would say she is opposed with the way this proposal is being "railroaded" through, and that she'd like more public input, but I'll say more about that in a bit. Here is what she said in her email to me:

Thank you for providing a very easily-accessible forum for information on the stadium/Twins, and easy directions on legislator and stadium bill information/contacts. My goal? Providing opportunities for input, from public hearings to emails like the many received from your site. Thank you! (and be nice to my staff - they came thru) I must admit, I like your site - it provided me with the stadium bill! Now that's service...

Did you catch that? Linda Koblick likes the Greet Machine! Even stadium opponents can't deny the juggernaut of wisdom that is this web site! Special thanks to Ms. Koblick for taking the time to answer my email. She certainly didn't have to do that. Now if I could only change her mind...

If we take her comments at face value, that she is only trying to give the public more opportunity to weigh in on this issue, and learn more about the proposal, then I would say her cause is noble. However, the public has been dealing with this issue for 10 years now. I dare say most of the public has already chosen a side regardless of what the particulars of this specific proposal are. In fact, the people cheering for Koblick at the meeting where this proposal was approved weren't cheering because Koblick was fighting for more time for the public to weigh in, they were cheering because they want to see this proposal defeated.

The proposal is simple. $125 million from the Twins, and the rest from Hennepin County in the form of a .15 general sales tax on everything but clothing, medical supplies, and food. That tax will generate $28 million a year. The stadium will not be owned by the Twins, but a Ballpark Commission, and the operating costs (upwards of $10 million a year) will be paid by the Twins.

The Twins will receive all game day revenue and the revenue from the stadium naming rights. The people of Hennepin County will receive a beautiful new stadium, a revitalized Warehouse District, hundreds of construction jobs, a family friendly and affordable entertainment option, beautiful evenings watching a Minnesota tradtion, out-state and out of state tourists visiting by the millions and all spending money in the county, and the pride of knowing that we finally solved this problem so we can all move on with our lives.

I'm ready. How about you?

I know that today is a big day in terms of the stadium bill. I'll be discussing that more later.

Posted by snackeru at 8:54 AM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

May 9, 2005

The roof

I don't remember much of the old Met. I went to a bunch of games there, and the little snippets of games I do remember I remember fondly. However, when I listen to people talk about the old Met today, I am led to believe that it was always cold, rainy, or snowy, and when they finally did get a chance to play it was usually a double-header (or triple header!) due to all the cancelled games.

Besides the complaint of "No subsidies for billionaires!" the complaint I hear the most concerning the new Twins ballpark is the complaint that, for now, it will not be built with a roof. It won't even be built "roof ready." As the plan sits right now, it will be an open air stadium now and forever. And as much as I would like a roof, I honestly don't understand what all the complaining is about. Baseball was meant to be played outdoors, plain and simple. If the new ballpark is built without a roof, I won't be upset at all.

The big reasons to build a roof on the new ballpark are because it is cold and rainy (possibly snowy) in April, and it is cold in October. How can the Twins 1) draw enough fans, especially out-state fans, when there is no guarantee the game(s) will be played, and 2) how can the Twins compete when no big name free agents are going to want to play in such a cold place? I want to know, are these legitimate concerns?

To get to the answers of these questions I decided to look at the weather of 4 major league cities with climates comparable to the Twin Cities: Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, and Boston. You'll note that every one of these cities has an open air ballpark. How do they survive? Is the weather in these four cities that much better than the weather in the Twin Cities? By focusing on the average temperatures in April and October in these cities, the average precipitation over the years in April and October in these cities, and the average yearly rainfall in these cities, I think I get to the answer:


Apr. Hi/LoOct. Hi/LoApr. precipOct. precipAve. year rain
Boston56/4063/474 in.3 in.42 in.
Chicago59/3963/424 in.2 in.35 in.
Cleveland58/3762/443 in.3 in.36 in.
Detroit58/3762/413 in.2 in.34 in.
Minneapolis56/3659/392 in. (+ 2 in. snow)2 in.29 in.

According to this data, Minneapolis is definitely colder, both in April and October, but really, not by very much. In addition, this data definitely shows that Minneapolis has about the same amout of precipitation as these cities in April and October. However, Minneapolis has a relatively small amount of participation per year compared to these other cities. As you can see, on average Minneapolis gets about 29 inches of rain per year. Boston gets 42 inches of rain per year. What are we so worried about rain for?

Since all of these cities get more rain than Minneapolis, you would think that they must have to postpone a lot of baseball games due to inclement weather. Actually, no:

Games Postponed


200220032004
Boston322
Chicago003
Cleveland232
Detroit321

People, I don't know how to break it to you, but that is it. On average these cities have to cancel about 2-3 games per year. I don't know about you, but I'm not really concerned about that. In fact, I think I might enjoy a couple of double-headers a year. Am I missing something? Why are we so insistent on a roof? Again, I wouldn't mind one, but is it really that necessary?

Finally, I thought, maybe I am missing something. Maybe I should look at the weather on specific days in a particular city and then compare the weather in Minneapolis on those same days. Since we heard so much about Detroit having to cancel games due to snow this year, I decided to look at Detroit's home schedule in April last year. Then I looked at the weather in Minneapolis on those same days:

DateDetroit Hi/LoMinneapolis Hi/Lo
April 8, 200453/3754/37
April 10, 200453/3643/30
April 11, 200446/3544/25
April 13, 200446/3559/29
April 14, 200459/3670/41
April 15, 200459/3974/47
April 23, 200463/4263/43
April 24, 200454/4457/39
April 25, 200473/4463/41
April 27, 200446/3460/33
April 28, 200469/3291/49
April 29, 200480/6077/44

Again, what are we so worried about? The more I look at this data, but more I wonder why we are so concerned about a roofless stadium. According to the table above, the high in Minneapolis was colder than Detroit on only 4 days, and on one of those days it was 77 in Minneapolis! You know what? I think I can handle this.

In conclusion, don't get me wrong, I would love a roof on the new stadium. It would definitely make that handful of games per year a little more comfortable. But I certainly don't think it is a make or break deal. In fact, I think we should all stop whining like a bunch of [insert derogatory put-down here], recognize we live in Minnesota, and start figuring out how we can use our not-so-unique weather to our advantage.

Posted by snackeru at 8:16 PM | Comments (9) | Stadiums

Category "Life"

Category "Stadiums"

May 8, 2005

Superstition

I'm not usually a superstitious person. I don't knock on wood. I don't throw salt over my shoulder. I don't care about walking under ladders, breaking mirrors, or black cats crossing my path. Having said all that, though, there is one piece of superstition that I can never ignore, and I'm ashamed to admit that it fascinates me more than it should. What is this piece of superstition you ask? It is the superstition of "whatever song comes on next." Never heard of it? Allow me to elaborate.

Whenever I listen to the radio, or my iPod, I like to say, "Whatever song comes on next will determine how the rest of my day goes." Or I like to be more specific sometimes by saying something like, "Whatever song comes on the radio next will dictate whether I go to Home Depot or Menards to buy some window caulk." As you might imagine, deciphering the meaning of some of these songs can be quite a challenge. Does the fact that the next song is "Black Dog" by Led Zeppelin mean I should get a haircut today or not? Or does hearing the song "Clocks" by Coldplay mean I will finally beat Cheesehead Craig at a bet? Like I said, the message these songs are trying to send can sometimes be almost impossible to figure out, but that doesn't stop me from seeking the truth within.

Over the course of my life "whatever song comes on next" has had some surprising results. For example, in my sophomore year in college my roommate (Curt in Grand Forks) was in a serious relationship when I said, "Whatever song comes on next will determine your relationship with Emily." The next song to come on was "Evil Woman" by ELO and they broke up a few weeks later. I know, spooky!

Another example was when I asked my wife our on our very first date. We were both working at a local department store during the summer. I was a stock boy, and she was a cashier, and I had pretty much been stalking her for a couple of months. I would position myself in places I knew she would be so I could talk to her, but I would always chicken out when she came walking by. So, one day I said to my stock boy colleagues, "Whatever song comes on next will determine whether or not I ask Molly out on a date." They all said, "Yeah, yeah" because they knew that I had been wanting to ask her out for weeks but I could never muster the courage to do so. Anyway, the next song that came on was "Rag Doll" by Aerosmith. I know, you're probably thinking that I'm a sicko, but the lyric that struck me as I was listening was "Don't mind, come on up and see me." I was on the first level of the store, and Molly was on the second. I turned white as a ghost and said, "This is it." I literally ran up to the second floor (because I knew if I didn't run I would turn around) and I made it to her counter. I was a little winded from running and while I was panting I blurted out, "Do you want to go out on a date?" She was a little perplexed by me since I was so winded, but she still said, "Sure. When do you want to go out?" I said, "Tonight." Awestruck by my suave demeanor she agreed and the rest, as they say, is history. I owe 11 years of marriage and 3 kids to the song "Rag Doll" by Aerosmith. Amazing, wouldn't you say?

A more touching example occured when my first son was being born. A radio was playing in the operating room (it was a c-section) and I snuck in a "Whatever song comes on next will ..." Well, I didn't know what, but I knew it would be meaningful. Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe" came on as they put him into my arms for the first time. I thought that was appropriate.

So, why am I telling you all of this? For one thing, it is a fun game to play and the results can sometimes be surprising, but I have something more important to tell you. I played "whatever song comes on next" last Thursday as I was walking home from the bus stop. I had my iPod on shuffle so I said, "Whatever song comes on next will determine whether or not the Hennepin County proposal will result in a new Twins stadium." I waited patiently, the song that I was listening to ended, and the next song slowly started to play. At first I couldn't make it out, but then it dawned on me what song I was hearing.

It was "Scarlet" by U2. And if you know the lyrics of this song, you know that this is indeed a very good sign! I know I shouldn't give it too much credence, but based on my previous results with this little piece of superstition I can't help but be hopeful!

If you feel up to it, give "whatever song comes on next" a try. If something interesting comes on, or even happens, please feel free to share! Until next time...

Posted by snackeru at 10:37 PM | Comments (5) | Life | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

May 6, 2005

Guest blogger: SBG

Good news! Today you won't hear any stadum ramblings from me. I know, you were probably thinking, "When is this guy going to shut up about stadiums?" Well, today is that day. However, its not because I don't have anything else to say, it is because someone else has offered to say it for me!

Today's Greet Machine entry is written by the world famous Stick and Ball Guy. Stick and Ball Guy writes some amazing entries about the Twins and T-Wolves over at his web site and I encourage everyone to check it out daily. SBG is also getting married in about a week. How he found the time to write this I will never know, but I greatly appreciate it.

I have never met SBG. I probably wouldn't even recognize him if we passed each other on the street. Nonetheless, SBG is a good friend of mine. Thanks for this great entry, SBG!


Hello, Greet Machine readers, I am the Stick and Ball Guy. I have my own little website where I provide semi-serious coverage of Minnesota Sports. During the time that I have written my site, I have enjoyed reading Shanes Greet Machine, and have really respected his dedication to stadium projects in Minnesota. I have also greatly appreciated his contributions to my site, so I wanted to give something back to him. Thus, I am writing on his site about stadia.

About fifteen or so years ago, I was living in Fargo, ND and there was a proposal to build a domed stadium in Fargo. The stadium was ostensibly for NDSU football, but also would be for various events such as concerts, boat shows, basketball games, and so forth. The city of Fargo had a referendum on the domed stadium, and as a citizen of the city of Fargo, I voted NO. I thought it was a stupid idea and I was outraged at the half cent sales tax that would be levied within the city to pay for the project. I derisively referred to the project as the half-cent dome. I argued why not fix the streets! This money could be used for much better purposes!

And then, the Fargodome opened. While it is arguably not been all that great for NDSU Football (another column topic), there is no question that the Fargodome has been an enormous success for the city of Fargo. Before the Fargodome, the city had no viable venue for concerts. After the Fargodome, I saw the Rolling Stones in North Dakota. I saw basketball games (including KG's first exhibition game -- he was a star even then), concerts, football and yes, a boat show. I realized that the Fargodome was a fantastic idea and I was quite wrong to have voted against it.

I see the proposed Twins stadium in much the same light. No, it wont have quite the same impact on Minneapolis as the Fargodome had on Fargo. (Of course, the tax is not the same, either,) But, it is undeniable that having baseball games played outdoors is a positive contribution to the quality of life. Some people might say that baseball isnt important and not worthy of public money. I say you are wrong. Just as seeing the Stones in Fargo in the middle of a cold and dreary winter made life in North Dakota just a little more tolerable, enjoying a world class sporting event outdoors in the most beautiful time of the year in Minnesota boosts the quality of life in this great city. Sometimes, you have to spend money for the common good. And this is one of those times.

I think about how great the light rail has been for the city. Before it was finished, those who would rather see Minneapolis be a cold Omaha cried and moaned about what a boondoggle it was. As I drove along Hiawatha Avenue prior to the completion, I saw opponents of the light rail decry the project as social engineering on billboards. Then a funny thing happened. The light rail opened and people started riding it. A lot. And the criticism stopped. Thursday night as I rode the train from downtown Minneapolis to Fort Snelling, I had to stand up the whole way because it was packed. At 7:00 PM. People love it. Just like people will love a new Twins stadium.

I read a beautiful quote about Phil Krinkie, state legislator and opponent of progress in Minnesota. Someone, and I forget who, when asked about Krinkies opposition to the light rail said, if it were up to him, we wouldnt have paved roads. I laughed because it reminded me of my youth. I grew up in a small town without paved streets. Every time it rained, the street in front of our house turned into a marsh. When it didn't rain, the streets were dry and dusty -- until they oiled the streets down. That's right they actually applied oil to the streets. (Great for the drinking water, I'm sure.) Yet, people in the city stubbornly refused to build paved streets. The mayor, a reactionary if there ever was one said, we dont need paved streets because the city has natural drainage. Friends, the marsh in front of my Dads street belied that comment. Eventually, the reactionaries were defeated and we got paved streets. Ill never forget how the first time it rained after the streets were paved the water ran into the storm sewer and the street wasnt a marsh but rather quite drivable. And I thought, why did anyone ever think this was a bad idea? Just like the Fargodome and the light rail, the loud-mouthed critics were silenced.

This is what this stadium debate is about. Do you want to invest in the city? Do you want to have facilities and infrastructure to make this a major league city? Or do you want to be a reactionary? If the stadium is not built, no more money will go to education, no more money will go to (fill in the blank). Those arguments are stale and beside the point. What we need in this state are leaders, who will make the Twins stadium a reality. Who will expand the light rail. Who will spend on education. As someone who pays a lot of income tax more than most people I say if you need a little more from me, Ill give it. Why? Because I want to live in a place that I can be proud of. I want to live where I can get around and where I can enjoy life doing things like going to baseball games outdoors. I dont want to live where the proverbial paved street is deemed unnecessary.

Posted by snackeru at 8:32 AM | Comments (11) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

May 5, 2005

I think this has a real shot

You know what I can't wait for? I can't wait for when I can actually watch a Twins game without thinking about this stupid stadium business. I watch games now thinking only about stadiums and the Twins chances in a new stadium, how the Twins might play in a new stadium, how the hot dogs will taste in a new stadium ... It is driving me nuts. I can't wait until I can actually write about what is happening on the field. Right now my on-field analysis is limited to, "Boy that Justin Morneau sure can hit," and "Cuddyer seems to be playing a little better now," and "I like Nick Punto at second base." That's it. I hope you enjoyed it. The rest of my thought processes are taken up by dreams of a new Twins ballpark.

I've been following the stadium issue for 9 years now. My first job out of grad school was at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale during 97-98. I remember literally clicking the reload button on my Netscape 4 browser every 10 seconds waiting to see if the state legislature accepted Pohlad's offer of a $100 million donation. Of course, that turned out to be a $100 million loan, the legislature turned him down (and that is an understatement), and we've been tortured year after year ever since. Every January I get my hopes up, and for 9 years come May my spirits are squashed like a bug. Will this year be different?

Yes. I know I shouldn't get my hopes up but holy-fricken cow I think we might be heading to third on this. In the end there will certainly be a play at the plate, but I like our chances! I've been preparing to write a "stadium chances" entry on this fine blog since the Hennepin County vote two days ago. I was going to look at where the legislature is concerning health care, education, and budget bills, but then I read this article in the StarTribune. An audible gasp escaped my lips when my eyes hit these passages:

"Two-thirds of the Senate should be in favor," said Minority Leader Dick Day, R-Owatonna. "I'm sure going to vote for it."

...

Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, another supporter, said the plan has "a better chance of passage than in the past."

House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, also predicted success for the proposal, adding: "I will do whatever I can to enhance passage of the Twins stadium bill."

...

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has pronounced the plan "reasonable," and a House vote could be held as early as next week, Sviggum said.

BLINK BLINK ... did I just read that correctly? 2/3 of the Senate will vote in favor? Steve Sviggum is going to bat for the plan and will practically do whatever it takes? Sviggum also suggests a House vote could be held as early as next week? I don't know about you, but when I read that statement I seriously get a tear in my eye. I am misting up here!! If the thought of a Twins stadium bill (a workable stadium bill!) passing makes me so happy, I am fearful for my state of mind if a bill actually does pass. I will be worthless for about a week. I will practically be in a state of catatonic happy-shock which will leave me slack-jawed and drooling all over my favorite Twins T-shirt. I will be so stunned my wife will have to feed me pudding out of a straw because the TWINS WILL FINALLY HAVE A NEW BALLPARK!!!

In addition, I watched WCCO TV news last night and they showed a good example of just how far Sviggum may go to make sure this bill passes. Dan Dorman, a Republican member of the House from Albert Lea, got a toungue lashing from Steve Sviggum yesterday when Dorman suggested that he would not vote for the stadium bill if the legislature doesn't also agree to allow other communities to levy sales tax increases without legislative approval. WCCO showed Sviggum practically berating Dorman over this. Dorman had the same look on his face as my children do when my wife and I scold them. Nice work Sviggum. Way to keep your underlings in line!

OK. While I am very optimistic, there is still a long way to go. Let's not get ahead of ourselves (I know, too late!). The Senate is a done deal. I have no doubt. But 1/4 of the House is comprised of Hennepin County legislators. Add to that the number of non-Hennepin County legislators that do not favor the plan and you've got a very close vote. According to the Pioneer Press:

The Pioneer Press contacted 29 of the 53 legislators whose districts are composed totally or partially of Hennepin County communities. Most of those legislators represent districts that are entirely within the county. Of the 29, 16 were against the bill, eight were undecided and five were for it.

Truthfully, those 5 legislators that are for the bill may be all it needs for passage. What does an out-state legislator, or even a legislator from Ramsey County, have to lose by voting for this bill? Nothing!! They are lining up in favor of it. And I really don't understand why Hennepin County legislators are so against it. Sure, Hennepin County will be paying for most of it, but it is in Hennepin County! It will be owned by Hennepin County! People from all over the 5 state area will be coming to this ballpark and spending their hard-earned dollars in Hennepin County! The benefits to Hennepin County will be enormous.

Now for the tough part: can this bill make it out of committee without a referendum attached? Rep. Lyndon Carlson, DFL-Crystal doesn't seem to think so:

"The Legislature will be very hard pressed to turn down a referendum at this point, and that automatically kicks it (a decision) to 2006," said Rep. Lyndon Carlson, DFL-Crystal. While it would be possible to hold a vote this coming November, Carlson said it would make more sense for it to coincide with the 2006 general election.

That would be a deal breaker. I can't believe these short sighted legislators! Show some backbone! I don't care what any of them say about the burden on Hennepin County being too much or their insistence that a referendum be attached, the only reason they wouldn't support this bill is because they think they will lose their jobs if they vote yes. What a bunch of pansies. Keeping the Twins in Minnesota will not cost you your job, Rep. Carlson. Losing the Twins will. Once stadium construction starts people will forget all about their precious 3 pennies. It happened with the Metrodome and it happened with the X. People forget very quickly. But I know for a fact that no one will forget losing the Twins.

What now? The bill is headed for the Local Government Committee next and the chair of that committee already predicts that it will pass. Next I would think it will be head for the Krinkie's Taxes committee, but I wouldn't be surprised if Sviggum tries to circumvent this somehow. Unlikely, but it can be done. For right now I am going to 1) write my representative again and urge him to make the right decision, 2) I will also write the members of the Local Government Committee and as a Hennepin County resident forcefully express to them how much I want them to pass this bill as is. Finally, I think it is time for all of us to write the Star Tribune (opinion@startribune.com) and the Pioneer Press (letters@pioneerpress.com) to let them know how much we all favor this plan.

Let me close by saying I know this is still a long shot. I know that. But this is the best shot we have. Now is not the time for pessimism. Now is the time for action. We have a unique opportunity right now to blitz the legislature and the media with our thoughts and views on the merits of this plan. We need to do everything we can to get this bill passed and to put this all behind us! Man! Do we ever need to put this behind us! So please, WRITE YOUR LEGISLATOR! WRITE MY LEGISLATOR! WRITE PAWLENTY, SVIGGUM, AND JOHNSON AND URGE THEM TO PASS THIS BILL! And every time you get pessimistic just think about outdoor baseball. Got it? Good! Let's get to work!

Posted by snackeru at 7:22 AM | Comments (9) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

May 4, 2005

Great article

I've got a great article for all of you to read:

Questions and answers on the latest Twins stadium plan for the Warehouse District

Truly, I wish I could have written this. It does a fantastic job of laying out all the issues of the Hennepin County plan. I soaked it up like a sponge. I'll comment on it later, but for now I gotta go.

Posted by snackeru at 8:45 AM | Comments (7) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

May 3, 2005

Ballpark vote: update

I am watching the Hennepin County hearings right now. They still have not voted on the proposal. And remarkably the Comissioners are still being pretty cordial with each other. They are right now voting on amendments. The amendment to study the feasibility of using the garbage burner's excess energy to heat the stadium just passed.

It appears to me that Koblick, Steele, and Dorfman are all resigned to the inevitability that the ballpark proposal will pass.

I'll keep you updated. Hopefully the final vote will be happening soon.

UPDATE: Scratch that, Koblick is totally grandstanding. She is fighting every amendment seemingly just to be difficult. She just voted no on an amendment that would require the Twins to pay $250,000 a year on youth activities and sports in Hennepin County. Jerry Bell even got up and agreed to the amendment, since it would be handled throught the Twins Foundation, and she still voted no because their weren't enough "details." Sheesh!

UPDATE II: McLaughlin just put in an amendment to use any excess funds/revenues to help keep libraries open longer both in the Hennepin County system and the Minneapolis systems. Way to go McLaughlin! Koblick and Steele of course voted no because, I guess, tying libraries to stadiums is not "transparent." So, here we have possibly some extra money to fund libraries, and Koblick seems to think this is evil. Of course, it is more complex than I am making it, but libraries are horribly underfunded in Hennepin County. I'm sure they will be thrilled with this amendment.

UPDATE III: Koblick now wants to strike the statement "Twins fans deserve a new ballpark with good site lines" from the Principles of Agreement. It is a nice statement, but I guess we don't deserve one.

UPDATE IV: It is obvious Koblick wants to delay this vote. She has mentioned that she is prepared to talk for another 4 hours. Ugh. I am amazed, and slightly impressed. I'll admit it. But in the end her efforts will be proven futile.

UPDATE V: Steele wants an amendment to have at least 7 public hearings in each of the Hennepin County disctricts on this proposal. Koblick voted yes. All others voted no including my own Commissioner Gail Dorfman. My respect for her is increasing. She just might do the right thing. The amendment didn't pass.

UPDATE VI: They are working on the details of another amendment, but it has been stated that this proposal is expected to raise $1.1 billion and the tax will last until December 2036. Wow. That is impressive.

UPDATE VII: Amendments seem to be over. I think they are about to vote.

Posted by snackeru at 7:00 PM | Comments (7) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

May 2, 2005

Write the Commissioners

Enough discussion about the Hennepin County proposal. Enough debate over whether or not the ballpark should have a roof. Enough of the broken record analysis done by your's truly. From now until late this afternoon, it all comes down to one thing:

Convincing the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners to pass their own Twins ballpark proposal.

If you haven't done so already, and I would be shocked if you haven't, write the Hennepin County Board right now and tell them that you support this plan. You can write them separately:

Mike Opat -- One of the few politicians in Minnesota to have a pair.
Randy Johnson -- Another strong supporter and Chair of the Commission.
Mark Stenglein -- Helped put the pressure on Rybak to support this important plan.
Peter McLaughlin -- The swing vote. With Rybak coming out in favor of the plan I think McLaughlin will come out strongly in favor tomorrow (given that McLaughlin is running for mayor of Minneapolis).
Linda Koblick -- The strongest opposition. Would rather the county loses the Twins than support a plan that will bring in millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs into the county. Go figure.
Penny Steele -- Koblick's lackey. Get this, Steele complained that she has had little time to look at the proposal, but she still admitted that she would vote against it. Way to give it a fair shake, Commissioner Steele.
Gail Dorfman -- Sigh. My own commissioner. Why must I be cursed with these wishy washy politicians lording over me? Let's see if she has the guts to do the right thing tomorrow.

Or, you can write them all together. Just click on this link. Be sure to label your subject line something like "Twins stadium YES!" so that they can readily see where you stand on the issue. I've heard a rumor that they are literally going to count up the yes and no responses they have been receiving over the past week.

So, it all comes down to this. Please do your part. Write the comissioners NOW. And if you already have, write them again. As a Twins fan this should be your number one priority: making sure the Twins remain a part of the fabric of life in Minnesota.

Posted by snackeru at 6:52 PM | Comments (6) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Few want to pay for anything

Yesterday's Star Tribune article concerning the Minnesota Poll was entitled, "Few want to pay for ballpark." I think a more accurate title would be "Few want to pay for anything." You ask the average Minnesotan any question regarding paying for something costing upwards of $500 million and they are going to say no. Take the LRT, for example. As I said below, if the LRT would have been subject to a referendum we would have been inundated with negativity towards the project and most likely your average Minnesotan would have coupled that negativity with the price tag and voted no. People would have said, "Why should we build a single rail line when we are cutting school budgets!" or some nonsense like that. However, now, thanks to the foresight of some of our legislators, we have a thriving, successful light rail line that will only keep on expanding.

So, the Minnesota Poll shows that your average Minnesotan opposes the Hennepin County plan. 54% to be exact with 42% approving. Hmmmm ... I've seen numbers similar to these before. A few years back the Minnesota Poll also conducted a survey like this regarding the "conceal and carry" law. Again, according to the Star Tribune, 55% of Minnesotans were against this law passing and felt that "conceal and carry" would make our state more dangerous. Now, I'm not here to debate the merits or problems of "conceal and carry" but the outcome is not in dispute. Regardless of the strong opposition to this bill, it still passed.

Sid Hartman today does a better job than I ever could in arguing against taking the results of this recent Minnesota Poll too seriously:

Well, I am not a professional pollster, but I would have added a couple of questions that I think are important.

The first question I would ask is: Would you rather have a Hennepin County-wide sales tax of 0.15 percent to build the stadium, or allow the Twins to leave here and lose baseball?

Believe me, if this stadium plans falls through, the Twins are done fighting for a stadium and the owners will either cut the payroll to $25 million from the present $56 million or sell the team to somebody who might move it.

Second, I would ask if the people polled knew the state income tax paid by the Twins and visiting players, combined with the additional sales tax earned, could run up to an estimated $11 million a year in a new stadium. The sales tax from building materials also would provide a lot of money to the state.

Third, I would have asked if the people polled understood the number of jobs a stadium costing $478 million would provide.

Fourth, I would ask if there should be a referendum on the stadium, when there wasn't one when the Minneapolis City Council spent $4.7 million moving the Shubert Theater and gave $35 million to the Guthrie Theater and other government-sponsored projects.

Then I would ask if the people polled had any idea of the extent of the crime problems downtown and what 81 home games would do to improve that situation. Those games would attract more business downtown.

And last but not least, I would have made sure I polled some of the nursing homes and some shut-ins and get their reaction on how different their lives would be if they didn't have 162 Twins games to listen to on radio and watch on television.

I cannot argue with the results of this poll. The majority of Minnesotans are against the Hennepin County plan to build a new Twins stadium. However, the majority of Minnesotans are ill informed, selfish dunderheads who don't understand the ramifications of not supporting this plan. Again, I'll trust the Speaker of the House, the Senate Majority Leader, the Governor of Minnesota, and the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners to do what is best for me and my family. For the love of all that is holy, do not give this decision to the average Minnesotan.

Posted by snackeru at 12:26 PM | Comments (5) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Before you do anything

Before you do anything today, please take a moment to write the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners and let them know how you feel about keeping the Twins in Minnesota. The Hennepin County Board votes tomorrow at 1:30 on whether or not they will go forward with their plan, and while it looks like they have enough votes to pass a few more emails from the plan's supporters can't hurt. Even if you don't live in Hennepin County, even if you don't live in Minnesota, please take a moment to write these people. It does make a difference.

Also, again, if you are writing your legislators and you get an interesting response please feel free to share that response with all of us here. Please submit a comment below or send me an email at snackeru@umn.edu.

And speaking of interesting responses, I got this response from the other SLP Representative Steve Simon:

Thanks a lot for your e-mail message. I really apprciate your input. As for the latest Twins proposal, I'm impressed with what I have seen and heard so far. The Twins clearly need a new stadium. The virtue of this latest plan is that it does not require state general fund money, and it imposes a very small tax. Still, I will carefully review the numbers. I want to make sure that taxpayers are getting a fair deal. As always, please feel free to contact me about any issue, idea, or concern.

That sounds great. Steve Simon replaced the anti-stadium Jim Rhodes so to have a pro-stadium rep now filling that seat is wonderful!

Finally, my own Hennepin County Commissioner is a liar. Check out this quote in the Pioneer Press:

Meanwhile, Hennepin Board members said Friday that the Twins e-mail campaign was reaching its targets.

"For the first two days, it was 100 percent against,'' board member Gail Dorfman said of citizen reaction after the board discussed the stadium deal last Tuesday. "Today, it's almost all in favor of the Twins. If I go away from my e-mail list for 10 minutes and come back, there's another 50. Many of them say, 'The Twins told me to call you.' "

100% against? I think not. I wrote her the day after the plan came out telling her I was in favor of the plan. Shame on you Gail Dorfman! However, I am thrilled that the emails she is receiving now are overwhelmingly in favor. Let's keep that up people!

Posted by snackeru at 8:42 AM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

May 1, 2005

Roll call

I have a little bone to pick. And while I've written about this before, I've got a few more things to say about referendums. First of all, let's take a look at who, so far, is in favor of the Hennepin County plan to build a new Twins stadium:

So, given how many of our political leaders have come out in favor of this plan, and given how much they have studied, discussed, and argued about this issue over the years, forgive me if I feel less than comfortable turning this issue over to the voters of Hennepin County.

The typical resident of Hennepin County is an idiot when it comes to this issue. I'm sorry if I offend, but I include myself in this. We know what we read in newspapers, and we can spit back the sound-bites we hear on the local news. However, there is no way any typical resident of Hennepin County is as informed and educated on this issue as the legislators who we have elected to represent us concerning matters of fiscal and cultural importance such as this.

Let's look at some facts. The Mall of America ... did not have a referendum. The Hiawatha LRT ... did not have a referendum. The Metrodome ... did not have a referendum. The Xcel Energy Center ... did not have a referendum. The Guthrie ... did not have a referendum. How many of these projects would have been built if referendums had been held to let the "informed" public decide whether or not these projects were worthy of their tax dollars? I would wager none. However, given the choice now, and given how successful all these projects have been, how many people would decide to turn back the clock and not let these projects even begin? Again, I would wager none!

Referendums are the enemy of progress and an excellent way for our legislators to get out of the jobs we elected them to do. Oh, and by the way, referendums on school funding are also a huge mistake. Who wants to bet that the same people that right now are using the "education first" card against stadiums are the same people that voted down over half of the public school referendums in our state during the last elections? Education first my butt.

Lori Sturdevant said it best today in an editorial in the Strib in which she challenged those who would argue that "direct democracy" is the right way to go in situations like these.

That's what's wrong with direct democracy. It's susceptible to enormous influence by whatever side of a given issue can spend the most. That's because most people don't have time to bone up on the complexities that government must address. They go with what they hear, and they hear those with the biggest advertising budget.

I know, I know. The 21st century is being called the Century of the Individual. What people don't know about government, they make up for with their mastery of consumerism. They demand choices in other realms, and the market provides them. Why not in the making of laws too?

To those who make that argument, I have a proposition: You support a big improvement in citizenship education in grades K-12. You support several days of paid time off work in the month before an election, for the purpose of studying ballot questions. You support funding of public libraries adequate to open them seven days a week for purposes of public education on ballot questions. You support an extension of the public campaign financing system to campaigns for and against ballot questions, so both sides might be heard.

That is just beautiful. Let's all ponder that for a while. More tomorrow, including my take on the always informative Minnesota Poll, and my take on the chances of the legislature actually passing a state budget on time (not good!).

Posted by snackeru at 8:14 PM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

April 29, 2005

Friday roundup

• Well, it has been a busy week concerning my favorite topic, but before we delve into that again, I invite you to leave the Greet Machine (that's right, go away!) and visit Stick and Ball Guy for a "marital advice" edition of Pepper! Today, I am a participant in Pepper! along with Cheesehead Craig of the Oracle of Cheese and Mr. Cheer or Die of the Viking Underground. SBG has some questions for us regarding his upcoming wedding. I guarantee a fun time for all!

• Now back to business. I don't know how many of you have been keeping track of Pawlenty's plan for a metro-area casino, but it appears that his scheme will not be happening, at least not this year. I'm a little torn by this one. On the one hand I am not in favor of expanding gambling, especially in the metro-area. I think it works great for the Native American tribes and I like the fact that gambling is limited to their governance. On the other hand, either we have gambling in this state or we don't. And we definitely have gambling. It is a very lucrative business and the state could certainly make some money from getting involved. Not to mention Pawlenty's "Community Assets Account."

The "Community Assets Account" is Pawlenty's plan to set aside some of the state's gambling proceeds for public works projects like zoos, or planetariums, or, of course, stadiums. In fact, I would guess that the only reason this Account is being created is to take care of the state's contribution for potential stadiums that may be built.

How much are we talking about though? According to a StarTrib article from last week, the most recent casino plan (with two casinos being built at Canterbury Park) would bring in $164 million, at least, to the state. And according to the House version of this casino bill:

Sec. 3. [297A.941] [GAMING FACILITY PROCEEDS FUND.]
33.28 A gaming facility proceeds fund is established in the state
33.29 treasury, consisting of money deposited in the fund under
33.30 section 297A.94, paragraph (g), and any other money credited to
33.31 the fund by law. Money in the fund is appropriated as follows:
33.32 (1) ten percent of the receipts is annually appropriated to
33.33 the community assets account; and
33.34 (2) the remaining 90 percent of the receipts shall be
33.35 transferred to the general fund.
33.36 Sec. 4. [297A.942] [COMMUNITY ASSETS ACCOUNT.]
34.1 A community assets account is established in the state
34.2 treasury, consisting of money deposited in the account under
34.3 section 297A.941 and interest earned thereon. Money in the
34.4 account may be spent, as appropriated by law, to help finance
34.5 capital projects that provide for facilities which provide a
34.6 public benefit to the state and local communities. Projects
34.7 that may be financed through an appropriation from this account
34.8 include, but are not limited to, the following: stadiums and
34.9 other athletic facilities for professional, college, and amateur
34.10 sports; museums, theaters, and other facilities for the arts;
34.11 recreational facilities; planetariums; and zoos.

So, 10% of $164 million would be $16.4 million. I don't expect that all of that would go towards stadium construction, but I do expect that most of it would.

Why am I bringing this up? Because I am of the opinion that this may be the only way the state will contribute to a new Vikings stadium. The Twins have tried for years and years to get the state to contribute to their stadium, and I think we have all seen that it just can't be done. I'm sure that the Vikings are praying that the Twins stadium deal goes through not only because it means the legislature can finally just focus on the Vikes, but also because with the Twins out of the picture the Vikings would get the full stadium share of this Community Assets Account. Again, it may be the only way that the state contributes to a Vikings stadium project.

So, I will keep a close eye on casino/racino developments. It may not happen this year, but I think Pawlenty is determined to see it happen. And if it does and the Twins are out of the picture due to approval of the Hennepin County plan (or contraction) Vikings fans everywhere should see this as a good sign.

• And speaking of contraction, I'm sure you all know that the current MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire this December. One of the agreements of this CBA was that the player's union can't interfere with MLB concerning contraction attempts after 2005. Given the difficulty the Twins have had (and are going to have, make no mistake) with their stadium efforts, and the difficulties the Florida Marlins have had, I personally think contraction will be a real threat again if a new Twins or Marlins stadium isn't approved this legislative session.

In a recent interview with Jerry Bell on the Twins website, Bell himself suggests that this plan may be the Twins last gasp:

MLB.com: Nobody wants to make threats, but Jim Pohlad did say that if this proposal isn't accepted, he can't imagine what would be. Is it fair to say that this is the team's last chance to get a new ballpark built?

JB: I agree with Jim. If we can't do this, then I can't imagine what it would be.

And I don't like to make threats either, but I can't help but think this is it. I know we've heard this all before, but contraction was real back in 2002. If not for Judge Harry Crump (God bless him!) we would not even be having this discussion right now. If the Hennepin County deal doesn't go through, don't expect the Twins to sign another lease at the Dome for next season. And without that, and without resistance from the player's union, there will be nothing to stop MLB from carrying through on its 2002 contraction plan.

Seriously, write your representatives and senators today! You can make a difference! Let me close by sending a shout out to Bob! Thanks for the email last night! I have updated the Voter's Guide!

Posted by snackeru at 7:06 AM | Comments (5) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

April 27, 2005

Voter's Guide: Assistance needed

I've made some more changes to the Voter's Guide, but unfortunately the number of Pro-American (pro-stadium) legislators has stayed the same: 54. The number of Anti-American (anti-stadium) legislators now sits at 50, and the "unknown" sits at 30. So, as if you didn't know this already, it looks like it is going to be close.

The Voter's Guide is based on literally years of information I've gleaned from newspaper articles, Google searches, and letters I've received from the legislators themselves. You'll also note that the guide focuses on the Minnesota House only. The House is full of the biggest bunch of do-nothings this state has ever seen. Any bill that passes through the House is an epic achievement whether it is a bill to build a bike shed or a bill to pass the state budget. The Senate is another story. The stadium bill will be a tough sell there too, but I think it will have an easier time there than in the House.

Anyway, please take a moment to look over the Voter's Guide and let me know if I need to make any other corrections. I plan on writing some more legislators tonight, but it would be much better if letters and emails came from their own constituents. Thanks.

Recently I received a letter from my state Senator (the esteemed Steve Kelley of Hopkins) and an email from my representative (Ron Latz of SLP). Steve Kelley is on board. I have little doubt of that. And although he wrote his letter before the Hennepin County plan was revealed, he had this to say about a stadium bill's chances:

I believe that workable stadium legislation passing this session has about a 20% chance of doing so. If legislation does not pass this year, we will keep working in future years to make sure the Twins have a home in Minnesota.

I plan on writing him again to ask him if he thinks the chances have improved. I'll let you know what he says.

Then, I got an email from Ron Latz. I can't figure this guy out and it pains me to say that I just don't know which way he would vote. He wrote me this response:

I believe most people, myself included, would like to see the Twins and Vikings remain in Minnesota. They have given a lot to our community over the years. Minnesota would be changed for the worse if we lost them. However, I want to make sure we address our state's higher priority needs in a responsible way. Consequently, I have set as my standard a stadium bill that does not affect the ability of the state to fund more important priorities, that is made in the context of adequate funding for those more important priorities, that protects the fiscal integrity of the state, that has enough private participation, and that takes care of our public institutional need for a stadium for the University of Minnesota's Gopher football team, too. I am not
philosophically opposed to public investment in public infrastructure, and I consider a stadium, done correctly, to be public infrastructure, just like the Metrodome, Xcel Energy Center, the Minneapolis Convention Center, etc. However, there are many higher priorities for state investment than athletic stadiums, which the Governor and House Majority have so far failed to adequately fund.

I want to assure you that I will carefully scrutinize all stadium proposals that may come before me for a vote to ensure that they are fiscally prudent and are consistent with our state's basic values, which recognize both the importance of professional sports and also the need to meet Minnesota's more critical problems. I will evaluate the Hennepin Country Twins proposal with these criteria.

I can't help it, but I take this as a "No." And have you ever seen a better example of policitian-speak? It really is a thing of beauty. He attempts to allay my fears by saying he is not "philosophically opposed" to stadium financing, but at the same time he suggests that he just might not support a stadium bill based on some nebulous criteria he has set up for himself. Of course, I wrote him back saying:

As you probably know, the Twins and Hennepin County are not asking for any state funding, so I would think that the state's ability to fund higher priorities is unchanged and the fiscal integrity of the state is protected. Again, the state has been taken out of the equation.

I'll let you know if he responds.

See how fun writing your legislators can be? Give it a try today and let me know what they say!

Posted by snackeru at 12:57 PM | Comments (7) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Why does it cost more than others?

I got an interesting email yesterday from a transplanted Twins fan living in Pittsburgh. Bryce writes:

I have a question about Stadiums, I was wondering if you could answer it on your blog. I'm a transplanted twins fan, living in Pittsburgh. I absolutely love PNC park here, and have long wished that it could be moved to the twin cities. I was looking at the cost of PNC park (242mil. for 39k seat park) and the cost of the proposed warehouse district park (360mil for 44k). I'm not sure the details of the national's park, but its cost will be 262mil. These prices are from the startribune and do not include the cost of land or infrastructure, just stadium alone. My question is this, why the deviation in stadium prices? If the Pirates and the Nationals can build stadiums for under 300mil, why can't we? I'm sure there'd always be griping about public funding for a stadium, but cutting 100mil in cost could decrease the gripping considerably.

Bryce is referring to the chart in the Strib that listed a number of stadium deals of the past and how much they cost, including PNC, Citizens, Comerica, etc. Personally, I found this chart to be highly misleading expressly because it listed only what the price of the actual stadium was minus all the infrastructure and "hidden" costs.

For example, the Twins are listing their new stadium alone as costing $360 million, however, they are also readily making available the true cost of $478 million. That is the number we should be focusing on. When you look at that number and compare it to other ballpark plans it makes a little more sense. According to initial reports the total cost of the Washington Nationals ballpark will be $440 million. Furthermore, reports coming out of Florida concerning their proposed stadium have the total price at $420 million.

Now, that still brings up the question of why the Twins ballpark is priced $40-$60 million more than either of these plans. Truthfully, I don't have a good answer. It could be inflation. It could be that the cost of our infrastructure improvements are that much more. It could also be that the Marlins and the Nationals are both hiding something and that the real costs will come out soon enough. Or it could be that the Twins want to build a really nice ballpark and they are being as trutful as possible about the costs. We all know that the Metrodome was built by cutting every corner possible. Did you know that at one point the Metrodome was going to have bleacher seating ala Lambeau? Then, at the last moment some extra money was found to put in those blue seats we all love. Truthfully, now I wish they had put in the bleacher seating. We would have probably already moved out.

Anyway, when you look at the true stadium prices of different plans around the country I think the plan the Twins are promoting is pretty comparable. However, if anyone has any information on why the Twins' plan is still slightly more expensive, please feel free to share.

Posted by snackeru at 8:56 AM | Comments (1) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

April 26, 2005

Same old arguments

Well, the naysayers have come out in full force with the same old tired arguments against building a new Twins stadium. Allow me to expound on some of them and bring up some of my own tired arguments:

The old "subsidizing billionaires" argument

This argument was featured in a column by Doug Grow today entitled, Mulling Twins ballpark plan no easy matter. Well, it's easy if you are a stadium freak like me. Anyway, Grow begins his column by stating basically that he is having trouble with this plan because Carl Pohlad will make money. Citing useful statistics on the values of other franchises after new stadiums were built and the values of new stadium naming rights, Grow comes up with this statement, "That means that the Pohlads, conservatively, would receive $130 million for this $125 million investment."

What?!? You mean someone is actually going to make money off of this deal? Oh the humanity! (gnashing of teeth, rending of garments) When will this evil stop! Next you'll tell me that people make money everyday! Why do we let this "money making" happen in our world? Why?

Please. I'm so sick and tired of focusing on Pohlad I could puke. Let's focus on ourselves for once. What do we get out of this deal? A beautiful stadium? Check. A revitalized Warehouse District? Check. An affordable family activity? Check. Outdoor baseball? Check. Continued good times and memories from an important Minnesota institution? Check check. Continued national, daily exposure for our city and state? Check.

But no. Let's focus on one old man. What is wrong with everyone? The Twins leave and Pohlad will still have his billions. But millions of Twins fans will be left with nothing. Sticking it to Pohlad won't accomplish anything but taking away something important from ourselves.

What about health care and education and the myriad of other needs our state has?

First of all, this is no longer a state issue. This is a Hennepin County issue. So complain to your state representatives about the other needs our state has but leave the Twins stadium out of it. This plan is for a Twins stadium. That's it. Either we want one or we don't.

Secondly, in the nine years this debate has been raging how much extra money has any of these issues received as a result of our not building a new Twins stadium? That's right. Nothing. Nada. Zip. In other words, for nine years our illustrious state legislators have used this argument against building a new Twins stadium. At the same time they have never actually said, "Well, now that we aren't building a stadium let's use that money for education!" Bzzzz! This has never happened! To put it another way, our legislators talk and talk, and argue and argue, but they never actually do anything to fix either problem! So, time's up! Get off the swing set, it is our turn to take it for a ride.

I'll never use a new Twins stadium. Why should I have to pay for it?

I'll probably never use the street you live on, why should I have to pay for it? I have never used the Target in downtown Minneapolis. Why did I have to subsidize it? I never use the LRT. Why are my taxes going towards that? I don't really frequent the Guthrie that much, can I have my tax money back? I have never visited the Jeffers Petroglyphs out in western Minnesota. That must mean it is unimportant!

Gah! The concept is called "community" people. We spend a lot of tax dollars on the idea that while we may never actually see or use the benefits of that money, a lot of other people will. Why a new Twins stadium is outside the realm of "community" is beyond me.

So, the next time you think about a Twins stadium and the fact that you may not ever use it, think about me. That's right: ME. I will be very happy if a new Twins stadium will be built. In fact, I will be happy with you for helping me out! I will be so happy, I will erect a giant statue of you in my front yard! We'll both be happy, and Minnesota will be a better place because of it.

That's all I got for right now. More incoherent and emotion filled ramblings coming up.

Posted by snackeru at 12:30 PM | Comments (12) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

April 25, 2005

Twins press conference

So, I snuck out of work to attend the Twins Press Conference this afternoon. I just had to go. I've tried really hard this time, but unfortunately hope is now firmly entrenched in my heart. The more I read about this plan, the more I think about this plan, the more I listen to other people talk about this plan, the more hopeful I become. It is just the way it is. Could I be heading for a hard fall? Sure, but why should this year be any different than the past 9 years? I'll survive.

twinspress.jpg

Anyway, about the Twins press conference ... it was quite an experience. I was thrilled to be there, of course, but it was kind of cold. In fact, Pohlad quipped that it was so cold they should consider asking for a roof. Everyone politely laughed. It is obvious the stadium needs a roof and everybody knows it. I'll talk about this more in the days to come.

While I was at the press conference I got to rub elbows with a lot of famous sports and political personalities including Joe Schmit, Bob Sansavere, Sid Hartman, Roy Terwilliger, Mike Opat, Roy Smalley, Kent Hrbek, and Paul Molitor. Patrick Reusse walked right in front of me mumbling how he wouldn't even be writing about this stadium plan and that he had stopped writing about Twins stadiums in 1999. I wanted to kick him.

Pohlad got up and made some incoherent statements (how old is he now?), and then his son Jim got to the microphone and said, "If a stadium can't be built with this plan it will never be built." This sent a chill down my spine since there is a distinct possibility that this plan will not result in a stadium. I wonder if Jim was alluding to the fact that this may be his family's last attempt. Who knows ...

Then Jerry Bell got up there and started talking like this was already a done deal. You know, "When this stadium opens in 2009 fans will just love it..." I was in heaven! HEAVEN! This is my bread and butter people and I eat it up like nobody's business! He talked about the heated concourses, the new sun screen over the outfield, the fact that this stadium has 12,000 seats between first and third (as opposed to only 6,000 at the Dome), and only 12,000 seats in the entire upper deck. "That is unheard of!" Bell jublilantly proclaimed. Bell praised Mike Opat and Mike Opat praised Jerry Bell. It was obvious they were very happy with their work and the resulting plan.

After that, the press conference was over. I tried to weasel my way into some of the side interviews taking place, but I couldn't hear anything anyone was saying. So, I walked back to the U. All in all it was a great press conference and it furthered my climb into the heights of hopefulness.

Anyway, that was my afternoon. Stay tuned for more tomorrow.

Posted by snackeru at 8:00 PM | Comments (5) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Apathetic Twins fans

What is wrong with everyone? Is it the weather? Or is this just another example of the apathy of Twins fans striking once again? Here we have fantastic news of the possibility of a new Twins stadium and all I am seeing on other Twins blogs are comments like, "I'll believe it when I see it," and ""[T]here's no plan of yet for a retractable roof. That's freakin' brilliant.". That's it? That's all you've got? The Twins need our support to hammer this through and all we can muster is an extra dose of cynicism and apathy? TwinsTerritory? Silent. Silent!!! That site has like 200 potential authors and not one of them has written a sentence about this issue. Seth Speaks? And I quote, "I hate even writing about the stadium on this site because it just frustrates me to no end that this situation was not resolved long ago." Gah! These sites have hundreds if not thousands of readers. Where is the passion? Where is the anger? Where is the support? As Twins fans all of us can make a HUGE difference! Especially Twins bloggers! Let's all get our heads out of the sand and start making some noise!

At least Ryan Maus of TwinsChatter took some time to even think about this issue today. I can't argue with his "cautious optimism" and I can't argue with his pessimism either. Thanks, Ryan, for the link and thanks for writing about what should be the most important issue for any Twins fan: getting a stadium built.

This would never happen in St. Louis. Or Denver. Or a myriad of other cities whose fans are actually rabidly supportive of their baseball team. Minnesota? We are apathetic at best and indifferent at worst. Well, we may get what we deserve.

I don't care how many times you've seen a stadium plan crash and burn. I don't care how many times you have gotten your hopes up only to have them squashed like a bug. It is time to get this deal done! This is a good plan and it deserves our time and support!

Posted by snackeru at 12:26 PM | Comments (14) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

The hand we've been dealt

Long time readers of the Greet Machine know the basic parameters of any Twins stadium financing plan that I think would work. Basically, for months I've been harping on the fact that the Twins first need to pick a site, and then increase their rumored upfront contribution. Well, I guess one out of two ain't bad.

For years the Twins have been playing our fair Twin Cities off of each other hoping for the best deal possible from either. Finally, we have confirmation that the Twins and Hennepin County have struck a deal to get the job done at the Rapid Park site of Minneapolis. That, of course, is wonderful news. However, Pohlad has agreed to only increase his upfront contribution by $5 million dollars. Technically it is an increase, but it wasn't nearly what I wanted it to be. So, what does that leave us with?

Surprisingly this is a pretty good plan. Now, usually I am very pessimistic towards these kinds of things, and while there are still a lot of reasons to be pessimistic there is also reason for optimism. While Pohlad is still sticking with his approx. $120 million upfront contribution, the Twins and Hennepin County have made up for that by taking the state out of the equation. Brilliant!

Regardless of how much Pohlad contributed there would always need to be a community money and involvement. For nine years we've also thought there would need to be state money and involvement too. Wrong! The Twins and Hennepin County have decided to foot the entire bill themselves with $125 million from the Twins and a 0.15% general sales tax in Hennepin County.

Here is what is great about that plan. Any tax in Hennepin County to build a Twins stadium would be controversial. A hotel tax, a restaurant tax, a hospitality tax it didn't matter, it would always be controversial. So, why not put together a plan that can raise a boatload of money in the broadest way possible? No more numerous funding sources, no more state funding necessary, this plan has only two funding sources and such a broad tax that it will be both unoticeable to the average taxpayer (3 cents on every $20 spent) but also predictable in its potential revenue (unlike TIF or user fees or other stadium district financing methods). In fact, a 0.15% tax is more than just predictable, it also has the likely potential of paying off the debt relatively quickly. In other words, I seriously doubt it will take 30 years to pay for the ballpark.

Who could be against such a simple plan? Well, a lot of people actually, but let's focus on who is in favor so far. According to the Star Tribune:

Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, and House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, both said on Saturday that they would support the proposal.

"This is a very workable plan because it does not require any state general fund money," Johnson said. "Three cents on $20 falls out of most people's pockets before breakfast."

Sviggum called it a "reasonable" plan. "Obviously, it's a significant commitment of the Twins owner," he said.

So, we've got the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader saying they will back this proposal. Looking at it another way, we have the leader of the Republican House and the leader of the DFL Senate both in favor of this plan. It is hard to believe, I know, but it looks like we could have bipartisan support for this plan. Dean Johnson was actually on The Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave this morning on WCCO Radio and he was practically gushing about this plan. He seemed very optimistic about the plan's chances in the legislature. But he hesitated when discussing the chances of Pawlenty signing the corresponding bill into law.

You see, Pawlenty has pledged no new taxes during his reign as governor of Minnesota. Would Pawlenty consider this as a new tax, even though it is really just a tax hike on an existing tax? Will he look favorably on the fact that only Hennepin County will be levied this tax hike? Will he be swayed by the fact that it is only 3 cents on every $20 spent, or $30 for every $20,000 spent? Sid Hartman seems to think so.

This is why I listen to Sid on Sunday mornings. He is so connected. As Johnson was suggesting that the legislature would do it's part and that it is all really up to Pawlenty to make this happen, Sid said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "I just had lunch with Pawlenty last Tuesday at Vescio's and he said he would support this plan." Needless to say, this made my heart skip a beat. Could it be true? Later on in the afternoon WCCO also quoted Mike Opat (the Hennepin County Commissioner we all have to thank for this) as saying Pawlenty was on board with the plan. Speaker of the House? Check. Senate Majority Leader? Check. Governor of Minnesota? Check? Sorry, I'm still pessimistic about this one. I want to hear Pawlenty say it himself.

Who else can we count on to support this plan ... well, I would think out-state legislators for one. They literally have nothing to lose. When they go to vote on this plan they aren't voting on any state money. They aren't voting to tax their own constituents. They have nothing to lose and nothing to fear. Will they be enough? Can they overcome the anti-stadium backlash that is sure to come from metropolitan legislators? Hopefully we'll get a chance to see.

Finally, in terms of support, I was surprised that while listening to the radio this afternoon almost everyone that called in supported this plan. There were a few nay-sayers, but the vast majority of the people who called in basically said the same thing: it is time to put this behind us.

Man! What a day. Lots of stuff to be positive about. Now let's look at the negative. Let's look at what chances this bill really has to get passed.

First of all, stadium opponents have time on their side. According to the StarTrib, both Johnson and Sviggum have both said that the legislature will "not consider a stadium proposal until after the budget bills for health care, education and transportation were done." That is a tall order. I can just hear Phil Krinkie cackaling. All stadium opponents have to do is wait. All they have to do is argue the state budget until the bitter end, and this proposal is dead. And don't think they won't do it. Don't think Phil isn't so bitterly against stadium financing that he won't do anything he can to thwart this effort. Remember, he jeopardized the passage of the state bonding bill because he thought a part of it could possibly be used to help fund a new Vikings stadium. The man is insane when it comes to being anti-stadium.

Secondly, the Twins have already stated the deal is dead if a referendum is attached. They don't want a referendum for two reasons: 1) it increases costs to wait for a referendum to pass and 2) a referendum would never pass in Hennepin County (or anywhere in Minnesota for that matter). The Twins aren't stupid. And neither is Phil Krinkie. Why do I keep coming back to him? Because he is the chair of the House Taxes Committee. If he even agrees to hear the bill (and it is in his power not to) he will fight to attach a referendum at the bare minimum. If I could suggest something, we should all write the rest of the members of the House Taxes committee and tell them to support this bill as is. There is a chance that this bill could get out of the House Taxes committee without a referendum but the rest of the members will have to overcome Mr. Krinkie.

That is if there is even time for the plan to get out of committee in the first place.

Finally, stadium opponents have the most powerful argument of all. Why should we fund a Twins stadium when we are struggling to fund police, when we are cutting funding to health care, when we can't adequately fund education? Well (broken record time), given the choice of inadequately funding, say, education, and building a new stadium, or just inadequately funding education, I will take the former every time. Not funding a stadium is no gurantee that education will receive extra funding. Why do we constantly tie them together? Steve Thompson, WCCO radio host, also had some interesting things to say about this problem. Essentially, he said, this is the way the game is played. We can argue about whether or not publicly funding stadiums is good or bad until we are blue in the face, but the fact of the matter is this is the way stadiums are built. Do we want major league baseball in our state or not? Is the expense of a new stadium worth it to have this unique entertainment option for the people of the Upper Midwest? Because this is how stadiums are built. Well, it looks like we are going to find out if we think it is worth it real quick.

May 23rd is the last day of the legislative session. Write your legislator now. Beg. Plead. This may be Pohlad's last try. Let's put this behind us and back a plan that not only has a fantastic shot of building a Twins stadium but also of paying off the debt in half the time.

Well, I've got to wrap this up. I know I'll talk more about this in the coming week. Before I close let me just say that I've been typing this while watching The Sports Show with Sid, Patrick Reusse, Mike Max, and Dark Star. Dark Star and Patrick Reusse have both basically said they don't have a lot of faith that this deal will go through. Reusse gave time as a reason for his pessimism and Dark Star just said "Krinkie" as his reason. Sid was the only one that came out and said he thinks this is finally the plan that will result in a new Twins stadium. You can take that for whatever it is worth.

Me? I'm sitting at 50/50 right now. I am excited about this plan. I am happy that it seems to have bipartisan support from our legislative leaders. I am thrilled that public reaction that I've heard so far has been positive. But we may simply run out of time.

Posted by snackeru at 7:52 AM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

April 24, 2005

Holy Guacamole

OK. I know why you are here. You are dying to read my in depth analysis of the Vikings draft picks and the debacle that was the Timberwolves season. So, let's start talking about the Timberwolves. Kevin Garnett was his normal stellar self, but the rest of the team...

Sorry about that, I couldn't resist. Obviously we had some exciting news come out today regarding a new Twins stadium in downtown Minneapolis. When I saw the news this morning I soaked it up like a sponge. I snuck out of church to listen to the Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave. I listened to the radio most of the afternoon. I've thought about this issue all day long. It is indeed very exciting.

However, I'm not ready to delve into this just yet. I've got some other things to check into first concerning the plan and people's reactions to it. So, expect something later tonight. Much later, actually.

So, sorry about that. I just wanted to let you know that I am working on it.

Posted by snackeru at 7:29 PM | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

April 21, 2005

More legislators jumping aboard?

• In case you haven't noticed, a new Twins stadium bill has been submitted before the Minnesota House. The short description is Stadium development process provided for use of the Minnesota Twins baseball team, metropolitan stadium authority established, Metropolitan Council authorized to issue bonds, and powers of the host communities provided. What I found most interesting about this bill, though, was the list of bill authors. Many, if not most of the authors of the bill were "unknown" to me, meaning I didn't know if they were pro-stadium or not. There are even a couple of bill authors that I had marked as anti-stadium. So, based on this author list I have made some changes to my Voter's Guide. Now the anti-stadium vs. pro-stadium breakdown looks like this:

Pro-American (Pro-stadium) legislators: 54
Anti-American (Anti-stadium) legislators: 49
Unknown: 31

Personally, I see this as a very good thing, as you might imagine. This is the first time since I began tracking legislator viewpoints on stadium issues that the pro-stadium legislators have out-numbered the anti-stadium legislators. Could the atmosphere at the state capitol be changing? Could we be seeing a shift to a more stadium friendly attitude amongst our esteemed legislators? Maybe ...

• Sid Hartman also reports some old news today that while it is old, it is still good to hear:

Look for Hennepin County and the Twins to make an announcement soon that they have agreed to work together to construct a stadium in the area in back of Target Center.

Again, the Twins picking a site and focusing legislative efforts toward that site is essential for a stadium bill actually passing in my lifetime. Quite honestly, I don't really care if it is in St. Paul or Minneapolis, I just want it to get done. I am happy that a stadium in Minneapolis will be closer to my house, but I would not mind a St. Paul ballpark in the least. Anyway, speaking of St. Paul, the Pioneer Press editorial board had some interesting things to say about the possibility of a Hennepin County ballpark deal a few days ago:

While the economics of a Hennepin County plan are compelling to the Twins, we suspect the ingrained image of St. Paul as the little brother to its bigger sibling to the west is at work here, as well. The notion of second-class status for St. Paul is as Minnesotan as Babe the Blue Ox and walleye. That's too bad, because as we've long argued, the economics of the St. Paul proposal should be compelling to taxpayers and lawmakers alike, regardless of whether or not fans will be looking out on a Minneapolis incinerator or the St. Paul skyline.

While the Hennepin County plan seems to be building momentum this week we hope cooler heads will prevail at the Capitol. Any plan whether it's in Hennepin County, St. Paul or Duluth shouldn't sock it to the taxpayers and be a multimillion-dollar windfall for a recalcitrant Carl Pohlad. Indeed, the man who's No. 272 on the Forbes list with a net worth of $2.3 billion shouldn't expect to get something for nothing.

So, besides the typical St. Paul inferiority complex, or the perceived inferiority complex, it appears that the PiPress editorial board is suggesting the Twins are going with Hennepin County mainly because the county will not require a large upfront contribution from the team. I certainly hope that is not the case. The Twins and Hennepin County can make deals all day long if they want, but if either party wants the legislature to actually approve a deal it had better include a hefty check from the Twins.

If Hennepin County balks and gives in to the Twins demands for a smaller contribution, then I would have to agree with St. Paul on this one.

Unfortunately what all of this demonstrates still is that we have a long, long way to go. Bummer. I'm kind of sick of this. How about you?

Posted by snackeru at 12:01 PM | Comments (9) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

April 15, 2005

A step in the right direction

Well, well, well ... finally we have some positive news regarding a new Twins stadium (unless you were hoping for a stadium in St. Paul. Jim?). Today the Pioneer Press is reporting that the Twins are cutting a deal with Hennepin County to build a stadium in Minneapolis at the Rapid Park site. Wonderful, wonderful news, but as my brother-in-law has already stated, this is but the first step in a bazillion step process. Let's focus on the positive first, though.

The deal would depart from a nine-year stadium strategy of trying to pass a no-site bill and would kick-start a rejuvenated ballpark pitch by giving lawmakers something to visualize as well as specifics on construction and financing.

Let's see ... let's say I try something and it doesn't work. I may try it again, and maybe again for a third time. But after the third time I would be a complete dunderhead to try something I know won't work. Finally, after 9 freaking years the Twins have removed their collective heads from their collective butts and decided to focus on a single site. Hallelujah!

And is anyone surprised with this development? After the Twins broke of talks with St. Paul in 2002 it seemed like to me that they just didn't want to do a deal in St. Paul. Now I think we have verification of that.

Minneapolis and its financial benefactor, Hennepin County, have battled St. Paul in recent years to be the location of a new stadium. That's one reason the Twins stadium bills in the past did not specify a site, on the theory that votes would come from legislators from both cities, giving the contentious bill the slim majority it would need.

I don't believe that. I think the Twins have always been looking for the best deal and by pitting the two communities against each other they felt they could minimize their contribution. Again, after nine years I'm glad to see they have finally decided to abandon this strategy.

Although the politics of stadium legislation are always difficult, House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, and Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, said passage of a Twins bill would be possible this session if legislators first agree on ways of solving state budget, education and health-care funding problems.

OK, now that is a little bit of a reality check. Solving the state budget, education, and health-care funding problems will be close to impossible. I'm sorry to be so pessimistic again, but we still live in Minnesota, and we still have the biggest bunch of stiffs and nit-pickers sitting in the Capitol this state has ever seen. Do I think this means that a Twins bill won't be argued in the hallowed halls of the legislature this year? No. I think we will see a bill and I think it will get through some committees. However, I am of the opinion that the legislature may run out of time. Keep May 23rd marked on your calendar. That is doomsday for Twins fans.

Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat of Robbinsdale confirmed intensified talks with the Twins but would say merely, "The only way Hennepin County will get involved in a Twins stadium again is with the Twins as a partner for a site-specific bill.''

Bell demurred on describing the intricacies of the negotiations. However, three people close to the negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity said a major sticking point is how much money the Twins would contribute to the ballpark, which might have a retractable roof and cost up to $500 million.

Mike Opat ... man I love that guy. Robbinsdale is one lucky community. I'm going to write him again this morning and see if he would give me any specifics. I'm especially interested in specifics on the Twins upfront contribution. And I'm not even really concerned with an exact number. My question is, will the Twins finally offer more than $120 million? Since the negotiations for the upfront contribution were "a major sticking point" I think it is safe to assume Hennepin County wanted more. It sounds like we may find out next week.

So, step 1) pick a site, step 2) raise the upfront contribution ... I am just thrilled that the Twins are finally changing their strategy. But what are the other steps? In a quote above, the article states that this new bill will give "lawmakers something to visualize as well as specifics on construction and financing." Step 3 is to unveil those specifics and start selling them hard. I'm pretty sure the specifics will include TIF financing and some kind of Hennepin County wide sales tax, the latter of which will be a really tough sell in the legislature. I mean, really, really tough.

Step 4 will be to try to convince the legislature to pass the bill without a referendum attached, and that will be another really, really tough sell. Step 5, in my mind, is to focus lobbying efforts on out-state representatives. I truly believe that if this bill is to pass the Twins and Hennepin County need to convince out-state representatives that 1) their constituents want this to happen (which they do) and 2) they have nothing to lose by voting for this bill. Which they don't. Out-state won't be taxed so I would think they could vote for the bill without reservation. Step 6 is to lobby Hennepin County legislators. It is a sad fact that some of the biggest opposition to this bill will come from the county that will benefit the most from it. If the Twins and Hennepin County can get half of the legislators from the county on board then I think it will be a done deal. Step 7 will be to create a media blitz to convince Hennepin County residents to approve the referendum that is sure to be attached. If by the grace of God the referendum is somehow approved, then and only then will I breath a sigh of relief. Because that will mean a ballpark will be built.

The article ended with this paragraph:

If a bill were passed this session, it likely would speed up construction by a year, making Opening Day possible in 2008 or 2009. The last game outdoors was played against the Kansas City Royals at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington in the fall of 1981, after which the team began playing at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

The thought of a new stadium for opening day 2008 is almost too overwhelming. That thought will keep me going the rest of the day.

And what about the Vikings stadium? The StarTribune reports some really good news on that front today:

According to those at the Blaine meeting Thursday morning, Wilf said that he and partners David Mandelbaum and Alan Landis are investigating buying some of the land on which the proposed Vikings stadium would sit, near 109th Av. NE., just west of Interstate Hwy. 35W.

This is fantastic news because it shows Fowler's group (or is it Wilf's group now?) are committed to Minnesota, they are fousing on the Anoka County site, and they may even take a leap of faith and buy the land before any financing plan is in place. This also suggests, at least to me, that Wilf is concerned that the land could be earmarked for some other development and that he is buying the land to assure that it is used for a Vikings stadium. Good, good news. The plan for a new Vikings stadium in Anoka County is alive and well.

The article also suggests though that the Vikings have almost no shot of getting anything done in the legislature this year:

Sviggum told his visitors that a Vikings stadium is not on his agenda this session. He noted that the team's lease at the Metrodome runs through 2011 and, he said, he told the men: "You'd better work out the ownership. You better work out a [stadium] finance plan."

Indeed. If the Twins are successful this year (please oh please) I'm sure it will inform what kind of shape next year's Viking bill will take. However, I was a little upset to read this statement from Dean Johnson:

Johnson said they seemed amenable to contributing at least one-third of the cost of any Vikings stadium.

Oh really? Wow, that is big of them. Just like the Twins, though, if Fowler's group wants to get anything done they had better be prepared to bump up their contribution. The fact of the matter is, 1/3 from the team and 1/3 from the host community simply won't work in this case because there just isn't 1/3 from the state to top it off. There simply is no money that the state can contribute. TIF will work great for the Twins, in my opinion, but it has already been shown that the TIF value of a new Vikings stadium will be minimal. Anybody who buys the Vikings had better be ready to come up with more than 1/3. That is just the way it is.

That's all I got time for. As always, I welcome your comments and opinions on both of these matters. Exciting news, but we still have a long way to go.

Posted by snackeru at 8:34 AM | Comments (6) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

April 14, 2005

Randomness

Not much to say today, but I'll give you what I got.

• Charley Walters ... man I love that guy. Yesterday and today he wrote some great stuff regarding the sale of the Vikings and the possibility of a new Twins stadium. Glen Taylor, of course, is still in the running the buy the Vikes, but today Walters writes regarding a Twins stadium:

There's talk that Hennepin County next week could announce Eden Prairie as a potential site for a Twins ballpark.

I don't even know what to think about this news. What excites me the most is that there may be a proposal next week, but Eden Prairie? Well, I guess I've said before that I'll take a stadium in Bemidji, just build the stupid thing. So, I guess Eden Prairie would be fine. It may even be closer to my house than a Minneapolis ballpark.

• And of course, Walters reported yesterday that "[t]he Twins are guardedly optimistic about finally getting approval for a new ballpark this legislative session. St. Paul remains in the hunt." I seriously don't know how the Twins can remain optimistic, but I'm glad they are. They've got a lot of obstacles to overcome, though, including the fact that the Gopher's stadium bill hasn't even reached the floor of the House yet, Krinkie is the chair of the House Taxes committee, the Florida Marlins stadium bill is languishing even with a $192 million contribution from the team, and unless someone comes up with a phenomenal and as yet unheard of funding source, taxes in the host community will be a big part of the plan. So, even if a bill is passed their will be a referendum. Even if a stadium bill is passed, that is only half of the battle!

I'm such a pessimist. Why do you even come here to read this?

• And speaking of a Vikings stadium, one argument for community financing that I am surprised we don't hear more is the fact that the Vikings will pay for 1/3 of a stadium that they will only use 10 days out of the year. The rest of the time the stadium can be used for all sorts of community events. Check out the schedule for the Metrodome for November 2004 and December 2004. Almost everyday the Dome is being used for something. So, for the Vikings to pay even 1/3 of the bill is quite a deal when you look at what the host community gets in return. The $75 million investment Minnesota made to pay for the Dome was one of the best investments the state has ever made. The place has payed for itself many, many times over. I am positive that in 20 years we would be saying the same thing about a stadium in Anoka county, or wherever the Vikings end up (I'm with you Vince. The Vikings ain't going anywhere.)

• And speaking of the Dome, I was walking past the Dome after getting off my bus in downtown Minneapolis this morning when I remembered a popular Bible verse that could help us all in our plight. In Matthew 17:19-20 Jesus says:

Jesus told them. "I assure you, even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, `Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible."

Taking this to heart, as I was walking past the Metrodome I mustered up all the faith I had, I thrust out my hand, and I said, "Metrodome, I cast thee into Lake Minnetonka! Be gone from my midst and torment me no more!"

Sigh. Since you have probably noticed that the Metrodome is still firmly entrenched in Minneapolis, it is obvious that my effort to "move a mountain" was a failure. My lack of faith is simply stunning.

Posted by snackeru at 8:49 AM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

April 13, 2005

Marlins stadium on life support

Yesterday afternoon, as I was helping Will of Will Young's Twins Page put together a Twins stadium proposal for a class project (why didn't I have any class projects like that?), I stumbled upon some news concerning the stadium situation in Florida. Let's start with a short recap, though. The Florida Marlins plan included a $192 million contribution from the team, and the plan only asked for $30 million from the state in the form of a tax rebate. (But because that debt would be paid off with interest at $2 million a year over 30 years, the total state sales tax rebate would be $60 million.) Well, it seems their plan is on life support:

"Let it have a fair hearing," Bush said upon learning that State Rep. Fred Brummer, R-Apopka, who chairs the House Finance and Tax Committee, is refusing to hear the request for a $60 million state sales tax rebate. "I think their proposal is better than previous years. Is it better than the other funding proposals of the state, I don't know. That's what hearings and the committee process is all about."

I see so many similarities with the plight of the Twins it is uncanny. It seems the chair of the Florida House Finance and Tax Committee won't even agree to hear the bill! Do any of you remember who the chair of the Minnesota House Taxes committee is? That's right, stadium opponent numero uno: Phil Krinkie R-Shoreview. And if you don't think he isn't paying attention to this development, think again. The man is so anti-stadium he actually jeopardized the passage of the state bonding bill because he thought a part of it could potentially help fund a new Vikings stadium. From the StarTrib:

"On Wednesday, influential House Republicans objected to a 17-line paragraph put into the 56-page bill at the 11th hour, authorizing the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission to lease up to 17 acres of its golf course and athletic fields in Blaine for unspecified purposes.

Johnson and Rep. Andy Westerberg, R-Blaine, said the provision was needed to keep the commission solvent in the face of deep state budget cuts.

But the provision wasn't previously introduced in either house and wasn't part of the original bonding bills. That violated joint legislative rules, critics said, while shutting out any opportunity for public input.

GOP Reps. Phil Krinkie of Shoreview and Mark Olson of Big Lake suggested that the paragraph could somehow slip a new Vikings stadium into law, a contention vigorously denied by Westerberg."

This is almost comical if it wasn't so sad. How much money could the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission make by leasing 17 acres of a golf course? Surely not anywhere close to $500 million, but that didn't stop Krinkie from wasting my time and your's by arguing and slowing the passage of an already delayed and hugely important bonding bill. Is anyone else stunned by this like I am?

When I read about stuff like this, and then I hear what is happening (or isn't happening) in Florida my opinions about the chances of a new Twins stadium become very pessimistic. Again, the Marlins were contributing $192 million ... they had picked a site ... compared to the Twins requests they were asking for a relatively small amount from the state ... and yet they are still being denied.

The Sun-Sentinel article above ends with this statement:

"The Marlins declined comment Monday, but have indicated they will explore moving from Florida if they cannot secure the state piece of the financing plan. "

The same old song and dance, this time played out in Florida. I wonder how serious the Marlins are with this threat. Regardless, I was hoping the Florida legislature could demonstrate to us how to get a deal done. There is still hope, but unfortunately it is rapidly diminishing.

Posted by snackeru at 12:58 PM | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

April 7, 2005

Community ownership idea progressing

Vince points out in a comment below that a bill for community ownership of the Twins is making its way through the legislature. The StarTrib wrote an interesting piece concerning this bill that states:

The community-ownership bills would direct the governor and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission to negotiate with the Twins for a sale of shares with limited voting rights for as little as $100 apiece. Twins owners would retain a 25 percent to 35 percent share and would operate the team day-to-day.

The summary of the bill on the House's web site is also interesting. It basically says that the public will own at least 50% of the franchise and that a managing, private partner will own at least 25% but no more than 35% of the franchise.

The bill has already moved through a House committee and a Senate committee, but according to the Strib article above, Jerry Bell has already stated, "Our view is it doesn't solve anything." From the Twins perspective, it really doesn't. In order to survive into the future they need a new stadium, plain and simple. This is also the perspective of MLB as a whole. Without a new stadium the Twins are not a healthy franchise. If you'll note, this bill does not say anything about a new stadium. It doesn't guarantee anything towards the construction of a new stadium. The only way Pohlad would agree to a plan like this is if it had a new stadium guarantee.

That is what I think anyway.

However, from a public standpoint this bill is great. With the public owning 50% of the franchise the Twins could never move. We would never have to worry again. For that reason alone I am in favor of this bill progressing. I would certainly buy a couple of shares. However, it takes two to tango and I just don't think Pohlad would ever go for this, and I also don't think MLB would allow him to in the first place. Both Pohlad and MLB would lose all their leverage towards getting their ultimate goal accomplished (a new stadium now and probably in the future) and they know it.

Having said that, I wonder if the bill could (or does already) force Pohlad to negotiate. Probably not. If anyone has any other thoughts I would love to hear them.

Posted by snackeru at 12:57 PM | Comments (5) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Let's get down to business

There has been so much stadium news in the past few days that I barely know where to start, so let's just plow in on some of the news that I have found most interesting. It appears that St. Paul is making a big push for a new Twins stadium if all the articles coming out of the Pioneer Press are any indication. In between the blah, blah, blah that we've all become accustomed to from stadium pundits (including myself) was this article from Sunday's paper which highlighted a very intersting stadium funding proposal:

A stadium without a retractable roof (more on this in a bit) would cost about $450 million, if construction can start by next spring.

If the state contributed $100 million toward the project, it could pay its share with an estimated $7 million in additional annual sales taxes that would be attributable to the stadium without dipping into the general fund or raising taxes. This should appeal to the governor, who has taken a pledge to hold the line on taxes.

That leaves $350 million, to be split evenly by St. Paul and the Twins, which would benefit most directly from a new stadium in downtown St. Paul.

St. Paul's share would be covered by a 2 percent bar and restaurant tax (less than the 3 percent the city had ealier considered), along with the extension of the downtown TIF district and some incremental parking revenue.

As for the Twins (which the article pegs for $175 million later on), how they come up with their share is up to them, but it will require more out-of-pocket than its owners have been willing to part with in previous discussions.

Even if the Twins are able to fashion a deal with Hennepin County that would allow the owners to put up a substantially smaller pile of cash than the host community, it is highly unlikely that such an unfair deal would make it through a skeptical Legislature. Nor should it.

Another possibility is that the St. Paul business community might be able to pony up some cash, perhaps as much as $25 million, which could be used to reduce the city's and Twins' shares.

There are certainly some flaws with this plan, but for the most part it is in line with what I have been suggesting for a few months now. Of course, I am mainly referring to a bigger contribution from the Twins. $175 million is certainly doable, and I would think that an even larger contribution (ala Florida) would have an even greater impact, but $175 million is certainly a good place to start. The $100 million from the state (at $7 million per year? Hmmm ... Maybe less?) is prime for Pawlenty's TIF financing plan of last year. This TIF scheme was estimated to generate $7.5 million a year so it fits within the parameters of this plan.

And what do all of you think about the lack of a retractable roof? I must admit I would prefer one, but I just don't care anymore. If Detroit can play in a stadium without a roof, if Boston can do it too, then I think the Twins should be able to also. Boston gets more rain than the Twin Cities does. If we can hold costs down without a roof, then I say let's go with that plan.

The big if of this plan is the 2% tax on St. Paul restaurants and bars. Personally, I think given the Twins phenomenal TV numbers and the resurgence of Twins fans all over the country, I think the time is right for a referendum if not in Minneapolis then definitely in St. Paul. I truly feel a referendum on a 2% tax in St. Paul would pass. The Pioneer Press article above states, "There is political will, strong community support and an ideal location in downtown St. Paul. Let's stop talking and get a deal done." Well said. Again, I feel this state is ripe for action right now. It is time to finally put this behind us.

And it appears I'm not alone in this sentiment. At the beginning of the legistlative session Steve Sviggum made some bold promises concerning getting at least a Twins bill pushed through the legislature this year. Well, he isn't making any promises today, but he is still optimistic, and thankfully so is Dean Johnson, the Senate majority leader. According to Sid Hartman today, both Johnson and Sviggum are optimistic of "passing a baseball stadium bill once they get education, health care and other such important legislation passed this session." Hmmm ... that sounds like a tall order, but even Pohlad was more optimistic after hearing this news. And I don't know why Sid keeps doing this, but he replayed Pohlad's most tired quote:

"I don't know if I can operate beyond this year if something positive isn't developed about a stadium," Pohlad said after listening to Swiggum and Johnson. "We can't keep on losing money."

You know, I don't even know what to make of statements like this anymore. I just can't believe Pohlad is losing money especially considering the Twins won't let anyone see the books.

Pohlad was also hush-hush about the amount of money he would contribute to a stadium but he did say he would make a contribution. That is big of him. Here is what I hope the legislature does, though. I hope they just pass a bill, like the one above that the Pioneer Press concocted for example, that just says the Twins will contribute $175 million. Ask the Twins what they'd be willing to contribute, sure, but if it doesn't meet the requirements for getting a bill passed this session, screw their measly $120 million contribution. Make it $175 million and dare the Twins to turn it down. I am of the opinion that Pohlad and the Twins will whine and complain, but eventually they will realize this is the best they are going to get, take the deal, and start digging. Man, wouldn't that be a wonderful thing?

Anyhoo, that is all I've got for today. Tomorrow I'll take a look at some of the Viking stadium news that we've been hearing about recently. As you might expect, I've got some strong opinions about that too.

Posted by snackeru at 8:30 AM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

March 31, 2005

Calling Dave St. Peter

Well, after my tirade below this morning I decided to call the Twins to see if they could shed any light on a stadium bill's chances this session. So, I called Dave St. Peter. Dave is usually very responsive to fan inquiries, but I am usually a little shy about calling him. I mean, why should he care what a single Twins fan thinks? But today I mustered up my courage and dialed his number. After two rings he picked up the phone.

He immediately asked me in a gruff tone why I was calling him. Was I a reporter? How would I be using his comments? I told him I was just a lowly blogger interested in getting a new Twins stadium built. He seemed satisfied with that. So I launched into my questions.

First I asked him if there will be a Twins bill at the state legislature this year. He told me the Twins are in a holding pattern right now and that there is still a chance. He said the imminent passage of the bonding bill is seen as a very good sign and that there may be time for a Twins bill this session. He also said the Twins are still in discussions with possible host communities and that all hope isn't lost yet. By the way, I am paraphrasing here.

OK. So, that is kind of good news, although it doesn't look like anything will be happening soon.

However, that really wasn't the main question I wanted to ask him. Although it is important to know whether or not there will be a Twins stadium bill this session there is a much more important question. If you've read this site before you probably know what question I am talking about.

So, I asked Dave given the efforts of the Florida Marlins and the Golden Gophers towards making huge contributions to their own stadiums, are the Twins also considering increasing their upfront contribution. I even said, "Will Pohlad consider paying more than $120 million considering what is happening in Florida?"

Dave responded, and again I'm paraphrasing here, that stadium negotiations are very complex and that every situation is different. Blah blah blah. That you have to fully understand the unique situation in Florida, for example, to understand why they've made the choice they have. Blah blah blah. That the Twins are still in favor of Pawlenty's plan of last year which called for the Twins paying for 1/3 of the stadium's cost. Blah blah blah!

Dave also said, "How can we even talk about a contribution when we don't have a deal in place? We need a deal before we can know how much the Twins should contribute." I am stunned with this reasoning. It is like a chicken and egg type of argument. Without a "deal" the Twins refuse to make any promises, but without any promises the legislature refuses to pass a workable stadium bill.

Wouldn't it work better if the Twins said, "We agree to contribute $200 million." Wouldn't the legislature feel better about negotiating in the first place?

After I basically heard Dave St. Peter say that no, the Twins are not considering increasing their contribution I thanked him for his time and for answering my questions and I hung up. However, I am far from satisfied. It is apparent that even if there is a Twins stadium bill this session it will go absolutely nowhere, just like all the others for the past 10 years.

Quite truthfully I am disgusted with this whole mess. The legislature can't seem to do anything right, and the Twins refuse to help themselves.

I give up.

Posted by snackeru at 12:39 PM | Comments (8) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

The never ending cycle of "better luck next year"

• I'm sure all of you have seen Pawlenty and legislative leaders falling all over themselves in praise for finally passing a bonding bill, but let's look at some of the facts of this recent activity. A bonding bill is typically passed in even number years (like 200-fricken-4) and a budget is passed in odd number years (like this year). So, it has literally taken the legislature 2 years to pass a bonding bill, and now they've got about a month to pass a budget. Special session anyone?

Concerning a new Twins stadium, this is very bad news. It just doesn't look like it will happen this year. How could it? With a budget battle looming on the horizon it looks like our legislators' plates are going to be full of partisan bickering real quick. Couple this with the "controversial" Gopher stadium bill that hasn't even been heard by a House committee yet, and the bad news just keeps on coming.

Shooter also rightly points out that next year is an election year, and legislators will be hesitant to tackle such a sticky issue of stadium financing in the next legislative session. This means that at best stadium financing bills probably won't be heard until 2008. This will be about one year after the current MLB CBA expires. It technically expires December 16, 2006. As you probably know, the player's union agreed that contraction could be an option for MLB after this CBA expires. What does this mean for the Twins? Your guess is as good as mine.

And what about the Vikings? The Vikings's lease on the Metrodome expires in 2011. Without a Twins bill in place before 2008, the legislature will probably try to tackle a baseball stadium first. And of course, they will probably fail. This means the Vikings are just flat out of luck.

Plus, as you all know, stadium construction costs keep rising and rising. What will a Twins stadium cost in 2008? $550 million? $600 million?

So, I'm suddenly in a bad mood and I need some answers. I'm going to write my legislators (again) and some people at the Twins offices to see if I can get some rays of hope. Please, if you read this and you know anything I don't about stadiums in Minnesota please let me know. Especially if it is good news. Also, please write your legislators (again) and ask them if there is any hope for a Twins stadium bill this session.

If all hope is lost, though, let's just enjoy the upcoming Twins' and Vikings' seasons. They both look to be exciting.

• Curt in Grand Forks sent me this interesting bit of news from CNNSI.com's Peter King. Concerning Reggie Fowler's bid to buy the Vikings King writes:

TEN THINGS I THINK I THINK

1. I think if Reggie Fowler's bid to buy the Vikings succeeds, my name is Elmer Fudd. Won't be happening, people. And it has nothing to do with color, unless you're talking about the color of money. I don't think Fowler has enough of it.

So, yet another national pundit has come out saying that Fowler will not be purchasing the Vikings. Combine this sentiment with Shooter's column again and we've got the possibility of Glen Taylor coming in to save the day. That would certainly improve the Vikings' stadium chances, and improve my outlook on life in general.

• Furthermore, again concerning stadiums, our best hope for some kind of financing this year came in the form of Pawlenty's metro-area casino scheme and it's "Community Assets Account." Well, after Mike Hatch came out with his "unconstitutional argument" the DFL led Senate is now sqwaking that this scheme is dead in the water. Dean Johnson has been quoted as saying:

Pawlenty's plan "was in the refrigerator yesterday. It just got put into the freezer."

I'll give our legislators one thing, they are good at giving the soundbites (and nothing else). Anyway, this will most likely leave a big gap in our budget since Pawlenty was planning on relying heavily on casino revenue for the next budget cycle. This means there will be a pretty acrimonious atmosphere at the state capitol for the next two months, that is for sure.

• Finally, if you haven't checked out Mr. Cheer or Die today get over there and do that right now. He's got some shocking news that I am just flat out stunned by. Could the Vikings really be considering a 6' 6" RB that no one has ever heard of with the 7th pick? Yikes! My underwear is already full!

Posted by snackeru at 8:00 AM | Comments (1) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

March 24, 2005

Momentum

Things are really going the Gopher's way right now. Not only does the Senate's State and Local Government Operations Committee approve their stadium bill to move forward, but now TCF and the U have announced a deal that supplies the effort with $35 million. So, let's recap:

If you are anything like me, you are wondering what about the Twins? Is there anything in the works for the Twins, the team that actually could leave our state? Well, it sounds like a plan could be unveiled as early as next week. According to the Pioneer Press:

Neither a Twins nor Vikings bill has been introduced. Team spokesmen say they're waiting for a nod from legislative leadership before seeking a bill introduction, but such action must happen soon to meet committee deadlines. Jerry Bell, the Twins' chief stadium promoter, said a Twins bill might be introduced next week.

Well, well! The plot thickens. However, while this is exciting news, the Twins had better get a couple of things straight. The Gopher stadium bill is being received favorably because the U is paying for 60% of the facility themselves. The U is also creating momentum by announcing a partnership with a large Minnesota corporation to fund $35 million of the stadium. The U is also only asking for $7 million a year from the state. No new taxes, no messy referendums, nothing really controversial at all. Are the Twins paying attention?

Last year Pohlad and the Twins offered $120 million, which conservatively is only 25% of the cost of a new stadium. The Twins also refuse to 1) pick a site or 2) use any of the money from corporate naming rights to pay for the stadium. Pohlad has burned every bridge possible in the legislature, and yet he is still being quoted as saying he doesn't think he should have to pay for any of a new Twins ballpark.

The U of M is creating momentum by learning from the mistakes of the Twins and Vikings and making it easy for the legislature to pass a bill.

If Pohlad wants a stadium he has got to change his tactic. I know I've said this a million times before, but it just needs to be said again. If the Twins come out with the same, tired plan they have trotted out year after year it will go nowhere and it certainly won't make it to the floor of either legislative chamber.

The U of M stadium plan and the Marlins plan currently being debated by the Florida legislature have changed how the stadium game is being played. You know it, I know it, and the Minnesota legislature certainly knows it. Do the Twins know it? Do they get it yet? I sure hope so. Wouldn't it be nice if the Twins could take the momentum generated by the U of M's stadium drive and do something positive with it? It looks like we might find out next week.

Posted by snackeru at 12:24 PM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

March 23, 2005

Ski-U-Mah

Well, I was just writing a really good post about the new Gophers stadium bill passing through the Senate's State and Local Government Operations Committee today, but I must have hit the wrong button because my software lost the whole thing. That really stinks. So, I will have to write more about this tomorrow around lunch since I am giving a presentation early tomorrow morning about UThink.

To sum up, though, how I feel:

What does this mean? I could be wrong, I hope that I am wrong, but I don't think there will be any Twins bill to discuss this year. And there certainly won't be any Viking bill discussed (Have you read Mr. Cheer or Die recently? Scary stuff.) in the hallowed halls of the state legislature. Again, I hope I am wrong.

Well, I'm going to bed now. Maybe I'll be more optimistic when I wake up.

Posted by snackeru at 10:10 PM | Stadiums

Category "Life"

Category "Stadiums"

March 20, 2005

Vanquished

• Well, Cheesehead Craig came home today and as you can see from the picture below, he vanquished the snowman in front of his garage:

ccvanquish.jpg

He and his son actually had a pretty good time doing it, so that was nice. Of course, he had to destroy the snowman in order to get into his garage. That, I hope, will be only the first of many ways I get him back for all the crap he has pulled on me over the years.

Craig is a good neighbor. How many of you have a neighbor you can truly count on? One that always is ready to lend a hand, or share a frosty beverage with you? That is what I have with Craig and I am thankful for it.

• And if I could digress for a second here ... While my son and I were building the snowman on Craig's driveway there was a woman watching us from within her SUV in the cul-de-sac Craig lives in. Why? I don't know. However, she must have thought I was an idiot because she kept on giving me directions, "Don't build the middle piece as big as the base, now, you'll never be able to lift it!" and "Pack it in good now! You don't want the head to fall off!" After a while it kind of gave me a chuckle. I just wanted to say, "Woman, do you think I have never built a snowman before?" And why was she sitting in the cul-de-sac watching us and giving us directions? After we finished she drove off. Very strange.

• And I'm sure you've already heard this, but it looks like the name of the new Gopher's stadium will be TCF Stadium. It sounds like the University hopes to have this lead investor lined up by Wednesday for the first Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee hearing for the bill. I honestly hope that this bill passes through the committees quickly. The longer it is debated the longer it will be until a Twins bill has a hearing. However, I know better. If a Gopher stadium bill is considered problematic to pass, a Twins stadium is nothing more than an impossibility.

What kills me about this, though, is the fact that the sponsor and author of the House version of the bill is none other than Ron Abrams, who after Phil Krinkie I consider to to be Twins stadium enemy number 2. What a slap in the face! Abrams also had this to say about Gophers football, "[It] is our team. It is the Division I football team in the state. If you're going to be in the business of Division I football, it's almost mandatory to have an on-campus football stadium." Couldn't the same be said about the Twins? The Twins are the only MLB team in the state. The Twins are "our" team as much as the Gophers are. I never attended the U. I won't see any of the profits from a new Gophers stadium. But yet, somehow this is different. Maybe it is time to start looking at community ownership of the Twins again in earnest, I don't know.

Patrick Reusee sums up my feelings nicely as he finally comes out with a strong statement concerning new Twins and Vikings stadiums:

Key members of the Legislature continue to send encouraging signs to the university in its attempt to build an on-campus football stadium. It appears these knotheads really are going to do it -- kick in taxpayers' money for this needless stadium before they do anything to guarantee the future of the NFL and Major League Baseball for this area.

Let's try this once more: The Gophers have a commitment to play in the Metrodome through 2011, as do the Vikings. There is no reason to suspect the Gophers will recruit any better or win any more games playing outdoors. There will be no huge revenue increase playing in a 50,000-seat outdoor stadium.

An on-campus stadium for the Gophers is a luxury. Stadiums soon will be a necessity for the Vikings and the Twins. There has to be an influential person over there in St. Paul who realizes that being in the big leagues matters.

Governor? Speaker? Anyone?

Amen. And again, I'm not asking for a blank check. I'm asking for a solution to a problem. Alas, I'm not sure we have any problem solvers at the state capitol anymore.

Posted by snackeru at 9:29 PM | Comments (2) | Life | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

March 18, 2005

Pay attention, David

If you'll recall, a few weeks ago I discussed the stadium plan in Miami and possibly what it could mean for the Twins. Just to recap, the deal in Miami uses these funding sources:

When you take a closer look at this plan it is really a thing of beauty. First of all, you've got a huge contribution from the team itself. $192 million is an enourmous contribution from a team and one that has caused the city of Miami, Miami-Dade county, and the state to stand up and take notice. Secondly, the county is paying for its share using a hotel bed tax and a sports facilities tax. What is great about this is that in neither of these methods is the average Miami taxpayer expected to contribute. The $28 million from tourist development taxes is also in that same vein. Since tourist boards and departments are usually very gung-ho about stadiums let them also come up with a way to pay for them. The parking garage idea is solid and is also being used to help pay for a stadium in DC.

The final component of the plan calls for $30 million from the state. That's it. Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida, has already come out and said, "Out of the 300-plus million dollars, they are asking $30 million from the state. That's a small percentage, and I think it's really worth considering." I think you would get similiar statements from Pawlenty if the same amount was being asked for from the state here in Minnesota.

When I discussed this a few weeks ago I was hoping (praying!) that the Twins were watching the Florida situation closely. I was also praying that they were learning from it. It seems at least half of my prayers have been answered. The Twins and the Marlins have recently met for a couple of Spring Training games and Dave St. Peter had this to say:

"Miami and Minneapolis/St. Paul are certainly the markets that have struggled the most to get a ballpark," Twins President Dave St. Peter said. "In that way, we'll be forever linked."

Yes, David, but have you been paying attention to the funding sources? The team's upfront contribution? The fact that the Marlins finally are focusing on a single site for construction? All the article says is that St. Peter "has been following the Marlins' progress closely." St. Peter also states:

"We're also similar in that they've basically been playing in the corner of a football stadium," St. Peter said. "I think they feel they have a lot of things coming together at the same time. No question, their recent on-field success has been a benefit."

Yes, David, the on-field success of the Marlins has positively impacted their renewed stadium drive, but again I think the fact that the team has agreed to put up $192 million has had a bigger impact. Could you imagine if the Twins came forward with a similar contribution?

Another group of individuals that is surely paying attention to the situation in Florida is our own Minnesota state legislature. If this deal is approved (which is still not a given at this point) why wouldn't the Minnesota legislature also expect the same kind of upfront contribution from the Twins? Jerry Jones is contributing half for a new Cowboys stadium. Half of the new ballpark in DC is being financed through private funding sources. If this deal goes through in Florida the Minnesota legislature is going to start expecting the same thing to happen here.

In conclusion, I really, really hope that St. Peter and Pohlad are making plans to increase the Twins upfront contribution. We've been sitting at $120 million for a few years now and it hasn't gotten us anywhere. If the deal in Florida is approved, the Twins may not have a choice.

Posted by snackeru at 9:19 AM | Comments (1) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

March 15, 2005

Parkinson's Law: The Law of Triviality

Last week I wrote a piece concerning Parkinson's Law and how it applies (or may not, up to you) to my favorite whipping boys: the Minnesota legislature. If you'll recall, Parkinson's law states: "Work expands so as to fill the time available for completion." However, that wasn't the only "law" that Parkinson wrote. Today we shall look at Parkinson's Law of Triviality and how it applies to my favorite topic of stadiums in Minnesota (and of course those morons in the state legislature). And please, once again, do not take this too seriously. I only write this because I found Parkinson's Law to be humorously accurate and I wanted to share it with you. Concerning the Law of Triviality Parkinson wrote:

People who understand high finance are of two kinds: those who have vast fortunes or their own and those who have nothing at all. To the actual millionaire a million dollars is something real and comprehensible. To the applied mathematician and the lecturer in economics (assuming both to be practically starving) a million dollars is at least as real as a thousand, they having never possessed either sum. But the world is full of people who fall between these two categories, knowing nothing of millions but well accustomed to think in thousands, and it is of these that finance committees are mostly comprised. The result is a phenomenon that has often been observed but never yet invesitgated. It might be termed the Law of Triviality. Briefly stated, it means that the time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved.

Again, according to the Law of Triviality the less an agenda item costs, the more time people at the meeting will want to spend on it. Parkinson goes on to discuss a fictional finance meeting where there are 11 items on the agenda: Item 9 concerns the building of an Atomic reactor for $10 million. Now, the members of the committee are a bit confused by this agenda item. No one knows exactly what an Atomic reactor is, or what it does, and the members certainly cannot comprehend the cost of $10 million and/or why an Atomic reactor costs so much (keep in mind this was written in 1957). The agenda item passes quickly with little discussion. Parkinson writes:

Allowing a few seconds for rustling of papers and unrolling diagrams, the time spent on Item Nine will have been just two minutes and a half. The meeting is going well. But some members feel uneasy about Item Nine. They wonder inwardly whether they have really been pulling their weight. It is too late to query that reactor scheme, but they would like to demonstrate, before the meeting ends, that they are alive to all that is going on.

Next on the agenda is Item number 10: the construction of a new staff bicycle shed. Ho ho! Now here is something everyone can understand. Who hasn't ridden a bicycle? Who hasn't been in a shed? The cost of the shed to be debated is listed at $2350. Parkinson goes on to say:

The debate is fairly launched. A sum of $2350 is well within everybody's comprehension. Everyone can visualize a bicycle shed. Discussion goes on, therefore, for forty-five minutes, with the possible result of saving some $300. Members at length sit back with a feeling of achievement.

Next on the agenda is Item 11: Refreshments supplied at meetings. And I think you know where this is going. The yearly sum of $57 launches such an acrimonious debate that no decision is made and the agenda item is pushed to the next meeting. Sigh. Raise your hand if you have a better understanding of how the Minnesota legislature works.

Last year, the Minnesota legislature was at the height of ineptness. Nothing of importance was accomplished as our hard-working legislators preferred to squabble about every little detail. The one newsworthy bill they were able to pass was a new law allowing the hunting of mourning doves. What is remarkable about this is how much time this relatively small and inexpensive "agenda item" took to finally pass. Proposals to reinstate a mourning dove hunting season in Minnesota had failed about two dozen times, dating back at least 30 years, and up until last year this issue was debated annually. My favorite quote from last year's debate came from Sen. Sandy Pappas who said that the bird was "really a back-yard songbird" and that there were plenty of birds to hunt without hunting doves. Plus, she added, "there's more meat in one Chicken McNugget than in one mourning dove." Ahhhhh!!! Hold on ... I've got to take a moment to compose myself ... too ... much ... stupidity ... OK, I'm all right.

What does all this have to do with stadiums? Well, as I was reading about the Law of Triviality I was struck with how it didn't really apply to stadiums at all. Stadiums are relatively expensive, which would suggest that the legislature would pass through the corresponding bill(s) quickly. However, stadiums also deal with a topic everyone can understand and visualize: hitting a stick with a ball, or chasing a man with a ball and tackling him. Nothing too complex in either of these sports, at least from the perspective of a typical Minnesota legislator. In other words, stadiums are expensive, but they are not incomprehensible.

Obviously, Parkinson's Law of Triviality won't suffice in this instance. How can we reconcile this? Allow me to give to you the Law of Expensive Triviality, written by me! I know! Get on with your bad self! Anyway, the Law of Expensive Triviality comes in two parts because it is my own law, and I can do whatever I want with it:

The Law of Expensive Triviality

  1. The more expensive a seemingly trivial item costs, the less likely it will be purchased.
  2. Moral indignation rises proportionally to the cost of an expensive trivial item.

To describe this further let's use the example of baseball. Again, from the perspective of a typical Minnesota legislator baseball is not hard to comprehend. It is a sport played by grown men (in the case of major league baseball) and probably many of the children and grandchildren of the legislators. See the ball, hit the ball, catch the ball. A typical legislator thinks to him or herself, "How much money do they want for this? I don't care how many people in the upper Midwest care deeply and passionately for baseball, how much money are they asking for? It will cost that much to see grown men act like children? No way."

This is where the second part of the law comes into play. Because our legislators have probably already mucked everything else up to the point where, again, nothing of importance is being accomplished, they use this opportunity to get really morally righteous. In other words, they start to grandstand. They say, "We shouldn't be paying for stadiums! It is wrong to spend this money on a game my grandchildren play! We should be spending this money on education!" Blah, blah, blah. The sad thing is no one ends up getting anything. Another year goes by without solving any problems. There is a lot of moral indignation, the legislators possibly feel a sense of achievement (we really stuck it to the old man again this year!), but the problem still remains.

Oh well. Like I said above don't take any of this too seriously. I probably can't read the back of a cereal box without thinking of how it applies to the stadium mess in Minnesota (Captain Crunch has a handle bar mustache ... Rollie Fingers has a handle bar mustache ... build a new Twins stadium now!). Anyway, if you are ever in a library I urge you to check out Parkinson's Law by C. Northcote Parkinson. Humourous and thought-provoking, it will give you a new perspective on how bureaucracy works from the meetings in your place of business to the committee meetings at the state capitol. Until next time ...

Posted by snackeru at 7:34 AM | Comments (9) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Category "Vikings"

March 14, 2005

Weekend notes

• Let's start off with a little stadium news. There hasn't been much to report lately, but it appears that things are about to heat up. First we had Sid Hartman reporting that Hennepin County is working on a plan, then Jim in St. Paul reports that the Pioneer Press has written two editorials in as many weeks concerning the advantages St. Paul has over Minneapolis as host of a new Twins stadium. Then, Shooter reported this Friday:

As the state legislative session approaches its midpoint, there is little Vikings stadium talk, primarily because of the team's unresolved ownership status.

Discussion in the Legislature about a Gophers on-campus football stadium is expected to heat up in a couple of weeks, followed by talk about a ballpark for the Twins late in the session. The Vikings are rooting for a ballpark for the Twins, because then baseball no longer would be an impediment for them.

Because 2006 is an election year, if stadiums are not approved this year, they probably won't be approved until 2007.

Two things strike me about this snippet. First, what about the plan coming out of Anoka County for a new Vikings stadium? Anoka County has done a ton of work towards this goal and it sounds like the Vikings, due to their potential sale to Reggie Fowler, have pretty much given up on the issue. That is a shame because from what we've heard Anoka County won't wait any longer to start developing. If you'll recall, only Eden Prairie came up with another proposal that even slightly approached the level of determination shown by Anoka County to land the Vikings. Who will step up after Anoka County gives up?

Secondly, if nothing happens this year, if the Twins are yet again unsuccessful in their efforts to work out a stadium deal, the fact that 2006 is an election year isn't the only bit of bad news. Of course I am referring to the expiration of MLB's collective bargaining agreement. We won't have a lease or the player's association protecting the Twins from elimination after 2006, that is a fact. Some other facts: the Twins don't draw well at all, particularly for being division champions three years in a row; Steinbrenner and the other MLB fat cat owners are sick of subsidizing our franchise; and Pohlad has already proven he is willing to sacrifice the team.

Let's hope that Sviggum is still confident that a Twins stadium bill will pass this session. If it doesn't, I don't like the looks of the future for Minnesota's "beloved" baseball team.

• You know who I feel like in all of this? Cassandra of Greek mythology fame. Cassandra had the power to tell the future, but no one would believe her predictions. I predict without a new Twins stadium the team will not be here past 2010. By that time the Vikings will also know where they stand with the citizens of this fine state, and the Twins will make damned sure they are not the only tenants in the Metrodome. After 2010, let the countdown begin until we lure another franchise back to the area.

Boy, I'm in a peachy mood today, aren't I?

Update: I just got accused of being "doom and gloom" over on TwinsTerritory.com for my prediction of 2010. What does everyone over here think? Am I being too pessimistic? Truly, what do I know. And I was in a pretty bad mood last night. Maybe the Twins will stay in the Metrodome forever!

• If you haven't checked it out yet, you should head on over to the TwinsGeek's new site TwinsTerritory.com. I have a "site" on there called Ballpark Banter (thanks for the name SBG!) where I am rehashing some of my old posts from the Greet Machine. I've gotten some interesting comments, of course, mainly from what I would consider to be stadium opponents (of course), but that is what I expected. We are a rare breed, my friends, to believe that our community would benefit from a new Twins stadium. Most other Twins fans either don't want to think about this stadium business, or they are flat out against it. Anyway, if you are bored, you can re-read some of the posts I've already made here. What fun!

Have no fear though! The most recent and up-to-date stadium news will always appear on the Greet Machine first. Especially now that I've gone through the trouble to redesign this site!

• A couple of things you might have missed regarding the Vikings this weekend. First of all, ESPN reported that Plaxico Burress fired his agent. Most likely, this means that Burress will not wear the Purple next year, but I also read somewhere that the Vikings made an offer for as much as four years that the WR is contemplating accepting. Regardless, according to the article above, a player must wait 5 days before retaining new representation. Again, it looks like Burress will not be replacing Randy Moss.

Secondly, it also sounds like our "affair" with Donovin Darius is over, but then again, this article was so cutesey about it I can't be sure that the Vikings aren't still trying to work out a deal. I don't think they are, but I could be wrong. Honestly I'm not upset about this. To give up a first round draft pick for a player that hasn't even been to a Pro-Bowl did not sound like a good deal to me.

And speaking of shaky deals, Darren Sharper is now a Viking. This is tough for me to stomach. Of course this is due to his being a former Packer, but also because 1) he is getting a little old, 2) it sounds like he is having some knee problems, and 3) he was the leader of the NFL's 25th ranked defense last year. Is he that much of an upgrade? Maybe I am being a little pessimistic. Is he better than Russell or Chavous? Yes. Will it be strange cheering for him? Yes. Will he give the Vikings an edge over the Packers? Oh yes. Even if he doesn't play, no one on the Vikings will know the Packers better. Hmmmm ... that makes me feel better.

• Finally, congratulations to the men's Gopher basketball team on finally making it back to the Big Dance. Be sure to fill out your Official Greet Machine tournament bracket through ESPN! Details for how to join our group are at the top of this page. Let's have some fun!

Posted by snackeru at 7:53 AM | Stadiums | Vikings

Category "Stadiums"

March 1, 2005

Stuff and more stuff

• OK, let's get the obvious stuff out of the way here. On Sunday, Sid Hartman had an interesting snippet of text that I will now share with all of you (if you haven't already read it):

While things have been kept pretty quiet, the Hennepin County commissioners have been working behind the scenes on a plan to build a baseball stadium for the Twins. What is important is for the Twins to select a site in one city and progress from there.

Now this is the kind of snippet of text that keeps me awake at night. I can't stop thinking about it, not because it is so full of juicy information, but because it isn't. It lets my imagination run wild AND I CAN'T MAKE IT STOP! What could they be planning? Will their plan again focus on a county-wide hospitality tax? Are the Twins involved in the discussions? Is Pohlad finally going to open his wallet and put up at least half the money for the stadium like the Florida Marlins or the Dallas Cowboys? Will the Twins finally pick a site and tell either Minneapolis or St. Paul no thanks? Will the impossible happen? Will a stadium deal finally be struck that satisfies both the Twins and the legislature? Will monkeys fly out of my butt?

Here is what I hope the Hennepin County deal looks like. I hope first and foremost that Pohlad puts up a huge chunk of cash, at least $160 million (or even more). That will get the legislature's attention. Hennepin County can sell bonds to make up the approx. $340 million left to make up. With a 6% interest rate (and I think it is currently lower than this) that means we will need about $24 million per year to pay off those bonds. This is where it gets dicey. Looking back at other stadium deals that have worked across the country, it would be nifty if the following revenue sources could be considered:

  1. Ticket tax (no brainer) but not a lot of revenue: $2 million.
  2. Tax in the stadium district. Again, not a lot of revenue: $2 million.
  3. Pawlenty's tax increment financing: $8 million
  4. Increase in the state business income tax for the big businesses in Hennepin county. Since big businesses are usually pro-stadium it would make sense to make them pay for a part of it. This is also the method that DC is using the pay for half of its stadium, but the increase in Minnesota would have to be modest: $8 million (This is just a guess. Truly, I have no idea).
  5. Hotel tax. Again, this doesn't put the burden on your average tax payer in Minnesota and is a method currently used by Anaheim, Detroit, Houston, Seattle, and Tampa Bay. Why should we pay for other cities' stadiums and not return the favor? $4 million

OK, now for the problems. First of all the plan above is too complex. There are too many possible revenue streams to both keep track of and count on. The Twins will go for the the business tax and the hotel tax, but the TIF is not guaranteed money. That is a big reason why the Ventura/Sausen plan failed, because who knows if the investements from Pohlad's donation to the state would have paid off? The Twins thought it was a shaky plan. Secondly, the state legislature will never go for the business tax or the hotel tax. They've been tried and they have always been shot down. So, where does that leave us?

When Hennepin County's plan comes out I think it will focus on, once again, a county wide tax of some sort, most likely in restaurants and bars. Why? It is simple and it includes guaranteed money streams that both the county and the Twins can count on. That will mean a referendum of some sort will be necessary, and we will end up right where we started. Sigh. Even if Pohlad put up half of his own money, the yearly money needed to pay off the bonds would be $18 million. Where does this money come from? Does anyone else have any good (and simple!) ideas that could work?

• I don't know how many of you saw this New York Post article on Reggie Fowler but it did not have any good news. It claims that Reggie is going to have a really hard time getting NFL approval. Personally, I think the NFL is going to overlook the questions of Reggie's finances just to get its first minority owner. But we'll see. The big question is if Reggie isn't approved, would Glen Taylor be given another shot? March 20-23 is going to be a really interesting time for Vikings fans.

Charley Walters writes a good column today where he interviews a former Vikings owner about what kind of advice he would give Reggie Fowler if he is approved. The advice is excellent, but what caught my eye is that the former owner is Skip Maas. Is this a long lost relative of Mr. Cheer or Die? Brian, why didn't you tell us you had this kind of history in your family?

According to the Star Tribune, tomorrow Steve Sviggum and Dean Johnson will be speaking from 7 to 9 am at the Four Points Sheraton in St. Paul concerning "the budget deficit, taxes, transportation and stadiums." I wish I could be there to hear if Sviggum will be making any more promises.

• That's it for now. See you soon!

Posted by snackeru at 8:55 AM | Comments (5) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

February 28, 2005

Bonehead economics

Just to warn you, with this entry I plan to enter the dark cave of stadium impact. This has been argued so much, and with no clear victor on either side of the argument, that I hesitate to discuss it. It should come as no surprise that I feel stadiums and sports arenas have a significant impact on local economies in both measurable and immeasurable ways. However, proving that, or proving that stadiums don't have a significant is problematic at best.

Let's start out simply. Let's say you've got a city in a medium sized metropolitan area. We can call the city ... hmmm ... let's call it San Paulo. Let's say up until a few years ago, if anyone in that city wanted to rent a video they had to travel to a neighboring city to do so. However, let's say a few years ago a new video store opens in San Paulo. Now, instead of going to the neighboring city to rent a video, San Pauloians stay in San Paulo to rent their videos. In fact, their new video store is so good, residents from the neighboring city start to travel to San Paulo to rent videos. San Paulo is of course thrilled with this development and releases data that says it's new video store draws about 1 million customers a year who all spend on average about $10 a visit.

Now, who in their right mind would argue that this new video store isn't having some kind of positive economic impact on the city? No one, I would wager. I would think your average kindergartner could deduce that San Paulo has more money with this new video store than without. Yet, if we change this scenario to discuss a new stadium or sports arena rather than a video store we have so-called "expert" economists coming out of the woodwork saying these facilities have a negligible impact or no impact at all. Truly, this boggles my mind.

As far as I'm concerned, sports facilities always have an economic impact. That should not be in dispute at all. The question should be: is this impact worth the expense of building the facility?

Take the Xcel Energy Center, for example. The StarTrib had a great guest editorial last weekend from Larry Dowell (president of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce) John Labosky (president of Capital City Partnership), and Karolyn Kirchgesler (president of the St. Paul Convention and Visitors Bureau) where they discussed the economic impact of not having NHL hockey in St. Paul this season. Check this out:

With 44 home games and attendance exceeding 18,000 people per game, Wild fans spend an average of $45 per ticket and another $10 on food, beverages or mementos. At the end of the season the Wild generates an estimated $3 million in state sales tax receipts, of which St. Paul receives approximately $217,000 in revenue from its half-cent sales tax -- tax revenue generated only inside the arena. Moreover, the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce economic impact study of Xcel Energy Center completed in 2003 shows that the Wild brings $23 million in spending outside the arena to St. Paul from nonresidents. Clearly, St. Paul is missing significant sales tax revenue, not to mention the state is losing more than $1.5 million in income tax revenues from player salaries.

This doesn't even include one time events like concerts, or Disney on Ice, or the myriad of other events hosted by the X. So, is St. Paul's investment justified? Will St. Paul recoup the money it put into the arena?

The Xcel Energy Center cost $130 million to build. The state gave the City of Saint Paul an interest-free $65 million loan. The remaining $65 million needed to pay for the arena came from bonds sold by the City of Saint Paul to be repaid over 25 years. Repayment of the state loan comes solely from the Wilds annual rent payment and Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT), which are guaranteed by the team. The Wild are also required to pay for 100% of the costs of operating the facilty.

So, for essentially $65 million, the city of St. Paul has a beautiful new world-class arena. As the guest editorial above discusses, with Wild games alone, the city makes approx. $23 million a year from nonresident spending. And that is just from Wild games! So, after 4 years the Xcel Energy Center and the Wild have accounted for approx. $80 million to the city of St. Paul. It sure seems like $65 million was a good investment.

And again, this is just from Wild games. When you look at all the one time events, like NHL All-Star weekend, all the concerts hosted by the X, hosting the Frozen Four, high school basketball and hockey tournaments, etc. ... well, you've got an investment that has more than paid for itself and one that will continue to reward the city of St. Paul well into the future.

Was the investment of $65 million a good one? Was the initial expense worth the economic impact? I would answer a resounding yes even without NHL hockey this season. The arena has already more than paid for itself and will pay for itself again and again when hockey returns next year (which I have no doubt that it will).

Given the success of the Xcel Energy Center, and given that it is so plainly obvious, it makes me wonder why we continue to fight and argue over the potential impact of a new Twins stadium. The Wild draw almost 800,000 fans for 44 games. The Twins draw over double that for 81 games. Yikes! Do you now understand why both Minneapolis and St. Paul so desperately want to build a new stadium for the team? You can just see the $$ signs in Rybak's and Kelley's eyes.

The deal that built the Xcel Energy Center could work for the Twins (if the state had $250 million to loan out). In fact, Jerry Bell has consistently said that the Twins would take the deal that the Wild got. That would mean an interest free $250 million loan to the city of St. Paul to be paid off by the Twins. The other $250 million would come from bonds sold by the city of St. Paul. The plan that St. Paul is currently pushing is to pay for St. Paul's share with a 3% sales tax at bars and restaurants. But it doesn't have to be like this. We have the TIF plan already endorsed by Pawlenty that could raise some of the needed money. Or if Pawlenty rams his metro casino idea through he has promised a "Community Assets Account" that could help pay for stadiums.

Essentially there are numerous plans that could work. And given the news today concerning an ever shrinking state deficit (and possibly even a surplus by 2008) I would think that smart, intelligent legislators could finally figure something out and put all this mess behind us. It is too bad we live in Minnesota.

Posted by snackeru at 12:53 PM | Comments (12) | Stadiums

Category "Sports"

Category "Stadiums"

February 22, 2005

Not much today...

• ... but I'll give you what I got. Jim in St. Paul wrote an interesting comment yesterday concerning a two picture spread in the Pioneer Press touting the site across from the Xcel Energy Center as opposed to the Warehouse district site in Minneapolis for a new Twins stadium. Unfortunately, although I saw the article yesterday in the online version of the PiPress, they failed to show any pictures! So, being in a library, I retrieved the print version this morning to have a look see myself. I must say, I agree with Jim that the two views, one of the the X and the St. Paul skyline, and the other of the Covanta-Hennepin Energy Resource Co. incinerator, definitely demonstrate how much more aesthetically pleasing the St. Paul site would be. However, and I'm sure Jim would agree, I am also concerned with any site's ability to get a deal done.

There were also some interesting captions around the pictures. Around the St. Paul picture the PiPress said:

"Something else for state officials to keep in mind as they consider sites for a proposed Twins ballpark: Baseball fans at a St. Paul Twins stadium would be treated to visions of the Xcel Energy Center and the St. Paul skyline ...

This was followed by an ugly picture of the Minneapolis incinerator and this caption:
... while baseball fans at a new Minneapolis ballpark would look out on -- shudder -- the Covanta-Hennepin Energy Resoure Co. incinerator, which burns garbage to make electricity. Fans will be reassured to know that emissions from the garbage burner are well within state limits, so we suppose there's no need really to cover your beer with your game program to keep the particulates out."

Ouch! Touche, St. Paul, touche. I tell you what, I like, no love, the idea of a ballpark in St. Paul. St. Paul has a lot going on downtown including the X, RiverCentre, the Science Museum, the Childrens museum, the History Center, etc. And while I agree with Jim that it would be nice to get the capitol and Cathedral domes into the view, anything St. Paul has to offer is better than what Minneapolis is offering right now. Jim also writes:
"I hope the editorial board is running those pictures in preparation for a legistlative debate. Maybe they have heard that the issue might be taken up soon. At least they are being proactive."

Yes, I wonder what is going on. Could a new stadium bill be approaching? I say let the games/battle begin. Hopefully Sviggum is still guaranteeing that a Twins stadium bill can be passed this session.

• On the way into work today the radio station we were listening to proclaimed that a deal between the Nets and the T-Wolves for Jason Kidd was practically a done deal if not already a done deal. According to the station (and I can't remember which one we were listening to), the T-Wolves are offering Spree, Wally, and I didn't catch the last guy but I wouldn't be surprised if it was Cassell. Has anyone else heard anything about this? I checked ESPN when I got into work and all they are reporting are rumors, including this deal:

The Wolves could send Wally Szczerbiak and the expiring contracts of Latrell Sprewell and Ervin Johnson to the Blazers. The Blazers would send Darius Miles and Ruben Patterson to the Wolves and Shareef Abdur-Rahim (also an expiring contract) to the Nets. New Jersey then would move Kidd on to Minnesota. Despite the fact Miles is a base-year player, that deal works, with the addition of a minimum-salaried player or two, under trade rules.

Wow. We would lose Wally and Spree to get Kidd. Is Kidd too old? Too selfish? Truthfully, I like the deal. Wally is a good guy, but he has just not panned out. And Spree is a shell of his former self. Getting Kidd would definitely shake things up, and help define the roles of the remaining T-Wolves players a little better. I am in favor of the deal, but I would be surprised to see something happen.

That's all for now.

Posted by snackeru at 8:54 AM | Comments (9) | Sports | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

February 21, 2005

Civics lesson

• Last Friday, the Pioneer Press published a story concerning some Anoka County residents' opposition to the county raising the sales tax to build a new Vikings stadium. According to the article, "That's akin to taxation without representation, say stadium opponents." That is where I about fell out of my seat. I would agree that it is akin to taxation without getting the approval of every resident in the county, but it is far from taxation without representation.

As you all probably know, the phrase "taxation without representation" goes back to early American colonial history, where the Americans were upset that Great Britain taxed them without having any colonists seated in Parliament. The Americans held to the view of actual representation, meaning that in order to be taxed by Parliament, the Americans rightly should have actual legislators seated and voting in London. While it can be debated whether or not actual representation would have circumvented the colonists anger over being taxed at all, in the end all they were demanding was to have representatives in London looking out for their best interests.

I would argue that the cry of "no taxation without representation" from some Anoka County residents would be a bit perplexing to the colonists of yesteryear. Anoka County residents are well represented by city council members, County board members, and of course the state legislators from their district(s). While a referendum on this issue is probably likely, the lack of one is hardly taxation without representation, and furthermore I feel it goes against the principles of representative democracy.

It reminds me of a story from my trip to Miller Park last year with Cheesehead Craig. On our way to Milwaukee, Cheesehead Craig and I stopped in Madison to eat around his old stomping grounds of the U of W. After eating we visited the restroom and while we were there an older gentleman noticed my Twins shirt and asked if we were heading to Miller Park to watch the game. I said yes, and that I was very much looking forward to seeing some outdoor baseball. He then said that he would never set foot in Miller Park, and that the "criminal" Bud Selig would never get a dime of his money. He added he would never set foot in Miller Park because there should have been a referendum so that the people could have voted on whether or not to build the place. Oh! A stadium debate! My heart quickened as I began thinking of a pithy response. Lamely, I happily answered that I would love it if we could build a stadium in Minnesota without a referendum. Then I wouldn't have to be traveling to Milwaukee to watch my team play outside. He then added, "Don't we live in a democracy? The people should vote on whether or not to build a stadium." Ack! This argument is so weak I could barely contain my excitement. I replied, "We live in a representative democracy where we vote people into government positions to make these decisions for us." Now keep in mind that we were both urinating at the time so it was hard to keep on the topic of conversation, so to speak, so I couldn't really elaborate. Anway, he grumbled that "the people" should have a say on big issues and he left the restroom wishing me a good time in Milwaukee.

Should we have more of a say on "big issues?" It is no secret that I am against any referendum to build a new stadium in Minnesota. Referendums are a huge cop-out and demonstrate, at least to me, a complete unwillingness by our legislators to do the job we elected them to do. If you don't want to make tough decisions then you shouldn't have run for office. In addition, if you want to make use of referedums, then I want to vote on the "conceal and carry" law, light rail, killing morning doves, seat belts, speed limits, really anything and everything that might impact me. It appears, at least in Minnesota, that my legislators only want me to vote on issues that could cost them their jobs. That upsets me a great deal and further illustrates the do-nothing attitude that is currently permeating the state capitol right now.

• Finally, we have some good news from our close personal friend Sid Hartman. Sid asked Fowler about his plans for a stadium in Minnesota and Fowler responded:

"We'd like to think there are many options," he said. "One of them, of course, is public funding or state funding. Another option is going privately. We have to evaluate those different options. But at the end of the day, we're confident that we can get something done."

Here is what I take this to mean: we will see how far the current plan in Anoka County will take us, but we are prepared to look at all of our options, including private financing. I'm starting to like Reggie more and more.

Posted by snackeru at 8:51 AM | Comments (8) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

February 18, 2005

Pepper! with Stick and Ball Guy

Welcome Stick and Ball Guy readers! Today I am featured on SBG's great site in another edition of the popular Pepper! franchise invented by SBG. I am honored and I thank him for asking me to participate. Those of you that know me probably know that only being able to write 50 words on stadium issues is literally painful for me. So, I have to take this opportunity to let it out on my own site. This is something I wrote before, but it spells out how I feel quite nicely. It talks a lot about the Twins stadium, but I feel the same way about a Vikings stadium too.

I created the Greet Machine out of frustration; frustration with the lack of news about stadiums and the lack of commentary on the news. And of course, frustration with the lack of progress on the issue of stadiums in Minnesota. I think I even badgered the Twins Geek to write about stadiums more before I decided I would just have to do it myself. I am desperate for a new Twins stadium and I track the issue religiously. If you want to keep up with stadium news, then you have come to the right place.

For some of my long time readers, these next few paragraphs are going to sound like somewhat of a broken record, but I gotta let it all out. Repeat after me: the Twins will not play in the Metrodome forever. Again: the Twins will not play in the Metrodome forever! We can either build a stadium, or we can accept the fate of the Expos and their fans as our own. It is as simple as that.

I know what you are thinking, why should we build a stadium for billionaire owners and millionaire players? To that I would say: change your focus. Rich people are rich. Now, get over it. I couldn't care less how much money Carl Pohlad has. What I care about is bringing my kids to a Twins game on a sunny day. I care about maintaining a Minnesota tradition that goes back to 1961. I care about keeping fresh the memories of '87 and '91 and the memories of how those two years brought more excitement to the Twin Cities than I have ever seen. More importantly, I care about creating new memories for me, my kids, my grandkids, heck the entire Upper Midwest for that matter. The Twins are a big part of Minnesota history. Why don't we want to assure that they are a big part of Minnesota's future?

Here is the way I see it. If we don't build a stadium the Twins will leave, they will be contracted, somehow they will be no more, at least in Minnesota. MLB will decide that the Twin Cities market is no longer viable (10 years of stadium battles and consistently ranking in the bottom 1/4 regarding attendance will have that effect), and the Pohald family will cash out. Finally the stadium battle will be over and we will really stick it to the Pohalds! They won't get a dime out of us! However, the net effect of this inevitability is that the Pohlads will be richer, and millions of fans throughout the upper Midwest will be without the Twins. Pohlad will be millions of dollars richer, and poor schlobs like me will have jack squat. How is this a good deal?

Here is an even greater inevitability, though. How many years will it be before we try to lure another MLB team to the Twin Cities? 5? 10? 20? You know eventually it will happen and it will cost us 5, 10, 20 times as much as it would right now to just keep the team we already have! Don't believe me? How many years was it before we lured NHL hockey back to the Twin Cities after the North Stars left? 7 years. And it cost us a whole lot more than it would have to just keep the North Stars. If the Twins leave, let the countdown begin. And to the legislators who fought against a Twins stadium I will say thanks for literally costing Minnesotans tens-of-millions of dollars extra. Great job. And speaking of great jobs, building a stadium 5 years ago would have saved us at least $200 million. The longer we wait, the more it will cost.

OK, what about money for education, or the police, or the myriad of other needs Minnesota has? In the 10 years we have been fighting against building a new Twins stadium how much extra money have any of these needs received as a result of us not building a new stadium? That's right: nothing, nada, zip. In other words, given the choice between inadequately funding education and building a new stadium, or just inadequately funding education, I will take the former every time. For 10 years we have decided that we would rather make excuses than actually solve problems. I've heard them all before: not with a deficit, not in an election year, not with Pohlad as the owner, not with the economic disparity in baseball ... Bah! We talk and make excuses, and yet the problem is still here! I pray this year will be different. Over 30 other cities have figured out how to make this work. Over 30!!!! Repeat after me: the Twins will not play in the Metrodome forever!

Truly, I could go on and on. Again, if you are a stadium nutjob like me, then you have come to the right place. If not, hopefully I can convince you otherwise. And if you are here to tell me why I am wrong, save your breath. It is time to work something out. We have studied, we have dissected, we have beat this issue to death. Let's save ourselves a lot of money in the long run and finally solve this problem!

Does this mean that I don't think Pohlad or Fowler should also make a significant contribution to their own ballparks? No, of course not. After following this problem for 10 years I am convinced that both Pohlad and Fowler need to open their wallets like never before to finally get the legislature to move on this issue. But don't expect Pohlad or Fowler to foot the entire bill. It just won't happen. We need to come to this realization and finally come up with a plan. If we don't, we can wave the Twins and Vikings goodbye.

Posted by snackeru at 8:02 AM | Comments (12) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

February 15, 2005

The ineffectiveness of the legislature

The best idea Jesse Ventura ever came up with was his idea for a unicameral legislature. One body in the legislature would almost certainly make our government more efficient and maybe even capable of getting some meaningful work done. Having said that, the only downside to this plan is that the one body we would end up with would probably be the House of Representatives.

The Minnesota House of Representatives ... Is there a more ineffective bunch of stiffs than this bunch? Sure, there are a few legislators that care more about Minnesota than themselves, but for the most part I would argue that almost all of them are driven, no hellbent on sticking it to each other. It doesn't matter if a bill actually makes sense, or it would improve our dear state, if the House gets a chance to play partisan politics, or they just get a chance to be plain stupid, they take it with a goofy grin.

The latest example of this is more perplexing than most. I don't know if you saw this, but the Northstar LRT line is pretty close to never happening. The StarTrib wrote a great editorial today explaining in the simplest terms who has done their part to make the Northstar a reality, and why the blame of the resulting inactivity can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the House (yet again).

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has done heroic work in restructuring the project to improve its cost-effectiveness. Rep. Jim Oberstar has worked tirelessly in Congress to keep Northstar in the running. The state's congressional delegation -- Democrats and Republicans -- have rallied behind it. The state Senate has already passed its Northstar bonding commitment. Local officials in Anoka, Sherburne, Hennepin and Benton counties are for it. The public, in numerous polls, favor Northstar and other transit improvements, especially in the wake of the Hiawatha light-rail line's big success.

Only the Minnesota House remains cool. It seems not to have fully absorbed the message, even after losing 13 Republican seats last November, most notably several key Northstar opponents.


Are these people idiots? Do they not see what an overwhelming success the Hiawatha line is? The new sense of urgency comes from the Federal gov't who have threatened to take away their commitment to pay 50% of the cost of the line if Minnesota doesn't act now. 50%. That is half of the $256 million cost. And it would only be the beginning of vastly improving transportation system throughout the metro:
If approved, the diesel-powered Northstar trains would begin rush-hour service in 2008, sharing 40 miles of existing freight track between the Warehouse District in downtown Minneapolis and Big Lake, with stops in Fridley, Coon Rapids, Anoka and Elk River. Northstar trains would connect with current Hiawatha light-rail trains to the airport and Bloomington, and future light-rail lines to St. Paul and the southwest suburbs. Plans include eventually extending Northstar to St. Cloud.

But no. Legislators in the House, led by Phil Krinkie, have thwarted this effort just like they've thwarted so many other things. Why? As far as I can tell just because it costs money. And this is regardless of whether or not it improves our lives, or even if it doesn't improve your life at least the lives of your fellow Minnesotans, if it costs money it is something to fight against. Why have we become so selfish? You know, there was a time when Minnesota was a "can-do" state. We had something to prove, we solved problems, and we created solutions. However, now we have gone from a "can-do" state to a "what's in it for me?" state. It seems that if people in our state can't see a direct benefit to their own wallet they want nothing to do with the plan. Is anyone else troubled by this development? Am I the only one who sees that Minnesota is changing?

Posted by snackeru at 12:57 PM | Comments (5) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

What did I expect?

I don't know what I actually expected, but I was optimistic. Maybe, just maybe, some new ownership for the Vikings would jump start their failed stadium drive and give our fine state legislature a reason to finally act on this sticky issue. Ha! We are no closer now to a stadium than we were last week, and sadly Minnesota is closer to 3rd Dakota status than ever. I had the same hope that Dave St. Peter has when he made this comment:

St. Peter said the sale of the Vikings might actually help the Twins' drive, "Nothing was going to happen with the franchise in flux," he said. "In some ways, this may help to break the logjam and allow the debate to continue."

But my heart just about quits beating when I read stuff like this from Senator Dick Day:
"It's not going to help anything," said Senate Minority Leader Dick Day, referring to the announced sale of the team by Red McCombs to Fowler, an Arizona businessman. "So we changed San Antonio for Phoenix? I feel very bad that Taylor didn't get it."

Day, a Republican from Owatonna, said Fowler's purchase would do little to quash a threat that the Vikings could be moved from Minnesota. "All it did was move it closer to L.A.," he said.

Sigh. Pawlenty, Sviggum, Johnson, all of them have already come out and said that the stadium debate is still a long ways off. Again, I don't know why I should be surprised, but I thought that maybe the would take this new and exciting development and turn it into something positive. And here is what absolutely kills me. Dean Johnson, Senate Majority Leader, was vocally exicted about the possibility of Glen Taylor owning the team. He said stuff like "Taylor's word is golden" and he made it sound like the legislature could work with Taylor towards a new stadium. And now concerning the possibility of the state paying for 1/3 of a stadium in Anoka County he says, "The state doesn't have a third. We don't have a tenth," Johnson said. "We're broke." So the state wouldn't have been broke for Taylor? This kind of two-faced ignorance is getting very tiring.

I sincerely hope Fowler is planning to privately finance the bulk of his own stadium. In fact, it is becoming more and more clear that this is the only way a stadium will ever be built in Minnesota for either the Twins or the Vikings. Both the Twins and the Vikings had better be willing to put up at least half, if not more, of their own money to get this done. Until we see that happen, I just don't see any hope of ever getting out of this mess.

Check out the Trackback link for an entry by Mr. Cheer or Die that is a little more optimistic.

Sorry for the brevity. I gotta go for now.

Posted by snackeru at 9:00 AM | Comments (4) | Stadiums

Category "Life"

Category "Stadiums"

Category "Twins"

Category "Vikings"

February 11, 2005

Speak Monkey!

Sorry for the prolonged silence everyone. Things have bee really busy for me lately. And then when our connection to the Internet went down yesterday here at the U it just totally discombobulated me. I swear, I just sat in the corner drooling all day mumbling "fix the router, fix the router..." I could not be consoled. So, today will be an extra special edition of my inane ramblings. Lucky you.

• Let's start this off with some stadium news. No, not Minnesota stadium news, but some interesting news coming out of New York/New Jersey. The Giants are planning on building a new 80,000 seat stadium next to their existing stadium, and they have agreed to pay for the entire cost. Wow, wow, wow. However, their plans have hit a snag because an entertainment and shopping district called Xanadu (read "big mall") is also being constructed in the area. The Giants are very concerned with this. They want Xanadu to be shut down on gamedays because they think it will be a parking nightmare if the mall is also open at the same time. This could seriously stop the entire project from happening. I truly can't believe this. In addition, check out this little snippet:

The team currently occupies 33 acres of the 400-acre facility. The sports authority's land offer was about 50 to 75 acres, the source said.
The Giants have offered to pay $4.8 million in rent and another $1.5 million in PILOT fees, payments in lieu of taxes. The state is looking for more than $6 million in rent plus PILOT fees, said a source close to the state.

What in the world?!?!? I don't think I have ever seen anything like this. Let me see if I understand this. In addition to paying for their own stadium (to the tune of $700 million), the Giants will also pay rent for the land and these strange PILOT fees, and the total of these payments could be close to $6 million. Wow.

• Back to Minnesota. Unless you are living under a rock you know that we now have a two horse race between Fowler and Taylor to buy the Vikings. Sid wrote an interesting piece today talking about this potential sale and saying that Taylor is still very much in the running and actually might be preferred by the NFL.

Taylor is a Minnesotan who has the financial wherewithal to own the team and, in my opinion, has a better chance to get a stadium built. Fowler would be the NFL's first minority owner, but his group would be new to this community.

After the league's bad experience with a splintered ownership group before McCombs arrived on the scene, there's little doubt in my mind the NFL would prefer Taylor.


I gotta admit, I would prefer Taylor. I'm really excited to have the Vikings sold, but Taylor, hand's down, has the best chance to build a new stadium or renovate the Metrodome. Unless, of course, Fowler is planning on going the Redskins/Patriots/Giants route and paying for the stadium himself. His partners, which include the mall magnate Zyggi Wilf and New York real estate tycoon Alan Landis, might suggest that he is putting together a unique plan. Given my choice, though, I'll take Taylor if only because he is a Minnesotan who would be committed to keeping the team in Minnesota. In fact, I'm a little ticked that Taylor has waited until this point to get serious. It seems like a repeat of what happened the last time the Vikings were put up for sale.

• Did anyone watch the finale of the "Amazing Race" last Tuesday? I thought it was pretty good, although I was upset that Kris and Jon didn't win. I have never seen a better combined attitude out of a couple in my life. Always happy, always nice to each other, they were simply an inspiration. However, what I found most interesting about the show was when the teams were in Japan trying to catch flights out of Tokyo to Chicago. Two teams found out that they could catch earlier flights to Chicago so, at separate times, they ran up to the gates and begged to be let on the flights. Both times the Japanese staff at the gates admitted that there were seats available on the plane, but that they wouldn't let the teams on. Here is what I found interesting though. Both times, and at separate gates mind you, the teams begged to be let on and the attendant said, "But you would not get a meal." This was always the first reason given why they would not let the teams on the flight. It seemed that they thought not having a meal would be enough to dissuade someone from wanting to be on the flight. Do most Japanese people say, "No meal? You animals! Of course I'll wait for the next flight. I mean, I have to have my meal. I don't think I could live without my meal." Of course, both teams said, "We don't need a meal, please let us on." Only then did the Japanese staff at the gate revert to the old standby, "It is against company policy." Anyway, I thought that was weird. You probably could care less.

And this ends another edition of "Who Gives a Rat's Butt Theater."

• I think most people will agree with me, but I hope the Twins sign Santana to a 4 year contract. Right now the offer on the table seems to be 4 years for $38-$40 million. I realize that this is a big gamble, especially for someone who has already had elbow surgery, and for a team that has already been burned by the Joe Mays deal, but this is the freaking Cy Young award winner. This is the next Sandy Koufax. If the Twins wait, it will only get more expensive. To me, it is worth the gamble. Let's get it done Terry.

• You know what I hate? No? Well, I'll tell you. I hate it when I open my camera up to take a picture and there is a big fingerprint smudge on the lens. And this happens every time I go to take a picture. What is it about the lens that makes kids want to touch it? I am befuddled by this. Given the choice between touching a big Teddy Bear, or touching a camera lens, I would bet that 90% of children will go for the camera lens. And I don't care if I put my camera in a vacuum sealed, airtight room with alarms and electric shocks attached to the camera itself, the next time I open it, it will have fingerprints on the lens. I need this to stop. I really do.

• That's it. See you all later.

Posted by snackeru at 8:00 AM | Comments (9) | Life | Stadiums | Twins | Vikings

Category "Stadiums"

February 8, 2005

The deal in Florida

• Hiding behind the spectacle that is the Super Bowl this weekend was some interesting stadium news concerning the Florida Marlins. ESPN, in fact, reported on Friday a story called "Marlins secure tentative agreement for ballpark" which rather weakly described a deal the Marlins had reached with the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County to build a $420 million, retractable roof, 38,000 seat stadium next to what is now known as Dolphin Stadium. You may have also seen this story, and if you were like me you found the article to be a little light on the details. So, I have done some investigating.

First and foremost, the Marlins themselves are putting up nearly half the money for the new stadium. According to the team's own website, "The Marlins are contributing $194 million to the stadium, the fourth-largest contribution ever by a baseball team." That is indeed a hefty contribution which makes Pohlad's suggested $120 million look a little pale in comparison. If you'll recall, I recently wrote about this trend of teams putting up half the money for their own stadiums and it looks like this trend is continuing in Miami. I sincerely hope Pohlad is paying attention as I think this kind of contribution from him for a new Twins stadium could put this nightmare behind us. However, let's move on.

$194 million, of course, doesn't pay for the whole stadium. The rest of the money is coming from some usual funding sources. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

... [T]he county pledging $138 million in hotel bed and sports facilities taxes and the city promising $28 million in tourist development taxes. The $32 million garage is expected to pay for itself through parking fees.

The team has vowed to fund cost overruns through a variety of methods, including a lien on the franchise. The team will need to request a $10 million guarantee from Major League Baseball, but that might not be forthcoming.

So, the county is implementing a hotel tax and a nebulous "sports facilities tax" to come up with $138 million. Does the sports facilities tax mean people will be taxed for going to a Dolphins game or a Miami Heat game? I'm not sure, but I like the idea. And it appears the city will make up a large part of their contribution of $28 million with a parking garage that will both raise that money and pay for itself.

In addition, the Marlins agreed to fund cost overruns with a "lien on the franchise" which essentially means the city of Miami can take over the team if the Marlins fail to pay for these overruns. That is something I don't think Pohlad would ever agree with, but I could be wrong.

That leaves a $30 million gap which the team hopes the state can make up:

The Marlins are hoping with local approval, that all three parties will travel to Tallahassee to lobby state legislators -- during their session beginning March 8 -- for a $60 million state sales tax rebate spread over 30 years to cover the final $30 million gap in construction funding. Legislative leaders and Gov. Jeb Bush have said they are willing to listen to the Marlins, if the team brings a completed local financing plan.

Did you catch that last part? Let me repeat: "... if the team brings a completed local financing plan." The team's own website also had this to say:
Last year, the Marlins had their pitch for state help shot down. But the team believes the climate is different, as 2005 is a non-election year. Also, when the Marlins sought the state-tax subsidy, they didn't have a concrete plan or definitive location for a new stadium.(emphasis mine)

I am of the opinion that it is time for the Twins to make a decision. They need to choose St. Paul or Minneapolis, come up with a rock solid plan, and get all their "ducks in a row." They need to show the legislature that they are done trying to play Minneapolis and St. Paul off of each other, and that they have one plan for everyone to vote on. I can't imagine that what has happened in Miami isn't having some kind of effect on their thinking on this issue.

Furthermore, it is time for Pohald to make a real contribution to his own stadium. Can you imagine if he came out and said that he would put up $200 million? Or even the original $160 million? Paying for half is the obviously the new way stadiums are getting built. It happened this way in Washington D.C. (with private money paying for half), it is happening in Florida, and it is the way the Dallas Cowboys are building their new stadium in Arlington.

So, in conclusion, the Twins need to come up with a rock solid plan, and start thinking about paying for at least half. If they did these things I think we might actually see a new Twins stadium in this state.

• Finally, Cheesehead Craig called me this morning at work to bring me this little tidbit he heard on the Half-A$$ morning show on 93X. Randy Shaver of KARE 11 news regularly appears on this radio show to talk about sports news, and today he reported on a potential Vikings sale. According to Cheesehead, Shaver was almost positive that Reggie Fowler has purchased the Vikings and that we will hear something by the end of the week. Shaver has always been sketical about Fowler's ability to buy the team, so for him to come out with this news is, I think, significant. Thanks for the heads-up Cheesehead. If anyone else has any rumors please let me know.

Posted by snackeru at 8:37 AM | Comments (4) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

February 3, 2005

Stadium fix

Back to the main business of this blog, as Cheesehead Craig likes to call it, my "Don Quixote-ish" battle for a new stadium in Minnesota. You gotta have faith. You just gotta have faith. David wrote an interesting comment yesterday concerning teams that have bankrolled their own stadiums and how valuable those teams have become. Citing a King Kaufman (of Salon.com) article David writes:

"Forbes values the Patriots at $861 million, the Eagles at $833 million, fourth and fifth highest in the league ... The Patriots paid for $350 million Gillette Stadium, with the state of Massachusetts kicking in about $72 million for infrastructure. The Eagles got a bigger gift from the taxpayers. The team contributed about $355 million of the roughly $512 million -- sources differ on the exact amounts -- needed to complete Lincoln Financial Field, with the remainder coming from the coffers of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania."

David goes on to say:
Don't think that Reggie Fowler hasn't read Forbes and realizes that the easiest way to skyrocket the market value of the franchise would be to bankroll his own ballpark. Not to mention that the idea of ending the annual 'march of the poor millionaire/billionaire' to the state capitol looking for a stadium handout makes him a very popular suitor for the club, at least among fans. At last - something to root for rather than against on the stadium issue. Who'da thunk it?

Yes indeed. It has been reported numerous times that Reggie Fowler would try to privately finance most, if not all, of a new Vikings stadium. That would definitely be a breath of fresh air. However, we still have some people that think this is a pie in the sky dream. I was watching the "Sports Show" on WB23 last Sunday and Sid Hartman was adamant that the NFL didn't want anything to do with Reggie Fowler and his Roger Headrick-type group of owners. Dark Star, who I usually can't stand, was equally as adamant that a deal between Reggie and Red was already done and that the NFL is desperate for a minority owner. He also said that the NFL is right now working on dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's. Once again, who knows who is right? Like I've said before, I'll take Fowler or Taylor at this point. Just as long as it isn't Red.

That isn't the main point of this post though. The main point is I think we are beginning to see a trend of owners financing at least half of the costs of their new stadiums. The Eagles and the Patriots did it this way, the Redskins and the Lions, too. Also, and we've all heard this probably a million times now, the St. Louis Cardinals are paying over 75% of their new stadium. The argument is always, why can't the Twins? What is stopping the Twins from doing the same thing? Well, we've got one answer at least.

In a recent "Internet only" letter in the Star Tribune Rich Pogin of Twinsville fame writes about just that argument. Pogin contends that a similar financing deal would not work in Minnesota:

From 1997-2003 the Cardinals averaged 3,056,000 fans per year. Their average ticket price (excluding luxury seats) was $23.76. The Twins averaged 1,486,000 fans over the same period. Their average ticket price in 2003 was $13 per ticket. The simple math on this is that the Cardinals have, at a minimum, about $16 million per year of revenue in ticket sales alone. This makes it relatively easy to monetize their additional contribution to their ballpark.

This, of course, is in addition to the beefy radio and TV contracts the Cardinals get to broadcast their games to the vast "Cardinal Nation" which I think everyone will agree is a great deal larger than "Twins Territory." I think it is safe to say that the Cardinals are bringing in a whole lot more money. So, point taken. It is easier for them to bankroll their own stadium. Pogin goes on to write:
In addition, since we are in Minnesota, things always cost more and take longer. Because Minnesota has environmental impact statement requirements (EIS), it will take approximately 1 years (maybe longer) to get approvals to build a ballpark. It took the Cardinals six weeks to get their approvals. Time is money and delays add significantly to the costs.

This is good to know. So, the Cardinals are also saving some money due to Missouri's weaker environmental laws. Honestly, I can't say if this is a very good thing, or a very bad thing. But time is money. Pogin goes on:
While it is expensive to keep a Major League Baseball team in Minnesota, there are economic benefits. The governor's office estimates the incremental increase from a new ballpark in income tax and sales tax revenue to the state at approximately $7,500,000 per year. This is in addition to the loss of income tax revenue if the team leaves. It is most likely that the tax revenue generated by the team (tax on players' salaries, sales taxes, etc.) would be adequate to amortize the cost of the state's contribution.

Now we are getting to some meat. According to Pogin a new Twins ballpark's TIF value is $7.5 million. I had always heard that this number was closer to $10 million, but I'll trust Pogin on this one. So, if Pawlenty's TIF plan saw the light of day in this year's legislature and by some miracle actually passed, the Twins would be looking at at least $7.5 million of, as David likes to call it, free money. Pogin also argues that this would most likely be offset by the tax revenue generated by the team in general.

Here is what I'm thinking. We all know that Pawlenty is determined to expand gambling in Minnesota, for better or worse. I don't like it, and you probably don't either. About the only thing I like about his plan is his "Community Assets Account" which he says could help fund stadium construction in Minnesota. One thing I haven't heard is how much of the estimated $200 million per year he expects to receive from gambling proceeds would he put into the account. For the sake of argument, though, let's say that he puts in $5.5 million per year for a new Twins stadium. And let's also say that Pawlenty's TIF financing scheme is coupled with this money. All total then the Twins would have $13 million per year of "free money."

This is about half of what they would need to pay off the yearly loan fees for a new stadium. Take a stadium that costs $500 million, subtract Pohald's upfront $120 million donation, and you've got to come up with $25 million a year for 30 years to pay off the rest of the debt. With $13 million coming from the state, the Twins would only have to come up with $12-$13 million of their own and it would be a done deal. Of course, they would try to get this extra money from the host community and I would pray that either Minneapolis or St. Paul would approve that referendum, but I sure wouldn't hold my breath.

The question is, if a referendum failed, would the Twins just let that "free money" sit there? Or would they take the $13 million dollars and call it a done deal? As you can probably tell, I'm just dreaming here, but given the current trends of owners either paying for all or at least half of their own stadiums, I am of the opinion that the Twins would take the money and start digging. Does anyone else have any opinions? Am I completely off my rocker? Are my numbers correct? Could it be this simple?

Pogin ends his thought provoking letter:

The bigger question is: Does the "quality of life issue" justify the subsidy needed to keep professional sports in Minnesota? With respect to the Twins, to date the state has answered that question "no." The next question is: After the Twins are gone, will the state try to get another team (which will require a new ballpark) and, if so, will it cost substantially more to get a team/new ballpark? The answer of course is yes. We did it with the Lakers/Timberwolves and with the North Stars/Wild, we will do it again with the Twins/whoever. That is apparently how we do things in Minnesota.

I couldn't agree more. If we lost the Twins at some point Minnesota would try to get another team and it will cost a whole lot more. It is time to find a deal. It is time to put this behind us.

Posted by snackeru at 9:07 AM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

January 31, 2005

Pawlenty and Sid

• A few days ago I got a comment from Jim in St. Paul saying that Pawlenty had just talked to Sid Hartman on the radio about stadiums and he wondered if anyone caught the conversation. Being a stadium news junkie, this royally ticked me off since I would have loved to have heard this conversation myself. Luckily, Sid usually puts this kind of information in his column the next day, and this time was no exception.

On Saturday Sid wrote a great column on his conversation with Pawlenty, and here are some of the highlights. First of all, Pawlenty talked with Reggie Fowler and it sounds like they discussed both his attempt to buy the Vikings and if he did purchase them his chances of getting a new stadium. It doesn't look like Pawlenty had anything to say about those chances specifically, although it has been reported that Fowler would try to use a lot of private financing to get the job done.

Secondly, Pawlenty said he has recently spoken with Paul Tagliabue about the chances of the Vikings moving any time soon:

"Tagliabue told me there wasn't any imminent danger of the Vikings leaving but that sooner or later they will have to get a new stadium to compete," Pawlenty said.

For anyone that has been paying attention this shouldn't be a surprise. Tagliabue has consistently said that no team has ever broken a lease in NFL history. Between that and the "Rozelle letter" the Vikings are here until 2011. However, as Kevin Seifert noted yesterday, Red could easily hold onto the team until then and still make a tidy profit. But I digress.

What I found most interesting about T-Paw's conversation with Sid, though, was what Pawlenty said about Glen Taylor's plan for a stadium if (and when) he purchases the team:

Pawlenty also has visited with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and said Taylor would look at possibly remodeling the Metrodome if he bought the team. Taylor, in my opinion, has a much better chance to get a stadium than the Fowler group.

As much as I would love to have a new state of the art Viking's stadium, I think this is actually the more likely scenario. If Taylor can be convinced that a renovated Dome will put the team at least in the middle of NFL revenue, I don't know why he wouldn't go this route. It is cheaper, and it has a much better chance of passing through the state legislature with some kind of state support. Of course, Taylor still has to buy the team first. Like Curt in Grand Forks, I will continue to pray for that to happen and happen soon.

Concerning the Twins, Pawlenty said that Hennepin County is interested in backing a stadium plan, that both Sviggum and Johnson "would like to see something happen," and that if the casino bill passes he's got a little money tucked in there to help build a stadium. Nothing new there.

However, Sid also reported:

Twins officials have visited with some Indian tribes to talk about the casinos being involved in the building of a new baseball stadium, but nothing has been decided.

This I find very interesting. What if nothing, again, got done in the legislature towards a new Twins stadium? Would the Twins finally decide to look more closely at private financing? Does the Twins' discussions with "some Indian tribes" signal that there is a possibility of a partnership between the tribes and the Twins that doesn't involve the state? Wouldn't that be something. Has anyone heard anything else about this rumor?

• Finally, we aren't a month into this year's stadium season and I'm already depressed about this whole mess. The battle lines have already been drawn and we've already got people sqwaking about Pawlenty potentially using gambling money (gambling money!!!) to help pay for stadium(s). This is too much for me. I am once again stunned by the ignorance of people in our state. The second they hear the word stadium they immediately say "No! No! No!" without even considering the merits of the plan, the impact of having the Twins and the Vikings in our state, or the joy it brings many of their fellow Minnesotans.

Many people are still fixiated by the idea that the Twins and Vikings are asking for a handout and the people of Minnesota will be expected to foot the entire bill. We have moved far, far beyond that. If you look at the current stadium debate and landscape, these are some of the plans that are being discussed:


So, once again, does anyone who considers themselves anti-stadium have a problem with any of these plans? Because these are the kinds of plans that are being discussed right now. Used in combination, I would think these plans could actually build a stadium. Maybe even two. Now, what I need from anti-stadium people, and I'm begging for this, stop just saying "No!" and start looking at what is actually on the table. Take a look at the plan and decide, maybe, that you can live with what the plan offers. Then, instead of writing your legislators with a blanket stadium=no letter, write them and say, "This plan is something I can live with. Let's put this through and move on with our lives." If anti-stadium people in this state would actually educate themselves a little more about this issue, they might find that they don't have a problem with what is being suggested. And if that would happen we might be able to do something we can all agree would be wonderful: never talk about stadiums again.

Posted by snackeru at 8:10 AM | Comments (10) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

January 27, 2005

Dick Day is a tad bit upset

Imagine you are a state senator from southeastern Minnesota. Let's say Owatonna. For years you've been pushing the idea of a "racino." Essentially, you want to put slot machines at Canterbury Park and have the state reap the benefits. In the early days of your idea you promise that proceeds from a racino could build as many stadiums as the state of Minnesota wants. Then, when the "lean years" come and the state budget goes in the red, you promise a racino could generate as much as $150 million for the state every two years. Every year you put forth your bill, and every year it never gets out of committee.

Then, in 2005, the governor of Minnesota releases a budget that includes ... no not a racino, but a state sponsored casino in the Twin Cities metro area. The governor promises many of the same things you've promised in terms of revenue for the state but he does not specify an exact location for his enterprise. He suggests that his plan could include a casino at a race-track, but Canterbury Park is not mentioned. You are seemingly not consulted or brought in for discussions concerning the governor's plan, and you are essentially blind-sided by the whole proposal. Who are you? You guessed it, you are Dick Day.

The StarTrib had a very entertaining article in today's paper that had some very choice quotes from Dick Day:

"There are very few of our caucus members who would endorse [the governor's plan] unless it was teamed with racino," Day said, referring to putting slot machines at a track, which he supports. "If it was by itself ... the Democrats and the governor would have to get it passed in the Senate. Good luck there."

Can you just smell the sarcasm dripping off of this statement? Beautiful, T-Paw, just beautiful. Teaming with the Democrats on this proposal doesn't seem very likely, does it? Day also said "Pawlenty's persistent focus in recent months on a tribal-state casino at an unspecified location was a 'slap in the face' to him, Sviggum and other Republicans." Ouch. This is not looking good for Pawlenty's plan.

What on earth prompted Pawlenty to take this route with his proposal? Dick Day has done so much leg work on this already, you would think that teaming with him would have made this a lot easier. Does he not like Dick Day? Or maybe he thought it would be more politically and socially prudent to team up with some of the tribes that don't yet have casinos? Whatever the case, it suddenly looks like Pawlenty is going to have a really hard time getting this bill to go through.

Even T-Paw's cronies the Taxpayer's League have come out against this plan:

"Government should not get into businesses to fund its operations. That's a bad idea today, tomorrow, and forever," said David Strom, president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota and a Pawlenty supporter. A tax group that has supported Democratic causes also took a dim view of the casino proposal.

So, let's see, the Taxpayers League and one of the most powerful Republicans in the Senate have come out against this plan. And I think it is fair to assume most Democrats will be against the plan just because ... sigh ... welcome to Minnesota politics in a nutshell. Nobody can agree on anything.

I must say I like Day's proposal much more than Pawlenty's. It keeps a casino out of the metro area, it still brings in the same amount of money, we could still include the "have-not" tribes, and it improves an investment we've already made and built: Canterbury Park. What is Pawlenty's motivation for not going this route in the first place. Anyone?

Whatever the final plan, I will continue to hope and pray that it still includes Pawlenty's "Community Assets Account." Again, using casino money to pay for stadiums is just a great idea. If you don't want to pay for a stadium, just don't gamble. Simple.

Posted by snackeru at 4:26 PM | Comments (4) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Quick Shot

• I have to catch the bus into work today so I'm going to have to be brief. So, I've had my fun with Tom Ridge's nomination. Now it is time for some real stadium news. I'm sure you've all seen the news about Pawlenty's budget, but stuck inside these articles is a ray of hope for all stadium supporters:

Much of his presentation was devoted to outlining Pawlenty's "Gaming Fairness Proposal," which would have participating Indian tribes operating a metro-area casino in partnership with the state. The Minnesota Lottery would operate the slot machines, but the tribes would build, pay for and own the casino itself.

Pawlenty noted that part of the state's share would go into a "Community Assets Account" that would be used "to fund facilities for professional or college sports, the arts or other community priorities."

Regardless of how you or I feel about the morality of using gambling money to balance the state budget, or how happy this "Community Assets Account" makes me, it looks like T-Paw is going to have a really hard time getting this through the legislature. I'm going to have discuss this more later.

Also, there is some stadium news coming out of St. Paul, and it is not looking good. Randy Kelly has some stiff competition in the coming mayoral race, and they are already sqwaking about Kelly's stadium drive. Again, and I'm sorry, I will have to try to tackle this around lunch.

Until then, please feel free to comment on what you think about Pawlenty's use of gambling proceeds for state needs. I'll sum up what I think real quick: gambling money is a great way to pay for stadiums, but maybe not such a great way to help balance the state budget. I welcome your opinion.

Posted by snackeru at 8:34 AM | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

January 26, 2005

Tom Ridge for Governor

Welcome TwinsGeek readers. As you probably know, the stadium situation is in dire straits here in Minnesota. So, I offer a sure fire solution to actually get something done in this sorry state:

tom_ridge.jpg
Minnesota needs 3 new stadiums? I'm all ears!
I hereby launch the

Tom Ridge for Governor of Minnesota

campaign

While governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge figured out how to build 4 new stadiums for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Eagles, and Pitt Panthers. In other words, Tom Ridge is a diplomatic and financial genius. Now that Tom has resigned as directory of the Department of Homeland Security, Minnesota desperately needs his leadership. Please, Tom! Come to Minnesota and lead us to the promised land!

Paid for by the Tom Ridge for Governor of Minnesota Campaign
Jim in St. Paul, Campaign Manager

Posted by snackeru at 9:29 AM | Comments (11) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

January 25, 2005

Good news, bad news

• By now, we've all heard the good news about Reggie Fowler. I'm still a little skeptical that he will be able to pull this off, but he's got 60 days to prove it thanks to the exclusivity agreement. Truthfully, I sincerely want Fowler to buy the Vikings. I think he's got a passion for the game and the team, and I think he is committed to building a winner. But most importantly, it looks like Fowler is putting together a plan to build a stadium. According to a recent Shooter column:

Fowler's investment group plans to build a stadium privately and develop real estate around it.

Wouldn't that be something if Fowler could privately finance a stadium? It is certainly not unheard of (the Patriots stadium in Foxboro was largely financed privately), and I am certainly willing and excited to see if Fowler can pull it off.

However, as we've seen before with both Pohlad and McCombs, it is usually the billionaire keeping quiet in the shadows that eventually ends up with the team.

• And speaking of stadiums, now for some bad news. I don't know how many of you caught this, but the No Stadium Coalition is regrouping and met last night. It will again be headed by Krinkie and Sen. Marty, and it will, again, most likely be a thorn in the side of any stadium supporter. And to make matters worse, Krinkie is also now the chair of the powerful House Taxes Committee. Yikes. Things are looking worse and worse for the Twins.

Now we hear that the promoters of the Twinsville ballpark plan at the Rapid Park site in the Warehouse district are pretty much throwing in the towel.

"Everybody around the State Capitol pretty much agrees that nothing is going to happen with stadiums until after the 2006 gubernatorial election," Rich Pogin, chief financial officer of Investment Management, owner of the so-called Rapid Park site, said Monday.

Did anyone tell Sviggum this? Didn't he boldly predict a Twins stadium bill would pass this session? Let's hope this doesn't deter him. The article goes on to state:
Yet [Pawlenty's] administration effectively killed a baseball bill last year that was acceptable to Senate leaders and was passed by the Republican-run House tax committee. It would have financed a $531 million, retractable-roof baseball stadium without tapping income or property taxes. The plan also met the guidelines of Pawlenty's own 2003 stadium commission.

But the powerful House tax committee killed the bill's chances when it voted down a different financing plan supported by Pawlenty that would have tapped into incremental taxes paid by pro athletes. Some experts doubted that proposal had enough financial muscle to have secured long-term bonds.


These paragraphs are a little confusing, but essentially the House Taxes Committee didn't trust Pawlenty's TIF plan (even though a plan like it funded three stadiums in Pennsylvania) and they changed the bill. The House Ways and Means committee got it next, altered it some more (including adding a soon to expire liquor tax) and the bill died as a result. Sigh. This is probably why a bill will never pass. No one can come to any agreement on how to get it done.

Neal St. Anthony continues to write specifically about the Pogin-Lambrecht plan:

I love the paid-for Metrodome. But the Pogin-Lambrecht plan was the right one and could have been sold fairly to the taxpayers if Pawlenty really had wanted to lead on this one.

Morevover, the ballpark would have been only one piece of a big, privately financed residential-commercial community on what is now parking lots.

The baseball stadium would have been largely financed over 30 years by the Pohlad-Twins contribution, continuation of a 6 percent car rental tax in Hennepin County and the airport that is now used to promote big events, and retention of 1 percent of a 2.5 percent state tax on alcohol that expires this year and that alone would retire $232 million in bonds. Most of the rest of the funding would come from parking revenue from adjacent municipal ramps.

It was a good plan, but those taxes on alcohol and car rentals were really controversial. Were they new taxes? Why not shift them to something more important, like education? I doubt they will ever be used for a stadium. In fact, they most likely will just expire and not be used for anything.

Again, I ask you, is anyone upset we built the Metrodome? The Xcel Energy Center? Old Met Stadium? All of these places were built with public money and Minnesotans and the entire upper Midwest were better off for them. And what about the Mall of America?

Never forget, the Mall of America wouldn't have happened without $130 million-plus in public access roads and other work funded by local and state government.

We can get something like this done if we just put away our collective myopic view on how much money the owners have and start focusing on how having MLB baseball in our state benefits all of us.
And that stadium also could serve as a home for amateur sports, a Near North Side parking garage and other public purposes. The Twinsville proposal took no taxes from public school kids, the environment or transportation. It remains a credible, shared-source approach that preserves a statewide asset and puts it in the middle of what will be a tax-generating expansion of the city's flowering sports-and-entertainment district and at the hub of its transit-and-parking district.

Sounds good. Let's hope something gets done so we can put this all behind us. The only person who reads this that will probably be happy, besides David, is Jim in St. Paul who probably sees this as a chance for St. Paul to take the lead in the stadium sweepstakes. What do you think, Jim?

Posted by snackeru at 8:05 AM | Comments (10) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

January 23, 2005

Genius!

I am absolutely flummoxed by this editorial in the Star Tribune today entitled Let those who benefit pay for a new stadium by Kenneth Zapp, an instructor at the College of Management at Metropolitan State University. For one thing, the editorial shows how truly ignorant the general public is in terms of stadium issues. It is almost like Zapp thinks that no one has ever thought of any of the funding ideas he discusses. Does he think that the only thing on the table is a general sales tax to pay for 100% of the stadiums?

Don't get me wrong, Zapp's ideas are wonderful and if it were as easy as he makes it sound a Twins stadium would have already been built. However, most of his ideas have already been discussed at the state capitol. Zapp writes:

The public's contribution can be funded by taxes or fees applied to those who directly benefit from the stadium and the team's use of it. There is no need or justification for government forcing citizens who do not benefit from it to pay for a stadium.

Agreed! Agreed! Agreed! Let's take a look at some of his great ideas, shall we? And I'm serious, they are great!

Fans attending games: Ticket taxes can be applied.
Good idea. This has already been considered and will probably be a part of any stadium bill that passes. What else have you got?
Fans buying team souvenirs and paraphernalia: Special sales tax on all such purchases can be applied.
Fantastic idea! But again, this has already been tried, as recently as two years ago. It was suggested that all sports memorabilia could be taxed to help pay for stadiums, but our fine legislators couldn't get past the problem of some poor soul who buys a NASCAR T-Shirt paying for a stadium that they will never use and they nixed the idea. What if just Vikings or Twins paraphernalia was taxed? Again, our legislators were so confused by the NASCAR problem above they never brought the idea up again. It does have potential though. Next?
Bars and restaurants that derive business from fans attending games: A special hospitality tax on all such businesses within the district of the stadium can be applied. This should not be imposed on all businesses in a city or county because some would lose business to those closer to the stadium.
Great idea. Again, the idea of a stadium district has been thought of before. I would be surprised, though, to see this idea in any stadium bill. Why? Because our legislators are idiots and it makes too much sense. What is the next idea?
Media firms broadcasting and covering games in the stadium: Substantial fees can be applied to all such usage of games in the new stadium. The Cardinals in St. Louis intend to use cable TV fees to help them pay for their new stadium. The owners of the Twins, however, assume they can keep these fees for themselves.
The Cardinals make at least twice as much more through TV and radio than the Twins do. Of course, this could have been different with Victory Sports, but the legislature managed to screw that up by demanding, as the part of the stadium bill of the time, that the Twins had to be on TV. This put the team between a rock and a hard place and forced them to give up on Victory Sports and renegotiate with FSN. Then, to pour salt on that wound, the legislature failed to pass any stadium bill. Gee, thanks. With Victory Sports the Twins could have made enough revenue to probably remain competitive even without a new stadium, and they also hinted that they would have been willing to use some of their revenue from Victory Sports to help pay for a stadium. Now, though, thanks to a short-sighted legislature and public, the Twins were forced to sign an 8 year deal with FSN for about $12 million a year (somebody correct me if I'm wrong). Victory would have given them a minimum of $30 million per year. Next idea?
Players who earn higher salaries: Income taxes on the incremental salary levels can be appropriated for part of the public's contributions.
This idea was part of Pawlenty's TIF financing idea, where any extra money the state gets from a new stadium would go to pay it off. The state would still get the same money it would have gotten from the Metrodome. The TIF plan, which built three stadiums in Pennsylvania, was killed in the House Taxes committee. Speaking of this specific part of the idea, however, where do player's income taxes currently end up? That's right, the general revenue fund. As much sense as this idea makes, there is no way the state legislature allows any of this money to go towards a stadium. It has already been discussed and nixed. It is a great idea and if we had more of the public voicing their support for this idea it might work. But we don't. Let's move on.
Other sources may include parking taxes near the stadium on game days, regionwide hotel taxes to capture some of the out-of-town visitor spending, and, if necessary, a tiny increase in the state business income tax to reflect the public-relations benefits that firms derive from team success.
This is the point where I did fall out of my seat. Have you been paying attention, Mr. Zapp? These are some of the first ideas to be mentioned in any stadium discussion. Parking taxes? Fantastic, where do we sign up? Hotel taxes? Holy cow, a hotel tax could easily pay for a couple of stadiums and is a method already used to help pay for stadiums in Anaheim, Detroit, Houston, Seattle, and Tampa Bay. Where do you come up with such great ideas!?!? And an increase in the state business income tax is also a fantastic idea. I seem to recall a certain stadium in Washington DC being built this way.

I wish it were this easy! All of these ideas have been discussed ad naseum at the state capitol and yet we still do not have a stadium. At first I was confused as to why the Star Tribune would publish a letter like this. Then it dawned on me: if this is what the general public feels are acceptable stadium funding solutions then we are half way there. Is there anything controversial about these ideas? Are these ideas that the general public could get behind to finally solve this problem?

While I don't think Kenneth Zapp has been paying attention, I have to now thank him for writing this letter. Great ideas, written and explained in a concise and easy to understand fashion that even the most dense legislator can understand. Unfortunately that is most of them.

What are the chances of these ideas actually being implemented? Like I said, most of these ideas have been discussed already. And once again, I put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the legislature. The Twins and the Vikings would welcome most of these ideas, especially a hotel tax or the business income tax, but the legislature refuses to consider anything beyond taxing the people and referendums. Will this year be different? I don't know, but I sure hope so.

Posted by snackeru at 9:02 PM | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

January 21, 2005

Gripe session

If you haven't had a chance to read Mr. Cheer or Die's great post from yesterday concerning gloom, despair, and agony, I suggest you get right over there and read it right now. It does a fantastic job of spelling out what the Vikings have been telling us for a good four years now, that they are falling further and further behind in revenues as compared to the rest of the NFL and that soon they will be unable to compete. We've already seen this with the departure of Linehan and the way he departed. The Vikings could simply not afford him and now he makes more than Mike Tice! He also alluded to the same thing Mike Kelly did when he left, that the Vikings are stagnating. Mr. Cheer or Die goes on to explain that it is only going to get worse:

There will be no significant free agent signings in 2005 and beyond. There will be no moving up to a Top 10 draft pick on Draft Day. Because there is no money to throw around.

There will be, instead, free agent signings that will be voiced as "significant" when in fact, the free agent is an oft-injured retread that the team wants to take a chance on because the guy signed a low-ball contract.

There will be, instead, the Vikes looking to trade out of their first round selection every year because they simply cannot afford to sign a first round rookie stud.

There will be, instead, unhappy coaches at Winter Park that are so below the league average on terms of salary that they need to pick up a second job.

We don't deserve this. We just don't. And who is to blame? As Mr. Cheer or Die points out, and I'm glad he did, it is my favorite whipping boys: the state legislature. I'll also throw in our governor, T-Paw as Barreiro likes to call him, and his complete lack of leadership towards this issue. Their inability to do anything of importance at all and their complete ignorance of the true will of the Minnesota people is simply stunning.

Here is what I think is hilarious, that the legislature thinks that they are doing the right thing by watching the Twins and Vikings wave goodbye, that they are somehow going to get thanked by the people of Minnesota for keeping our "priorities" at the forefront and sticking it to those billionaire owners. Please. The people of Minnesota are going to turn on them so fast it will make their heads spin. Do you remember a couple of weeks ago when the ratings for the Viking/Packer playoff game came out?

Sunday's game also reached several national milestones. Its 18.4 national rating and 33 national share made it the country's top-rated and most watched television show of the week. It was also the most watched wild-card game on any network since 2000 and the most watched wild-card game on Fox since 1999.

Or how about this little tidbit:

At least 850,000 households locally and probably closer to 950,000 watched Sunday. The game also received a 75 share, meaning 75 percent of the televisions turned on Sunday afternoon in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area were tuned to KMSP (Ch. 9). The rating and share was easily the highest in the country, outdistancing second-place Milwaukee (46.1/67).

Ratings like these carry over throughout the whole state. The Vikings have consistently stated that on Viking gamedays 75% of the TVs in the state are tuned into the game. 75%!!!

Does the legislature really think that the people of the state are going to forgive them for letting this team get away? It will be a bloodbath, and let me tell you I will be one of the people leading the charge.

And what about the Twins? Do you remember the fan reaction to Victory Sports and the fact that it wasn't available on most cable or sattelite TV packages? It was one of outrage. Letters poured into the capitol at such a rate that our fine legislators actually modified the last stadium bill to stipulate that nothing gets built until the Twins are back on TV. Imagine what the outcry will be if the Twins are contracted or move to Las Vegas.

Our legislators are morons. As they sit and twiddle their thumbs and talk about "priorities" stadium costs continue to rise and rise. Check out this list of the costs of new stadiums and renovations from the early 90s:

Camden Yards: $235 million, 96% public subsidy from lottery proceeds
U.S. Cellular Field: $150 million, 100% public subsidy from hotel tax
Jacobs Field: $173 million, 88% public subsidy from alcohol, tobacco, and gate and concession tax
Comerica Park: $290 million, 50% public subsidy from hotel and car rental tax and casino revenue tax

Now a stadium costs at least twice as much as any of these. Any savings the legislature thought they could gain by trying to squeeze more money out the owners is rapidly disappearing. And did you catch the last funding source for Comerica Park? Casino revenue taxes. Here is a wonderful idea that the Native American tribes in this state have already said they are willing to be a part of. What does Pawlenty do? He continues to strong arm them and play bad cop by threatening to open a state run casino which will have the wonderful impact of tying state general fund dollars to casino revenues. What a great idea. Everyone get out there and play the slots so we can fund education because Pawlenty refuses to ... oh what is the use...

Morons. All of them. And they will pay. The sad thing is that we will also pay because it won't be long before we get another NFL or MLB team for twice as much and a stadium that costs twice as much. It is inevitable. It happened in Cleveland, it happened in Houston, it is happening in Washington D.C. right now.

I've said enough. Back to work.

Posted by snackeru at 9:02 AM | Comments (10) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

January 19, 2005

Stadium season is upon us

The Vikings season is over and Spring Training doesn't begin until March. That can only mean one thing, that stadium season is in full swing. Jay Weiner of the Star Tribune wrote a great series of articles yesterday, one that discusses the probable factors that could result in stadium-building success, and one that discusses in chart form past successes (Xcel Energy Center) and failures (all the rest). Of the two TC dailies stadium beat writers, Aron Kahn of the PiPress and Jay Weiner, I find Weiner's articles on the topic to be the best and most indicative of the chances for stadium success this session. In a word, I would say that Weiner's views on the possibility of something getting done this session are "tepid." Let's take a look.

First of all, Weiner beats home what he sees as the factors for stadium success. These are mainly taken from the success St. Paul had in building the Xcel Energy Center. They include:

  1. A determined governor (where have you gone Arne Carlson?)
  2. A site specific proposal (The Twins are going to have to make a decision)
  3. A bonding bill that can be used to barter with (Carlson refused to sign the bonding bill unless it included funding for the X)
  4. A simple financing package (the X was built with 50% coming from a state loan to be paid back by the Wild in the form of rent and 50% by taxing St. Paul. No referendum was needed and I dare say St. Paul residents are pretty happy with the deal.)
  5. Firm support from the proposed site's legislative delegation (Minneapolis legislators have been horrible in their support for a Twins stadium. St. Paul has a leg up here I would think.)
  6. And possibly the on-field success of the team (I would not include this. The Twins have won their division three times and they haven't gotten any further on solving this problem).

Looking at all these factors, I would say the chances of them all happening again at the same time are not very good. However, I do agree that possibly the most important of all of these factors is having a governor that is willing to go out on a limb and fully support building a stadium. That is how the Xcel Energy Center was built and that is how 4 stadiums were built in Pennsylvania. My hero, Tom Ridge, made building stadiums a top priority and got the job done. Now we have the possibility of an all Pennsylvania Super Bowl. Coincidence? I think not.

Other interesting tidbits from the above articles include:

"The best chance of a stadium getting done is if it's part of other big issues getting done," said Blois Olson, the Democrat coeditor of MNPolitics.com. "But Pawlenty is vulnerable [in 2006] if nothing gets done again, including a stadium. "

I find this interesting and a little frightening. If the Democrats think Pawlenty is vulnerable in 2006 and that not building a stadium would help in making him more vlunerable, I think it stands to reason that they could intentionally throw up some road blocks on the stadium front. I sure hope not.
Twins Sports Inc. President Jerry Bell, who has been owner Carl Pohlad's stadium point man for 10 years, hinted recently in an interview that the team might be ready to pick the city it prefers and, finally, bring a site-specific bill to the Legislature.

I had not heard this, but I am relieved to hear it now. Has anyone elese heard what location Bell is rumored to be favoring? I would think it would be the Warehouse District in Minneapolis, but the Minneapolis legislative delegation are a bunch of worthless stiffs. Maybe the Twins would favor St. Paul because they have proven they can get something done?
But even last session, with a deficit, the Twins inched close to a ballpark deal with state backing. A key moment came in May in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing.

The conditions were these: state deficit lower than in previous years; Hennepin County and St. Paul had their own sites and finance plans; and, at a committee hearing, two metro-wide taxes, in existence but poised to expire at the end of 2005, were amended to the bill.

A rental car tax -- mostly paid by tourists -- and an alcohol tax could have funded the state's piece of a ballpark.

But using taxes that are now going into the general fund and a tax that had to be extended were -- and remain -- off limits to the Pawlenty administration.


As much as I want to get my hopes up for the use of these two soon-to-be-expired taxes, I know better. Pawlenty would consider these to be new taxes, and he has already made numerous pledges against creating any new taxes. As much as I want something like this to work, I just don't see it flying.

The sad thing is that the extra money that could be gained from these two taxes is sorely needed, especially for a potential Vikings stadium. When you look at Pawlenty's TIF plan, it works great for the Twins because they play 81 games a year at home. There is tons of new tax money from the TIF plan to help pay for the stadium. Not so for the Vikings and their 10 games a year. I remember Abrams just badgering Lester Bagley last year in committee, demanding that Bagley tell him where all the extra money was going to come from. So, again, the TIF plan works great for the Twins, and not so great for the Vikings. Extra money will need to come from somewhere if the Vikings will finally get a new home.

Then today, there was another great article in the Strib concerning a possible stadium construction timeline. Just reading it made my eyes water. Take a look at the first two dates:

Spring 2005: The Legislature approves construction of a $235 million 50,000-seat stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.

The Legislature approves a $535 million, 42,000-seat Twins ballpark with a retractable roof, in either Minneapolis or St. Paul.


Gulp. Wouldn't that be something? It is completely possible, and completely within the power of the state legislature to finally figure out, but I will be amazed if something like this happens. Anyway, the timeline also raises some other interesting questions, especially in regards to a new Vikings stadium or a renovated Dome. It suggests that government officials in the area are loathe to not use the Metrodome site for something since so much work has been done on the infrastructure in the area:
It is at a vortex of freeways and now light rail, and it's a familiar destination for fans.

"It doesn't seem right to get rid of all the infrastructure investments that have been made on that site," said Minneapolis City Council Member Scott Benson.


He's right, and I'm afraid if something doesn't get done in Anoka County, this may be the only option the Vikings have. A recent article in the Pioneer Press said as much:
But the potential of the project is too great to give up on now, say stadium supporters. The 740-acre parcel, on the interstate between two interchanges, will be developed soon with or without the stadium.

And if the opportunity is lost, it would be the end of the only real plan to ensure that Minnesota doesn't lose the Vikings, said Sen. Don Betzold, DFL-Fridley.

"I think this is the last chance to keep the Vikings," Betzold said.


That is a little pessimistic, but it is certainly the only plan on the table. These kinds of quotes and sound bites lead me to believe, though, that if Anoka County falls through, the Dome renovation plan mentioned by Weiner above may be the Vikings only option. And that plan would require a new Gopher's stadium.

So much to ponder, and so much "real" work to get done. Let me know what you think.

Posted by snackeru at 8:22 AM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

January 18, 2005

I know, I know!!!

I know that there stadium articles coming out the wazoo today! What, do you think I'm blind? I've read them all drooling and bug-eyed and I found all of them very interesting. I've also got some things to say. The trouble is that I'm swamped here at work. I know what you are thinking, "How can a librarian be swamped at work? All they do is sit around and read all day." Blah! I wish.

So, anyway, I'm going to try to have something up around lunch time, probably close to 1:00. I've got some comments concerning all the stadium news and also some Viking sale rumors I've heard recently. So, if you are interested, stay tuned.

Posted by snackeru at 10:36 AM | Comments (4) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

January 11, 2005

10 years is enough

In case you missed it, there was a good editorial in the Star Trib this last weekend entitled Stadiums/Ten years of talk is enough. Most of it was the same old arguments that have been used for 10 years: costs are increasing, sports are important for our quality of life, public/private partnerships are the norm, etc. However, deep inside the editorial are also some interesting views from the StarTrib staff on what they, perhaps, would like to see happen in the long run. For example, they'd like to see the U of M lead the charge by getting 60% of their stadium paid for by alumni. That, I think, is a given. Then the editorial says something very interesting:

Lawmakers should stipulate that the Vikings may play on the Gophers field while the Metrodome is remodeled, if that's a solution acceptable to a new Vikings owner.

This gave me reason to sit back and think. How plausible is this idea of a renovated Metrodome for the Vikings? Would it give the team the needed cash flow increases they need to stay competitive? If you listen to Red the answer is an emphatic no, but I think Red is a liar and a snake. How would a new owner feel about this possibility, though? The more I think about it, and as painful as this is, a renovated Metrodome may be the Vikings best shot and our best shot, as fans, of keeping the team around. I'm still not 100% sure of that, of course, but like I said it has definitely made me think.

Then, the editorial turned its attention towards the Twins. First, the Star Trib wants the 2002 Twins bill revisited:

Meanwhile, the Legislature should finally solve the Twins' problem this session by fixing flaws in the ballpark law passed in 2002. That bit of folly excluded Hennepin County, the only local government large enough to forge a public-private financial partnership with the Twins.

Do you remember that bill? The idea was created by Assistant Minnesota Finance Commissioner Peter Sausen and it was a pretty unique animal. First the Twins would put up a large amount of money, $120 million, as an upfront gift to the state. The state would then issue $330 million in 30-year revenue bonds at an assumed interest rate of 6.5 percent. The state would then invest the $120 million dollar gift, and assuming a return of 8.5%, the state would use that money to help pay off the debt (probably around 1/2 of the yearly costs). The Twins would then be required to pay off the rest, which was estimated to be around $10-$15 million per year.

The Twins, of course, wanted the host community to pick up the tab for this, but as it was written, the bill only allowed cities to compete for the stadium, not counties. Thanks to a $10 million city charter limitation for sports stadiums, the city of Minneapolis was immediately out of the running. St. Paul made a valiant effort, but the Twins basically said it wouldn't work in St. Paul and gave up. This was a pretty good bill, and combined with the tax increment financing plan from Pawlenty, a bigger contribution from Pohlad, and allowing county participation, it could produce a Twins stadium, I should think.

Lastly, the editorial suggests that the Twins should make their desires known concerning where they want the stadium built:

For their part, the Twins should drop their "site neutral" pretense and make clear their location preference. In our view, the Warehouse District site is superb. A ballpark would be nestled among new and restored lofts and cafes at the junction of two rail transit lines and two freeways, with 7,500 ramped parking spots already in place. It doesn't get any better.

I agree with this (sorry Jim). The Warehouse District site is the best. However, a stadium referendum would not pass in Hennepin County. In fact, I don't think a stadium referendum would pass anywhere, but I would give St. Paul a better shot at that. Having said that, I also agree with the StarTrib that at some point the Twins are going to have to make a decision. If a referendum is a part of the bill, there is no way two communities are going to have a referendum at the same time to compete for the Twins. No way. There will only be one community with a referendum, and my money is on Hennepin County. God help us.

Posted by snackeru at 9:08 AM | Comments (7) | Stadiums

Category "Sports business"

Category "Stadiums"

January 3, 2005

Argh! Two things ...

• Here I go again. Just in case you missed it, the Pioneer Press had a pretty good article in Saturday's paper concerning my favorite topic: Stadiums in play again. Most of it was the same old stuff we've read about for the past few years, but it also highlighted my new knight in shining armor for stadium financing in Minnesota, the Native American tribes:

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, under pressure from Gov. Tim Pawlenty to share its casino profits with the state, said it wants to discuss new joint ventures that could include helping finance a stadium. That potential support could make the difference in a traditionally difficult financing scheme. The quid pro quo: The band said it won't renegotiate compacts that give 11 tribes a monopoly on casino gaming and don't levy taxes on their earnings.

Johnson said the Twins have met with tribal leaders on the issue and that the addition of tribal money would be "a good strategy. There is much mud to be put on the walls in these issues, but it remains to be seen what's going to stick,'' he said.


Really, what is wrong with this plan? If there is anyone out there who has a problem with the tribes financing stadiums in exchange for retaining their gambling monopoly please let me know. Personally I have a big problem with using gambling money to help balance the state's general fund. That's what I have a problem with. I also have a problem with the state getting into the gambling game by building our own casino. And to top it all off, haven't we totally screwed the tribes enough thoughout American history as it is? So, the tribes themselves have offered to help pay for stadiums. I say we take them up on the offer and finally solve this problem.

Secondly, Dean Johnson mentions that the Twins have already talked with the tribes. This is news to me. The last I heard, Jerry Bell was tip toeing around the idea of combining baseball and gambling in any way. To hear that they've opened up discussions with the tribes is, I think, very promising. Like I said, this is my new "knight in shining armor." If this falls through ... well let's just not think about that.

• Lastly, Charley Walters had some recent things to say about the upcoming sale of the Vikings that literally brought a tear to my eye. It may have been particularly dusty the morning I read this, but a tear came to my eye nonetheless. According to Walters, Glen Taylor recently said this concerning Tice's contract extension:

"I'm comfortable with whatever decisions they make, and we will live with whatever is in place. We're looking at the long run. (Tice's contract extension) won't deter or help either way."

Taylor was asked the status of a potential purchase of the Vikings by his investment group.

"(McCombs and I) are both watching the team try to get into the playoffs," he said. "That's what we're doing right now."


Now, I don't know about you, but this sounds like Taylor is more than serious about buying the team. This sounds like a person that is going to buy the team. I know, I know ... I'm grasping at straws here, but I AM A VIKINGS FAN! Straws are all I have to grasp. There is nothing else for me to hope for.

Posted by snackeru at 6:22 AM | Comments (2) | Sports business | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

December 16, 2004

Burgerflickle

Dave points out in a comment an inaccuracy in my post below that should be addressed, and that I have already fixed. I have also found another. First of all, as Dave points out, Linda Cropp's amendment requires that 1/2 the stadium funding come from private sources, not necessarily the owner(s) of the Washington Nationals. Secondly, a $270 million 30 year loan at 6% interest would cost approx. $19 million per year, not $15. A 5% loan would cost approx. $17 million per year to pay off. A mathematical genius I am not, especially early in the morning when I usually type these things out.

Sigh. The more I think about all this stadium mumbo jumbo the more I start thinking about how many times we've been here before. Another year, another try for a Twins stadium. When will this all end? Some of you may be wondering actually what kind of stadium plan I would favor, since I write about it so much, and truthfully it is tough to really pinpoint since I would support any plan that would work.

For example, I would support the state picking up the tab for the entire costs of all three stadiums if that plan suddenly became feasible. If alien look-a-likes infiltrated the Minnesota legislature and decided to fund all three stadiums by taxing anyone that gets a haircut on Tuesday or drives a Buick Lesabre I would support this plan whole-heartedly. Buick Lesabre drivers like the Twins, don't they? Or, if Pohlad suddenly had a change of heart due to the fact that he was visited by the ghosts of stadium proposals past, present, and future who showed him the error of his ways causing him to not only build his own stadium, but also devote the rest of his life to dancing the hokey-pokey ... well I would think that was just dandy too. I really don't care. The state can pay for it, the city can pay for it, Pohald can pay for it, all three entities can pay for it, I really don't care, let's just figure something out!

Let me get specific and realistic, though. The plan I like the best is if the Native American casinos help build the stadiums. They have already said they are willing to do this and it really is a win-win situation. The state would finally get this mess out of the way, there would be no new taxes or taxes of any kind, and the Native Americans would look like heroes. Secondly, I really liked the plan to extend the recently expired car rental and liquor taxes in the Twin Cities to pay for the stadiums. Extending the taxes would not have been a tax increase at all and people that didn't want participate could have found alternatives. Finally, I didn't think the "racino" idea was too bad either, or just putting slots at Canterbury Downs. I would play those slots every chance I got if I knew they would help fund a Twins stadium.

Of course, there are other financing options as well. In fact, there are tons of options: lottery scratch games, a taxing district around the stadium, game day parking fees, stadium parking ramps that capture revenue even on days without games, sports memorabilia taxes, ticket taxes, personal seat licenses, a tax on food and drink at the stadium. The list goes on and on. Linda Cropp, the D.C. city council chairwoman, has already said that private financing strategies have already been suggested there:

One under consideration involves use of profits from parking near the stadium and another would transfer ownership of the stadium to a private group in a lease-back arrangement.

There are so many different options, I can't believe we, as Minnesotans, aren't smart enough to put together a plan that works.

Because here is what will happen this legislative session. Steve Sviggum and the House will push for the TIF financing method. It is solid and it doesn't increase taxes or use money from the general fund. Secondly, Pohlad will be required to make a $120 million upfront contribution and it will be like pulling teeth to even get him to agree to that. Finally, the host community will be given the chance to vote on a referendum to create taxes on bars, restaurants, or hotels in that community to pay for the rest of the stadium. The handwriting is on the wall.

This plan sucks! I'll take the TIF and Pohald's contribution, but the community taxes will not fly. I would agree with Jim in St. Paul that St. Paul probably has the best chance of passing a referendum, but with the NHL labor strike I would think most of the residents of St. Paul have soured towards professional sports. With all these other financing options why can't we come up with something that doesn't use a tax in the host community? Why can't we combine all of these other methods and create something that works and doesn't tax someone that doesn't want to pay for the stupid stadium?

I don't know where I'm going with this. So, I'll stop rambling now. Let me just end by saying I sincerely hope that the Minnesota legislature doesn't put the fate of the Twins in the hands of the people through a referendum. It won't work and we'll be back where we started next year.

I'm going on vacation for the next two weeks so this will probably be it for stadium rants (unless some really big news comes out). I will still be posting (intermittently) in the next two weeks, but I will probably be focusing on family and Christmas. See you soon.

Posted by snackeru at 6:06 PM | Comments (1) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

D.C. Situation

I'm sure everybody has seen this, but it looks like the Expos move to Washington is in serious jeopardy. Apparently the now famous D.C. city council woman Linda Cropp refused to vote in favor of stadium financing unless the deal included private funding paying for half the actual stadium construction costs. According to Jim Caple, former Twins beat writer for the Pioneer Press:

Cropp's amendment to the stadium-financing bill is a modest and sensible one, requiring that half the actual construction costs of the ballpark be privately funded. Take away the estimated site acquisition and infrastructure costs and that's about $140 million -- a lot of money, sure, but only about one-quarter of what the overall package may wind up costing. It's a reasonable amount when you consider the city is still on the hook for finding a probable $450 million more.

$140 million. That's it, and it does sound reasonable. Read more of Caple's column for some good arguments in favor of this development. Truthfully I can't believe MLB is even fretting about this, but as Caple says it probably means MLB owners will make less money from this deal.

I would be lying if I said this didn't make me a little happy to see D.C. having this trouble. 10 years of stadium wars in Minnesota will make a person a little jaded. I seriously hope, though, that this demonstrates to Pohlad and the Twins organization that it is time to put some serious money on the table to get a stadium deal done here. I've said this before, but the $160 million requirement from Pohlad from the Ventura/Sausen plan of a couple of years ago would be a great starting place and would probably push a deal over the top in the state legislature.

Take a look at this quote from Pohlad in Charley Walters column yesterday:

"We've been losing about $15 million a year the last four years," Pohlad said. "And that's something you have to write a check for; you don't get any tax benefits for it. So you say, 'why should we pay a guy all that money?' Our guys now have to be smart enough to pick up new, up-coming talent."

Let me get this straight, Pohlad is willing to write a check for a $15 million dollar loss every year, but he is unwilling to write a $15 million check to help pay off stadium debt? I think you could easily make the argument that $15 million for a stadium would be a much better investment and one with far better returns. I guess my point is that with a new stadium the Twins would be more profitable. At least that is what they tell us. In fact, I would wager that they would be far more profitable. Instead of losing money they could easily make enough money to make up for Pohlad's $15 million loss and pay off the debt service for the stadium costs.

I spelled out yesterday a very basic model of Twins stadium funding. Right now the TIF contribution from the state would be about $110 million, maybe a little more with inflation. Add a $120 million upfront contribution from Pohlad and you get a total of $230 million. That leaves $270 million left on a $500 million stadium. If Pohlad payed off this $270 million in yearly installments at 6% interest, it would be about $19 million a year. Am I missing something here? Of course, $19 million year is more than the $15 he is paying now, but he would have his new stadium and most likely some new revenue streams.

If the D.C. plan falls through, and Sviggum's prediction for successful stadium legislation doesn't come to pass, it looks like contraction could become an option again. It looks like the owners could make a lot of money by killing even just one team. I am of the opinion that Pohlad doesn't want to go down this route again, but a lot can change in two years when the current CBA expires. Until then, I will keep grasping at straws and desperately hope that someone can figure this all out.

Posted by snackeru at 8:39 AM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

December 15, 2004

Check out this poll

Check out this Star Trib poll:

http://www.startribune.com/fungames/ipoll/tabulate.php?poll=1374

As of 4:15 Wednesday afternoon, the statistics favor building a stadium, even if public dollars are used, with a whopping 39% of the vote. Second place is "No. Minnesota has more important needs" at 30%, and third place is "Yes. If taxpayers don't pay" at 20%. But 39% of the respondents have said "Definitely. Even if it takes public money." That is amazing. And I only voted twice!

Posted by snackeru at 4:20 PM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Sviggum's prediction

Ok. I've had a night to sleep on it, and while this recent delopment in stadium politics is certainly something to get excited about, it is still just talk and definitely talk that we have heard before. It also includes all the common themes that we've had in stadium politics in year's past. First we have the optimistic politician, this year played by Steve Sviggum, the Speaker of the House:

"It's going to pass this session," House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, told reporters at the Capitol during the Associated Press' annual preview of the legislative session. It was the first time he has made such a prediction.

Again, we don't exactly know what will pass, or what form it will take, but Sviggum is predicting something will pass. That is significant in itself since I don't think I've ever heard such a high ranking politician make a promise like that regarding stadiums.

Next we have the guarded politicians, or the politicians that won't make any promises, but who also won't say a stadium bill doesn't have a chance. This year that part is played by both Gov. Pawlenty and Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson:

Pawlenty, who earlier this year proposed plans for building publicly subsidized stadiums for the Twins and Minnesota Vikings, said sports facilities are "not on the front burner" for him in the coming legislative session. He did say, however, that it is important to resolve the stadium issues soon.

Johnson, who has sponsored Twins stadium bills in the past, said an on-campus Gopher football stadium mostly funded by the university "has the most appeal right now." It's harder to sell public subsidies for a new Twins ballpark, he said, after the team's third baseman, Corey Koskie, signed a three-year, $16.5 million contract Tuesday with the Toronto Blue Jays.

So, here we have Pawlenty giving us the old "not until everything else is done" mumbo jumbo. This is not surprising and it is a statement we should all come to expect now. What Johnson had to say was a little more interesting and could also be construed as somewhat of a hint to the Minnesota Twins stadium contingent. First of all he says that the Gophers have a better shot because they are funding the bulk of the stadium themselves, and then he says that the Twins chances have decreased due to Koskie's departure and signing with Toronto.

What is Johnson getting at here? In the era of free agency players leave teams for new ones all the time. Is he upset that the Twins didn't pony up the money to keep Koskie? Is he upset with the amount of money Koskie received from Toronto? Does he think Koskie leaving is indicitive of the Twins lack of commitment to put a winning team on the field? Whatever the case, Koskie leaving should not impact the Twins chances for a new stadium bill at all. That is just stupid. I may have to write a letter and tell him so. Anyway, what I think Johnson is really trying to say here is that the Twins better get ready to open their wallets and start putting forward some real money to get this done. The U is doing it. Why can't the Twins?

Finally, we have a statement about how the state will make its contribution to the stadiums. Regarding a Gophers stadium, it appears Sviggum is leaving the door wide open for a number of funding possibilities, including borrowing money from the general fund. And regarding the Twins, Sviggum again suggested that the Tax Increment Financing method (a method perfected by the genius and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge) is the way to go to fund a Twins stadium:

The key to winning support, he said, was Pawlenty's proposal to pay part of the cost with a new form of tax-increment financing. Under his method, the growth in future income and sales taxes paid by the Twins would be used to help pay for a new ballpark. Without a new facility, the team theoretically would not pay higher taxes. So capturing that revenue for a stadium would not take tax dollars away from schools, health care or other services financed by the state's general fund.

"I think the increment idea is fairly well sold," Sviggum said.


So, here is where my pessimism comes in. Sviggum promises a stadium bill for the Twins will pass, probably using the TIF method above. However, that still leaves a huge gap in necessary funds to make this happen. We'll have approx. $110 million from the TIF method and $120 million from the Twins. That leaves about $270 million that someone will have to come up with to pay for the rest of the $500 million stadium. The Twins have consistently wanted the host community to pay for this with tax money, and this is where any plan will fall apart. Even if the legislature passes a stadium bill, it will require a referendum for any tax money to be used, and I am of the opinion that a referendum will fail whether it is in St. Paul or Hennepin County. I talked a little bit about this yesterday, but I hope Sid's report of the Twins working on a plan with both St. Paul and Hennepin County includes both more upfront money from the Twins and more private money from the host communities. Because using tax money just isn't going to fly.

Finally, the Star Tribune reported today that Dean Johnson has already nixed the idea of a new Stadium Task Force suggested by Sviggum. What is going on with Dean Johnson? I'm beginning to think he really has had a change of heart regarding this issue. He has gone from sponsoring stadium bills to being downright opposed to them. We'll have to keep an eye on him. However, having said that, a new stadium task force probably would have been worthless anyway. How many times does a committee or task force have to say, "We recommend building a Twins stadium." It has already been recommended, and we have tons of suggested funding options. Now let's get it done.

Posted by snackeru at 8:59 AM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

December 14, 2004

Oh please, oh please, oh please ...

Just wanted to let you know that I have seen this, and this, and I gotta say ... yep, I am very happy about this development. I was going to say, "I've heard it all before" but like a moth to a flame I have chosen to get really excited about this news. Let's dissect what Sviggum has said before the Strib and the PiPress take these AP stories down:

"A stadium bill is going to pass this legislative session,'' House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, said at a forum sponsored by The Associated Press. "The time has come, folks, to make a decision.''

The Strib has chosen this quote, and of course they don't say just what stadium Sviggum is talking about. He could be talking about a Gophers stadium (likely), he could be talking about a Twins stadium (probably), but we definitely know he is not talking about the Vikings (Red, sell the team you cheap bastard!).

To balance all this out, Dean Johnson, Senate majority leader, added these little nuggets just so my heart wouldn't explode with happiness. So, I thank him for that:

A football stadium on the University of Minnesota campus has the best chances, Johnson said, adding that the Legislature shouldn't get involved in choosing sites for sports stadiums ... "It's clear the Gophers stadium on campus has the most appeal right now,'' Johnson said. "I would not begin to predict whether a Twins or Vikings stadium will pass the Senate.''

In the past Johnson has consistently said a Twins stadium bill would have no trouble passing the Senate. Maybe Johnson has soured on the idea of a Twins stadium. I'm not sure, but I am still of the opinion that a Twins bill will squeak through the DFL Senate, unless they start playing partisan politics with the Republican Governor and Speaker. We'll see.

The PiPress had a slightly different take on this press conference. According to them, Sviggum was much more forceful and confident that a bill would pass for the Gophers and Twins:

The second-most powerful state official in Minnesota predicted Tuesday the 2005 Legislature will approve funding to construct new stadiums for the University of Minnesota football team and the Minnesota Twins.

"It's going to pass this session," House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, told reporters during the Associated Press' annual legislative session preview at the Capitol. It was the first time he made such a prediction.


I hope that this is finally going to happen. I hope Sviggum strong arms some new Reps and uses his muscle to finally solve this problem once and for all. I like the conviction I am sensing in his quotes and gosh darn it if it doesn't give me too much hope for my own good. Sviggum also added:
"It's going to happen after we do everything else," he said. But he's confident lawmakers will vote to build two stadiums. "The time has come to make a decision," he said.

Amen to that. More tomorrow when the quotes come in from Maturi and Jerry Bell. Stadium season is almost in full swing!

Posted by snackeru at 7:22 PM | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Category "Twins"

Category "Vikings"

It ain't over till it's over

• I just read this little tidbit on Mr. Cheer or Die's Viking Underground and I gotta say that I am shocked. The Vikings still have a chance to win the division. If the Vikings win all of their remaining games, they will win the division, even if the Packers lose to the Vikings and win two more. That is remarkable. The Vikings can play horrible all season, have the same record as the Packers, and still take the division.

I truthfully don't know how I feel about this. After the Seattle game I was practically begging the Packers to beat the Lions just to put me out of my misery. After they won I thought, "Well, I don't have to worry about the Vikings any more. If they beat the Packers on Christmas Eve I will be satisfied." Now I find out the Vikes are still in the running! OK ... you know what, I may be a glutton for punishment but I think I am actually happy about this!

So here is what we know:


The Vikings can win these last three games. So, I cannot give up hope until its all over. I'm a Vikings fan. I'm used to this.

• Well, it is over for the Twins and Corey Koskie. Again, this doesn't upset me too much. That is what we get for being Twins fans. The Twins are like a college team. About every four years the team completely changes and we find ourselves with a new set of players to cheer for. Koskie had a good year last year, not great but good. He will certainly be missed, but it is time to give someone else a shot. Is anyone else really upset that Koskie is leaving? I mean he was injured a lot, he is getting old, and the Twins have at least two players that can fill in. I like Aaron Gleeman's take on the situation. One of the biggest negatives to Koskie leaving is that it opens a door for Rivas to still play second. Yikes! For me, though, again being a Twins fan I'm kind of used to this.

• One thing that never seems to be "over" is my favorite subject, stadiums in Minnesota. In case you missed it, Sid Hartman reported this Sunday:

Behind the scenes, the Twins are working with Hennepin County and St. Paul in order to come up with a reasonable plan in which each group could present a plan to the Legislature for a baseball stadium. Then a vote would be taken and a committee would decide whether the ballpark is in Minneapolis or in St. Paul. Sam Grabowski, executive director of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, calls the ballpark a top priority, as do officials of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce and the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce.

See where it says officials from both Minneapolis and St. Paul consider a baseball stadium a "top priority?" Here is what I don't understand: why are Minneapolis and St. Paul so desperate for a stadium if, as we are led to believe, stadiums have such a negligible economic impact on a community? Why? I don't think I've ever heard of a city ever say, "You know what? We don't want a new stadium. There is nothing in it for us." No, over and over again in cities all over America city officials practically beg for professional sports stadiums to be built. If the Minnesota legislature would allow it, the St. Paul city government would tax the wazoo out its people to build a stadium.

I ask these kinds of questions sort of facetiously since I think I know the answer, but still it makes me wonder why cities are always so gung ho about stadium construction and state legislatures are so typically against it?

Posted by snackeru at 1:01 PM | Comments (3) | Stadiums | Twins | Vikings

Category "Stadiums"

Category "Twins"

Category "Vikings"

December 8, 2004

Happy day

• Yesterday I was getting ready to write a much different post for today. I was fully expecting neither Koskie or Radke to sign. This wouldn't have bothered me much, though. I remember two years ago when Radke was just pitching awful, and some guy joked in the paper that his kids must not love him very much because for Father's Day they bought him tickets to a Twins game with Radke pitching. So, I think Terry Ryan was wise to give Radke only a two year $18 million deal. With pitchers, you never know when they are just going to tank it. Don't get me wrong, though. I think Radke had a very good year last year and I am excited, no thrilled, to have him come back. When I saw the news this morning it immediately brightened my whole outlook.

However, again, losing Radke wouldn't have bothered me that much. That is what we get for being Twins fans. We should come to expect this kind of crap now: losing our best players, watching baseball indoors on a beautiful summer day, losing to the Yankees every year, praying that our minor league system can keep churning out talent, etc. It makes life exciting doesn't it? I love being able to complain about all this stuff. What would I do with my time if I wasn't belly-aching about Pohlad and his cheap ways or those idiots at the state capitol? I have no idea.

Having said that, I gotta also say that my respect for Radke has just gone up big time. How many times have we heard a player say "its not about the money" and then prove to us that it is, in fact, almost all about the money? Too many times (Guardado?). Radke could have probably gotten the 3 year $33 million dollar offer his agent wanted from another team given his track record, but obviously staying in Minnesota is important to him. I can relate. On the librarian free agency market I could probably command at least $500 - $1000 more per year from another library, preferably in a warmer climate, but I choose to stay at the U of M. Oh yeah, it's all about loyalty. Brad and I have something in common now.

With this deal the Twins starting rotation looks like this: Santana, Radke, Silva, Lohse, Mays. Mays, of course, is the big question mark, but if he can come back with his normal stuff I like the looks of this rotation. The TwinsGeek had a great column yesterday talking about what other teams in the Central have been doing and quite frankly it doesn't look like much. With the signing of Radke the Twins may have just become the favorites in the Central again.

What about Koskie and Jones? Again, the TwinsGeek did a nice job in today's column talking about how he expects that Jones and Rivas both will be gone next year to make room for Radke and Koskie. And even with Jones and Rivas gone the Twins payroll will be about $4 - $5 million more than last year. Has Pohlad had a change of heart? Sid Hartman reported on December 5th:

On another subject, Bell said he never has seen Twins owner Carl Pohlad as determined to win another World Series. "Sure, finances are important to him, but he talks much less about finances these days and a lot more about how we can put a team together that can win a World Series," Bell said.

This is good news, and the increase in the Twins payroll may be proof that Pohlad does indeed want another World Series. We shall see.

• I would be remiss if I didn't discuss the article in Sunday's Star Tribune that talked about the rumors of a Vikings sale to Glen Taylor. Of course, those rumors "fizzled" out, but the article itself was loaded with interesting tidbits, including news about Reggie "Donald Watkins" Fowler. That isn't really fair, I guess. It appears he is still in the game:

Fowler, whose group of potential partners appears to be growing, met with members of the Anoka/Blaine stadium contingent Nov. 22 at the Minneapolis Club. During the meeting, Fowler and a host of other interested businessmen listened to a presentation of development possibilities for the 740-acre land tract off I-35W.

Good news. Very good news. I think Fowler would have a good chance with the state legislature given that 1) he is a minority, 2) he has said he will move to Minnesota, and 3) he isn't insanely wealthy. It looks like Fowler is waiting patiently until either Red lowers the price or he can line up some investors. The article also had a good explanation of the total cost of buying the Vikings and why Fowler is taking his time:
Private development of a new stadium might prove critical to the team's future in Minnesota. The Anoka County Board, the only public entity to step forward for the Vikings, has approved a county-wide sales tax that would contribute $250-$300 million toward a new stadium.

That total still would leave some $300 million to complete the stadium portion of the project, and the state's $700 million budget shortfall makes it unlikely that any further public money will become available. The conceptual development -- which would include a major shopping area, a hotel, restaurants and a team museum -- is projected to cost $1.5 billion.

The stadium cost would come on top of the Vikings' purchase price for any new owner. McCombs had been seeking $600 million for the franchise, a number that could grow when the NFL completes negotiations on its remaining television contracts. The magnitude of that investment has led Fowler to continue his search for big-money investors to back his candidacy.

Truthfully, I hope Glen Taylor just puts us all out of our misery and buys the team. According to today's Pioneer Press (Charley Walters):

Of his interest in buying the Vikings, Taylor said owner Red McCombs' asking price of $600 million makes it a difficult transaction. He also said there wouldn't be many changes required if he bought the Vikings because the team has been well run and isn't far from becoming a contender.

I wonder what kind of price Taylor would be happier with: $500 million? $550 million? I have a feeling this off season will be very interesting for Vikings fans.


Posted by snackeru at 8:00 AM | Comments (5) | Stadiums | Twins | Vikings

Category "Stadiums"

December 3, 2004

From Bad to Worse

Oh my goodness. I think I'm going to be sick. I just found this article on the Star Tribune and it had some of the worst news I think I have ever read in regards to stadiums:

Rep. Phil Krinkie, R-Shoreview, a leading fiscal conservative in the Legislature, will move from chairman of the Capital Investment Committee to chairman of Taxes, a strong signal that House Republicans are as opposed as ever to increasing state taxes to balance the state budget.

Man, I thought Abrams was bad. Now Krinkie is chairman of the Taxes committee? It has gone from bad to worse my friends. Any good feelings I had regarding stadium legislation this year have suddenly evaporated.


Posted by snackeru at 1:02 PM | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Category "Twins"

December 2, 2004

First things first

• OK, first things first. I can't believe it, but it appears that Pawlenty is in the midst of creating yet another stadium working group to try to solve this sticky issue. Members will come from both the House and Senate and it will be co-chaired by Andy Westerberg R-Blaine who, according the my voter guide, is pro-stadium. Don't get me wrong, I think this is great news, but this seems to me to be an effort in futility. What is this, the 3rd or 4th stadium working group that has been created? And with a $700 million deficit on the horizon whatever recommendations this group comes up with will, at best, be totally ignored. We've seen it all before. Every stadium working group so far has recommended building two stadiums using a variety of funding sources including ticket taxes, lottery games, taxes on sports memorabilia, taxes in the stadium district, metro area liquor and car rental taxes, etc. etc. This plan is usually thwarted by anti-stadium legislators who amend the resulting bill to death until no one wants to vote for it anymore. That is if the bill even makes it out of committee. I'm beginning to believe that our legislature is incapable of doing anything of value when it comes to stadiums (or possibly anything else I care about, such as funding for higher education) . Curse this Norwegian pessimism!

Ah! But there may be a silver lining in all of this. According to the article above, the Senate Majority leader Dean Johnson may reopen "the door for Indian gambling to fund stadiums." Again, the tribes have already suggested this and appear willing to work towards making this happen. How is this not a good idea? I've already talked a little about why I think it is a good idea, so I don't want to repeat everything, but I will say that this plan would NOT use any new, state, local, metro, clothing, take your pick, it would NOT USE ANY TAXES OF ANY KIND. It would finally solve this huge mess, make the Native American tribes heroes in our state, and keep a good working relationship between the tribes and the state government. Oh well, I'm sure Pawlenty will screw this up somehow.

Having said that, the Minnesota Daily reported something very interesting today:

But if stadium plans will be discussed, Pawlenty said more emphasis will be necessary to complete stadium plans for the Twins and Vikings.

An on-campus stadium would be easier to approve than a professional stadium, Pawlenty said, because the University is a public institution and it will raise a lot of the money.

Theyre the one team that cant leave, he said.


I don't want to get too enthusiastic about this, but Pawlenty is right. The Gophers can't leave. And while I wish and hope that every single stadium problem can be solved this session, the Twins and the Vikings (especially the Twins) will not stay in the Metrodome forever. This problem needs to be solved.

• Speaking of the Twins, it appears that the Twins will up their offer to Corey Koskie a whole $1 million for a total of $8 million over two years. I'm sure he is getting 3 year deals for at least $5 million per year from other teams. We will soon find out how much he really wants to stay in Minnesota. I'm a little torn about this. While I hope Koskie signs with the Twins, I also think they could do reasonably well with Tiffee at 3rd or by moving Cuddyer to 3rd. Regardless of what happens, the Twins have got to get Cuddyer some consistent at-bats. He has payed his dues. It is time for him to start.

• Finally, here is today's clue for what I got my wife for her birthday. And I've got to say, don't expect this to be the greatest gift ever. I feel like I'm hyping it up too much with all of these clues. I think my wife will love the gift, but keep in mind that I am buying this gift on a librarian's salary:

        Beatles single released April 1965

Now we are getting a little easier.

Posted by snackeru at 9:01 AM | Comments (6) | Stadiums | Twins

Category "Life"

Category "Stadiums"

November 18, 2004

I'm back

I have returned from beautiful Monterey, California! A special thanks to Cheesehead Craig for managing this blog in my absence. His interview with Dave St. Peter was an unexpected and welcome surprise. Thanks for everything Craig!

Of course, I now have work coming out of my ears so this will have to be short. I will be writing more about my trip to Monterey tonight so stay tuned for that, if you care. It is a beautiful town and area, and it again made me question the sanity of the early settlers of Minnesota. I can undersand why people decided to check this place out, but why did anyone stay? Mosquitos in the summer, snow and cold for what seems like 12 months of the year, idiot politicians that won't build any stadiums ... the list goes on and on. But Monterey! 70 degrees, no wind, the smell of the sea, not a bug in site ... I fell in love with the place.

Speaking of stadiums (I can't help it! I have to report on this stuff!) it appears that the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe have pulled their offer to help build stadiums. In a letter to Pawlenty they wrote:

"You led a political smear campaign," Benjamin wrote, "in a deliberate attempt to turn undeserved animosity toward Indian gaming and Indian people into votes for Republican candidates."

Who didn't see that coming a mile away? I mean, we had a willing party ready and able to help build stadiums in Minnesota, but instead our fine state politicians once again muck up the deal. I shouldn't get my hopes up.

With that, let me just say I've got to get back to work. There will be more later!

Posted by snackeru at 9:33 AM | Comments (5) | Life | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

November 8, 2004

Voter's Guide 2.0

• Now that the elections are over we can begin the work of closely monitoring our elected officials to track and document where they truly stand when it comes to stadiums in Minnesota. Behold, the new and improved Greet Machine Voter's Guide! It now lists only the representatives for each district, and it includes icons to help people quickly see if a representative is pro-stadium or not:

  Pro-stadium -- Pro-stadium (thtat is a tiny picture of the new Twins stadium)
  Anti-stadium -- Anti-stadium
  Unknown -- Unknown

Of course, I'd love to specifically list whether a representative is in favor of a Twins stadium, or a Vikings stadium, or both. That, I think, will happen as the list grows, but for the most part if a person is pro-stadium for the Twins they are probably pro-stadium for the Vikings. Although, they may not think the Vikings situation needs to be addressed as quickly as the Vikings may like.

Also note that there is now a breakdown of the number of pro-stadium legislators vs. the anti-stadium legislators:
  Pro-stadium: 42
  Anti-stadium: 49
  Unknown: 43

Looks like we have our work cut out for us. As always, I need all the help I can get making this list complete. And be rest assured, a list of all the Senators and their stadium stances isn't far behind. Please let me know if you think the Voter's Guide needs anything else, or if you can help out. By the way, I got a note from Jay Weiner of the Star Tribune who said he will refer to the Guide in an upcoming article about stadiums. Hopefully the tag line, "Now we'll know who to blame when the Twins and Vikings leave" will freak some legislators out. It probably won't.

• And speaking of stadiums, I have a little news about Red McCombs and the Vikings. Every Sunday I do my darndest to listen to the Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave, and not because I think Sid is a great journalist or even a great interviewer. It is because he always get's the most important people for any issue to call into the show. I've heard interviews with Tim Pawlenty, Steve Sviggum, Jerry Bell, etc., etc. on his show that you can't hear anywhere else. Good stuff, especially for a stadium wacko like me (and Sid).

Anyway, today out of the blue Red McCombs called in to Sid's show. Of course, Sid made sure he complimented Red right away, and then there was the obligatory blah blah blah ... you get the picture. But then Sid asked Red about the new stadium deal in Texas. My ears tuned in as I prayed Sid would ask him the tough questions. Sid asked, and I'm paraphrasing here now, "What do you think of the deal Jerry Jones got down there in Arlington? What was the deal? Half and half?" Red answered, "Yes, Jerry is paying for half of the stadium, but he is also building a lot around the stadium." Sid said something to the effect, "Would that be something you'd be interested in? Paying half and then developing around the stadium?" Red answered, "Yes, that is the model that works now. You know, the people in Blaine had a really good idea. That would have worked." Sid said, "Do you think it would still work?" And Red answered, and this is where it got really interesting, "Yes, I expect that is how someone will do it."

Did you catch that? Someone. That usually signifies that it will not be the person that is saying someone. This isn't really ground-breaking news, but to hear Red talk like this certainly made it sound like he is itching to sell and maybe soon. Perhaps this is why he won't deal with Mike Tice's contract? This may also explain why Fowler and Hecker haven't made an offer yet. Maybe Red is so desperate that by waiting a few more weeks, in order to make him sweat it out, they can get a better deal? Who knows. All we can hope for, though, is that Red sells to an owner committed to keeping the team in Minnesota. A new owner, and an owner committed to Minnesota, is the Vikings only chance to get a stadium built.

UPDATE: Of course, Sid wrote about this himself today. His memory of the interview, as hard as this is to believe, is better than mine. Then again, he can probably go back and listen to the tapes of the show.

Posted by snackeru at 7:26 AM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

November 5, 2004

Texas and stadiums

Enough! Enough of this political mumbo-jumbo. Let's talk about something that is sure to bring us all together under the banner of Unity: stadiums in Minnesota! Or rather, to be more specific, stadiums in Arlington, Texas. As I'm sure all of my loyal readers have already found out, the Dallas Cowboys will be moving to a new stadium in Arlington in 2009. On Tuesday, the people of Arlington overwhelmingly voted to support raising $325 million in tax money to build the new stadium. There is so much to discuss and learn concerning this development.

First of all, I think it is important to note again that the people of Arlington voted through a referendum to make this happen. And according to the article they did so overwhelmingly and in convincing fashion. Most stadium backers in Minnesota are not confident that a referendum would pass here, but I think there is a big difference with what happened in Texas vs. what is happening here in Minnesota. In Texas, Jerry Jones, the owner of the Cowboys, agreed to put up half the money for the stadium: $325 million. Some of this money will be payed for with a 10% ticket tax and a $3 parking charge, but this deal was sold on the fact that the people of Arlington would only have to come up with the other half.

Contrast this with stadium proposals in Minnesota. Pohlad has fought tooth and nail to limit his contribution of a $500 million stadium to $120 million. And Red McCombs hasn't even agreed to anything. He's only said he will make a "sizable" contribution. Most people think he is closer to $150 million, with an extra $50 million to come from the ever decreasing NFL G3 fund. The Vikings stadium will cost upwards of $600 million. Both of these contributions pale in comparison with what other owners have agreed to pony up. Jerry Jones is just the latest example. Again, look at the deal that built Ford Field in Detroit. The Ford family agreed to put up 70% of the stadium cost and the Michigan legislature agreed to put together a deal for the rest. I think the message is clear, and I hope Pohlad and McCombs are finally taking note. In order to get a deal done, you've got to put up a huge chunk of change, and certainly more than they are offering now.

Of course, you also have to have politicians willing to make a deal. And in Arlington you had a gung ho mayor that really, really wanted the team to make it's home there. I've talked before about the economic impact a new stadium can have on a community, and why our local leaders are so interested in building a stadium in their communities. Of course, Arlington is no exception. According to the article above:

Stadium backers pointed to a city-commissioned study by Economics Research Associates projecting that the venue would pump $238 million into Arlington's economy each year...

[Opponents] said that other economists have criticized the city-commissioned report for being unreasonably optimistic.

OK, let's deal with this "unreasonably optimistic" report. $238 million is too optimistic? What if we chopped it in half? That would mean the stadium would only generate $119 million per year for Arlington's economy. So, for an investment of $325 million, the city of Arlington would receive $119 million extra per year. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

And again, it's not like the people of Arlington are being fooled into this, or that they are ignorant about the true impact of stadiums. Arlington is also the home of the relatively new Ameriquest Field, home of the Texas Rangers. You would think if building stadiums was such a bad deal that the people of Arlington would have said, "No way. We've been suckered before, and we ain't gonna get fooled again." But not only did they approve the new stadium, they approved it in convincing fashion! Do they know something Minnesotans don't know?

Of course, the deal itself is something we as Minnesotans can only dream of. The people of Arlington voted to approve a half-cent city sales tax, a 2% hotel occupancy tax, and a 5% car rental tax. So, most of the cost for the new facility will be raised by taxing people from outside the community.

So, like I said, there is a lot to be learned here, by everyone involved with stadium politics in Minnesota. First of all, Pohlad and McCombs should know that if they come up with a truly meaningful contribution they could finally have their precious stadiums. Secondly, even if economic impact projections are halved, communities that build stadiums should see a sizable increase in economic activity in the community. Finally, with a big contribution from the owner, and a creative tax financing plan that minimizes the contribution of the average tax payer in the community, a referendum is more likely to pass.

There is no doubt that this deal took a lot of work from everyone involved. The Dallas Morning News has a whole section devoted the Cowboy's new stadium on their web site. But the fact of the matter is that yet another community has figured out how to make a deal, and one that works for everyone. And by the way, the city of Dallas is now really ticked that they let the Cowboys get away, again. I wonder how the Twin Cities will feel when the Vikings and Twins leave.

Posted by snackeru at 7:02 AM | Comments (7) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

November 2, 2004

Got this comment

I got this comment concerning my post "The Apathy of Twins Fans" below:

"I certainly did not want to start a 'who's fans are better' discussion."

You didn't, Craig - the big guy did when he wrote this:

"I hate to say it, but I am beginning to question the quality of fan in Minnesota, or at least the number of quality fans in Minnesota."

Sorry, but I have to call BS on this one.

Go ahead and put together a voter's guide for those candidates who are pro-stadium. Go ahead and cite studies chapter and verse. Take your position and defend it as best you can, because that's how the better position wins.

But please, please, *please* don't descend to saying or even suggesting that you can't be a "quality" fan if your not pro-stadium. Saying that non-stadium-boosting fans are "apathetic". If you want a reason why anti-stadium folks tend to be so upset when they argue with you, it's because of name-calling like this.

Frankly, I don't see any necessary connection between being a fan and supporting stadium construction - after all, I was a fan long before I knew anything about how stadiums were built, and I suspect you all were, too. And I don't see how questioning the "quality" of another fan's interest gets you any closer to getting that stadium built.

First of all, thanks for writing David. I'll admit my rhetoric was very pro-stadium, but don't assume that I bulk you in with apathetic fans out there. If anything I was directing my anger more towards apathetic pro-stadium fans. I don't know exactly what kind of plan you support, but I also wrote:

"As Twins fans we can put pressure on all three of these entities [state, team, and city] and make something happen."

I've also written before that I expect a whole lot more out of Pohlad, not as much as you maybe, but certainly more than the pittance he is offering now.

I assume that you want Pohlad to pay for everything. As unrealistic as I think this is, what are you doing, besides berating me, to promote this plan? Are you writing/calling Pohlad and the Twins and demanding that they do something to solve this mess? I guess I would say stop focusing on people like me who are begging for a balanced approach to solve this mess and start hammering away at Pohlad and Bell and demand that they offer more. I would love it if this happened!

Again, as Twins fans we can all put a whole lot of pressure on everyone involved to make something happen. Anti-stadium people certainly have a part to play. In my previous post, what I was questioning is someone who complains either way, anti or pro-stadium (especially pro-stadium), and then does nothing about it. Of course, I think state financing is going to be a necessity, but that doesn't mean I don't think Pohlad isn't going to have to come up with a whole lot more himself.

Finally, I would be lying if I said it didn't pain me that as a Twins fan you aren't pro-stadium. You would risk losing the team to make a point, that billionaries should pay for their own play houses. Unfortunately, the most likely end result of your point is that Pohlad will be a whole lot richer (no matter what happens Pohlad will make money) and millions of Twins fans in the upper Midwest will be without their favorite team. This, to me at least, is not worth it, especially considering we will eventually end up with a new team and stadium anyway. Over 30 other cities have figured this out. All I'm asking is that we also put together a plan that will finally put this mess behind us. We all have a part to play.

Posted by snackeru at 8:42 AM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

October 29, 2004

The Apathy of Twins Fans

Ryan of TwinsChatter wrote a great article today about the Twins need for a new stadium. For one thing, he links to the Greet Machine Voter's Guide so I thank him for that, but what I appreciate even more is that he wrote about the Twins stadium issue. In my 10 years of following stadium politics in Minnesota I have always been perplexed by the general apathy of Twins fans when it comes to building a new stadium. Of course, there are some fans, like me, that are rabidly pro-stadium. Some would even call it pure desperation. I would probably agree with them. But I would say the bulk of Twins fans generally don't care about this issue, or they do care but they choose not to do anything about it. I would say the majority of Twins fans all have their heads in the sand thinking, "It will all work out in the end. There is nothing I can do anyway. I'll just sit back and wait." Bah! If even half of the millions of Twins fans just wrote their legislators one letter (or a few, like me) we could make some serious noise. And it is definitely time to start making some noise. It is well past time in fact. This issue needs to be solved!

I hate to say it, but I am beginning to question the quality of fan in Minnesota, or at least the number of quality fans in Minnesota. When you look at Denver, Philadelphia, Detroit, or Seattle you see cities that have built two and sometimes three different stadium venues. And really think about Denver ... when the Broncos said they need a new stadium, there was no question it would be built. The people of Denver and Colorado flipped out and got something done. The biggest controversy wasn't whether or not to build it, but what to call it! Everyone, the team, the people, the legislature, the city, they all got together and solved the problem! I've talked to my aunt and uncle in Denver and they've told me they are stunned by what is happening in Minnesota. They can't believe we would risk losing our teams because we can't figure something out. When I think about Denver, I can't imagine them not figuring something out. Their fans are too rabid and too strong not to figure something out. When I think about the fans of Minnesota ... well, I hate to say it but it looks like we are apathetic at best, and quite possibly "fair weather" at worst.

And concerning Twins fans, Ryan of TwinsChatter even writes:

"We usually stay away from the controversial world of politics here at Twins Chatter, and for good reason. For some reason, while people will tolerate my thoughts and musings on baseball, they are always perturbed when I (or my fellow baseball bloggers) delve into the realm of politics. I cant really explain exactly why this is, but Im willing to accept it."

Stop getting perturbed, Twins fans, and start making some noise! I am not willing to accept this situation at all. Are you afraid that by supporting state financing of a Twins stadium you will lose some friends? Or perhaps your standing in the community? Maybe your wife or husband will get angry with you? I can promise you that none of this will happen. Please, for the love of all that is holy, show your support for a new Twins stadium! It is actually very liberating.

And don't get me wrong, as Twins fans we should not at all support the state picking up the tab in its entirety, or even the majority of the stadium costs. As I've written before Pohlad definitely needs to do more. But in 99% of these situations the state, team, and city get together and hammer out a deal. As Twins fans we can put pressure on all three of these entities and make something happen.

In closing, I'd like to reprint a letter Ryan of TwinsChatter received from his representative, Ray Cox:

"Ryan,
Thanks for your message. I suspect the reason you may hear conflicting things on a Twins stadium is because there are several different plans out....some people support one plan, others all plans.

I can support a Twins stadium as long as it does not use any general tax dollars. I don't want to have people in Winona, Warroad, or Mankato pay tax dollars for a Twins stadium if they never go to the stadium. I have no problem with a variety of funding plans such as ticket taxes, tax on sports items, rental cars, etc. to pay for a stadium. I also don't have problems with using some type of tax increment financing to assist a stadium.

Bottom line, as long as the Twins bring in a plan that doesn't consume general tax dollars I will be happy to support it."

This is the type of legislator we should be supporting. Cox seems to be thoughtful, intelligent, and willing to consider numerous avenues to solve a problem. Please vote on November 2. And if possible, please vote for a legislator that has an open mind like Ray Cox. And then start making some noise.

Posted by snackeru at 9:38 AM | Comments (7) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

October 26, 2004

Greet Machine Voter's Guide

Well, I have completed the first draft of the Greet Machine Voter's Guide. The goal of the voter's guide is to list candidates for the Minnesota House of Representatives that are stadium friendly, especially Twins stadium friendly. Our legislature has sat idly by for too long on this issue. Stadium costs continue to increase while our legislators continue to argue and play partisan politics. This issue needs to be solved and we need energetic, thoughtful, and intelligent legislators that are willing to negotiate and hammer out a deal. Needless to say, the group of legislators in St. Paul last session were none of the above. Hopefully, we can change all that. To access the guide point your browser to:

Greet Machine Voter's Guide

This is repeated on the Voter's Guide itself, but I thought I might give some background on how I built it. This list was created by using any resource I could find including newspaper endoresements, debate transcriptions/reports, newspaper and magazine articles, Google searches, the Taxpayer's League of Minnesota web site, and my own knowledge of the subject. As you will see, the list is not finished, and it is far from perfect. This issue, like many other issues, has turned highly partisan as Republicans that once opposed stadium financing are now supporting it (Pawlenty), and DFLers that once supported stadium financing now seem to oppose it (say it ain't so Dean Johnson!). That makes it very hard, sometimes, to pick the best candidate in terms of stadium friendliness. If I've made a mistake, please let me know!

Please, if you see any errors, or you would like to help finish the list off, please let me know. And please note, this list is only a guide. If you are struggling with your decision on who to vote for in your district based on all the other issues that are important to you, hopefully this list can help push you over the edge in favor of a candidate that supports stadium financing in Minnesota.

Posted by snackeru at 1:30 PM | Comments (9) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

Pohlad needs to do more

Well, I was up all last night working on that stupid Voter's Guide and I barely made a dent. There are a lot of races and a lot of people to research! I'll probably post what I have so far around lunch. I think I've taken care of about 30-40 of the races so far, and there are a bunch of races where there is no clear cut stadium supporter.

However, with this post I'd like to respond to a great set of comments by "oldstuffer" in which he laments Pohlad's cheap ways and suggests that if Pohald would be willing to make a more substantial contribution not to player payroll but to his own stadium then we could finally put this mess behind us. I would have to agree. One thing I have not done a good job on is putting pressure on the Twins themselves to help solve this problem. Of course, we all know it takes two to tango, and what we have seen so far is that the Twins want the state to shake their money maker while the team just sits back and complains that they don't want to dance (or at the very least limit their dancing to the white-man over bite).

We all know the story. In 1997 Pohlad goes before the legislature and promises approx. $100 of his own hard earned money to build a new stadium. The legislature quickly discovers that this contribution is nothing but a loan that Pohlad expects to be paid back for and the deal goes nowhere (to say the least). What kills me about this is that if Pohlad had been sincere, we probably would be enjoying outdoor baseball right now. I'm sure he would agree. However, Pohald has repeatedly said that he doesn't think he should have to pay for any of the new stadium. Much like the state legislature, in Pohald we truly have a person that is unwilling to negotiate. And when the two parties involved both are unwilling to negotiate ... well you have the situation we are in now.

Contrast this with how stadiums were build in Cleveland and Detroit. Especially Detroit. Mike Ilitch was sincere with his contribution of nearly 70% of his own money and the Michigan legislature quickly came up with the rest. The Cleveland Indians had to cough up approx. 52% of their own money to build Jacob's field. Heck, look at the financing of Ford Field for the Detroit Lions from the Vikings' own web site. The Ford family coughed up 70% of the stadium costs. The public only had to come up with $125 million. Oldstuffer lists the example of the SF Giants as his ideal model, but that may be out of reach. I believe the Giants payed for about 99% of PacBell Park. That is a little unrealistic for the Twins.

However, the point of all of this is that in today's climate of budget cuts, health care increases, homeland security, and all the rest the Twins and the Vikings are both going to have to make a substantial contribution to get stadiums built in Minnesota. How much would it take? I don't know. But I agree with Oldstuffer that a big contribution would go a long ways towards getting this mess solved and getting people to come back to Twins games. The $120 million that Pohlad keeps sticking with is weak and paltry compared to the overall costs of a stadium.

Having said that, I think it is obvious what needs to happen for a Twins stadium to finally be built. First of all, we need a sizable and sincere contribution from Pohald to get things started. Jesse Ventura wanted $165 million. That may be a good place to start. Secondly, we also need legislators willing to negotiate and recognize that the Twins are an important part of this community. Hopefully we can elect some Twins-friendly people November 2nd. With those two pieces in place we would have a new Twins stadium in 5 years. What are the chances for all of this? Probably zilch.

Posted by snackeru at 7:19 AM | Comments (8) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

October 25, 2004

Stadiums: a plea for help and news

I got an interesting comment this weekend that makes me upset with myself for not thinking of this before. Unfortunately now I think it is too late. "Grant" asked me who he should vote for in the upcoming Minnesota House elections. Grant lives in St. Paul and thought I might know which candidates are pro-stadium in his district. Unfortunately I don't know, but what kills me is that I should. In fact, I should know who to vote for in all the races, but I must admit that I haven't collected any of this data at all. What an idiot! All I have done is worried about my own district. So, here is what I am going to try to do this week. I am going to try to put together a voter's guide listing out the candidates and the Greet Machine pick of the pro-stadium candidate. I may or may not be able to accomplish this given the short amount of time before the election, but I'll give it my best shot.

I need your help. If you know for sure who people should be voting for in your district please let me know. Leave an anonymous comment, send me an email, do whatever it takes but please get this information to me. I'm going to put together a web page that hopefully lists all the districts out. I will also take a look at the last stadium vote in the House and determine which legislators voted against it. Although this method isn't exactly perfect, it should give everyone a good idea who is pro-stadium or not. Again, please help out if you can. Do you know where to get a list of the anti-stadium legislators already? Do you know who you are going to vote for based on stadium stance? Let me know!

If you don't know where to start, check out this tool from the Star Tribune. Put in your zip code and your street and it will tell you who is running in your district and their views on various issues. Of course, none of these issues include anything about stadiums. It appears stadiums are not that big of a deal to Minnesotans this year.

Speaking of which, just today, the StarTrib also came out with an article about the stadium malaise that has come over Minnesotans. It seems that stadium proponents and opponents are both finding that other issues, such as national security and the presedential elections, are what Minnesotans are choosing to focus on this year. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this. In fact, the lack of anti-stadium grandstanding has been refreshing. However, one quote in the article actually put a little (just a little) pep in my step this morning:

Sviggum said he expects a University of Minnesota football stadium and a Twins ballpark to find a way onto the Legislature's agenda next year, but only after budget, health care and education issues are tackled.
Of course, only after everything else has been solved, which will be never, will stadiums get the attention they deserve, but Sviggum actually saying this is a good start. In addition, it looks like Jerry Bell will give lobbying for a Twins stadium one more try:
Twins Sports Inc. president Jerry Bell has been campaigning for owner Carl Pohlad for a new ballpark since 1996 at a total cost of nearly $10 million.

Next month, Bell said, he will begin seeking bipartisan support from legislative leaders for "buy-in" to a ballpark plan that won't face repeated amendments once it arrives at contentious legislative committees.

"If I don't see that, I don't think I'll waste Carl's money again," Bell said of lobbying efforts.


I can't decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing for Bell to lead the charge once again. On the one hand Bell has been the Twins front man on this issue for 10 years. He knows more about this issue than anyone and has forged some very good connections at the capitol, and in Hennepin County and St. Paul. However, are people even listening to him anymore? The legislature has seen him for so long now they may not even take him seriously anymore. Maybe it is time for him to let someone else give it a try? Then again, I honestly don't think it will matter.

As for what Bell said above, all I can say is good luck. There is no way a bill gets out of committee in either chamber without being hammered by amendments. In other words, I don't think we'll be seeing much action on a Twins stadium bill this session. I think Bell will quickly give up, and yet again nothing will be done as stadium costs continue to rise. I'm beginning to feel like Minnesota and Montreal will have a lot more in common in the next couple of years than just being really cold in the winter.

Posted by snackeru at 9:23 AM | Comments (4) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

October 12, 2004

More about stadium impact

Sure enough, I say I won't write about sports and the first thing I do is write about sports. I try to escape the grip of sports and they keep sucking me back in! The thing is, if I see anything about stadiums I have to comment on it. I just have to. Mr. Cheer or Die has written a wonderful piece on his new blog discussing his take on the economic impact of stadiums on a community. He is pro-stadium, specifically pro-Viking stadium, and he writes a very thoughtful piece arguing for a private/public partnership when building new stadium facilities. More than anything, though, his post does a great job of highlighting the massive hole that would be left without an NFL team in our community. I would love to see the sources he used to write the article as he does a wonderful job of just bombarding the reader with all sorts of statistics and areas where the Vikings make a huge impact on our community. So often the anti-stadium crowd focus on the stadium disctrict itself as the only measure of economic impact, but Mr. Cheer or Die points out that the Vikings and other NFL teams have a very positive impact on the whole area, and state for that matter. It has convinced me without a shadow of a doubt that if the Vikings were ever forced to move due to lack of stadium construction, we would be wooing another NFL team to the area within five years due to the massive hole left by the team. Anyway, read his piece if you are interested.

Posted by snackeru at 8:49 AM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

October 4, 2004

Repeat after me

If you have come here to read a little about the Twins and their upcoming series with the Yankees, I am sorry to disappoint. I'm sure the other Twins bloggers will handle that topic quite nicely and to your satisfaction. As for me, I'm going to write about another topic that plagues me and should also plague Twins fans everywhere: stadiums in Minnesota. When I look at the Twins vs. the Yankees, or even just the fact that the Twins are in the playoffs, I can't help but wonder how this will help their never ending stadium drive. What if they make it to the ALCS? Or what if they win the World Series? Will we finally be able to get over the hump and dig that first shovel full of dirt? Who knows, but I am never going to give up hope.

I created the Greet Machine out of frustration; frustration with the lack of news about stadiums and the lack of commentary on the news. And of course, frustration with the lack of progress on the issue of stadiums in Minnesota. I think I even badgered the Twins Geek to write about stadiums more before I decided I would just have to do it myself. I am desperate for a new Twins stadium and I track the issue religiously. If you want to keep up with stadium news, then you have come to the right place.

For some of my long time readers, these next few paragraphs are going to sound like somewhat of a broken record, but I gotta let it all out. Repeat after me: the Twins will not play in the Metrodome forever. Again: the Twins will not play in the Metrodome forever! We can either build a stadium, or we can accept the fate of the Expos and their fans as our own. It is as simple as that.

I know what you are thinking, why should we build a stadium for billionaire owners and millionaire players? To that I would say: change your focus. Rich people are rich. Now, get over it. I couldn't care less how much money Carl Pohlad has. What I care about is bringing my kids to a Twins game on a sunny day. I care about maintaining a Minnesota tradition that goes back to 1961. I care about keeping fresh the memories of '87 and '91 and the memories of how those two years brought more excitement to the Twin Cities than I have ever seen. More importantly, I care about creating new memories for me, my kids, my grandkids, heck the entire Upper Midwest for that matter. The Twins are a big part of Minnesota history. Why don't we want to assure that they are a big part of Minnesota's future?

Here is the way I see it. If we don't build a stadium the Twins will leave, they will be contracted, somehow they will be no more, at least in Minnesota. MLB will decide that the Twin Cities market is no longer viable (10 years of stadium battles and consistently ranking in the bottom 1/4 regarding attendance will have that effect), and the Pohald family will cash out. Finally the stadium battle will be over and we will really stick it to the Pohalds! They won't get a dime out of us! However, the net effect of this inevitability is that the Pohlads will be richer, and millions of fans throughout the upper Midwest will be without the Twins. Pohlad will be millions of dollars richer, and poor schlobs like me will have jack squat. How is this a good deal?

Here is an even greater inevitability, though. How many years will it be before we try to lure another MLB team to the Twin Cities? 5? 10? 20? You know eventually it will happen and it will cost us 5, 10, 20 times as much as it would right now to just keep the team we already have! Don't believe me? How many years was it before we lured NHL hockey back to the Twin Cities after the North Stars left? 7 years. And it cost us a whole lot more than it would have to just keep the North Stars. If the Twins leave, let the countdown begin. And to the legislators who fought against a Twins stadium I will say thanks for literally costing Minnesotans tens-of-millions of dollars extra. Great job. And speaking of great jobs, building a stadium 5 years ago would have saved us at least $200 million. The longer we wait, the more it will cost.

OK, what about money for education, or the police, or the myriad of other needs Minnesota has? In the 10 years we have been fighting against building a new Twins stadium how much extra money have any of these needs received as a result of us not building a new stadium? That's right: nothing, nada, zip. In other words, given the choice between inadequately funding education and building a new stadium, or just inadequately funding education, I will take the former every time. For 10 years we have decided that we would rather make excuses than actually solve problems. I've heard them all before: not with a deficit, not in an election year, not with Pohlad as the owner, not with the economic disparity in baseball ... Bah! We talk and make excuses, and yet the problem is still here! I pray this year will be different. Over 30 other cities have figured out how to make this work. Over 30!!!! Repeat after me: the Twins will not play in the Metrodome forever!

Truly, I could go on and on. Again, if you are a stadium nutjob like me, then you have come to the right place. If not, hopefully I can convince you otherwise. And if you are here to tell me why I am wrong, save your breath. It is time to work something out. We have studied, we have dissected, we have beat this issue to death. Let's save ourselves a lot of money in the long run and finally solve this problem!

If you have made it down this far, congratulations. If you are a glutton for punishement and actually want more of this drivel, I have written about stadiums before:

Stay tuned for more stadium news as I find it. And don't think that I only write about stadiums or the Twins, or the Vikings. So, forgive me if I write about something different once in a while.

Posted by snackeru at 10:21 PM | Comments (8) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

October 2, 2004

Reason #324

Twins stadium Reason #324 to build a new Twins stadium: The Twins game is suspended today after 11 innings so the Metrodome can get ready for the Gophers game tonight. The Twins are fighting for home field advantage, and they have to stop playing!!! Argh!!! This is ridiculous! The only good thing that can come out of this fiasco is that we had 32,000 fans leaving the Metrodome this afternoon grumbling about the stadium situation. That is 32,000 fans that paid for a game that hasn't finished yet. If you were at the game, let me know, was there booing? What was the crowd like after they announced the game would be suspended? Regardless, how long are we as Minnesotans going to put up with this?

Posted by snackeru at 3:44 PM | Comments (4) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

October 1, 2004

More about stadiums

• I found another interesting article in the Washington Post regarding the new stadium to be built in DC. According to the article, I was only $1 million off in my projection of $25 million in debt service per year (rock on!):

The financing would cover significant cost overruns, Green [special assistant to the mayor for economic development] said. Revenue for the project should total at least $37 million a year, more than the $26 million debt service, he said. That means the debt could be paid off early, or that there would be enough money to make the payments even if ticket sales were slow.

Again, I'm begging ... does anyone out there have any information regarding how the financial numbers break down? Just how much money do they expect to get by taxing businesses that make over $3 million? How much do they expect to get by taxing concessions and tickets? Anybody?

In addition, the article also mentioned that some people are very upset with this money being spent on stadiums:

The stadium plan has caused an outcry from community groups, who say any additional tax revenue should go to schools and libraries. But business leaders have been supportive, saying their tax burden would be bearable and worthwhile.

Williams said he would work to convince residents that spending goals for schools and libraries were not in conflict with a stadium, saying he has steadily increased spending on schools and plans a major effort to overhaul libraries.


Of course, you mention "libraries" and you peak my interest. As a librarian myself, I understand the need to keep libraries up to date and well funded. The free flow of information is vital for the well being of a democratic society. However, just because a stadium is being built does not mean libraries won't get adequate or even extra money. And the opposite is true also: how much money would libraries, or schools for that matter, get if a stadium wasn't built? Not a dime more. These are all separate issues and as such they should be treated separately with different solutions. And as I've already tried to point out (here and here) believe it or not stadiums can have a very positive effect on a community both monetarily and in regards to those nebulous "intangibles" you keep hearing about. And regarding Washington DC, if all their financial projections work out what will they do with the extra $11 million they'll make per year by building the stadium? Who knows, but they certainly could funnel it back to schools and libraries I should think.

• Well, even though Red isn't going to lobby the state legislature for a new stadium anymore, that doesn't mean he's going to stop whining or stop making outlandish claims. The latest comes from Sid Hartman:

At the Bears game, Vikings owner Red McCombs said he had given up on getting a stadium built here. A person close to the Vikings situation said McCombs might be able to persuade officials in a city such as Portland, Ore., to build an NFL stadium that would be ready for the Vikings after their lease at the Metrodome runs out in 2011. The source said the NFL doesn't want to lose this good television market, but if there isn't any progress on the stadium situation here in a couple of years, the NFL would give McCombs its blessing to move if a stadium was built elsewhere.

No way, no how is the NFL going to let Red move the Vikings. No way. Tagliabue will do everything in his power to try to get a local buyer before anything like this happens. And I would like to think Glen Taylor or Denny Hecker would do anything in their power to stop something like this from happening. Red, and Sid's mysterious source, are full of nothing but hot air. Portland? Sheesh ... is that the best they could come up with? Portland can't support a Triple-A baseball team let alone an NFL football team.

• So, who else out there is ticked off with the Twins? I just don't understand why you don't pitch Santana and Radke further into their games against the Yankees. I mean, Santana had only thrown 71 pitches when Gardy pulled him! Now we have to pray that the Twins sweep the Indians and the Angels or A's only win 2 out of three against their opponent. I can understand giving our two big pitchers a rest, I can also understand that we should be able to rely on our bullpen, but come on! I don't know, the Twins have been playing with a real lack of fire lately, and the manager has not been focusing on what is most important right now, and that is getting home field advantage. Here is hoping the Twins can sweep Cleveland. And they can do it too if only they play like they want to win rather than playing like they want to rest their starters.

• Did you know the Timberwolves are going to open training camp on October 5? It is amazing how time flies.

Posted by snackeru at 4:07 PM | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

September 30, 2004

The deal in Washington

Before I get into the stadium deal that was crafted in Washington, I would just like to say how disgusted I am with Major League Baseball. MLB has taken a once proud franchise, a once proud baseball city, and through mismanagment, broken promises and neglect it has shattered the hearts of the fans left in Montreal. After going through the contraction scare with the Twins I know what it feels like to think you have lost your favorite team. I know I am probably in the minority, but I think there was a lot MLB could have done to salvage the Montreal situation, but instead they choose to stick it to the fans and try to make even more money. I am disgusted and I'm in complete agreement with Jim Caple when he said:

If tonight's game is to be the final one at Stadium Olympique, I suggest the fans enjoy some final smoked meat sandwiches, sing "O, Canada'' at the top of their lungs, cheer their Expos and then give baseball the raised middle finger it deserves.

Having said that, this is unfortunately how the game is played. Rather than look in the mirror, MLB has decided to blame the fans and punish them for the league's own neglect. Seeing what has happened in Montreal, I can't help but think about the future of the Twins. If you think this couldn't happen in Minnesota, you have a very short memory. The team will not play in the Metrodome forever, that is a fact. We can either make something work, or we can accept the fate of Montreal as our own fate. It is as simple as that. And speaking of making something work, as a result of this Montreal debacle we have yet another example of a metropolitan area that has been able to figure out a plan to build a new stadium. Washington DC, my hat is off to thee.

According to articles discussing the new plan, the new stadium in DC will cost $440 million:

Under the financing plan described by District officials, the city would sell about $440 million in bonds; the proceeds of the bond sale would pay for stadium construction, land acquisition and other improvements.

To pay back the bonds, the District would rely mainly on a tax on the District's big businesses and new and existing sales taxes within the stadium. Less than 18 percent of the money to pay for the District's stadium would come from the team -- through rent payments -- over the first 20 years of the deal, according to projections.


Wow. That is a sweet deal for MLB and the new owner of the Expos/Senators. Less than 18% of the stadium will be paid for by the team. Typcially a team will pay at least 33% of a stadium's cost. Another article describes the plan this way:
Their financing package relies on annual lease payments from the team owners of about $5.5 million; taxes from in-stadium goods and services, including tickets, concessions and parking; and a gross-receipts tax on the nearly 2,000 city businesses that take in more than $3 million a year.

Let's put it another way. To pay off the bonds the city is probably going to have to come up with around $25 million a year. Lop off $5.5 million in rent payments by the team, and you've got around $20 million that the city will have to come up with. An interesting thing to think about, though, is that taxes on in-stadium goods and services really don't add up to much. According to the Minnesota Stadium Tax Force Appendix A: Summary of Revenue Sources, if the Twins were to divert sales taxes on food and alcohol and a 10% ticket tax to a new stadium, that would only total about $2.6 million. So, let's give Washington the benefit of the doubt and say they are expecting around $5 million from these sources. That means the taxes on parking and the tax on businesses making more than $3 million are going to have to come up with the extra $15 million a year. That business tax is very creative and unique in the stadium game, and it is actually supported by the businesses themselves! I would love to see the actual breakdown of the plan so if anyone has a link or documentation of how all the money shakes out, please send it my way. This plan has also apparently impressed those infamous "sports economists":

But by targeting baseball and its fans, according to sports economists, the Washington deal has not spread the burden the way other stadium deals have by imposing taxes that fall on the general population: general sales taxes, cigarette taxes, hotel taxes and others.

"The way they're financing it [in Washington], with the in-stadium taxes, is more appealing," Zimbalist said.

In fact, according to some officials there will be more than enough money to not only pay off the bonds, but do so in as little as 20 years! As I said above, yet another city has figured out how to make something work. Yes, there is also controversy with this plan, but from what I can gather from the Washington Post people are for the most part very excited about this deal. But more importantly they are excited that baseball is coming back to Washington DC.

I see a lot of similarites between the Twins' situtation and the situations in both Montreal and DC. For one thing, Montreal and Minnesota will always be linked through contraction, and truly the battle for the Minnesota Twins isn't over yet, not by a long shot. Again, the fate of the Expos could be our own. And if the Twins ever did leave or fold, how long would it take before we rolled out the red carpet for MLB again? 10 years? 20 years? 30 years like Washington DC? It is inevitable that if we lost the Twins we will have MLB again in our state at some point in the future, but it will cost us 3, 4, 5 times as much as it would right now. Don't believe me? The North Stars left, and now we've got the Wild (and it cost us dearly). Heck, the Lakers left and now we've got the Timberwolves. At some point MLB would come back, and the people brokering that deal will wonder why didn't we just keep the Twins? People, let's save ourselves some money in the long run and find a way to do this!

Posted by snackeru at 10:42 PM | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

September 29, 2004

Impact part II

It is hard to dispute the fact that new stadiums, or sports arenas, have some sort of economic impact on a community. Just how much impact they have in terms of actual money is always in dispute. Take the Milwaukee Brewers and Miller Park, for example. According to an article from the Milwaukee Journal- Sentinel dated December 15, 2001, the Greater Milwaukee Convention and Visitors Bureau reported that the economic impact of Miller Park on that area was an astounding $415 million in its first year of operation. Again, one year, $415 million dollars... Yikes! From the article:

In the study conducted for the Brewers, Chamberlain [Research Associates] said that 17%, or 476,000, of the approximately 2.8 million fans who attended games at Miller Park stayed overnight in Milwaukee for an average of two nights.

Using that figure and state figures for spending per visitor, the convention bureau estimated a direct impact on the Milwaukee area of $101,442,568.

The Chamberlain study also found that 57% of those who came to Miller Park came from outside the five-county metro area. Again, relying on state tourism spending estimates, the bureau calculated an additional direct impact of $71,478,400 on the area economy, for a total of $172.92 million.

Finally, the bureau, using what they said was a commonly accepted economic multiplier in the tourism industry, calculated the total economic impact of the fans at $415 million.

That is incredible. Even naysayers who disagreed with the report ran their own numbers and found that the economic impact should be halved to around $207 million. Again, that is $207 million for one year of operation. Quite a return on investement considering the yearly charge to pay off the bonds for the stadium is probably around $15-20 million. Now granted, a new stadium is going to generate substantially more money than a stadium that has been around for a while, but these early numbers do a lot to off set the lean years when teams don't draw well due to poor on-field performance or what-have-you. Even then stadiums should easily generate the money required to pay off the bonds and have quite a bit left over for city and community services.

As I said in my last thoughts on the impact of stadiums, is it any wonder why Mayor Kelly and Mayor Rybak are so gung ho about building a stadium in their respective communities? And yet we still wonder. The Pioneer Press ran an interesting story last May that highlighted a study by two Pennsylvania economists who asked the same question:

Carlino and Coulson say they grew curious about why, in the face of much opposition, elected officials persist in pushing large stadium subsidies to keep or attract teams.

They tracked changes in apartment rents in 50 cities from 1993 to 1999. Then they used a technique called regression analysis to estimate the effects of an NFL team on the rents, by screening out other factors.

They found that rents in NFL cities rose 8 percent more over this period than in non-NFL cities, then concluded that the team was the reason for the rent premium in the football cities.

On average, they found that the higher rents in NFL cities when projected to include overall residential property taxes produced an annual property tax gain of $139 million for each of those cities.

This "quality-of-life benefit" greatly exceeded the cities' subsidies to stadiums, they wrote, "suggesting that these subsidies were good investments for the typical city."

They published their study in the Journal of Urban Economics and concluded that "the large public expenditure on new stadiums appears to be a good investment for cities and their residents." For cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul, both of which who are trying to build more housing, studies like this one go a long way towards justifying building new stadiums.

Anoka County is also effectively using this argument to try to convince its residents that building a new Vikings stadium is the right thing to do. According to their stadium FAQ:

The Preserve at Rice Creek will create nearly a three-fold increase in the market value of the development site, strengthening the property tax base by approximately $10.8 million for the city, $10.8 million for the county, and $5.4 million for each the Spring Lake Park and Centennial school districts. This represents a 20% increase in the property tax base for the two school districts alone, and will allow the schools, county and city to hold down property taxes on homeowners.

Let me put this in words even the anti-stadium crowd can understand: not only would a new stadium in Anoka County be great for the Vikings and all the team's fans, but it would also generate a substantial amount of money for the local school disctricts. In other words, it is a win-win for everyone.

In conclusion, there is little doubt that stadiums have some sort of positive economic impact on the host community. Even the naysayers cannot argue with this and instead choose to focus on the amount of money which even they would have to agree is substantial. However, the debate rages on. I think Bob Swoch of Milwaukee sums up my feelings nicely in a letter to the editor of the Journal-Sentinel in April 2001:

Please -- enough of the interminable jaw-flapping over whether a baseball stadium justifies itself by its "economic impact." Not only do the limitless variables and intangibles make the argument impossible to settle, but the argument itself is superfluous. Miller Park is an amenity. Hundreds of thousands of citizens have snapped up tickets to enjoy it. What more justification is necessary?

My heart bleeds for those non-fans whose hard-earned tenth-pennies are flowing into a facility they will never visit. But, you know, I hand over my paycheck for golf courses and bike trails and libraries and a jillion other facilities I don't necessarily use, many of which will never approach the popularity of Miller Park. I pay for these amenities so others who do use them may benefit. This concept is called "community."

Just as an avid golfer would never live in a place without golf courses, I and millions of people like me would never live in a place without big-time sports. Quantify that, OK?

Well said, Bob. Let's figure out a way to get this done people!

Posted by snackeru at 7:41 AM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

September 27, 2004

Native Americans and Stadiums

Over the weekend, both the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press reported that Pawlenty is putting more pressure on the Native American casinos than ever after releasing a report that says casinos in Minnesota rake in over $10 billion a year. According to the Strib:

The report was prepared by Mike Vekich, outgoing acting director of the Minnesota Lottery, who noted that Minnesota's is the nation's third-largest tribal casino industry -- only California's and Connecticut's are larger -- and is the only one of the three not to directly share its profits with the state.

Connecticut tribes make the largest payments, according to the report -- 25 percent of revenue from machine games. In return, Connecticut guarantees the tribes exclusivity over such video gambling.

25% of $10 billion is a lot of potential money for the state of Minnesota, that is for sure. However, one potential target for all this money, and a target some casinos have already expressed a willingness to help out with as part of any negotiations, was not mentioned in either of these articles. That's right, stadiums in Minnesota. I've written about the tribe's offer to help fund stadiums before, and it still looks like Pawlenty is turning a blind eye to using casino revenue to finally help solve this problem.

Here is the way I see it though. The tribes know that helping to fund stadiums in Minnesota would help to increase their business given the connections between sports and gambling. Heck, I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'll patronize these casinos every day of the week and twice on Sunday if the tribes can help fund a new Twins stadium. And I've never even set foot in a casino in Minnesota. I know I'm not alone, and the tribes know it too. From a public relations standpoint, helping to fund stadiums in Minnesota is in the tribes' best business interests and I sincerely hope they demand that it is part of the upcoming negotiations with the state.

I have a feeling something is already in the works on this front. Sid Hartman reported in yesterday's column:

Behind the scenes there is some talk going on with Indian community, owners of casinos in the state, about making a big contribution so a new baseball park can be built.

Oh boy, that puts a little pep in my step this morning. It might be wise to write some tribes, like the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, and tell them that this would make a lot of Twins fans very, very happy.

Posted by snackeru at 8:50 AM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

September 22, 2004

Impact

Stadium opponents love to make the claim that the economic impact of a stadium on a city or region is negligible, or that stadiums don't really make for a good return on a city's investment. Of course, there are those that disagree. Personally, I think that the economic impact of a new stadium could be huge, but I will agree that the biggest impact a stadium has on a community is in quality of life for its residents (Mike Opat also feels the same way). However, to say that a stadium won't have any economic impact on a city or region is simply false. Our city leaders can talk about "quality of life" all they want, but there is little doubt that when Mayor Kelly or Mayor Rybak start fighting again for the opportunity to host a new Twins stadium they are really fighting for the chance for their respective cities to make a whole lot of money.

Take the Xcel Energy Center, for example. According to an editorial last Sunday in the Pioneer Press about the NHL lockout the Excel Energy Center accounts for "650 full-time jobs and $3.87 million a year in state income taxes money a state facing a $1 billion deficit in the coming biennium can ill afford to lose." Hey, every penny counts. Some stadium naysayers will point out that $3.87 million is really a drop in the bucket when compared to the overall state budget, so let's look at the economic impact on St. Paul specifically. Again according to the editorial, "Fans who come from outside St. Paul spend an estimated $23 million a year at local businesses." There is no getting around that number, $23 million is a substantial amount for a city's economy.

However, note that the editorial intentionally writes only about "fans who come from outside St. Paul." This assumes that the economic impact can only be measured by people who live outside the city since people who live in St. Paul will probably spend their entertainment dollars there anyway. That is a big assumption considering all the choices people have in the metro area. I have little doubt that the Xcel Energy Center also helps St. Paul retain money from its residents since instead of going to ... say ... Minneapolis to spend it they stay closer to home. How much does that increase the original number of $23 million? $30 million? $40 million? The editorial doesn't say. Deputy Mayor Dennis Flaherty, however, sums it up nicely by saying, "Losing a season of that will have a dramatic impact."

An NHL season has 82 games, 41 of which are played on the home ice. So, with only 41 games the city of St. Paul brings in at least $23 million extra dollars to the city coffers. At least. This doesn't even include special events like the NHL All-Star Game which conservative estimates say brought in an extra $15-20 million dollars for that weekend alone.

When you think about it that way, is there any wonder why Mayor Kelly and Mayor Rybak are so interested in building a Twins stadium? The Twins play 81 home games and they have the potential to draw at least twice as many fans as the Wild. Would it be safe to say that a city would bring in twice as much as $23 million or possibly more with a new Twins stadium? I would think the answer would be yes. In fact, I would think a new Twins stadium would bring in substantially more than $23 million. Somebody please tell me if I am off my rocker.


Posted by snackeru at 9:12 AM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

September 19, 2004

A couple more

I love Sid Hartman, but sometimes he writes some really stupid stuff. Take today for example, Sid has some things to say about Red's announcement yesterday that he won't spend another dime lobbying the legislature. Sid writes, "Red wants to sell the team, and the only legitimate possible buyer at the present is Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor." OK. I can buy that. We really don't know if Reggie Fowler is legitimate or just another Donald Watkins (or worse Socco Babbacas). Then Sid writes:

"Look for McCombs to keep the club, try to get the city of San Antonio to build a new, luxurious football stadium and consider moving the team to his home town once the Metrodome lease runs out in 2011."

That is insanity. First of all, San Antonio already has the Alamodome, which opened as recently as 1993. There is no way they will be ready to build another stadium in 2011. They can barely keep the Alamodome up to par. Also, the NFL does not want the Vikings to move to San Antonio. The NFL will do everything in its power to retain the NFC North. Finally, there is no way Red owns the team until 2011. No way. He is itching to sell, and he wants to get out bad. What is Sid thinking?

Secondly, we have this article from Viking Update. Boy did John Holler, the author, get up on the wrong side of the bed. He is ticked and I can certainly understand his frustration. The thought of being without the Vikings on Fall Sundays is almost unbearable. However, he makes some bold claims and takes some shots at Dean Johnson, Senate majority leader, which I feel are unwarranted.

Holler writes towards the end of the article:

"The truth is that the tax money generated by players salaries would more than pay for the state's share of a new stadium, much less the property taxes a stadium would generate and the revenue that would come from everything from ticket sales to parking revenue."

According to the 2002 Stadium Task Force Final Report (PDF) possible revenue from taxes on visiting NFL player's salaries would total no more than $250,000-$350,000. That is a far cry from the millions upon millions necessary yearly to pay off the bonds for a $650 million stadium, of which the state will have to pony up at least $10 million a year. What about the income taxes for the Vikings players? Truthfully, the legislature woud be loath to divert visiting players' income taxes let alone the home team's income taxes since both of these monies go into the state general fund. As many of you know, that money is off limits, even though without the team itself that money would be gone anyway. That money is simply untouchable no matter how much sense it makes. However, even with the home team's players' income taxes it probably still wouldn't be enough to pay for the state's share. But again, I can understand Holler's frustration.

But I don't understand this:

"As expected, when asked for a comment, Senate Majority Dean Johnson -- who loves to see his name quoted in Twin Cities newspaper whether what he says is idiotic or not -- was at it again. He reaffirmed his opposition, reminding everyone who still listens to his moronic bile that McCombs is a billionaire and the players are millionaires. Apparently he doesn't have that same moral objection when the Legislature passes a pork barrel project for his district or those of his political allies."

Dean Johnson has always been a friend of stadiums. In fact, Johnson was a primary author of the 2002 Twins stadium bill that passed but ultimately failed to produce any stadium. I remember watching him on the Senate floor literally beating away all the amendments stadium opponents were throwing at him to derail his efforts. I will agree that his rhetoric has changed somewhat since he became majority leader of the Senate, but he is still a stadium proponent, not an opponent. Just as recently as last year Johnson said Pawlenty's stadium plan would have no trouble passing through the Senate. Of course, it never got there, but Johnson's support was made very apparent. Really, I don't know why Johnson said what he said. It was cliched and painful to hear. Maybe he likes the Twins more than the Vikings? Who knows. However, when push comes to shove, Johnson will be there like he has always been. I have no doubt of that. If anyone deserves Holler's derision it is Rep. Phil Krinkie or Sen. Jon Marty.

Posted by snackeru at 10:53 AM | Comments (1) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

September 18, 2004

Red giving up?

Before we get to the festivities of a Gopher football game tonight, I must point out a couple of articles that popped up in the Twin Cities dailies today regarding Red's attempts at getting a new Vikings stadium. Truthfully, these articles were kind of hard to miss, but just in case you didn't see them:


Now, there are obviously some interesting things to say about these articles. First of all, what is Red's real motivation? Why announce that the Vikings will not lobby for a stadium this upcoming legislative session? On the one hand, Red could be playing a little reverse psychology with the legislature by trying to goad them into action by ignoring them. Not a good strategy, in my opinion, especially considering the time and effort Anoka County has put into this.
"There could be some reverse psychology taking place here,'' said Johnson, of Willmar. "You know, 'We didn't get our way, so we'll take our marbles and go home, and let 201 legislators explain to the people of Minnesota why there's not a new stadium for the Vikings.' ''

Dan Erhart has already said they aren't giving up, which is good:

Anoka County Board Chairman Dan Erhart said he doesn't know whether the team's decision is permanent or whether the Vikings are posturing. He said the county and city spent about $400,000 to conduct studies and promotion related to bringing a stadium on about 700 acres of land.

"I think the possibility is still out there," he said. "We've put together a comprehensive plan that we think will still work. We're not giving up."

Or Red could really believe that he has no shot with the legislature, so why waste the money? There is probably a little bit of truth to that one, although in the grand scheme of things Red has really shown a lack of patience when compared to Pohald and the Twins.

Finally, and this is the one that should get any Vikings fan excited, Red could feel that a sale of the team is imminent so why should he spend another dime of his money? Personally, that's what I hope is the reason he is making this announcement. However, why would Red announce this if he felt a sale was imminent? The legislative session doesn't start until February 2005. If he feels the team is going to be sold soon, why even bother with this announcement? He cold just save his money quietly. I don't know, but maybe Red feels that the Fowler-Hecker team is not legitimate and that he will, in fact, own the team when the legislative session starts in February. That is depressing.

Here is the way I see it. I really, really, really hope that the upcoming Fowler-Hecker bid is serious and taken seriously. Having a Minnesota owner would do wonders for the Vikings stadium drive at the capitol:

But Johnson said the Vikings might have an easier sell "if there's some Minnesota ownership involved. It's difficult to deal with Texas,'' Johnson said.

Indeed. However, I also feel strongly that not only would the momentum shift for the Vikings if they had a new Minnesota based owner, but momentum would also shift in the Twins favor.
Though the owner is frustrated, the team has made strides at the Capitol. Pawlenty says he wants the state to help the Twins and Vikings get new stadiums; not the Twins now and the Vikings in the future, which was the pecking order for years. A bill to build those stadiums was fairly well-received in the last legislative session but got caught in a log-jam behind a political fight over balancing the state budget.

With a new owner like Reggie Fowler, the first NFL minority owner and someone who has already said he would move to Minnesota, the legislature would inevitably want to hear what his plan is. Also, having Hecker involved, already a well known businessman in our community, the legislature would sit up and take notice. Now given Pawlenty's view that both the Twins and Vikings stadium problems should be solved at once, new Viking ownership would shift the momentum for both teams.

How much would momentum shift? Would it be enough? It would probably be enough to pass a super-bill for both teams, but whatever shape that bill would take it would have referendums attached. No way the legislature passes a bill without them. No way. Anoka County would have a referendum and St. Paul or Minneapolis would have a referendum. I don't see the legislature passing the bill any other way. Sadly, that would probably be an even tougher fight for the Twins and Vikings than the legislature.

So, how about that deal with the Native American tribes?

Posted by snackeru at 6:33 PM | Comments (1) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

September 17, 2004

Stadiums in Minnesota

Since the Twins Geek has linked to me touting my blathering on stadium issues, I've decided to shelve what I was going to write today and highlight some of the things I've written on stadiums before. For those of you that don't know, I am a stadium nut-job. I can't stop thinking about them. I soak up stadium news like a sponge and seek it out like a bounty hunter. So, if you want to keep up on what is happening regarding stadiums in Minnesota, then you have come to the right place.

Here are a few posts I've made in the past year regarding stadiums. Some you may agree with, and some you may not. One thing you will discover quickly though is I think about stadiums way too much. When they finally build at the very least a Twins stadium in Minnesota my free time will probably increase ten fold.

Of course, there is more. If you haven't yet made a decision on where you stand on the stadium issue in Minnesota, hopefully I can help you decide. One thing I will never figure out is the apathy of Twins fans regarding this issue. If every Twins fan wrote their legislator a letter concerning a new Twins stadium it would make a huge difference. The threat of losing the Twins is real. They cannot survive in the Metrodome forever. And quite frankly we, as fans, should be demanding better. Until then we will look at Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, Seattle, Denver, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Detroit, Atlanta, Cleveland, Arlington, Foxboro, Green Bay, Phoenix, Milwaukee, San Diego, Cincinatti, Nashville, and all the others that have figured out how to make something work ... we will look at all of them and wonder how they did it. Are we not smart enough to figure something out? Or are we too smart? Whatever the case, we are rapidly approaching, as Larry Spooner calls it, 3rd Dakota status.

Posted by snackeru at 9:27 AM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

Category "Family"

Category "Life"

Category "Sports business"

Category "Stadiums"

Category "Vikings"

September 14, 2004

Why do I even try to think of a title...

• Kids ... I swear I am keeping track of all the extra money my kids are costing me. When they hit 18 I am going to present them all with bills for damages to my house and car through the years that will shock them. It is already shocking me, and my oldest is only 9. Take last week for example. My daughter, who just turned four, decided to "color" my mini-van. Only she decided to use a rock as her crayon. When I saw the damage, which wraps around the entire vehicle, I was too stunned to speak. Sputtering, I turned to my daughter to ask her what on earth prompted her to wreak this kind of devastation on something I am years away from paying off. She just looked at me and said, "Dad, you're crazy." I don't know what to say to this. No matter how much I want to, I cannot reason with a four year old. It is impossible. You say, "Honey, you can't scrape a rock against a car. It ruins the car." And she says, "OK Daddy, do you want to play with my dolls?" How frustrating. Maybe I am crazy. Regardless of my mental state right now, though, she is going to get a bill for this when she least expects it. Oh yes, there will be restitution!

• Interesting article about the Vikings defensive line today in the Star Trib. As I sat in my seat at the Dome this weekend I was thinking the same thing. Vinny had all the time in the world to throw. I don't care how good your corners are, if the QB never feels any pressure he will eventually find an open man. According to the article, Dallas was only hurried on 12 of 50 throws. 12 of 50!!! That is unacceptable, especially considering how strong the Packers O-line is. And it appears that Hovan received most of the criticism. Are we a couple of weeks away from a benching? I wonder. I also wonder about this quote:

"They were going up against [Pro Bowl left guard] Larry Allen. I didn't expect them to go out and beat Larry Allen on every snap. He's a future Hall of Fame-type guy. But I didn't expect us to hand him a yellow coat, either. That's what we did out there. We handed him a yellow coat."

Maybe I'm just dense, but what in the heck does it mean to hand someone a yellow coat? I have no idea what this means. Oh wait, I just figured it out. They hand you a yellow coat when you enter the Hall of Fame. Sheesh, I guess I'm a little slow on the draw today.

• Bob Sansavere wrote an interesting column today for a change that suggests the relationship between Reggie Fowler and Denny Hecker isn't as set in stone as we have been led to believe. Apparently the deal, as far as Hecker is concerned, hinges on whether or not they can get a stadium deal shortly after purchasing the team.

"The biggest hurdle is not the purchase price,'' he said, "it's setting up without a stadium. That's what we're really looking at where would we be without a stadium.''

Hecker also added:
"This goes back to, 'Be careful what you wish for.' If you get it, you may not get rid of it. If you do get (the Vikings) and don't get a stadium right away, it's more painful than it is with a stadium. You don't want to risk enormous capital for fun.''

I also heard on the radio this morning some comments from Tim Pawlenty who was audibly happy about a local owner possibly buying the Vikings. Could part of Hecker's involvement be some assurances from the governor that he would look more favorably on a new Vikings stadium with a local owner? I would say that the answer is a definitive yes. No way Hecker, or Fowler for that matter, would do this deal without talking with the governor. Pawlenty also said he expects an offer to made within the next few weeks. While the article above hinted that things are still up in the air, I would be shocked if Red didn't have an offer on the table by the second week of October.

Posted by snackeru at 8:58 AM | Comments (1) | Family | Life | Sports business | Stadiums | Vikings

Category "Stadiums"

September 10, 2004

St. Paul Twins stadium in jeopardy

The Pioneer Press is reporting today that Mayor Kelly wants the Twins to make a choice between Minneapolis and St. Paul for their mythical new stadium. According to the article, the Mayor would like to use the site across from the Xcel Energy Center as "an entertainment and retail magnet instead" if the Twins decide to go with Minneapolis.

I can't decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand, allowing our state legislators to focus on the financing rather than the site selection might make for a more meaningful debate. Right now it is a battle royale between St. Paul and Minneapolis legislators that is doing little more than splitting the vote and seemingly making it harder to pass a workable stadium bill. On the other hand, competition between the two cities puts pressure on the legislature and could result in a better deal for the Twins. I guess I'd have to say that I am leaning towards siding with the Mayor. I want the Twins to make a choice so we can focus on the financing.

The article also quotes Jerry Bell who said:

"He can't let that land sit there forever. It's probably a wise thing for him to do ... But there really isn't anything that the city can do, or the Twins can do, unless the Legislature gets involved,'' Bell said. "We're extremely frustrated with the inaction of the last legislative session. It means that costs will go up for a stadium and everything else the Legislature didn't approve, like state buildings and bridges."

Rybak also chimed in with his "cities should work together" mantra, but really Bell is right. Unless the state gets involved and passes something workable and meaningful, it doesn't matter what the Twins decide. There is a $1 billion deficit looming on the horizon, so once again the prospects for a Twins stadium bill passing in the next legislative session do not look good. Bring on the quote of the day from Mayor Kelly:

But, Kelly said, he has hope. The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe said two weeks ago it wants to discuss ventures to finance a Twins or Vikings stadium.

"I want to see how discussions with the tribes and the governor are going,'' Kelly said.

That, Twins fans, may be our only hope. The more I think about it, the more a plan to work with the Native American casinos makes sense. I've written about this before so I don't want to get too deep into this discussion, but using casino money from the tribes, money that the tribes have now offered to build stadiums, is such a win-win situation. For one, it solves the stadium problem. That would be huge. Secondly, it doesn't expand gambling in Minnesota and allows the tribes to keep their monopoly. In the past, anti-gambling people have sided with the anti-stadium people because they didn't want to see slots at Canterbury Downs, or a "racino", expand gambling in Minnesota. With the tribes offering this money, gambling stays with the Native Americans. Thirdly, the state doesn't build any unhealthy reliance on gambling money to fund the state budget. I personally don't mind using gambling money to build stadiums, but I am a little nervous about using that money to fund necessary state services. However, using Wisconsin's deal with their tribes as a model, there would be plenty of money left over for stuff like this even after we built stadiums. Finally, the tribes would be state heroes. Solving the stadium problem in Minnesota would be huge and as a Vikings and Twins fan I would probably reward the Native American casinos accordingly and give them my business. That may be part of their strategy.

So, if you haven't done so already, email Gov. Pawlenty today at tim.pawlenty@state.mn.us and tell him that whatever deal he strikes with the tribes has to include a solution for this stadium mess. It is time to put all this behind us and finally solve this problem.

Posted by snackeru at 8:55 AM | Comments (4) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

September 9, 2004

Moving on Up

Twins stadium Well, isn't that a surprise. The mighty (and I say that with the utmost respect) Aaron Gleeman has bumped me up to "Minnesota Twins Stuff" status. I started on his blog ranking as "Down on the Farm" and now I have moved to "above the fold" on his site. I am very flattered. Aaron Gleeman's writing on the Twins puts my meager ramblings to shame. However, one thing I know I've got everyone on is blathering about stadiums. Twins stadium, Vikings stadium, Gopher Stadium, South High Stadium, I say build them all! I am unapologetically pro-stadium and come November I will not vote Republican, nor Democrat, but totally on what I call the "Stadium Ticket." You show the Twins a little love, and you've got my vote. As Jack Black said in Anchorman, "That's the way I roll."

Here is the way I see it. There are two anti-stadium arguments that drive me nuts. Actually there are more, but these drive me the most crazy. Argument #1: We shouldn't build stadiums for millionaire players and billionaire owners. The fact of the matter is the owners really don't care if you build them a stadium or not. Some way, somehow, they will get their money, either by moving the team, selling the team, offering the team up for contraction ... you get the picture. So, I've got an idea, how about we build the stadium for the fans? Let's build a stadium for US! Like it or not, the owners will always be rich, but there is a distinct possibility that poor schlobs like me will not only be poor, but we could also be without the Twins or Vikings. How is that a good deal?

That brings me to argument #2: We shouldn't build any stadiums because that money should be spent on education, or health care, or the police, etc., etc. The Twins have been trying to build a stadium since 1995. That is almost 10 years. So, for almost 10 years we haven't built any stadiums. In that time, how much extra money has gone to education since we haven't built any stadiums? Has our public education system seen any kind of financial windfall as a result of us not building stadiums? No, of course not. Education hasn't seen one extra dime. So here is the deal, either we can have inadequate funding for education and a couple new stadiums, or we can just have inadequate funding for education. I'll take the former.

Can you imagine sitting in an outdoor stadium on a beautiful summer day? Can you imagine actually putting on sun tan lotion before the game? Can you imagine seeing baseball played on real grass? I don't care about Carl Pohlad or Torii Hunter, I care about ME. I want to bring my kids to the ballpark and see some outdoor baseball. I don't think that is too much to ask, especially considering how many other cities have figured out a way to get it done. Are we as Minnesotans too pragmatic, or are we just too stupid? Let's figure it out and move on!

If you agree with me, great. You'll read a lot more posts like this in the weeks ahead. We are entering the time of year Phil Krienke calls the "Stadium Bataan Death March" and there will be plenty to write about and comment on. If you don't agree with me then save your breath. I am like a rabid dog when it comes to building stadiums. I cannot be convinced otherwise.

If you are interested, I've written about stadiums before ... many, many times actually.

Posted by snackeru at 4:25 PM | Comments (1) | Stadiums

Category "Sports"

Category "Stadiums"

September 8, 2004

Short

Too many meetings and not enough time today. Morten Andersen ... just thinking about him makes my blood boil. And now I will be expected to cheer for him. I tell you, if his leg can finally get the Vikings in the Super Bowl all will be forgiven. He is definitely an upgrade over Elling or Conway so we should all be happy about that.

Johan is on the mound tonight so I think it is obvious what I'll be doing around 6 PM. And we are lucky that ESPN picked up the game or we would be out of luck. FSN is showing a Lynx game rather than Twins baseball. Talk about an unfortunate scheduling snafu. I know they probably scheduled the Lynx game when the Twins were still on Victory, but they must be kicking themselves that this game comes on the day Santana is pitching. ESPN should see some good ratings in the Minnesota area tonight.

And I don't know if any of you read the Pohald article in the Star Tribune yesterday, but I thought it was pretty humorous. I mean, Pohald sure is a cantankerous old fellow. Of course, there was a question regarding the stadium issue, and whether or not the Twins would go back to the legislature next year. Jerry Bell answered the question:

"We're evaluating that now. We've had some preliminary discussion with two communities that are interested [St. Paul and Hennepin County]. The question now, is it realistic to think the legislature will play a role. We don't know the answer to that, so we're evaluating it."

Very, very interesting. I wonder what happens if they decide that it isn't realistic to expect the legislature to play a role. Do they just go it alone? Do they more vigorously look for private money, or partner with a development group to get it done? Do they just pack it in and stay in the Metrodome forever? They have got to know that if they went it alone and built the stadium with their own money back in 1995 they would already be close to paying it off. It would have cost them half of what it costs now. Obviously it could be a very interesting winter.

Posted by snackeru at 8:51 AM | Comments (3) | Sports | Stadiums

Category "Life"

Category "Sports"

Category "Stadiums"

Category "UThink"

September 2, 2004

What a day

• Sorry for the lack of posts this morning. Tim and I ran into a little unexpected traffic this morning in the HOV lane. In fact the traffic in that lane was at an absolute stand-still. This, of course, is very odd. Usually we are flying down 394 waving to all the saps in the regular lanes as we zoom by, but today it was the exact opposite. It was like I was trapped in Bizarro world! It seems the police set up the mother of all HOV single driver traps and it brought all the traffic in that lane to a screecing halt. I say "it seems" because I never actually saw the police pulling single drivers over. We heard about it on the radio. When we got to the end of the lane the police were gone and traffic started to move at a normal pace. Tim and I were kind of upset since we wanted to see some police brutality inflicted on those lawless single drivers.

• When I got to work I got a call from a librarian in another library on campus who told me the dean of a certain school was deeply troubled by UThink. Apparently he is upset that students could use UThink to negatively comment on classes or professors at the U, particularly in his school. I love this kind of stuff, especially considering where the complaint is coming from. I'm sorry I can't be more specific. Free speech! You gotta love it. What I'm most excited about is that the University Libraries can use this opportunity to invoke our campus role as defenders of intellectual freedom and free speech. I don't think the complaint will really go anywhere, but if it does I think the Libraries are well positioned to defend our stance.

• I would be remiss if I didn't write about stadiums every chance I got so I offer this little tidbit today. According to a Pioneer Press article yesterday, the upcoming hockey strike or lockout could have a dramatic effect on business in downtown St. Paul. That is really obvious. However, what I found interesting in the article was this little factoid about the Xcel Energy Center:

" Last year alone, hockey and other events at the arena added $104 million to St. Paul's economy, according to a study by St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce."

Again, is anyone upset they built the Xcel Energy Center? The same naysayers that we have now fighting against a new Twins stadium also fought against the construction of the X. The X has done wonders for the economy of St. Paul, not to mention the intangibles of civic pride and the new and improved impression most Minnesotans have concerning the capitol city. Goodness, let's not make that mistake again and actually give people a reason to come to St. Paul all year round.

• Could Denny Hecker and Glen Taylor be working on a partnership to buy the Vikings? According to Sid Hartman, Denny and Glen were seen talking with each other on a boat cruise last week. And Charley Walters is reporting that:

"When all the talk of selling and buying the Vikings is complete, people in the know expect that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor also will own the Vikings. That could be sooner rather than later."

It should be an interesting next couple of weeks. I expect if something doesn't happen by the end of next week, nothing will happen until the end of the season. We'll see, though, we shall see.

That's all I got today. See you tomorrow.

Posted by snackeru at 1:39 PM | Comments (2) | Life | Sports | Stadiums | UThink

Category "Sports"

Category "Stadiums"

September 1, 2004

Stuff on my mind

• My mom tells me that I am a distant relative of Knute Rockne. According to her, he is like me "800th cousin" or something like that. I know Cheesehead Craig won't be impressed, but it appears my awesome knowledge of football isn't just a fluke, it is in my blood.

• Good Twins game last night. I must admit that I'm never too excited when the game goes to extra innings, but Torii Hunter's walk-off home run made it all worth while. I also read that Lohse's position in the rotation is in jeopardy based on last night's performance. I don't know what to think about that. Who else do the Twins have? Joe Roa? J.D. Durbin? Matt Guerrier? You know, I didn't think Seth Greisinger did too bad of a job when he pitched early this season. It looks like we've got options, I'm just not too sure they are much better than Lohse.

• This is probably obvious or well-known to most of you already, but SI.com has a great daily wrap up of the world of sports called "The 10 Spot" which I have started to read everyday. Yesterday's edition has a very good discussion on the Paul Hamm gold medal controversy and presents it from an angle that I didn't consider. It is actually pretty convincing. Anyway, some may consider The 10 Spot a rip-off of the Daily Quickie from ESPN, but I actually think The 10 Spot is a little better.

• If you haven't had a chance to look at Anoka County's bid to build a new Vikings stadium in Blaine, now is your chance. They have a great FAQ about the stadium proposal that really does a nice job of arguing for the merits of stadium development in general. Among the highlights:

Anyway, it was a great FAQ. Check it out if you are interested.

Posted by snackeru at 9:03 AM | Comments (6) | Sports | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

August 27, 2004

Prorities

I don't know why I do it. I get my hopes up, and, as always, they are quickly dashed. God bless the Mille Lacs band of Ojibwe, but no matter how much sense their plan makes it probably won't result in any stadiums. Why am I so pessimistic? Pawlenty has already played the priorities card:

Pawlenty said Benjamin's letter "may set the table for more productive talks'' on revenue sharing. He said if the talks were to produce revenue for state projects, he believes there would be higher priorities than building stadiums.

That, in a nutshell, is Pawlenty's view on stadiums in Minnesota: they are not and should not be a state priority. A community priority? Sure, if St. Paul wants to build a new stadium they can raise the money to do it. But the state should be minimally involved. Truthfully when you look at the type of deal the state could probably reach with the tribes they could easily build two stadiums and still have tons of money left over. According to the Star Tribune article on this topic Wisconsin tribes have agreed to pay $200 million to the state over the next two years. One could surmise that a new deal will be struck after two years that will probably increase the state's take. Heck, we could build three stadiums and still have $100 - $150 million left over every two years with a deal like that in Minnesota.

However, a budget deficit looms on the horizon in Minnesota:

Thursday's developments came as the state faces a new budget deficit estimated at up to $1 billion for the 2005-07 fiscal cycle. That has led to speculation that, given political resistance to raising taxes, gambling revenues -- from Indians or non-Indians -- will make up a significant portion of the budget solution reached by the 2005 Legislature.

Wow. Does anyone else get a little twitchy when we may need to use gambling proceeds to make up significant portions of our state budget? That is a very slippery slope that I would hope we wouldn't rely on too much. It makes so much more sense to use this development to take care of our never-ending stadium debate:

Can anyone think of any other reasons why this is, or isn't, a good idea? The Vikings have already said they are willing to negotiate, and even though the Twins have not replied with the same excitement, I think they would come around if the tribes promised large amounts of cash. Again, as I said above, I shouldn't get my hopes up, but I will keep a close eye on this development that is for sure.

Posted by snackeru at 9:03 AM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

Category "Stadiums"

August 26, 2004

Casinos and Stadiums

Just a quick note: I have seen the news regarding the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and their overture to the state to share some of their revenue, possibly for a new stadium for the Twins and Vikings. I've gotten my hopes up before, and I don't mind saying that this news article is getting my hopes up all over again! I am giddy about this news. I can't stop smiling. If the Native American casinos in this state shared enough to build new stadiums I would be so happy ... man just thinking about it makes me pause and think about how wonderful it would be to have some outdoor baseball in this state. Oh please, oh please let's all pray that something happens as a result of this! More news tomorrow I'm sure!

Posted by snackeru at 5:51 PM | Stadiums

Category "Sports"

Category "Stadiums"

Regular programming?

  • I love Sid Hartman. I don't love him for his articles on the Star Tribune, or his knowledge of Minnesota sports. Sometimes I think his articles are pure nonsense, and usually he is the crabbiest person in Minnesota on his radio show. One thing I will give him credit for, though, is that he keeps us informed concerning stadiums in Minnesota. He may be even more pro-stadium than me if that can be believed.

    Anyway, in case you missed it, Sid wrote another article on the Vikings stadium mess today. In it he makes various points:

    • Red McCombs will not spend a dime on stadium lobbying this year.
    • Red, Pawlenty, and Tagliabue all feel that a new owner would have a better chance of getting a new Vikings stadium in Minnesota.
    • A unnamed NFL owner has told Sid that the Vikings will not be able to compete in the NFL in three to four years without a new stadium.
    • Reggie Fowler does not have enough money to buy 51% of the Vikings. Principal owners of NFL franchises must own 51% of the team.
    • Glen Taylor is the only "logical" owner for the Vikings.
    • Denny Hecker is also rumored to be interested in buying the team.
    • $600 million is asking too much for the Vikings, especially without a stadium.

    That is what I took away from the article. My summary: Red will not own the Vikings past this year. A local owner, or group of owners, will step forward. We may not hear much about a Vikings stadium at the legislature this year, but I think Pawlenty favors passing a bill that solves this stadium problem once and for all, for the Twins and the Vikings. Oh yes, it should be an interesting session this year. Will something finally be passed? He he, this is still Minnesota ... I put the chances at 10%.

  • Looks like Rob Neyer of ESPN is picking Santana to win the AL Cy Young:
    Look, wins are important. But this season there have been two starting pitchers who have simply been better than all the rest. One is Jason Schmidt, and the other is Santana. At this moment, Santana and Mulder are separated by three wins. I don't mean to belittle the importance of three wins, but consider ... On July 10, Mulder got hit hard in Cleveland: six and two-thirds innings, nine hits, three walks, six runs. The Athletics scored 16 runs, though, and Mulder got his 12th win (and please, no e-mail about Mulder "pitching to the score"; after five innings the A's trailed 5-3). The very next day, Santana pitched eight innings against the Tigers and allowed two hits, two walks, and two runs. He lost, 2-0.

    Reverse those two results, and only one win separates Mulder and Santana, and your Cy Young choice is easy because of course Santana's pitched better. Yes, I know we can play that reverse-the-results game all day long ... but that's sort of the point. The difference between 17 wins and 14 wins is, in many cases, the result of luck. Just ask Tim Hudson. And if you ask me, Johan Santana is the best pitcher in the American League.

  • What is the Twins three man rotation for the playoffs? Radke, Santana, and Silva? After Lohse's performance last night I think Silva is more of a certainty, but I also think Gardy doesn't like Silva much. Remember when Silva tossed the ball into the Metrodome stands after his shutout a few weeks ago? Gardy was steamed. Now just two days ago Silva pictches with a pain in his neck, doesn't tell Gardy, and Gardy is again ticked. I don't know, but maybe he doesn't trust Silva. The only other option is Mulholland. Let's see how Terry does tonight.

    Posted by snackeru at 12:41 PM | Comments (1) | Sports | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    August 12, 2004

    Tags and Stadiums

    What's that you say? I forgot about some stadium news last week? How dare you! I most certainly did not forget, I've just been taking some time to mull it over before I spring it on you when you least expect it. As you probably already know Tagliabue had some words about the Viking stadium issue when he was in town last weekend to witness the Chiefs and the Vikings try to kill each other. Tagliabue began his news conference with a little blah, blah, blah before he got to what was on everyone's mind, a new Vikings stadium in Minnesota:

    "I know the stadium has been an issue, I have spoken several times with the governor, and met with him. We are just going to keep working on that, and taking advantage of what this team is; a meaningful asset opportunity for the state, and try to continue to work with the authorities to get a stadium done. I have been a bit frustrated, some of the other people have been, maybe not as much progress has been made as we had certainly hoped. We are going to re-double our efforts, and try to make certain that this team is here in a new stadium in the near future."

    Roughly translated, Tagliabue actually said:
    "Holy cow you Minnesotans sure put up a fight when it comes to publicly financed stadiums! I mean, yikes! But thanks to that dag-blasted lease, not to mention the bane of my existence (aka the 'Rozelle letter'), there isn't a whole lot we can do besides whine and moan some more and hope that you believe our threats that we could move the team to LA."

    Tags was then asked if there was any timetable on building a new stadium and he answered:
    "Well for me the timetable is last year or the year before. I'll take my lead from the leadership, and from the team. We've been very successful in over 20 cities in responding to the needs of each community, and tailor making solutions to each community; different kinds of public/private partnerships, different kinds of facilities."

    Roughly translated he actually said:
    "Usually all the NFL has to do is say 'jump' and most cities say, 'How high?' I mean, 20 cities have already ponied up the money to get it done. We just say you need the NFL, or the NFL is going to need to move to LA and it get's done with very little private investment."

    Tags was then asked if he is surprised something hasn't been done yet and he answered:
    "Nothing surprises me because these are complex projects. They do have to be tailor made to each community, each state, and each franchise. It takes time, but at some point you would think that things would collate, that it seems like some of the solutions would have been out there, merit support, and I would hope that it could get done ... There are three [NFC North] divisional opponents with new stadiums, so that is the reality of the situation. "

    Roughly translated he actually said:
    "The Green Bay Packers have once again proven that they have better fans and a better tradition than the Vikings. Even the Lions have built a stadium and they haven't been to the playoffs for what ... like 100 years! What is wrong with you people?"

    Tags was then asked if he has any comments on the possibility of Glen Taylor buying the team:
    "I have met with a number of individuals who expressed interest in the Vikings, as I meet with individuals expressing interest in other teams. Right now my focus is trying to understand from the leadership here in the state; the collective leadership, the business community leadership, as part of that I would put the Vikings ownership, Red McCombs and his executives here. My goal at this point is to understand what the dynamics are that could produce a consensus on a stadium for the Vikings. Hopefully we can get that done sooner rather than later. Whether people want to buy teams or not buy teams is really beyond me. What we can have an impact on as a league is getting stadiums built. At least for now we have the ability to invest some league money in a stadium. I am going to focus on the stadium and not on the ownership."

    What he actually said was:
    "Well, I'll give you Minnesotans credit for one thing, I wouldn't trust that son-of-a-gun Red McCombs as far as I can spit, and I can't spit worth a hill of beans! I include him in the equation only because I have to, and truth be told he has made a royal mess out of everything with his veiled threats and his phony Texan hospitality. Everytime he mentions the Vikings could move to LA I just about self-combust. He is so far down the list the Packers have a better chance of moving to LA at this point than the Vikings. And I would also like to take this opportunity to publicly apologize for this whole 'Purple Pride' business Red has come up with. Frankly I'm ... I'm ... well I'm just speechless about the whole thing. On behalf of the entire NFL I offer my sincerest apologies."

    Finally, Tags was asked if the NFL would ever consider increasing the money it provides for stadium construction. Tags answered:
    "I don't think so. We have a formula that has been followed in all of the situations that we have dealt with in the last five years, it's an unprecedented commitment by the league. There is no other league; basketball, baseball, hockey which does anything like that."

    This could be translated as:
    "HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Oh my ... seriously you guys have made me pee my pants. That is rich. Let's just put it this way, Major League Baseball will be more popular than football again before we increase the funding. Man, you guys are hilarious!"

    If you can't tell, I'm of the opinion that Tagliabue's comments are almost completely meaningless. He's said them before and he'll say them many times again before the Vikings lease expires in 2011. Tags could dress up in a clown suit and howl at Phil Krienke for two months straight and it wouldn't make a bit of difference. Minnesota politicians are so proud of what they've done (or not done) with the Twins that we may never see a stadium built for either team.

    Here is what I think is funny, Minnesota politicians actually think the public will back their decision not to build any stadiums. Wow, is that decision going to come back and bite them. The public is a very fickle bunch and once they figure out what not having the Twins and Vikings has done to their state it won't be pretty. If the legislature never passes a bill to build a Vikings stadium and the team actually does move to LA or somewhere else (after 2011 of course) the public is going to be Angry, with a capital A. 75% of Minnesotans have their TVs tuned to the Vikings on Sunday afternoons in the fall. 75%!!!! If a stadium did get built some anti-stadium folk would be really upset, there is no disputing that. But if a stadium didn't get built and the Vikings left? Oh my ... people would come out of the woodwork in condemnation. It would be a bloodbath.

    That's what I think anyway.

    Posted by snackeru at 7:24 AM | Comments (10) | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    August 3, 2004

    Stadiums and smoke

    Stadium news ... yo-hoooooo ... where are you? Ahh, there you are, you thought you could hide from me, but I found you! The past few days have produced a couple of articles concerning my favorite topic, stadiums in Minnesota, and as per usual the news is not very good. Apparently, the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association and other state hospitality groups may withdraw their support for taxes on the hospitality industry for a new Twins stadium if smoking is banned in bars in the metro area:


    It seems the hospitality industry is complaining that they have been bearing the taxing burden for too long, and if they also have to bear the brunt of a smoking ban they aren't going to take it anymore:
    Bar and restaurant owners say they're worried about the confluence of the two issues and the impact on their financial bottom line. For too long, those who sell liquor have been a scapegoat for politicians unwilling to cut services or go to the public for more taxes, said Jim Farrell, executive director of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association.

    "We can't do it all," said Farrell, who represents thousands of Minnesota liquor retailers, including bars and restaurants. The association's members have voiced support to help build a new stadium for the Twins in the past. The group "will consider now aligning itself against" any stadium plan that would further tax them, he added.

    Farrell also added, "If the anti-stadium folks and the bar folks get together, I believe it's over with." Boy, talk about some horrible long term thinking. I can understand their aversion to a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants. They feel fewer people will come to those bars and restaurants if they can't smoke. However, to remedy this potential problem they decide to take away their support for a Twins stadium. I'd like to know just what kind of impact do they think this move and its likely consequences will have ... If the Twins don't get a new stadium and leave town, bars and restaurants in the metro area will lose even more business. How does this make any sense? Steve Kelley, my beloved state senator, seems to agree with my thinking:

    Farrell will have a tough time selling his argument. State Sen. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins, said he is skeptical about alleged financial losses should city bars and restaurants be subjected to both smoking bans and taxes to support a ballpark.

    "I'm not getting the economic logic, but the political logic I totally get," said Kelley, who was a chief sponsor of stadium legislation at the Capitol last session. The liquor industry may be using the stadium issue as leverage to kill or delay the smoking bans, said Kelley, who argues that the establishments undoubtedly would earn more revenue should a new ballpark be built nearby.


    Unfortunately, this is just another episode in the tragic soap opera of stadium politics in Minnesota. Bottom line: does it hurt the Twins chances of finally seeing a stadium built in Minnesota? Yes. But truthfully, it doesn't hurt that much. Most legislators will see this as a bluff, I should think, and there are still other powerful organizations in the state that support building stadiums, like construction unions throughout the state. But it sure doesn't help.

    Posted by snackeru at 12:29 PM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    Category "Twins"

    July 15, 2004

    Twins and stadiums

    There have been a lot of interesting columns and articles in recent days concerning my favorite topic, the Twins and their never ending drive for a new stadium. First of all we have Sid Hartman who wrote a column on Sunday which was highlighted by some nice comments from our governor Tim Pawlenty:

    "If we have a special session, which is in serious doubt -- in fact, I would probably say it's not going to happen now," the governor responded. "Many legislators feel the stadium would be too much to bite off during a special session.

    "I do think, though, the good news is that it is more likely than ever that the Legislature will seriously consider and perhaps pass a Twins stadium deal or a stadium deal more broadly sometime in the next 12 months.


    So, to recap, even if there was a special session, it is unlikely a stadium bill would be part of it. That shouldn't be a surprise or a worry for Twins fans since I don't think a special session will be called at all. Secondly, Pawlenty thinks there is enough interest and desire to pass a stadium bill within the next 12 months:
    "If it doesn't happen in a special session, I think it is ripe for consideration as early as January or February, when the legislature comes back. So there is still a lot of hope, more hope than there was a year or two ago."

    You might think that I would be jumping up and down in happiness over this statement, but I've heard it all before. There is always plenty of optimism, but never any resolve to actually get something done. So, we'll see. However I think it is highly unlikely that the legislature considers a stadium bill until the end of the regular session next year, not January or February.

    The next set of articles we have come from Patrick Reusse and Tom Powers, who both wrote about the lack of fan support for the Twins. Tom Powers in particular had some choice words for the fan base of the Twin Cities:

    "We should stop kidding ourselves. Minneapolis and St. Paul should have a Class AAA team instead of the Twins. This is not major league territory."

    He later added:
    During a year in which attendance is up throughout baseball, the Twins are drawing 1,000 fewer per game than last season. After a historic stretch of three consecutive complete-game shutouts last week, they drew 14,000 against Detroit. The season-ticket base is a ridiculous 7,500.

    Once again, the Twins likely will not be able to coax 2 million fans into the Metrodome. Remember that 2 million barely is a respectable number these days the equivalent of a batter hitting .260. And that's despite dirt-cheap ticket prices and the team contending for its third consecutive division title.


    I've written before why I think there is a lack of fans at the Metrodome but I think a couple points bear repeating. Of course, my main reason for pathetic fan support is the fact that the Metrodome is indoors and a horrible baseball stadium. There is no getting around that. And again, people are sick of Pohlad and his whining about a stadium. Pohlad absolutely destroyed the fan base during the 90s with really bad teams and threats to move to North Carolina. There is still a lot of negativity towards the Twins as a result of this. Really, you reap what you sow.

    A comment from Curt in Grand Forks also deserves repeating. For years the Twins have been telling us how bad the Metrodome is for baseball. They have beat into our heads over and over again that the Dome has "poor sightlines" for baseball and that it is a football stadium. For years the Twins themselves have been basically telling us that watching baseball in the Dome is not that much fun. Why are they so surprised that people are listening to them?

    Does this mean that the Twins don't have a good fan base? Hardly. In the same column Powers also writes:

    [Team President Dave] St. Peter says he is not giving up. He points out that, incredibly, TV ratings are near an all-time high.

    "There has been a disconnect," he said. "So many people are watching on TV, and that says there is a lot of interest. But they aren't coming to the ballpark. It's our job to figure out why."

    The recurring theme, he says, is that people don't like the Metrodome. Which is unfortunate because people don't want to build a new park, either.


    It is those precious TV ratings that are now our only hope for a new stadium. Those ratings, and the fact that the Twins were the first AL team to draw 3 million fans, prove this area is major league. People love watching the Twins, but they don't like the Metrodome. La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune wrote a great article yesterday which quoted Selig as saying that contraction is off the table and unnecessary due to MLB's better economic balance. Again, this is good news/bad news for Twins fans. Without the threat of contraction the stadium drive loses a little steam. However, if you read between the lines of Selig's comments contraction may no longer be an option, but relocation is still a very real option. Virginia may be chosen to get the Expos, but Portland, OR is also making a big push. Could Portland make a push for the Twins? Powers seems to think so:
    "My guess is that the Twins franchise one day will wind up in Portland, Ore., where the veteran players will tell stories about gloomy days and sparse crowds in Minnesota. And such a move will be good for baseball, solidifying one more financially shaky team."

    Personally I think this threat is very real. Oakland, Florida, and the Twins are all in the mix, but Pohlad has already proven he has the balls to pull the trigger.

    So, why are the TV ratings so important now? Even though Victory Sports failed it still had a positive effect towards the stadium drive. When the Twins weren't on TV people in Minnesota were literally freaking out. Legislators were inundated with mail demanding they do something to put the Twins back on TV. They were so overwhelmed they even put an amendment in the stadium bill that the Twins had to be on TV! Can you imagine the kind of mail and feedback they'll get if the Twins not only aren't on TV but aren't even in Minnesota? That, Twins fans, is reason for optimism. The Victory Sports debacle may still prove successful if it can push this stadium bill over the top.

    There will be more later. I've got to get to work!

    Posted by snackeru at 9:09 AM | Stadiums | Twins

    Category "Stadiums"

    Category "Twins"

    July 9, 2004

    I need my fix

    I am addicted. I am addicted to the thought of building stadiums in Minnesota. It totally consumes me. I can't watch a baseball, or football, game without thinking about new stadiums in Minnesota. I soak up stadium news like a sponge. If I read or hear the word "stadium" I perk up like a little doggy and I beg for more. Listening to the radio, watching the news, reading the paper, walking down the sidewalk, I am constantly on the lookout for any tidbit, any little hint of stadium news in Minnesota. Seriously, when a decision is finally made on stadiums here in this fine state I will have so much time on my hands I won't know what to do with it.

    So, let's get on with today's news. Today the Star Tribune had a good editorial on the good news/bad news aspect of moving the Expos to the DC area. Let's dissect it a little. The editors write:

    Our interpretation is that moving the Expos holds both good and bad news for the Twins and their fans -- good because contraction is no longer a threat, bad because without contraction hovering overhead a new ballpark in the Twin Cities seems less likely.

    First of all, I'm not sure that moving the Expos to DC will take away the threat of contraction. Personally I think the Florida Marlins are ripe to try out the contraction threat. Keep in mind that the Marlins are also desperate for a stadium and have recently been rebuffed by the Florida state legislature. They are also owned by Jeff Loria, the former owner of the Expos. Mr. Loria is already pretty gifted at alienating fans so I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the Marlins offer themselves up.

    One thing I do agree with is with the threat of contraction gone, the chances for a new stadium decrease. Not much mind you since the chances are currently at the "when pigs fly" level, but the chances do decrease. Hard to believe, I know. The editorial goes on to say:

    Minnesota needs to act in its best interests, irrespective of contraction or the movement of franchises. A new ballpark is badly needed, not just to enhance the long-term viability of the Twins but to ensure the competitiveness of the region. We agree with Gov. Tim Pawlenty when he calls the Twins an important asset to Minnesota's quality of life. Smart people protect their assets and reinvest in them.

    This is a good paragraph highlighted by the phrase, "to ensure the competitiveness of the region." Like it or not, when buisnesses look to invest in a community by building a factory, or creating a headquarters, they look at the quality of life in the community. One aspect of quality of life they look at is professional sports in the area. Look at this table listing the largest metro areas in the country. The Twin Cities are number 15. But look down at number 31. Did you know that the Norfolk and Virginia Beach area was that large? That metro area is about the same size as Milwaukee, yet most people wouldn't consider the Norfolk area to be "major league." In fact, most people haven't even heard of Norfolk or Virginia Beach. Having a major league baseball team gives an area legitimacy and advertising that no amount of money can buy. Having ESPN mention the Twin Cities every night to millions of fans creates an unconscious level of respect for our area that carries over into people's daily lives. As a result of this, when people think about the Twin Cities they think of a large metro area with a lot to offer. When they think of Norfolk, VA ... nothing really comes to mind. And yes, I am saying this has a lot to do with the free advertising provided by sportscasters around the country on a nightly basis.

    Secondly, this paragraph states, "Smart people protect their assets and reinvest in them." Seriously, why do we want to give up something we already have, and something that other communities desperately want? The fact of the matter is if the Twins leave either by moving or contraction, the Twin Cities will seek another major league baseball team within the next 10 years. It will cost us at least three times as much at this point to build a new stadium. Why do we want to set ourselves up for this inevitability? Consider also that if we would have agreed to build a stadium five years ago we would have saved about $200 million dollars. Every year we wait only ends up costing us more.

    I know, I know, what about education? What about the 600 teachers laid off in Minneapolis this summer? What about priorities? For some reason it is difficult for us to recognize the intangible benefits of having the Twins in our community when faced with teacher layoffs. I agree, it sucks to see teachers lose their jobs. But the fact of the matter is we aren't building any stadiums right now, and these teachers are still losing their jobs. Whether we build stadiums or not, our decision will not affect education. Either we invest in education or we choose not to, but stadiums have nothing to do with this decision. These are two separate issues and they should be treated as such. I write my legislators about education issues just like I write to them about stadiums. I want them to address both of these issues. The editorial ends:

    It's time for the club, the fans and the public to reinvest. The Ballpark at Twinsville remains the best stadium concept. The location, transportation and parking are superb. The Minneapolis Warehouse District is loaded with dining, entertainment and housing options that will give Twins baseball a festive flavor that has made the Chicago Cubs and Wrigleyville so popular with Midwesterners. The financing plan is fair and ensures that the public will share in the increased value that a new ballpark would bring to the team. Allowing the Twins to descend the same downward spiral that swallowed the Expos is not acceptable in Minnesota.

    I'm not sure the Minneapolis Warehouse District is the best location, but I will agree it would be a fine location for a stadium. One thing I've learned about St. Paul in the past year is that they are passionate about baseball in that city. Putting a stadium in downtown St. Paul would be a real eye opener in terms of fan support, I would think, and I would love to travel to St. Paul for a game. And the financing plan is fair, given that it uses a tax increment financing method, or money that would only be there if the stadium is built. In essense, this money does not exist if not for a new stadium. How can we say no to this? Sadly, though, we are saying no, and it appears that the fate of the Expos is acceptable to Minnesotans. I sure hope I'm wrong.

    Posted by snackeru at 7:10 AM | Comments (3) | Stadiums | Twins

    Category "Stadiums"

    Category "Twins"

    June 28, 2004

    What's good for the goose...

    One of the most popular links on this here blog is an old post entitled Restaurants to Avoid. It probably gets hit at least once a day since I put it up, usually from a search on Google or another search engine (yes, there are other search engines). The page lists restaurants in St. Paul that signed a petition against a restaurant/bar tax in St. Paul to fund a Twins stadium. The list was graciously provided to the Greet Machine from long-time reader Jim in St. Paul. What usually happens is a person will see the post and either agree with my stand against these restaurants, or disagree. However, a couple of weeks ago someone left a comment. It went a little something like this:

    "It seems wrong to penalize a business for a political position, would you want that to happen to you, because you support something[?]"

    So let me get this straight, these buisnesses have a right to take a political position, one that severely affects my potential quality of life, but I shouldn't do anything about it because ... what was her reasoning ... oh, because if it happened to me I might feel bad? Yikes! I am swooning from her well reasoned argument. Again, apparently businesses can take a stand on a political issue, but as potential patrons of those businesses we should disregard that stand because if we disagree we might affect their business. I am dumbfounded by this reasoning. She goes on to state:
    "As for the Twins, you're right that we should support them staying here - just not sure forced restaurant tax would lend to that, what about those pitiful cigarettes, alcohol, or other things that add to policing costs in our communities?"
    That is interesting. I don't know enough about the potential of a cigarette tax, but we all know that a state-wide alcohol tax is about to expire. I have been harping for months that this tax should be extended to pay for all of our stadium needs in the Twin Cities, even if we just extended it in the Twin Cities area. I agree that this kind of tax would see more support from metro area residents than a forced restaurant and bar tax, but I'll support either one. She goes on:
    "Many of us feel that on what the Twin's make, they should be able to support their own stadium, or at least find the high-rollers to do so. It's not the citizen's job to finance activities many of us can't afford to attend. Never been to see the Twins, tickets too high. Love a good Saint's game."
    I agree that the Twins should be able to finance their own stadium, but as has been proven in many, many other metropolitan areas, they don't have to. This is the way the game is played. Either we pony up and prove we are a major league city, or they leave and we are left with nothing. And for those of you that would say, "Good riddens," I've got news for you. In about 10 years our state will again be desperate for baseball and it will cost us three times as much as it does right now to bring in another team. If you don't think it will happen I need only point out the Minnesota Wild. So, I've got an idea. Why don't we keep the team we have, save ourselves a lot of money in the long run, maintain our quality of life, and keep the Twins in Minnesota? I don't see Milwaukee crumbling into dust as a result of building Miller Park. In fact, I see a reviatlized and very proud city.

    Finally she pointed out that Twins games are too expensive for her. Sigh. This is just plain nuts. I will agree that Saints tickets are cheaper, but you can still go to a Twins game for $6. And if you do what I do and park at the U of M's West Bank, parking is usually free. Sitting above the baggie in right field is not a bad deal. Consider that the Boston Red Sox charge upwards of $100 per ticket for the privilege of sitting above the Green Monster. Anyway, if she had said she doesn't attend Twins games because she wants to be outside, that I would have understood.

    Posted by snackeru at 12:51 PM | Stadiums | Twins

    Category "Stadiums"

    June 23, 2004

    More about my trip

    As you probably already know from my posts below, I went to Milwaukee this weekend to watch the Twins play at the beautiful Miller Park. Being a good Minnesota fan I decided to wear Twins shirts both days I was there, and I expected to get razzed a little bit about it. No problem though. I'm certainly not ashamed of being a fan of Minnesota sports and I was kind of looking forward to verbally duking it out with some Brewers fans.

    So, anyway, Cheesehead Craig and I stopped in Madison to eat around his old stomping grounds of the U of W. After eating we visited the restroom and while we were there an older gentleman noticed my Twins shirt and asked if we were heading to Miller Park to watch the game. I said yes, and that I was very much looking forward to seeing some outdoor baseball. He then said that he would never set foot in Miller Park, and that the "criminal" Bud Selig would never get a dime of his money. He added he would never set foot in Miller Park because there should have been a referendum so that the people could have voted on whether or not to build the place. Oh! A stadium debate! My heart quickened as I began thinking of a pithy response. Lamely, I happily answered that I would love it if we could build a stadium in Minnesota without a referendum. Then I wouldn't have to be traveling to Milwaukee to watch my team play outside. He then added, "Don't we live in a democracy? The people should vote on whether or not to build a stadium." Ack! This argument is so weak I could barely contain my excitement. I replied, "We live in a representative democracy where we vote people into government positions to make these decisions for us." Now keep in mind that we were both urinating at the time so it was hard to keep on the topic of conversation, so to speak, so I couldn't really elaborate. Anway, he grumbled that "the people" should have a say on big issues and he left the restroom wishing me a good time in Milwaukee.

    Should we have more of a say on "big issues?" It is no secret that I am against any referendum to build a new stadium in Minnesota. Referendums are a huge cop-out and demonstrate, at least to me, a complete unwillingness by our legislators to do the job we elected them to do. If you don't want to make tough decisions then you shouldn't have run for office. In addition, if you want to make use of referedums, then I want to vote on the "conceal and carry" law, light rail, killing morning doves, seat belts, speed limits, really anything and everything that might impact me. It appears, at least in Minnesota, that my legislators only want me to vote on issues that could cost them their jobs. That upsets me a great deal and further illustrates the do-nothing attitude that is currently permeating the state capitol right now.

    Posted by snackeru at 1:23 PM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    June 22, 2004

    Virginia Expos

    I don't know how many of you have already seen this, but it appears Virginia is primed to host the Expos. From a Twins fan point of view, this is a good thing. The D.C. area is really the only viable area left to host a team, and once it is gone we'll only have contraction to worry about. There were a couple of key lines in this article that I'd like to highlight:


    "The only government action required for the Northern Virginia plan would be site plan approval from the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. A majority of the board attended a rally Monday to express support."

    Really? That is the only government action left? How did they manage that and what is their financing plan?

    "The developer proposing the plan - a consortium of builders Beazer, Centex and Van Metre companies - is willing to contribute $82 million in infrastructure costs, reducing the ballpark cost from $442 million to $360 million."

    So far so good. What else?

    "Much of the financing for the stadium already is in place under a 1997 Virginia law that permits the state to pay two-thirds of the cost of a new stadium, using taxes generated by the ballpark to pay back the bonds."

    I'm seriously about to explode. This is the exact same type of plan Pawlenty is proposing. Why is it so easy to pass in Virginia but not in Minnesota? Again, the new taxes generated by the proposed stadium do not exist right now and will not exist if not for the stadium. Virginia's government has decided that they will forgoe those new taxes for the greater good of having MLB as a part of their state and the D.C. area. Because right now they've got squat! Why is this so hard to understand for the Minnesota legislature? We could funnel the new taxes from a downtown St. Paul/Minneapolis stadium to help pay it off, or we could kiss the Twins goodbye and be left with nothing. No current taxes, no future taxes, no Twins, NOTHING. I need to calm down.

    Posted by snackeru at 11:21 AM | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    Category "Twins"

    June 21, 2004

    Wow

    millersm.jpg

    What can I say that hasn't already been said about the wonder that is Miller Park? After watching baseball indoors for over 20 years I can't adequately put into words the profound joy I felt watching the game inside this beautiful park. Everything was done right from the parking, to the food, to the seats, to the dimensions, to the overall ambience. Everything. I'm sorry that I don't have more pictures up yet, that will come tonight. But suffice it to say I was deeply impressed, and also a little depressed. Those of you who know me know that I have been blathering about stadiums in Minnesota for well over 7 years now. But I've never really truly understood the importance or reasoning for building a new ballpark for the Twins. Scratch that. I've always understood the importance, but I've never been able to argue the importance from experience. Well, "mine eyes have seen the glory" and it was good. It also put the Metrodome and the state of Minnesota to shame. I'll be writing about that more later.

    I went to the games on both Saturday and Sunday, and although my predictions for the scores of the game were a little off I still had a wonderful time. I went with Cheesehead Craig and his friends, and they really showed me a good time. Especially Craig's friend Gabe. A top-notch guy and a class act. Anyway, we parked a ways from the stadium to take advantage of a free parking spot. As we began our journey to the stadium, Miller Park peaked over the trees in the distance. Craig and his friends slowly walked to the park, but I couldn't help but practically sprint to get there. And once I got there it was a flurry of photographs as I tried to soak it all in. As I said above everything was done right and the stadium was just beautiful to behold in person. The grounds were packed with people, and there was a large contingent of Twins fans. The night was beautiful and everyone was happy.

    We walked in the doors (and you can walk in any door you want!) to a wide open concourse. Straight ahead was the field. Honestly I couldn't help but tear up a little at seeing the Twins practicing and running around on real grass. Hold on a second ... I'm OK now. We walked up the stairs to the Loge level (how did they come up with that name?) and took our seats in Section 214 on the first base line. It was amazing. Every seat was perfectly angled to get the best view of the field, and we were right on top of the diamond. The 4 levels of Miller Park are built right on top of each other which means everyone is as close to the field as possible. And as I said, all the seats perfectly surround the field. I swear, there probably isn't a bad seat in the house. But what was most impressive was the open sky above. Cloudless and blue, birds flying around, and a gentle breeze swirling onto the field.

    So, the game started and the Twins got to an early lead. There was probably about 15,000 Twins fans there so it almost felt like a home game for a while. I was so happy with the whole experience I was speechless. My head was on a swivel just looking around at everything. Then the unthinkable happened. They started to close the roof! It was a beautiful night and they decide to turn the place into the Metrodome! Needless to say, I was a little angry, but it was nice to see how the stupid thing worked. Flawlessly of course. That was when things started to go downhill for the Twins. For some reason Radke started to tank, and the Brewers started to hit some monster home runs. None more impressive, though, than Geoff Jenkins' blast in the 8th. Wow. It was like a golf swing that sent the ball well into the stands in right field. Brewers fans went into a frenzy which definitely quieted those of us cheering for the Twins. But you know what? It was still wonderful. Great home town support and good natured ribbing for all of us Twins fans. We all had a smile on our face.

    The game ended and we were able to quickly exit the ballpark. Again, the wide open concourses allowed for a lot of people to move at a relatively fast pace. When we got to the doors I thought about maybe the one advantage the Metrodome has over Miller Park and maybe the one thing I'll miss about the the home of the Twins: the blast of wind that blows people out of the doors. I swear I'll never be able to exit a stadium again without thinking I need to brace myself. And it was over. I laughed, I cried, I had a good time. My first game outside in over 20 years. It was great, and the fact that the Twins lost couldn't diminish my euphoria.

    And my disgust. The Metrodome ... blech. It is an abomination to baseball. We deserve better and I can't believe more Minnesotans aren't demanding better. Oh yes, the juices are flowing. Get ready for some long winded diatribes in the days ahead.

    Posted by snackeru at 1:33 PM | Comments (4) | Stadiums | Twins

    Category "Stadiums"

    June 16, 2004

    Gopher stadium

    Stadium news is going to be hard to come by now that the there is little chance that the legislature will be reconvened for a special session, but that doesn't mean I won't talk about it every once in a while. And one thing I haven't talked about a lot is the idea of a new on-campus stadium for the Gophers. As you might expect, I am in favor of building a new on-campus stadium. Moving out of Memorial Stadium (the stadium at the top of this web page) was a huge mistake and probably the worst decision Paul Giel ever made. The Gophers won 5 national championships playing in Memorial Stadium, but since they've moved out they haven't even come close to going to the Rose Bowl. As always, hindsight is 20/20. It is time to bring some tradition and pride back to Gopher football.

    However, much like the Twins stadium debacle, a new Minnesota Daily poll shows that although most students feel the Gophers need a new stadium, they feel they shouldn't have to pay for it. 65% of students feel the Gophers need a new stadium while another 65% feel they shouldn't have to pay for it with student fees. Obviously, Joel Maturi is pleased with the first part of these results. Also, unlike the Twins efforts at getting some tax dollars to build their new stadium, the University administration will have a much easier time "taxing" the student population to get this done. I wonder ... can the University administration just decide willy-nilly to raise student fees for this if they want to? I am inclined to say yes. If the U can get the private funding they are looking for I think it is forgone conclusion that this stadium is a done deal. For more information about the U's drive to build a new stadium visit Bringing Gopher Football Home.

    Posted by snackeru at 8:52 AM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    Category "Twins"

    June 14, 2004

    Why the lack of fans?

    dome.jpgIn recent years, Twins officials (Dave St. Peter especially) have been wondering why fans are not coming out to the "ballpark" (I use that term loosely) to support the team. Every year around this time we have an article in one of the TC dailies which quotes Twins officials lamenting the fact that the Twins aren't drawing like they thought they would. This year is no exception. Of course, I have the definitive list of reasons why the Twins are not drawing fans to the Metrodome. Starting with the least important reason:


    1. The unbalanced schedule -- Thanks to the unbalanced schedule, the Twins play the lowly KC Royals, Detroit Tigers, and Cleveland Indians about 19 games a piece. Besides Sweeney and Pudge, these teams have no big names to bring the crowds out (and Sweeney is even a stretch). If the Twins played at least two home series against the AL East teams like the Yankees and Red Sox you would see attendance go up. That is a fact. Besides, even Sid agrees with me. And look at the attendance figures for the other AL Central teams. They aren't much different than the Twins.
    2. Carl Pohlad -- Pohlad has brought Minnesota two World Series championships, but Minnesotans will never forgive him for his stadium shenanigans. There is not a doubt in my mind that there is a fair number of Twins fans that boycott the games just because he owns the team. Not me, of course, but enough to make an impact.
    3. The Metrodome is a football stadium -- Seriously, there are only about 20,000 good seats for baseball in the Dome, and they are all encompassed between first and third base and behind home plate. There are some more decent seats in left field, but that is even stretching it. The rest of the seats, especially the seats beyond third base, are absolutely wretched for watching baseball. When I call for tickets and find out the only seats left in the lower deck are along the third base line in left field I decide to just stay home. I'm sure I'm not alone. Yesterday's Twins game drew 23,479 fans. That is really good considering how bad the seating is for baseball at the Dome.

      But the number one reason is:

    4. Minnesotans do not like to watch baseball indoors -- Consider this: today is June 14. In exactly three months the temperature will probably be dipping into the 50s. Really, Minnesota only has about 3 months of good "summery" weather. It just isn't right that we have to watch baseball indoors under the Teflon sky when we've already spent nine months indoors waiting for summer to arrive. Given a choice of spending a beautiful summer day out on a lake, swimming at a beach, or watching the Twins play in the Metrodome, most Minnesotans will opt for staying outside. They may listen to the Twins game on the radio, but they will choose to be outside. The Twins know it, the legislature knows it, everyone knows it.

    So, there you have it. My reasons for the lack of fans at Twins games. The big question now is, if we built a new stadium would fans come to the games? Or would we still see a lack of fans? Given that the two biggest reasons for poor attendance is the Metrodome seating and indoor baseball, I think we would see a huge spike in attendance if we built an outdoor stadium. In other words, if you build it we will come.

    If you've got any other reasons for the poor attendance, let me hear 'em!

    Posted by snackeru at 9:04 AM | Comments (4) | Stadiums | Twins

    Category "Stadiums"

    June 10, 2004

    Marshall Field no more

    marshallfield.jpg

    It was a very sad day for me yesterday. Marshall Field's was sold to a company outside of Minnesota. And I'm not sad for the normal reasons, I'm sad because I honestly thought there was a chance that the new Twins stadium could be named "Marshall Field." We all know that any new stadium will have a corporate sponsor's name attached to it, and I thought Marshall Field would be the perfect name for a variety of reasons. In fact, I have been documenting my efforts on this front on the Internet for quite a while. Now there is little chance for a Marshall Field.

    So, that brings up a good discussion point. What should the name for a Twins stadium be? The best I've heard besides Marshall Field is probably Wheaties Field, you know, the "Field of Champions" or something like that. If someone has a better idea, please let me know. Now watch, General Mills will be sold to Nestle. What is happening to all our big name businesses? Honeywell? Gone. Daytons? Gone. General Mills? Soon to be gone? Slowly but surely we are turning into North Dakota.

    Posted by snackeru at 9:10 AM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    June 9, 2004

    Bad news for special session

    The Star Tribune today is reporting that the chances for a special session are very remote. Apparently the DFL controlled Senate proposed the "appointment of three House-Senate negotiating groups that would meet publicly without a deadline for agreement." The GOP House rejected this rather angrily for some reason with Steve Sviggum adding,

    "I'm not going to reach out one more time," said House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, adding that the Senate leadership's latest proposal for a special session "doesn't even warrant a response."

    And ...
    "Dean Johnson has shut the door," Sviggum said. "The Senate is unwilling to serve the interests of Minnesota. They just want to do the politics."

    Sigh. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the only good idea Jesse Ventura had was to push for a unicameral legislature. I'm so sick of all of this partisan politics, it is a wonder how they get any work done at all. And what did they accomplish this year? Seriously, the only thing this legislative session will be remembered for is making a hunting season for doves. That is pathetic. I'm not sure I'll vote for any incumbents this year.

    On top of all this Charley Walters had some interesing comments in his Shooter column today:


    Because chances of the Minnesota Legislature having a special session appear likely, look for negotiations for a sale of the Vikings by Red McCombs to Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor to be expedited. If Taylor can buy the Vikings, chances for a Gophers-Vikings stadium partnership would increase significantly.

    Insiders say the Twins have the best chance of getting a ballpark approved in a special session, followed by an on-campus stadium for the Gophers, then a Vikings-Gophers partnership. Chances for a Vikings stadium remain bleak.


    Walters better check his sources again, although I am thrilled with the idea that McCombs could expedite his sale of the Vikings to Taylor. I don't know how that would increase the chances of a Gophers-Vikings stadium, but I'll take whatever good news I can get today.

    Posted by snackeru at 9:15 AM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    June 7, 2004

    A visit from stadium royalty

    Those of you that have been reading my blog for a while know that around the end of March I switched the site for this blog from a server in my basement to one here at the U. As a result I stopped checking my other blog for comments and started to just focus on the one here. Big mistake. It seems that on May 16, one of my posts on stadium issues got a comment from none other than Larry Spooner. That's right, the brave individual that has been marching around the capitol building in St. Paul for the past 4 months, single-handedly demanding that stadiums get built in Minnesota. Here is his comment below:


    "Larry Spooner here, my wife Lynn has shown me the articles in which you praise my stadium efforts!

    I'm honored by your comments! Last week I testified 2 times, May 5th in the Senate State & Local Goverment commitee, and May 6th in the House Ways & Means commitee, The bill passsed in the first one, but a 13-13 vote in the 2nd one is considered failed, I say a tie is a "do over"!!!

    But due to the stalemate over the States budget balancing failure by our Legislators, it wasn't going ahead anyway. My understanding is our only hope now is for the Gov. to call a "special session" which I'm not sure if he'll do it. I put in countless hours last week and all day Sat. and overnight Sat. untiill 7am Sun. morning walikng around the Capitol with a sign saying "Bring Back Stadium Bill, Minnesotans deserve the best, New Stadium Yes!" I'm emotionally exhausted, but I told all of them, I'll be back! anyway Thanks for your words of praise, I'm not worthy!!!! sorry for any mis-spelled words!" SPVIKES@AOL.COM


    He doesn't think he is worthy??? This guy is seriously my hero! My little ramblings don't hold a candle to his Herculian efforts. Not only does he have the guts to take a stand for the stadium issue, but he also has the guts to do it alone and for all the world to see. I can't imagine what kind of negativity he had to put up with at the capitol. Anway, I'd like to take this opportunity to publicly say thanks to Larry for all his efforts. I really think he had an impact regarding this year's stadium debate. And the great thing is, I don't think he is finished! On with the special session!

    Please take a moment to write and thank Larry!

    Posted by snackeru at 12:42 PM | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    Stadium news

    This weekend the Twin Cities dailies were buzzing about the potential for a legislative special session being called:


    It seems there is a very good chance one will be called, and according to the reports working groups are being created to try to map out consensus issues for the session, including a "working group [to] discuss the possibility of supporting one or as many as three new sports stadiums." Personally, I don't think the Vikings have much of a chance this session, but I hope I'm wrong. I hope that this mess just gets solved once and for all.

    Secondly both Sid Hartman and Charley Walters reported on stadium issues this weekend:


    Both Sid and Charley didn't really report on anything too ground breaking, but Walters did have this to say about a Vikings stadium:

    "The Gophers didn't get a campus football stadium approved during this spring's legislative session, but quiet discussions involving some top dealmakers about a shared stadium with the Vikings continue to take place.

    A site that would expand the university campus by several blocks, across the railroad tracks northeast of Mariucci Arena, is being discussed."


    I would be shocked if something like this worked out, but I would also be thrilled. I am pretty sure, though, that the University will shun any attempt to build a dual stadium again.

    All of this stadium news got me to thinking (again) at how frustrating this whole mess is. Consider this: one of the main reasons the legislature has yet pass a workable stadium bill is because they think the people of Minnesota are against building stadiums. Polls from both the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune verify this fact with anti-stadium people sitting at about 52%. My question then is this, how in the world did the "conceal and carry" law pass? 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."

    Again, how in the world did this bill pass? Regardless of your stance on the issue, the majority of the population of the state of Minnesota felt that the state would become more dangerous if this bill passed. And yet the legislature still decided it was worth doing. My point is this, obviously the majority of the legislature felt that even though the people were against it, the conceal and carry law should pass. And it did. The same is true with stadiums. It is time the legislature votes for what is best for the state as a whole regarding this issue. I'm hoping that the legislature can once again do what they were elected to do, and look at the bigger issues of a proposed bill rather than sound bites and statistics from a relatively uninformed public. In the case of the stadium bill they need to look at quality of life issues, city vitality, and state history and at least pass a workable Twins stadium bill once and for all.

    Last weeked I went to the Science Museum in St. Paul with my family and father-in-law. As we were driving home my father-in-law looked at the site of the ice palace and asked, "I wonder what they are going to do with this space." I was shocked he didn't know. I mean, up until a month ago he worked for the Arch-Diocese of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Catholic Church which is right across the street from the site. In fact, the Arch-Diocese will probably have to sell their land in order for the stadium to be built. I told him St. Paul wants to build a Twins stadium there, and he was amazed. He had no idea and he worked right across the street from the site! I am convinced this is the general state of mind of the rest of the people of the state regarding this issue. You ask the average person if the state should help finance a Twins stadium and over 50% will say no. But if you ask them about anything else regarding this issue they will be clueless. If a Twins stadium bill passed it will be news for about a week, but just like the conceal and carry law people will forget about it shortly thereafter. Again, it is time for the legislature to put away their fears of re-election and start doing what is best for the state. These same polls reveal that over 90% of the respondents think it would be a bad thing if the Twins were contracted or left the state. I'm rambling a bit now, but obviously I think it is time to pass a workable stadium bill.

    Posted by snackeru at 8:50 AM | Comments (1) | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    May 27, 2004

    Stadium news

    Today's stadium news will be kind of weak, but there really isn't a whole lot out there to comment on. Obviously, it is very important that the governor call a special session. Right now, Dean Johnson, Steve Sviggum, and Pawlenty are all working furiously to hammer out the agenda of the proposed special session. Although Dean Johnson says that there is no more than a "50-50" chance of a special session being called, he did have this to say about the chances for a Twins stadium:


    If the Legislature does return, Johnson said, there's a good chance members would vote on building a new ballpark for the Minnesota Twins.

    "The Twins have ginned up a pretty good public relations operation" to build support for a stadium bill, he said.


    It seems that all of our stadium hopes now ride on Pawlenty's ability to negotiate with the DFL side of the Senate. I think Dean Johnson may be getting a letter from me tonight. He is playing hardball with the governor now, but I hope all of this negotiation pays off in the long run. It also sounds like only the Twins will get any attention. This may not be a bad thing as Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press consistently reports that Red will sell if the Vikings don't get anwhere with their stadium plans this year.

    That's all for now.

    Posted by snackeru at 8:40 AM | Stadiums

    Category "Life"

    Category "Stadiums"

    May 24, 2004

    Random weekend thoughts

    I think we all know what was on my mind this weekend: The T-Wolves/Lakers series. What a great game last night. When Sam left the game I think the world thought the Wolves would just fold, but fortunately that was not to be. The Wolves not only beat the Lakers, but they crushed the Lakers, making it look easy in the process. What was the secret? First of all they played physical. Sprewell led the charge in that category by consistently picking up his man for full court defense after the ball was inbounded on made shots. The Wolves as a team got in the Lakers "grill" and didn't let up. That is why there were so many technicals at the end of the game (and an ejection of Karl Malone). The Lakers were just sick of it. What a bunch of pansies. Secondly, the Wolves got to the foul line. The magic number for the Wolves seems to be 20 free throw attempts. If they get to that number (or close to it: they got to 19 last night) they seem to have their best shot of winning the game. Next we have the play of KG. KG scored 24 points and had 11 rebounds. A solid effort from him throughout the game and a very good effort from him to close out the game in the fourth. And of course the Wolves bench contributed big time. Darrick Martin with 16 points? Are you kidding me? Wally is playing some good ball too, although I wish he would shoot more and dribble less. Finally, the quartet of Johnson, Madsen, Miller, and Olowakandi shut the Diesel down. I think we found out last night that Kobe can torch the Wolves (27 last night), but if Shaq is taken out of the game the Lakers don't stand a chance. Shaq is without a doubt the MVP of that team and we should see a bigger contribution from him on Tuesday. At least I think the Lakers will try to get him more involved.

    Next we have the semi-weekly update from the Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave. Yesterday as I was driving home from church Sid received phone calls from both Dean Johnson, Senate Majority leader, and Steve Sviggum, Speaker of the House, concerning stadium issues. First of all, it sounded like there will most definitely be a special session called. Right now the two chambers are mapping out the agenda of the session. Secondly, both leaders said they think a stadium bill will be part of the mix. Although they both hedged a little bit, I think the fact that they both called Sid on Sunday speaks volumes regarding the chances of the stadium bill being considered in the special session. Of course, Sid gave both of the them a hard time which I really appreciated. Anyway, I'm feeling good about the chances for a new Twins stadium today.

    Lastly, and this is totally off topic, I was thinking about my family this weekend and where we have come since the first Nackerud "got off the boat" in 1903. Needless to say, my family has come a long way. I'm sure yours has too. When you think about it, the people we have to thank for this are the people that decided to take a chance so long ago. In my case, Andrew Pedersen Nackerud decided in 1903 to leave everything behind in Norway for the chance of a better life in the unknown of America. That was huge! Can you imagine packing everything up, leaving your family and home, and moving to a foreign country knowing that you would never return? You may be wondering what my point is. It is this: somewhere in all of our pasts is someone who decided to take a chance, a huge risk actually, and try for something better. We all have the blood of adventure running through our veins. Somewhere deep down inside of all of us Americans is this drive, this willingness to sacrifice and work hard and take a chance. Is there any wonder why America is so great or why we are so successful? So take a moment today to think about your own family history and that person, or group of people, that made the decision to come to America. For me it is a little humbling and awesome to think that this spirit of adventure still lives somewhere in me.

    Posted by snackeru at 8:53 AM | Life | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    May 16, 2004

    Tough day to be a fan

    Ouch. The T-Wolves game was not very fun to watch today. Let's see, the Kings outshot them, that is for sure, but unfortunately it appeared the Wolves also got out-hustled. In their defense, the T-Wolves had a game to lose and the Kings were fighting for their playoff lives, but I really didn't see much passion out there. Except from Sprewell. He is definitely playing at another level. My biggest criticism, however, I leave for Flip Saunders. What in the world was he thinking by not playing Mark Madsen in the fourth? OK, I know what he was thinking: Madsen only shoots 48% from the line. However, did Flip watch the same first quarter I watched? When Madsen and the Mayor are out on the floor together, something magical happens. With Sam Cassel hurting and Wally still not 100%, Madsen and Hoiberg should have been on the floor in the fourth. They give the team energy, especially Madsen, and Hoiberg has huge scoring potential when left open. And with KG and Sprewell on the floor at the same time, Hoiberg gets left open a lot. And back to Madsen, he is an offensive rebounding machine! I don't know about you, but I hope we see a lot of these two on Wednesday night, especially if Cassel is still hurting.

    And the Twins ... wow did they get smoked. Silva's first loss of the year. All of this meant it was not a very good day to be a fan of Minnesota sports. Or was it? Last night the legislative session adjourned without a decision on the budget which means the governor will most likely call a special session. Most Minnesotans are upset about this, but not me. A special session is the only hope for the stadium bill, and the Twins believe they will be included in a special session if one is called. If you didn't catch the Pioneer Press on Friday, the governor had some good things to say about my favorite topic:


    Pawlenty said he would still like to enact a stadium bill this year because interest rates are likely to go up and Major League Baseball may try again to get rid of the Twins.

    "Does it absolutely, absolutely have to be done this year? Not necessarily," he said. "But it gets more expensive, more complicated and more risky if we wait till next year or after that. I don't think that's wise."


    Please, please, please get something done this year! If you haven't yet, write your legislator and tell him or her that you want something to be done now! Finally, if you didn't read the Star Tribune editorial on Friday, it was a good one.

    Posted by snackeru at 9:18 PM | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    May 13, 2004

    Doesn't look good for stadiums

    Sid Hartman is all but writing off any chance for the stadium bill to be passed this year. Also, Jerry Bell has already said this will be his last year fighting for stadiums. This is not looking good, Twins fans, this is not looking good. I've always said that by waiting and waiting to get this deal done the legislature is basically pricing themselves out of ever being able to build a stadium or maintain a MLB team in our state:


    "With rising interest rates, the increased cost of steel and general inflation, Twins internal estimates suggest a one-or two-year wait could add between $50 million and $80 million to the already expensive ballpark cost."

    So, the next time our legislature wants to deal with this issue, a ballpark will cost upwards of $600 million? No legislature is going to touch that with a ten foot pole. It will probably cost even more than that:

    "If the ballpark campaign falters, Bell said he believes the matter won't return to the Legislature until 2006 because of looming budget problems next year."

    2006? By then it will cost so much that not even the Twins will think it is feasible. Boy am I depressed. Sid writes:

    One of these days, ... the Twins will be sold to a buyer who won't be happy to lose $15 million a year. And with Pohlad's No. 1 man on the Twins and close friend Jerry Bell stepping out of the picture in the near future, this could happen for sure.

    Then, when the Twins move to Las Vegas, Portland or some other place, the geniuses over in St. Paul will be more than glad to build the best stadium in the game to try to get another team.

    It's a shame it will have to come to that.


    Yes indeed, a huge shame. It appears that the only way a stadium will be built in Minnesota is if either the Twins or the Vikings leave. Contraction is a possibility again after 2007 and we've already seen that Pohlad is at his breaking point. You know, I just want to be able to take my kids to a ball game. I don't care about millionaire players and billionaire owners, I just want to see the Twins play some ball. Of course, there is still a little hope, but not much. Maybe our state's fine legislators will finally realize that the intangibles of having a professional football team and baseball team far outweigh whatever negatives they see and actually vote for the bill (unlikely). Maybe the owners will realize they can still make all the money they need to make by privately funding the stadiums themselves (highly unlikely). Until then we will look at Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, Seattle, Denver, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Detroit, Atlanta, Cleveland, Arlington, Foxboro, Green Bay, Phoenix, Milwaukee, San Diego, Cincinatti, Nashville, and all the others that have figured out how to make something work ... we will look at all of them and wonder how they did it. Are we not smart enough to figure something out? Or are we too smart? Whatever the case, we are rapidly approaching 3rd Dakota status.

    Posted by snackeru at 8:29 AM | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    May 12, 2004

    Action in St. Paul

    Interesting news coming from St. Paul today, apparently either today or tomorrow there will be an effort to revive the Twins-Vikings stadium bill. I've also heard that there may be plans to split the bill up to only cover the Twins this year, and the Vikings next year. I also expect that in order to revive it, the controversial use of an extension of the soon to expire liquor and car rental taxes will have to be removed. Most likely it will be replaced with the watered down TIF financing authored by the Taxes committee, but we'll have to see.

    The Twins Geek wrote an interesting piece Sunday concerning Victory Sports and our beloved Twins. Mainly it covered how the stadium bill crushed any hope of Victory Sports actually succeeding. Here are the choicest paragraphs:


    "It's not clear precisely what the wording was in that bill, or the exact effect it had. But is sounds like it single-handedly gutted any chance of Victory Sports existing. Even if they would have agreed to the terms of cable providers, the cable companies weren't going to give them a slot on basic cable, so they might never have achieved that kind of penetration.

    The only way the Twins could meet that demand was to make a deal with Fox Sports Net, and FSN could demand just about any terms it wanted. 30 year contract? Why not? Free broadcasts? Heck, why not get the Twins to pay for their broadcasts? The clause that was "for the fans", meant that the fans favorite team could be absolutely abused by the regional sport network channel.

    It gets more ludicrous. The Twins found themselves in a situation too strange to be believed. The moment their stadium bill passed, the Twins would need to accept just about any condition that FSN cared to dictate. Suddenly, the Twins leverage in negotiating with Fox Sports Net was based on their own stadium bill not passing. "


    Has any state government done more to hamper a business than what ours has done to hamper the Twins? Regardless of whether it is baseball or just another business, our legislature has unquestionably tampered with the Twins' chances of making money through Victory Sports. But that isn't an isolated incident. First our government blocked any chance of Pohlad contracting the Twins (God bless you Harry Crump!). This in itself is strange. Does the government block any other businesses from folding? Our Twins also have the "worst lease in baseball" and again this comes from our government. Then our government basically kills Victory Sports, an endeavour that would have helped the Twins succeed in the long run. Can't say I've ever seen anything as blantantly anti-business as this before. At the same time our government is basically demanding the Twins build their own ballpark because "our government doesn't help any other businesses" in the same way the Twins are asking. Huh? The state of Minnesota seems to want it both ways: we tamper with their ability to be profitable claiming that baseball is more than a business, it is a piece of the fabric of our quality of life and a piece of Americana. But at the same time we claim that since they are a "just another business" we won't help them build a stadium. Baseball is unique, that is for sure, but this duplicity is ridiculous.

    Finally, I've been thinking about the failed plan down in Miami to build a new stadium for the Marlins. All the Marlins were asking for was $60 million. That's it. It got me to thinking that if this stadium bill somehow passes and there is a guranteed $100 million from the state through Pawlenty's TIF method, would the Twins still start the building process even if a referendum failed in the host community? I would like to think that they could make something work given that it is $40 million more than the Marlins were asking for. Something to think about.

    Posted by snackeru at 9:02 AM | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    May 5, 2004

    Taxes Committee

    Why is it that I always get the busiest when something important happens with stadium legislation? Sorry for the lack of posts everyone. I've been absolutely swamped with a combination of work, second job, and Cub Scouts. Anyway, the bill yesterday ... I've had some time to think about it and I don't think all hope is lost. Here is what I took away from what I've read (StarTrib and Pioneer Press)


    • Now the bill has a referendum attached. This is a deal killer as far as I'm concerned. I know St. Paul is about 50-50 with regards to actually passing a stadium referendum, but I just don't think it will happen. Hopefully I'm wrong.
    • There is now a Gopher's stadium attached. This was an amendment authored by Abrams of all people and stipulates that if the U can raise $133 million then the state will pick up the rest. If Rep. Kahn's bill to secure community ownership of the Twins actually passes in some future session, can we then expect some love from the legislature towards a Twins stadium?
    • An addendum that did not pass was to extend the 6.5% liquor tax metro wide to pay for the stadium. This is the way to do it folks. I fully expect this amendment to come back into play in the Ways and Means committee (where the bill heads next). It was only defeated by a 15-13 margin, so I think it would have a shot of being attached either in the next committee or on the House floor. It is a tax people are paying right now anyway (so no one feels a thing) and it takes away the need for any new sales tax in the host community or a referendum. Oh please, someone get on board with this idea and make it work!
    • The vote yesterday was completely rural vs. urban. All the rural reps. on the Taxes committee voted for the plan and all the urban reps. voted no. Why? Because the rural reps. had nothing to lose. Their constituents don't have to pay a dime. I can understand why some urban reps. have a big problem with this.
    • The Vikings are already complaining that this won't work. This brings up some good news coming from Charley Walters that says Glen Taylor is really looking into purchasing the Vikings.
    • Finally, a part of the bill says that no money will be spent until the Twins are on TV. This is not going to have an impact on this season since no money would be spent until the fall anyway. So, don't get your hopes up!

    That's all for now. My conclusion is I'm glad this bill passed the Taxes committee, but it still needs some work to have a chance at actually resulting in a Twins stadium being built. We'll see what happens next.

    UPDATE: The stadium bill has already passed the first hurdle in the Senate, the State and Local Government Operations Committee, according to the Twins website.

    Posted by snackeru at 4:33 PM | Comments (1) | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    May 4, 2004

    Stadium Newsflash

    This just in: the stadium bill before the House Taxes committee has been approved by the committee by a vote of 15-13 with a recommendation to pass! On to the Ways and Means Committee! More updates as I get them...

    abrams.jpg My Hero?
    UPDATE: http://www.startribune.com/stories/587/4758569.html:
    "[A]mendments also require any local taxes to be approved by a referendum and make the Twins deal contingent on the team settling a dispute now keeping games off most television sets."
    As expected, there is now a referendum. Does this make St. Paul the front runner for a Twins stadium?

    Posted by snackeru at 2:16 PM | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    Stadium vote today

    So, it comes down to this. The House Taxes committee will vote on the Stang-Pawlenty-Sviggum stadium bill today, and it looks like it will be a close call, especially if you are a stadium supporter. There is also claims from committee members that the bill is so confusing that they don't even really know what they are voting for. I'd like to think that the bill came in as clear as possible, and then the Abrams just mucked it up, but I really don't know. I predict the bill will pass, but only because it will go to the House Ways and Means Committee next who will either clean up the bill or muck it up even further. Some would claim that the Taxes committee just wasted an inordinate amount of time focusing on this bill (I might have to agree with them), but what is even more frustrating to me is that they can't even get the job done right. As I've said before, if ever the first shovel full of dirt is dug into the ground on any new stadium in Minnesota I will be shocked.

    Some bright spots in the "new and improved bill" the House Taxes commitee has crafted include the teams paying 1/3 of the stadium costs with 25% up front immediately (I think both teams can handle that), and enabling the host communities to levy taxes. One thing I haven't seen is any mention of a referendum, but even if the bill gets out of all the committees without this addendum it still has to get past the floor of the House. So a referendum is, to me, a foregone conclusion. But stranger things have happened.

    Abrams was also a little ticked off with Pawlenty's assertion that the general fund wouldn't be touched to pay for the state's portion:


    Indeed, representatives of the state Revenue Department testified that the general fund would lose money in several ways. It would lose roughly $30 million through a sales tax exemption for stadium construction materials. It would lose property tax revenues because the stadiums would be owned by the public, and it would lose yet-to-be-totaled millions through a tax-increment financing plan that would return some sales- and income-tax proceeds to the stadium projects.

    I've got news for you: if the stadiums aren't built and the Twins are contracted and the Vikings move to LA, the state won't get anything at all. And here is the crux of the matter. Would this actually happen? Would the teams fold or move, or is it all just a bluff? Neither the Vikings nor the Twins will stay in the Metrodome forever. I don't think anyone would argue with that. So it's really just a game of chicken between the teams and the state and no one is flinching yet. If you think that stadiums will be built in Minnesota if we just keep telling the teams no, that the teams will finally come to their senses and decide to just pay for them themselves ... I just don't think it is going to happen. However, it looks like this is what we are going to expect and in fact demand. Well, I don't know where I'm going with this. I'm just being my typical pessimistic Norwegian self. We'll see what the Taxes committee does today.

    Posted by snackeru at 9:13 AM | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    April 29, 2004

    Partisan politics

    Got a letter regarding the stadium issue today from my representative Ron Latz (DFL). In the past Mr. Latz has been pretty pro-stadium, and that was one of the reasons I voted for him. However, today he wrote:


    Dear Shane:

    I have set as my standard a stadium bill that does not affect the ability of the state to fund more important priorities, that is made in the context of adequate funding for those more important priorities, that protects the fiscal integrity of the state, that has enough private participation, and that takes care of our public institutional need for a stadium for the University of Minnesota's Gopher football team, too. I am not philosophically opposed to public investment in public
    infrastructure, and I consider a stadium, done correctly, to be public infrastructure, just like the Metrodome, Xcel Energy Center, the Minneapolis Convention Center, etc. However, there are many higher priorities for state investment than athletic stadiums which the Governor and House Majority have so far failed to adequately fund.

    So far, I am not convinced that the stadium proposals in the House meet my standards.

    Thanks for your input!

    Ron Latz
    State Representative


    I replied:

    Mr. Latz--

    Thanks for the update, although I am very disappointed in what you have to say. Essentially how I read this is that you won't support the stadium bill before the House Taxes committee because it is authored and being pushed for by the Republican leadership. Partisan politics at its finest. Because of this blatant partisanship not only will we have "higher priorities" that are inadequately funded, but yet again the legislature will fail to pass a workable stadium bill. Do two wrongs make a right? Already we have seen stadium costs double due to the inability of our elected officials to figure out how to "fairly" solve this problem. 31 other markets have built stadiums while Minnesota has bickered, pouted, and whined to the point of nauseum. Your inactivity on this issue is going to cost Minnesota millions whether it be a year from now when a stadium bill actually passes, or 10 years from now when we try to lure the NFL and MLB back to our state. If you don't think that will happen, all I need to do is point out the Minnesota Wild. Let's figure this problem out this year, save our state some money, and move on. Please push politics aside and reconsider your stance on this issue. Thanks for listening.


    On letters like these I've really got to hold myself back from lashing out. I can't believe anyone in our legislature would want to push this to another year.

    UPDATE 4/30/04 4:12 PM: Ron Latz responds:


    Dear Shane:

    I appreciate your response to my explanation of how I am approaching this issue. You misinterpret my priority setting as partisan in motivation. I come to the issue with an open mind and not a philosophical rejection of public financial involvement in stadium funding. This is more than can be said of many of my colleagues. Also, the Senate author is our own DFL Senator Steve Kelley. That said, my district survey revealed a 5 to 2 rejection of stadium funding of any sort, while supporting raising taxes to support other priorities of government service. I think I have a principled approach on the merits and is consistent with the overall sentiment of my constituents. I would love to say we saved the Twins and Vikings, and gave the Gophers a great new place to play. It just has to be done the right way and in the right context. We'll see what emerges from the tax committee and on to the House floor.


    To which I responded:

    Ron--

    Thanks for the clarification. I appreciate your thoughtfulness on the issue and your willingness to correspond with me. However, this issue of stadiums in Minnesota isn't going away, and quite frankly I'm sick of it. It needs to be solved. I know it is important to take seriously the views of your constituency, but I also hope there are times that as an elected official you do what you think is best for the state. Most people cannot get past the teams' owners and their billions of dollars. They don't understand that our professional sports teams are much too important to this region to only consider the wealth of the owner when deciding whether or not to fund stadiums. What I'm trying to say is that people do not understand the issue as well as you do. Please take a close look at whatever comes out of the House Taxes committee. If you feel it could work, please vote for it. It will get this monkey off our backs, allow us to focus on other things, and save the state millions of dollars in the long run. Thanks again for your time.

    Shane

    He then responded "Got it!" So, we'll see...

    Posted by snackeru at 9:55 PM | Comments (6) | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    What did I tell you?

    Interesting news coming out of the newspapers regarding stadiums in Minnesota. If you'll recall, yesterday I wrote about how the Taxes committee is against the TIF financing idea (especially Abrams) that would fund the state's portion of stadium costs. I expected the committee to discuss where the state's contribution would come from and it appears that is what they did yesterday. Actually, it appears they listened to the possible host communities whine a little bit about how the TIF method wasn't their idea, but that they still need to have some form of state support. Before we get to a possible alternative to TIF, the article above did mention that the Twins are willing to pay for 1/3 of the stadium costs. In fact, it quotes Twins officials as saying:


    Twins officials testified Wednesday that they're willing to pay for one-third of the ballpark's costs, but not one-third of the project costs -- such as infrastructure -- as the bill demands.

    It's not quite time for me to fall over into a catatonic shock, but I'm close. I wonder what this means in terms of a dollar amount? Probably $120 million, just what they said they'd pay in 2002. Does anyone know for sure?

    Finally, we get to a possible alternative to the TIF financing method. I've been pretty hard on Abrams in the past, but I may have to change my tune. It appears his scare tactics to get the teams to cough up some money is working, and now Sid Hartman is reporting this little bit of news in his column today:


    Rep. Ron Abrams, R-Minnetonka, spent two hours talking about a football stadium with Red McCombs, Mike Kelly and other Vikings officials Saturday at Winter Park. Abrams, chairman of the House Taxes Committee, made it clear he is for a stadium, but his idea is that taxes on car rentals, hotels and such across the metropolitan area should pay for the stadium, according to Kelly. I haven't agreed much with Abrams' stadium policies, but I agree 100 percent that this would be one way to finance a stadium.

    Wow! I gotta say I agree with that, too. If he can pull that off, if he can both alter the bill to suggest this as a method for financing the state's portion and get it passed in his committee ... yikes, I shouldn't get my hopes up that much. Today and Monday should be very interesting in the Taxes commitee, that is for sure.

    Posted by snackeru at 8:45 AM | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    April 28, 2004

    Is Abrams Ruining Everything?

    Interesting news coming out of the capitol these days concerning my favorite topic, stadiums in Minnesota. First off, the links:


    The big news from both of these articles is that Ron Abrams has promised to vote against the bill if it includes the TIF financing method for the state's contribution. Conservative estimates suggest that this method will contribute around $100 million dollars to both the Vikings stadium and the Twins stadium. If the TIF funding strategy is taken out of the bill, where does Abrams expect the state's contribution to come from? Probably nowhere would be my guess. In the past he has tried to float an addendum that would tax statewide newspapers. So far I haven't heard this brought up. To tell you the truth, I don't know what to think of this development. Neither Hennepin County's or St. Paul's initial proposals had any mention of a TIF-like funding strategy at all. But they did count on some kind of state-wide support. I think today's House Taxes meeting will be very interesting as I expect them to try to come up with some alternate funding source.

    After reading these articles I am convinced more than ever that Ron Abrams is trying to scare the teams to death. Actually, he is trying to scare them into committing to paying for 1/3 of their stadiums. In fact, he even said as much in yesterday's hearing. I wonder if the Twins made a concrete 1/3 committment if Abrams would back away from some of his more anti-stadium rhetoric? Unfortunately I don't think we'll ever find out. If Pohlad ever agreed to paying 1/3 upfront I think I would fall over into catatonic shock. We'll see, though. We'll see.

    Other than that I can also take away two positives from yesterday's proceedings. First of all, I totally agree with Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington:


    Placing the taxing burden on one jurisdiction -- such as Hennepin County -- might not be an equitable arrangement for a "statewide asset," said Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, who said she is concerned that her constituents will pay for a Minneapolis ballpark but gain no economic benefits.

    If the entire 5 county area was taxed no one would feel a thing. How likely is this to happen, though? Not likely at all. I'd like to hear what she thinks would be a fair solution to this concern of hers. Secondly, thanks to Abrams focus on TIF, it seems there is no mention of adding a referendum to the bill. If neither Hennepin County or St. Paul had to have a referendum that would be wonderful (although Randy Kelley has already stated he favors one). Maybe a referendum is just a given, who knows?

    The floor of the House will see this bill. I have no doubt of that. I just don't think it will look the same. I'm still holding out hope that even though the Taxes committee is sure to change the bill that it is still workable. If anyone has heard any other news about this, please let me know!

    Posted by snackeru at 8:53 AM | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    April 26, 2004

    Where is Snackeru?

    Sorry for the lack of posts, everyone. Yesterday and today were a little busy. I'm especially sorry considering that today was a big day in terms of stadiums in Minnesota. Today, Pawlenty's stadium bill had its first hearing in front of Ron Abrams' House Taxes Committee. Can't you just hear the ominous music and screaming in the background as you read that? The HOUSE TAXES COMMITTEE! Bwaahhahhaha! Starring Ron Abrams as the evil Crypt Keeper! The crypt in this case contains any state money going towards a stadium. Will the money escape, or will it be locked away in the dungenons of the capitol forever? Stay tuned to find out!

    I actually watched part of the proceedings on the House webcast this morning, but gosh darnit if my worklife didn't get in the way! Blast these stupid library web pages! There is important time to waste watching the smug Ron Abrams kiss the Twins and Vikings goodbye. Unfortunately I had to turn the webcast off. I did get the impression that Abrams will do his best, however, to screw the fans of Minnesota any way that he can. Don't believe me? Check out this article yesterday in the Star Trib. Ron Abrams has a very choice quote in it:


    "The social promotion of the stadium bill is over," said Rep. Ron Abrams, chairman of the House Taxes Committee, which will hear the matter beginning Monday. "I'm for a responsible solution, but this bill is not responsible in a number of ways."

    Well, isn't that dandy? Our governor thinks it is responsible, and the Speaker of the House thinks it is responsible. I'm beginning to think the leaders of our government don't really have any power at all compared to the might of Ron Abrams. Is all hope lost? I'm not so sure. Consider this: Neither the Twins or the Vikings are very thrilled with this bill. They've both already said the 1/3 required by each team is too steep. Could Pawlenty and Abrams be playing a little good cop-bad cop routine? Could the Republican leadership actually be working together to push the Twins and Vikings to make a 1/3 committment? Unlikely, I realize, but I've decided to look on the bright side of things for a change.

    Also consider these points. Our good friend Jim in St. Paul has already told us that Abrams and Pawlenty have met to discuss this issue. Then yesterday on the Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave (sorry Jim, I love Sid) Pawlenty actually called in and discussed the issue a little bit. It was kind of funny actually because Pawlenty called in as a regular caller and fooled both Sid and Mike Max (Dave was out). Maxie said, "Tim from Eagan, you are on the air" and then Pawlenty ripped in to Sid and said Sid hasn't been promoting stadiums in Minnesota nearly enough this year. This, of course, is a complete fallacy since Sid Hartman is the world's biggest stadium supporter. Sid was almost speechless at this statement before Maxie realized it was Tim Pawlenty on the phone. Anyway, Sid started to lay into Pawlenty after that by saying Abrams is going to throw a wrench into everything. Pawlenty was actually very cool about it and said he and Abrams had had "several" meetings over the last "few weeks" discussing this issue. Pawlenty also said he has faith that Abrams will do the right thing. It seemed to imply Pawlenty knows something we don't know, which is certainly true. Sid also told Pawlenty it was all up to him, that if he didn't push for this solution it would never work. Sid brought out the Arne Carlson/Excel Energy Center card, which is a good card to play, and Pawlenty seemed to agree with him. So, what did I learn at the end of all of this? Nothing really, except that Pawlenty remains one heckuva a politician. He'll tell us just enough of what we want to hear, but in the end I'm not sure he is as committed to this as we need him to be. Only time will tell.

    Posted by snackeru at 4:43 PM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    April 22, 2004

    Restaurants to avoid

    UPDATE: You know, many people actually use this list to support restaurants that stood up to the Twins. If that is you, great! That is what free enterprise/democracy/freedom of speech etc. is all about: having the freedom to make your own choices based on what you think is right.

    Also, this list is very old now. I can't even say it is accurate any more. In other words, use it or don't. Makes no difference to me.


    Back in January David Thune, St. Paul City Councilman, conducted a survey of restaurants and bars in St. Paul asking them about their willingness to have an additional 3% tax levied in their establishments in order to fund a Twins stadium in St. Paul. These are the restaurants and bars that said no to the tax. Before you go out to eat in St. Paul again, please look over this list to make sure you don't eat at one of these establishments. We should make sure we patronize restaurants and bars that support the Twins and keeping baseball in Minnesota. Special thanks to Jim in St. Paul for tracking down and providing this list! Let me know when you get a list of the supporters put together!

    Bar/Restaurant

    Address

    Serlin's Café

    1124 Payne Avenue

    Magnolias Restaurant

    1081 Payne Avenue

    Sui Yep Café

    1010 Payne Avenue

    Best Steak House

    949 Payne Avenue

    Louie Bar

    883 Payne Avenue

    Reaney's Bar

    870 Payne Avenue

    Michael's Pizza

    441 South Robert

    Brown Derby

    567 Stryker Avenue

    AM Lounge

    488 N Robert Street

    Magic Carpet Café

    509 Sibley Street

    Princess Garden

    1665 Rice Street

    Coffee Cup

    1446 Rice Street

    Tin Cups

    1220 Rice Street

    Papa Mikes Pizza

    1048 Rice Street

    Mama's Pizza

    961 Rice Street

    Born's Bar

    899 Rice Street

    Ron's Bar

    879 Rice Street

    Sa-gar Restaurant

    601 University

    Best Steak House

    860 University

    Herges Bar

    981 University

    Half Time Rec

    1013 Front Avenue

    Schroeder Bar & Grill

    605 Front Street

    Easy Street West

    616 Como

    Liquor City

    560 West Como

    Minnehaha Lanes

    955 Seminary Avenue

    Over The Rainbow

    719 N Dale Street

    K & L Liquor, Inc.

    501 Blair Avenue

    LaGrolla

    452 Selby Avenue

    BonVie/A Piece of Cake

    485 & 518 Selby Avenue

    The Vintage

    579 Selby Avenue

    Chicago Submarine

    614-612 Selby Avenue

    Tavern on Grand

    656 Grand Avenue

    Italian Pie Shoppe

    777 Grand Avenue

    Wild Onion

    788 Grand Avenue

    Grand Thai

    758 Grand Avenue

    St. Clair Broiler

    1580 St. Clair Avenue

    Hot City Pizza

    1017 W 7th

    Glockenspiel

    605 West 7th

    Dairy Queen

    63 W George N

    Boca Chica

    11 Concord

    Michael's Bar

    1179 E 7th Street

    Great World Buf.

    1626 White Bear Avenue

    Obb's

    1347 Burns Avenue

    Sun Ray Bowl

    2245 Hudson Road

    Black Dog Café

    308 Prince Street

    The Original Sub Shop

    825 E 7th Street

    Arcade Bar

    932 Arcade Street

    Vogel's Lounge

    1112 Arcade Street

    Romolo's

    1409 Arcade

    Dairy Queen

    1233 Payne Avenue

    Hot Rods Bar

    1553 University Avenue

    Snelling Café

    638 Snelling Avenue N

    Mirror of Korea

    761 Snelling Avenue

    Andy's Garage

    1825 University Avenue W

    Copper Dome Restaurant

    1333 Randolph Avenue

    J & S Bean Factory

    1518 Randolph Avenue

    Goby's Grille & Pub

    472 S Snelling Avenue

    Village Bistro

    2012 Ford Parkway

    Ermias Queen of Sheba

    2447 W 7th Street

    La Hacienda

    2467 W 7th Street

    Scooters Bar

    755 Jackson Street

    Sports Break

    1194 Rice Street

    Perfect Pizza

    1098 Arcade Street

    Eastside Checkerboard

    992 Arcade

    Angelos Pizza

    1668 White Bear Avenue

    Pizza Man

    1567 White Bear Avenue

    Hoagie's Bar

    1900 Stillwater Avenue

    New Louisiana Café

    613 Selby Avenue

    The Grandview Grill

    1818 Grand Avenue

    Old Man River Café

    327 W 7th Street

    Buffet King

    2435 W 7th Street

    Mickey's Diner

    1950 W 7th Street

    Margaritas Res.

    1155 Montreal

    Brewery Café

    945 W 7th Street

    Skinners Pub

    919 Randolph Avenue

    Dubliner

    2162 University

    Bonnies Café

    2160 University Avenue

    R. Stones

    2388 University Avenue

    Artists Grind

    2399 University Avenue W

    Muffuletta

    2260 Como Avenue

    Posted by snackeru at 3:55 PM | Stadiums

    Category "Sports business"

    Category "Stadiums"

    Category "Twins"

    April 21, 2004

    Victory and stadiums

    OK, let's get the important Victory Sports news of the day out of the way way right from the start. Charley Walters is reporting in the Pioneer Press:


    "Word is the impasse between Twins' TV rights-holder Victory Sports One and some of the six primary cable and satellite operators could be resolved next week as negotiations continue behind the scenes."

    This is really good news, and hopefully it has a little bit of truth to it. My day is immediately brightened when Shooter has a new article in the Pioneer Press, but even more than Sid you've got to take his columns with a grain of salt. Speaking of Victory, my son's Cub Scout den went bowling last night at the Park Tavern in SLP. Park Tavern is one of the few bars in the area that shows Victory Sports so I got to watch most of the game. The place was packed and the atmosphere was good. Needless to say, I was in heaven.

    The Pioneer Press is also reporting that the impasse in negotiations between Victory and the cable companies is hurting the Twins' chances for a workable stadium bill this year. After yesterday's tirade you might think I'd be really upset about this, but I'm not. First of all, I love how the Twins are always on the minds of our legislators this year. Apparently our representatives and senators are getting "peppered" with messages from constituents demanding that this issue is resolved. This fact, coupled with all the messages they get in favor of building stadiums, has got to demonstrate to them how important the Twins are to the residents of this state. True many of the messages they are getting are negative towards the Twins, but I would think if the Twins were contracted or moved to another city the legislature has got to realize they would get some really negative messages. Secondly, the minute Victory Sports is put on cable in the TC area (and surrounding areas) people will forget all about this impasse and hopefully start focusing on how the network will start helping the Twins bottom line. In other words, Twins fans are not going to care, they are just going to be happy that the Twins are back on TV. Finally, we have this quote:


    "The connection with the stadium legislation involves more than just votes. The stadium bill, should it pass, permits the taxation of cable revenue to help pay for the ballpark."

    This should be the focus of every fan of the Twins: Victory Sports could make a new Twins stadium in Minnesota more of a reality. Again, let's give the Twins the benefit of the doubt on this one and put things into perspective for now. We have missed 8 games on TV so far. Patience, people, patience.

    Finally, my best buddy in Grand Forks, ND points out this little piece of news that TC the Bear was almost injured last night:


    "Mascot T.C. Bear, driving a four-wheeler before the game, unexpectedly veered into the wall, tearing down a banner in the process. The bear was unhurt."

    I know kids love the bear, but I can't stand him so I got a little chuckle out of this news. Although my respect for him shot through the roof when I saw him cranking homeruns in his softball challenge before games last year. Yikes has he got some power! So, perhaps I'll have to start showing TC a little love.

    Posted by snackeru at 9:19 AM | Comments (2) | Sports business | Stadiums | Twins

    Category "Stadiums"

    April 18, 2004

    Next week important for stadium bill

    From April 26-28 Pawlenty's stadium bill will be heard before the House Taxes committee. This is a make or break kind of deal for the bill and Aron Kahn of the Pioneer Press writes that Ron Abrams, chair of the committee, promises "a great deal of changes and scrutiny." That is not good news. You know that a referendum is one of Abrams's promised changes, but what else does he have in mind? I'm sure he has some problems with the tax increment financing method of paying off the bonds for the stadiums, but I think he has his sites set on the taxes for the host community. Specualtion will get us nowhere, but I am nervous.

    Today there were a couple of good articles in the TC dailies concerning my favorite topic. The first, another fine offering from Aron Kahn, points out that this is an election year for the entire House and that maybe our representatives won't have the guts to vote for a stadium knowing that their jobs are on the line. The one good thing we have going for us is that finally our Republican leaders are in favor of the bill: Pawlenty wrote it, Doug Stang is sponsoring it, and Steve Sviggum, speaker of the House, is in favor of it. However, Kahn writes:


    To be sure, there are pressures on members of the Republican-led House to vote for the stadium bill, because Pawlenty, a Republican, proposed the two-stadium plan, and because House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, is a co-author of the bill.

    Yet, [Sen.] Marty and others think it won't be easy sledding in the House, because members will place higher priority on their own re-election campaigns than on loyalty to their leaders.

    "Their number one goal is getting re-elected,'' Marty said. "If they don't pass a bill, what happens? The election comes and goes and they're fine.''

    This is what confuses me. The House passed a stadium bill in 2002. While it isn't as "workable" as the bill now making it through our legislature, it was still a controversial stadium bill. As far as I know, no one lost their job as a result of voting in favor of this bill. It leads me to believe that while we have some vocal proponents and critics of stadium financing, most people just don't care enough to pay close attention. True, you'll hear Joe Blow on the street say, "No state money for billionaires," but if a stadium bill passes, most of these critics probably won't even know the difference or know that it passed in the first place. So, I hope House Republicans show some guts. I honestly don't think they have anything to worry about.

    Our second article is from the Star Tribune and it was written by Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis from the House, who is selling her bill for community ownership of the Twins. I am all in favor of this bill. I would love to own part of the Twins and "take the wheels" off the team, that is for sure. But I don't think either Pohlad or MLB would go for it anymore. The teams wheels are about the only leverage they have right now. However, I do agree if the state owns or controls the team as this bill proposes, building a stadium with public financing might be easier for our legislature to swallow. The bill has these characteristics:


    A range of investment possibilities from a 25 percent private managing partner, responsible for all team operations, expenses and interaction with Major League Baseball.

    A class of major investors who would own stakes in 1 percent to 5 percent increments (akin to the board of directors of a corporation).

    Class B souvenir stock at $100 a certificate. This final class would only get to vote on the relocation of the team.

    Kahn also writes:


    In addition, this proposal answers the question of whether the community wants the Twins much more efficiently than a ballot referendum. It would be a true market test of community support for the Twins. People would be asked to put their money where their mouth is.

    If the financial test doesn't work, it's proof to many of us that the community doesn't care. Incidentally, if it does work, it may pave the public opinion way for either private or public support for a stadium.


    "It would be a true market test of community support for the Twins." I tend to agree with this, but I also don't think it is this simple. However, I also don't think it would be that hard for the Twins to get a lot of people to line up to buy a part of the team. In a recent poll from Harris Interactive the Twins rank number 5 on the list of American's favorite baseball teams. Number 5! This, of course, has a lot to do with the publicity over contraction, and also due the Twins recent winning ways. So, if the Twins "went public" ala the Green Bay Packers, I think we would see a lot of people across the country buying stock in the team. I know I would. We'll be keeping track of Phyllis Kahn's bill for community ownership, you can be rest assured of that.

    Posted by snackeru at 8:13 PM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

    Category "Sports business"

    Category "Stadiums"

    April 13, 2004

    Sports news

    I don't know if any of you caught this, but Mark Dayton brought a meeting together between Victory Sports and Charter, Comcast and Mediacom for a 1 1/2 meeting this morning. And from what I can gather from the article, I actually think something got accomplished at this meeting. For one thing they found out that about all that stands between them and a deal is money:


    "The good news is the differences seem to be entirely about money," said Dayton, referring to the fact operators have balked at Victory's per-subscriber asking price. "It is not a matter of principle or technological impediments. The bad news is they don't seem to be close to an agreement.

    "One of the participants said, 'The difference is not a crack in the sidewalk, but rather the Grand Canyon.'"


    The fact of the matter is, Victory needs to lower it's asking price. $2.20 is too much and based on what I've read rivals ESPN in terms of per user fees. The sad thing is, I would give up ESPN for Victory. That is how bad I want this station. According to Victory the cable companies haven't even made them an offer. In various interviews I've read with Kevin Catoor, president of Victory, the cable companies say "Your price is too high," but then they don't make a counter offer. If I was a cable company I would say we'll pay Victory as much as we pay FSN. That is substantially lower than the $2.20 per subscriber Victory wants (I think around $1.70, somebody please correct me if I'm wrong), but at least it is a start. In conclusion, let me say how happy I am Mark Dayton is taking the time to make something happen. Isn't it amazing that our U.S. Senator is doing this?

    Secondly we have an article saying stadium hearings were delayed today due to the death of Jim Vickerman's son. That is very sad and I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say we wish the Vickerman family the best during this difficult time. The end of the article also states:


    "Meanwhile, Rep. Ron Abrams, R-Minnetonka, chairman of the Houses Taxes Committee, said Tuesday that his committee will probably begin hearings on all three stadiums the week of April 26."

    That is when the real fun will begin. If this bill can get through the Taxes committee reasonably intact it will probably pass the House and actually work. Jim in St. Paul, have you heard anything regarding the scuttlebutt coming out of Pawlenty's office? Have Pawlenty and Abrams met yet?

    Posted by snackeru at 9:11 PM | Sports business | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    April 12, 2004

    Couple you may have missed

    I know, I know. I've missed a couple of stadium related articles recently. Actually, I haven't missed them, I've just kind of sat on them. I gotta tell you, I am more interested in articles with real news about stadiums, especially coming out of the legislature. Everything else is just gravy.

    So, the first article is one from the Pioneer Press called Ballfield backers want cover. I think this is the 733rd time an article on this topic has been written. It is worth repeating though. The Twins want a roof. It is important from a money point of view and a fan point of view. More fans, especially out-state fans (sorry Curt), will buy tickets if they know the game won't be rained out:


    "When the Twins played at the open-air Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, the most people they drew in a regular season was 1.5 million in 1965 when the team played in the World Series and 1967.

    In the Metrodome in 1988, the year after the Twins won the World Series, the team drew 3 million, making it the first American League team to attract that many spectators."

    I think it is a given that if the Twins build a new ballpark, and have a winning team, they will draw tons of fans regardless of having a roof or not. The question is, can they draw enough fans in the so-so years without a roof? That is a tough question to answer. Personally, I want a roof, but the main reason for building a ballpark with a roof, weather, is a little shaky considering this data:


    "Other cities with roofless ballparks actually have comparable weather. Baseball season rainfall is 20.7 inches in the Twin Cities, 22.1 inches in Chicago and 20 inches in Boston. As for cold, the Twin Cities' daily mean temperature in April, for example, is 46.6 degrees, compared with 48.3 in Boston not much difference."

    Those are some interesting stats, but the fact of the matter is Minnesota does not have the same type of fan base that Boston has. We are pansies when it comes to inclement weather. We take pride in gutting out a Minnesota winter, but there is no way we sit in a freezing, rainy ballpark when we could watch the game on TV. We built the Metrodome, for goodness sake, and brought football indoors and our toughness has been going downhill ever since. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the day they opened the Metrodome every male in Minnesota turned in his penis. Until the Vikings start playing outside again every man in Minnesota is a card carrying member of the National Organization for Women.

    I really don't know where I am going with this, but I'll take a retractable roof for baseball. I mean, you can't play baseball in the rain. As far as football goes, it has got to be played outdoors. I would grudgingly take a retractable roof on a football stadium, but I'd prefer one completely exposed to the elements.

    On to the second article, Study: Pro teams can pay more for their own stadiums. Apparently a couple of professors at the University of Dayton have published a study that "claims that Major League Baseball teams can increase revenues enough in new stadiums to pay off the cost of their buildings within 12 years without public aid." You know what? This may shock some of you, but they are probably right. Not 100% right, but I have no doubt owners can pony up more money than they claim to be able to. That is what I hope both the legislature and the teams take from this study. I hope the legislature sticks to its guns and demands 1/3 from each team, and I also hope that the teams realize that the more studies that come out like this the harder it will be to get any public subsidies at all. It is time for a deal. Red and Carl had better not monkey with the chance they have this year. I can't believe that Pawlenty is showing them so much love, or that he will have the stomach to do it again if his deal falls through this year. Anyway, your comments are welcome.

    Posted by snackeru at 11:13 PM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    April 8, 2004

    Pawlenty article

    Man, its a good thing you've got me. This article might have slipped under your radar, but Tim Pawlenty has written a wonderful article in the Pioneer Press which defends his stadium plan. I love this time of year! Almost everyday there is stadium news to mull over. And since I am a sick person, I need my daily stadium fix. Anyway, on to the article.

    The article begins with a colorful anecdote that I'm sure we've all heard before, the story of Wally Pipp and Lou Gehrig. Pawlenty uses it to illustrate how he doesn't want Minnesota to be another Wally Pipp and take ourselves out of the game. He argues professional sports, as troubled as they are, are part of the fabric of our quality of life. But his big argument is that we can build stadiums "without having an impact on our ability to fund other state priorities." This is where I think people in this state have the most difficulty. Many in Minnesota find it impossible to separate building stadiums from funding healthcare or education. My argument has always been that healthcare and education won't see a dime more if we don't build stadiums. If we don't build stadiums the money that would have gone to them will not be automatically diverted to any other area. These are separate problems and should be treated and solved separately.

    Of all the plans that have come forward in the many years of what Phil Krinke calls the "Stadium Bataan Death March" Pawlenty's should make any stadium opponent the happiest. It doesn't create or use any state taxes. Here is how Pawlenty describes his plan:


    "The plan is really pretty simple. The teams are required to pay one-third of the cost. Host communities interested in a stadium are allowed to choose new financing tools, such as the ability to go to their citizens for a referendum on local revenues. The state uses a new kind of tax increment financing to capture the tax revenue generated in and around the new stadium to pay for it. This revenue wouldn't exist if it weren't for the new stadium. The teams are required to guarantee the new revenue."

    It's beginning to look more and more like the 1/3 contribution from the teams is non-negotiable. And that is fine with me. There is no reason they can't pay at least a third. The TIF plan is the same plan that was used to build 3 new stadiums in Pennsylvania. It works and it is painless. The state still gets the tax money it gets now as if the teams were in the Metrodome and anything extra goes to the stadium fund. If the teams left the state we wouldn't get jack squat. So, what do we want? The same tax money that we have now, or nothing? Pawlenty goes on to add:

    "Conservative critics may argue that it's not right for government to help build facilities for private businesses. They're right too in an ideal world. Unfortunately, few stadiums are built without some kind of government facilitation. The economics of professional sports, and the willingness of other communities to pay for new facilities, makes it a competitive necessity."

    This is what kills me. For the past decade Pawlenty has been one of these "conservative critics." Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled the governor is leading on this issue (finally!), but we could have had all of this figured out a long time ago and for a lot cheaper if Pawlenty and his Republican cronies in the House could have come to this conclusion sooner. If we want to remain "major league" we have got to come up with a workable plan. Other cities and states can figure it out, why can't we? Pawlenty goes on to say:

    "That's why the Legislature should act this year to address our state's stadium needs. The Twins and Vikings won't play in the Metrodome much longer. The issue is not going away. The teams might. It's time for leaders to make decisions and move ahead."

    I like that, a strong statement that is to the point. It is time for leaders to make a decision on all of this. Our inactivity has cost us hundreds of millions and the longer we wait the harder it will be to do. Some of you may say, "Good! Let the teams leave." This is naive and ignorant of the future. If the teams leave how long do you think it will take until we start begging for another team to return? It happened with NHL hockey in Minnesota, and it will happen with baseball and football too. And it will cost us dearly. I've got an idea. Let's keep the teams we have. It will be cheaper, and it will help us maintain our quality of life now. Kudos to Tim Pawlenty for showing some leadership on this issue. Now if we could only get him to show the U of M a little love...

    Posted by snackeru at 12:38 PM | Comments (2) | Stadiums

    Category "Sports business"

    Category "Stadiums"

    Category "Twins"

    April 5, 2004

    What a game!

    Wow! What a great first game to the season! Shannon Stewart ... can you say enough good things about him? It doesn't get much better than a three-run walk off home run. And Joe Mauer looked solid: two walks and two singles for his first game in the big leagues. Tomorrow night I will be at the game and I expect more of the same. And it is a good thing I'll be at the game, too. It seems rumors of a deal between Victory and the cable companies is not even close to being in the works. According to Kevin Catoor, "There doesn't seem to be any urgency from the operators' standpoint to get this thing done." For more information on Victory Sports check out this great interview with Kevin Catoor on SethSpeaks.net.

    And to top it all off, check out this quote from Sen. Dean Johnson (along with Larry Spooner, a big hero of mine) in the StarTribune:


    As the Twins opened their season at home in the Metrodome on Monday, state Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson predicted that "it's better than 60-40 percent we're going to build a ballpark this legislative session."

    Wow. When the Senate majority leader says something like that, you really have to pay attention. Next stop for the bill is the House Taxes committee and it sounds like Pawlenty is really putting his muscle behind it. You know, I was ticked off when Pawlenty was elected governor. I thought the Twins wouldn't have a chance with him at the helm. But now it appears as though he is doing the best job anybody could do reining in the Republican controlled house. According to Jim in St. Paul in a comment on my old site:

    It wasn't reported in either paper, but there was an arrangement made that the stadium bill would not have to pass through the legislature's Capital Investment Committee. This committee is headed by Rep. Phil Krinke, any stadium booster's arch enemy. From my understanding Speaker Sviggum was able to convince Krinke that the stadium bill was not in the "purview" of his committee.

    To take Krinke out of the picture is significant. It looks like the stadium battle could be coming to an end ... well, we better not hold our breath. For at least a day, though, it is good to be a Twins fan.

    Posted by snackeru at 11:29 PM | Comments (8) | Sports business | Stadiums | Twins

    Category "Stadiums"

    April 1, 2004

    Mike Opat responds

    I am a sick person. I think about stadiums constantly. I am so in favor of building stadiums in Minnesota, it is no use trying to talk me out of it. Since last November I've been running a blog on a server in my basement, and I've had a lot of fun doing it. I've made some good connections, and kept my family and friends abreast of what is going on in my life. I started the blog to document the stadium battle in Minnesota and try to persuade anyone I can that it is time to build them. I expect to do the same on this blog. A while back I wrote to Mike Opat and asked him a series of questions concerning Hennepin County's efforts to build a stadium. Some of my questions and his answers may appear out of date, but I still think his answers are interesting:

    Mike Opat is a Hennepin County commissioner and he currently leads the county's efforts to build a new Twins stadium.


    1. First of all, what is in it for Hennepin County as a whole by building a stadium in Minneapolis? According to reports, Hennepin County will have to raise between $25 and $30 million a year for debt service on bonds to build a new stadium. That seems like a lot of money. What kind of economic and/or quality of life impact do you feel a new stadium will have on the county that justifies that kind of yearly expense?

      Mike Opat's response:
      "The quality of life in Hennepin County is high. I think we all know that. That quality is owing to a great many things the sum of which makes us want to live here--even in February. [T]he quality of life attracts businesses here. Baseball is one of those intangible assets that adds to the quality of life. The Guthrie Theater, the Walker Art Center, etc. are also such assets. Keeping the vital asset that is baseball is "what's in it" for us. The fact that a ballpark would be in Minneapolis is really not important. We want to put a ballpark where it has the best chance of succeeding. Clearly, that would be in the Warehouse District where the action is."

      This answer I did not expect at all. I expected Mr. Opat to say, "We've run all the numbers and we feel that a stadium in the Warehouse District will generate X amount of dollars for the county, etc. etc..." I have no doubt that Hennepin County will make money on this deal, but what Mr. Opat is doing here arguing that the quality of life aspect of a stadium is the main reason he wants Hennepin County to host it. The quality of life impact is definitely high, as is the impact on community pride, not to mention the benefits of having family friendly entertainment in our community. The entertainment value, history, nostalgia, and memories MLB has provided Minnesota for decades should not be something we are willing to give up.

    2. Does the fact that Pawlenty has said the state will not help with any financing hurt Hennepin County's efforts?

      Mike Opat's response:
      "Yes. But what any Governor says at the start of a legislative session may not be what ends up in a bill. Decisions like these are compromises and all is not lost yet. But the state will have to help if we are to get this done."

      Not an unexpected answer. Pawlenty's recent comments concerning his lack of support for state funding of stadiums hurt all the communities counting on these funds. Mr. Opat is optimistic, that is for sure, and if it is going to take state help "if we are to get this done" I must say that dampens my spirits a little bit.

    3. According to Hennepin County's proposal you hope to impose county wide taxes to pay your share of the costs. Do you think this is the only way to fund the stadium, and if so, do you favor a referendum or not?

      Mike Opat's response:
      "I think the best way to finance the public portion of a project this large is with a very broad, low, tax county wide. It is not the only way, there are many other ways. But county wide is the best way."

      Time probably prohibited Mr. Opat from answering this question in full. If there is a "Plan B" I want to know about it because I think they are going to need it. But he is right, a "broad, low, tax county wide" would generate a lot of money and people wouldn't feel it at all.

    4. Finally, you know more about the current stadium climate at the legislature than I do. What is your gut feeling concerning the chances of a workable Twins stadium bill actually passing this session?

      Mike Opat's response:
      "I am unclear at this point. I think it will ultimately get down to how much the Governor wants to push for it. The heavy lifting will be in the Republican-controlled House of Reps. Not many forces can move them--especially their most conservative members, but the Governor may have
      some effect. IF he does not want to try, I don't think this will go anywhere."

      This is definitely something we've heard before. If any plan is to have a chance in the legislature, Pawlenty has got to push it through. If you haven't written Pawlenty yet, please do so now. We've got to let him know that we want this problem solved.


    A special thanks to Mike Opat for answering my questions! Keep this blog in your "blogroll" for more stadium talk!

    Posted by snackeru at 10:01 PM | Stadiums

    Category "Stadiums"

    March 30, 2004

    Moving right along

    Back to our regularly scheduled programming: stadiums in Minnesota! That is an issue we can all agree on! Right?

    Last night Pawlenty's stadium bill "sailed" through the House Governmental Operations and Veteran Affairs Policy committee. If you are interested in the resulting newspaper articles:


    First of all, let me say again that Larry Spooner is my hero! From what I can glean from the StarTrib article he took what could have been a very tense situation, lightened it up, and possibly gave the committee members an opportunity to pass the bill along due to his humorous testimony. Way to go Larry!

    According to the Pioneer Press article the bill received only one amendment:


    "In an attempt to resolve a thorny issue, Rep. Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, successfully sponsored an amendment that requires a team owner to share his gains from a team sale with the public, based on the proportion of public funds that went into the stadium. The bill already required an owner to share the increased value that results from a new stadium."

    I thought this was already a part of the bill, and at least the Twins have already agreed to this kind of stipulation. So, I don't see that as a big problem. In fact, from a stadium boosters stand point, there really isn't anything to complain about concerning last night's proceedings. I don't know how it passed through this committee so quickly and with only one amendment, but I'm thankful that it did. Could Pawlenty be using his muscle to push it through?

    Actually, I do have an idea why it passed through this committee so quickly. If you listen really carefully in the directon of the state capitol you should be able to hear Ron Abrams licking his chops in anticipation. In mid April, the bill will be heard by his House Taxes committee, and that is when the real changes and amendments will happen. The House Governmental Operations and Veteran Affairs Policy committee knew it and decided not to waste their time. Don't you think?

    Anyway, this news will definitely put a little bounce in my step today. If anyone has any insightful commentary to add, please do so below!

    Posted by snackeru at 9:28 AM | Comments (3) | Stadiums

    Category "Sports"

    Category "Stadiums"

    March 29, 2004

    Random Observations

    So, did any of you catch the Gopher's hockey games on Victory Sports this weekend? I sure did. I switched Victory on as soon as they began broadcasting on Friday night just so I could say I saw it on the air. While I hope that Victory and the big cable companies end their squabble, I'm not going to hold my breath. One suggestion I have for Victory, however, when they finally get on the air for real, is to get some new commercials. Victory must have showed the Debt-Free consolidation commerical 100 times, along with the inventor commercial, and the coffee/tea pouch commercial. It was like I was watching Sally Jesse Raphael instead of a hockey game.

    Speaking of the Gophers, their run in the NCAA tournament finally came to an end. Over these past few years I have really come to enjoy Gopher hockey so I was a little disappointed. Both living in Minnesota and working at the U have given me a new understanding about how important hockey is to this state. One thing I've learned is that the U of M can handle a mediocre football team. We can stomach a less than stellar season from the basketball team. But one thing the U and its fans will not tolerate is a poor hockey season. The U of M will always have a strong hockey team. It is almost a guarantee. I've already heard that some people are upset with this year, and the Gophers won the WCHA Final Five! High expectations are good though.

    Not too much on the stadium front. Today, the bill will be heard by the Governmental Operations and Veterans Affairs Committee. And from what I understand, it will be after 5:00 today and the meeting will go long into the night. There was also a nice profile of Doug Stang in the StarTrib today. I've written Doug before and I got a nice response from him. He is one of the "good guys" in the legislature. Thoughtful, hard working, and always trying to do the right thing, no matter how controversial it is. I can't see his backing of this stadium bill hurting his chances of re-election. At least I hope it won't. Of course, I will be commenting on the committee's response to the stadium bill tomorrow.

    Lastly, people in the Twin Cities actually got a chance to watch the Twins yesterday! Channel 45 showed a spring training game, so I of course watched as much of it as I could. Lohse looks good. And the StarTrib has a hilarious article about Doug Mientkiewicz and how Matt LeCroy was sent in as a pinch runner for him during the game. Other than that, the bullpen is shaping up, Santana is looking good (finally!), and the Twins are actually hitting for power this spring. I am really looking forward to this season! Should be fun. Hopefully we'll all be able to watch the games on TV!

    Posted by snackeru at 9:26 AM | Sports | Stadiums

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