Category "Stadiums 2006"

June 30, 2006

OK ... this is just too cool to keep to myself

Yep. I'm back. I was considering permanent blogging retirement, but something happened today that is just too cool for me to keep quiet. In fact, it just put a huge grin on my face. Allow me to explain.

I have been selected as the Neerland and Oyaas, Inc. "Firecracker of the Year." Can you believe it? If you want to read more about it, you can point your browser to Neerland and Oyaas Online.

firecracker.gif

You might be wondering to yourself, who the heck are Neerland and Oyaas? Neerland and Oyaas, Inc. are a consulting firm in Minneapolis that serves profit and non-profit institutions from the region and beyond. They were also heavily involved with New Ballpark Inc, hence their knowledge of me.

Anywho, in their newsletter today they listed all the candidates for their annual "Firecracker of the Year" before announcing:

Accepting the award for all these people will be the embodiment of personal, unflagging and unselfish service, Shane Nackeru[d], whose clever blogging on The Greet Machine turned out to be an instrumental tool for legislative leaders and lobbyists in shepherding the ballpark legislation through the last session. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Shane, you can find out all you need to know by reading his entry dated April 28: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/snackeru/greet/2006_04.html.

Each of the aforementioned ballpark heroes will receive a 12-pack of Black Cat bottle rockets with report. Shane will have the honor of being listed as the Firecracker of the Year as it is inscribed on the stone tablet. We trust that he will consider himself honored to be mentioned among the following past Firecracker of the Year award winners.

How cool is that? I am honored and humbled by this award, plus I'll be getting a 12-pack of bottle rockets! Rock on! Seriously though, I think this is the first award that I have ever received outside of school or work.

Now, I don't write all of this to toot my own horn, but just to say what a fun ride this has all been. Sometimes, when you take a stand good things can definitely happen. Besides the reward of finally getting a new Twins ballpark, I can also say I am the Neerland and Oyaas "Firecracker of the Year." That is fricken awesome!

So, thank you from the bottom of my heart to Neerland and Oyaas, especially Mark Oyaas who I am honored to call a friend. If you ever need anything Mark, you just let me know!

And for the rest of you, those of you that keep checking everyday if I have written anything, I plan on writing regularly again after the 4th. But let me warn you, you might not like everything I have to say. Without a stadium to complain about this blog will be a lot less focused. Hopefully it will be at least a little compelling, though. We'll see.

Have a great 4th everyone!

Posted by snackeru at 3:48 PM | Comments (8) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

June 22, 2006

Maybe ...

This about says it all for me right now.

Maybe I'll have something to say soon.

Posted by snackeru at 9:09 AM | Comments (3) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

June 1, 2006

The party, thanks, and goodbye (for now)

What a night! What a party! If you weren't there, you missed something special. Good conversation, good food, and good times. Plus, all the beer you could drink. For me, that meant root beer since (and some people find this hard to believe) I actually don't like the taste of beer. Go figure. Anyway, it was a special night of celebration. 10 years is a long time to wait, and it was nice to finally have some closure. I had a blast sitting at a table with my good friends Tim (my brother in law who still can't believe the legislature passed a workable stadium bill), the king Twins blogger SBG, the illustrious Spycake (and his girlfriend Katie), freealonzo (who quite possibly should have been writing the Greet Machine in the first place), and my good friend and neighbor, the ever-witty Cheesehead Craig. Thanks for the conversation everyone!

party-peeps.jpg

We also met mpls1934 (thanks for introducing yourself!), Dan K. (thanks for coming buddy!), Grant (I wish I would have got a picture with you! Why did you take off so suddenly?), and a slew of other people all there to celebrate our good fortune. Thanks for coming one and all!

And of course, we wouldn't even have had a party without the work of Jiminstpaul (below) and the Summit Brewing Co. Thanks a million, Jim, for both the party and your online friendship over the years. Words can't express how much I have appreciated your friendship. And I can't believe we actually had a party to celebrate a Twins ballpark. Can you believe it?!?!?

party-jiminstpaul.jpg

The crowd was pretty good sized. Not the hundreds that Jiminstpaul was afraid was going to show up. More like one hundred. But that was nice. It was a good crowd. Not too big and not too small.

party-crowd.jpg

A bunch of people got up to speak. Mark Stutrud, the founder and president of Summit Brewing gave a nice speech. Jiminstpaul had some nice things to say. A representative from the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce had some great things to say about keeping the Twins in the Twin Cities. I was even forced to get up and say a few words. I stumbled and mumbled a few things and gave a toast. I wish I could have blown people away with something really thoughtful and compelling, but I am more of a writer than a speechifier, and even my writing is suspect.

party-speech.jpg

After eating from the great spread (thanks again, Jim!) we went on a fascinating tour of the Summit Brewery. Jiminstpaul was our tour guide as we learned about the process of making all the great beers Summit has to offer.

party-tour.jpg

At one point my brother in law Tim asked if anyone had a glove he could put on top of one of the bottles lined up on the conveyer. I thought it was funny.

party-bottler.jpg

At the end of the tour, Jim took us into the enourmous beer cooler. At a crisp 40 degrees it was a little chilly in there, but most people were just blown away by the amount of beer in one room. Note the glazed look on MOJO's eyes below.

party-beer.jpg

After the tour, we talked some more and took some pictures. Here is me with Cheesehead Craig. Again, Cheesehead Craig is my neighbor and one of my best friends. He is also one of three original readers of the Greet Machine (with my mom and Curt and Grand Forks). Thanks for everything CC!

party-cheesehead.jpg

Here is a picture of me with the mighty SBG. SBG has taken the torch from the Twins Geek and is now the best Twins blogger out there. Even if he doesn't think I read his stuff. Let me assure you, SBG, I do read your stuff, I just have a horrible memory. Anyway, thanks for coming SBG, and thanks for stopping by my own site every now and again!

party-sbg.jpg

This is a picture of me with the always cool, calm, and collected Spycake. Yes, this is Spycake. I was expecting some old, bald guy but as you can see Spycake has hair coming out all over the place. Spycake's job over the years has been to calm me down when I went nuts over something, and for that I thank him. I asked Spycake, "So, do you think I am just plan crazy?" To which Spycake answered, "Yes, I think you are crazy." You just can't buy that kind of honesty anymore, people. Thanks for coming Spycake! It was an honor and a privilege to meet you!

party-spycake.jpg

Here is a picture of me with freealonzo. I said this above already, but I have a sneaky suspicion that freealonzo actually knows more about stadiums than I do. In all honesty, he probably should have been writing this site. Sometimes his comments were so insightful and so well-written, I would just paste them into a new entry and say, "Just read this." Thanks for your contributions freealonzo! I hope we see more of eachother now that I am on the East Bank!

party-freealonzo.jpg

And here is a picture of me with MOJO, a relatively new reader of the Greet Machine, but an important contributor as the stadium bill weaved its way throught the legislature this year. MOJO tells me he checks my site "17 times a day" which is very flattering. I'm sorry I don't have more for you to read. And now I'll be taking a little vacation! But more about that later. Anyway, thanks for coming MOJO and nice to meet you! I'll have to think about working on the Vikings stadium next! (unlikely)

party-mojo.jpg

Finally, here is a picture of me with Bruce. Bruce never commented on my site, but he was an avid reader. At the party, Bruce unexpectedly said a few words in a speech of his own, and I must say I was deeply touched by his comments. Thanks for your kind words, Bruce. They meant a lot to me. The Greet Machine has always been a labor of love for me, and to hear that my efforts made a difference, no matter how small, was very gratifying. I really appreciate your friendship, Bruce, and I hope we can keep in touch. There is a lot of work to do!

party-artie.jpg

And with that, dear reader, I must say goodbye. Not for "forever" but just until I feel like writing again. Blogging is hard work and it can be very rewarding. I mean, look at me! I got a new ballpark out of the deal. But I must also admit that I am tired. I am tired of arguing, I am tired of checking site statistics, and I am tired of the mental effort it takes to come up with something creative almost every day. I will be back, probably sooner than later, but for now I am officially on vacation.

So, thanks to everyone for reading my daily drivel. Thanks to all of you that felt compelled to comment or even link to my writing. Your feedback meant a lot to me. Really, thanks for everything. It was a fun ride.

And now I will leave you with the toast I gave tonight at the party, "To green grass and the open sky. May we all get sunburned at the new ballpark in 2010." Have a good summer everyone!

Posted by snackeru at 9:41 PM | Comments (20) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

Remember! Party tonight!




NEW BALLPARK


CELEBRATION!


twins-summit.jpg

AFTER 10 LONG YEARS, THE TWINS FINALLY HAVE APPROVAL FOR A NEW BALLPARK

LIKE THE TWO GUYS IN THE TWINS LOGO, LET’S GET ALL ST. PAULITES AND MINNEAPOLITANS THAT HAVE WORKED HARD TO INSURE THE TWINS REMAIN IN MINNESOTA TOGETHER TO SHAKE HANDS AND TOAST OUR SUCCESS


WHEN- THURSDAY JUNE 1, 5:00-8:00 pm
WHERE- SUMMIT BREWING COMPANY RATHSKELLAR
910 MONTREAL CIRCLE, ST. PAUL
HOSTED BY- JIM LONETTI & SUMMIT BREWING COMPANY
FOR INFO- JIM LONETTI: 651 399-5155 SUMMIT BREWING CO: 651 265-7800

BEER, FOOD, MUSIC, SPEECHES?

Let us know if you can make it! Spread the word!

Posted by snackeru at 7:37 AM | Comments (6) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Cheesehead Craig"

Category "Life"

Category "Stadiums 2006"

Category "Twins"

May 30, 2006

Life is good

• What the heck people!?!?!? What the heck am I supposed to write about? For the past three nights I have sat down at my computer ready to lay into those morons at the legislature only to realize they have actually passed a workable stadium bill! Can you believe it? Who am I supposed to lay into now? This recent development has changed my life. You remember the Seinfeld episode where George stops having sex and becomes more intelligent? That is now happening to me. Not thinking about stadiums has freed up oodles of time and brain waves. I can feel myself getting smarter, healthier, happier. Needless to say, I am a better person because the legislature passed a workable stadium bill. In fact, the Minnesota legislature may have actually saved my life (if not my marriage). It is a strange feeling not having to think about stadiums. I kinda like it.

• So, Cheesehead Craig and I were watching the Twins game on Sunday when we started talking about the players on the current Twins roster that will be around when the new stadium opens in 2010. Specifically, we asked the question, what 5 players do you want to see on the Twins roster when the new stadium opens in 2010? What five players do you want to still see in a Twins uniform in 2010? Anyway, here is the list I came up with:

Johnan Santana
Francisco Liriano
Joe Mauer
Justin Moreneau
Torii Hunter

Yep, that is my list and I'm sticking to it. Santana and Liriano are no brainers, Mauer is a must have, and Moreneau ... I just really like him. But more than anything, I want to see Torii Hunter in a Twins uniform in 2010. I think he has given enough of himself and his body to stick around 4 more years. Pohlad has already said he wants Torii to stick around. Torii himself has said he wants to stick around. And this isn't because I think he is the best player, or because I don't think Denard Span will be ready, it is only because seeing Torii Hunter in center field on opening day 2010 will make me feel good. It will give me the warm fuzzies all over. It will make me happy. And I like to be happy. If you've got a list of your own, put it in the comments.

• So, I got an email from Jiminstpaul today. Jiminstpaul has been reading this blog almost as long as Cheesehead Craig, and more importantly Jiminstpaul is putting together the big New Ballpark Celebration going on this Thursday at the Summit Brewery Rathskellar (you are invited). Anyway, when Jim first came up with this idea last year to hold a "ballpark celebration" it was going to be just for "Greet Machiners" ... maybe 20-30 people who read this blog and who would be interested in getting together to quaff a few brews in the company of friends. Well, Jim now tells me that his little party has been advertised in the Star Tribune and on Cities 97. What was originally going to be 20-30 people may now actually be hundreds of people. So, are you coming? I'll remind you again tomorrow.

• So, I got a comment today from long time reader, and stadium opponent, David Wintheiser that was just too good to not highlight:

Betty Crocker Park. Come on.

General Mills has long been a supporter of pro sports in the Cities - they had a long-standing agreement with the Vikings to purchase unsold tickets so that Vikes games wouldn't be blacked out on local TV, though that agreement finally ended some time around the start of the Red McCombs era. It's a well-known Minnesota company with strong ties, would make a nice family-friendly image, and opens up some interesting cross-marketing opportunities, since food is a big reason to go to a game (and Hormel will still be there regardless).

And those of us who aren't quite classy enough to get behind the ballpark now that it's a fait accompli can refer to the place as 'The Crock'. It's a win-win!

I'm sorry, but that is funny. "The Crock!" Genius! David! Where the heck have you been all this time? By the way, I think some Summit Brewery fans/employees have made my little poll on the ballpark's potential name a little less than "scientific." For shame! I'm of half a mind to declare Land O'Lakes Park the winner and start the negotiations for naming rights! Don't mess with the Greet Machine!

• Finally, back to my opening point. What the heck am I supposed to write about now that the legislature has passed a ballpark bill? I'm sure I'll write about more ballpark stuff as the news comes out, but 2010 is four years away, and as I said above, I don't want to think about this anymore. It isn't healthy.

So, after the big New Ballpark Celebration, I may take a little break. I've got to regroup and "reinvent" this little site. I may talk more about music, or religion, or books, or libraires (I am a librarian), or maybe all of the above, including new ballparks. We'll see. Whatever the case, I am looking forward to a little vacation. Hopefully I'll see you on Thursday!

Posted by snackeru at 8:26 PM | Comments (14) | Cheesehead Craig | Life | Stadiums 2006 | Twins

Category "Stadiums 2006"

May 25, 2006

More of the same

• Hello! Sorry for my silence everyone. Time Warner cable went out in my neck of the woods yesterday which meant a couple of things. One, both the Lost season finale and the American Idol were essentially "off the air" for a whole lot of people and two, I had no Internet access last night. So, I read all night. It was nice.

Anywho, if you haven't been reading the DTFC Twins Forum you've been missing some good stuff. There are a couple of threads there talking about the potential design of the new stadium and how a ballpark might fit on the Rapid Park site. For example, check out this graphic:

pnctwins.jpg

The above picture is an overlay of Pittsburgh's PNC Park on the Rapid Park site (created with Google Earth). Note that it is still a little big, and PNC is considered to be an "intimate" ballpark. Well, it appears we might get something even more intimate. We'll see.

The creative genius behind this picture (and more) is Rick Prescott of BallparkMagic.com, a pre-Greet Machine pro-ballpark site. Rick, or rixware1 as he is known on the DTFC Twins Forum, is also creating a new site: http://twinsballpark2010.com/. This will be THE site to watch the construction and learn about the design of the ballpark. I just hope the Greet Machine can keep up!

• Secondly, there have been some questions on these pages regarding the veracity of the claim that automobile purchases in Hennepin County are going to be ballpark tax expempt. Well, I have an answer, and reader David Howe had it mostly right. Essentially, the automobile sales tax is separate and different than the general sales tax that will fund most of the ballpark construction costs. In other words, automobiles are taxed under a completely different statute than the general sales tax. Cars are not covered by the general sales tax. If Hennepin County wanted to tax cars to pay for the new ballpark, they would have had to explicitly ask for it.

That's it for now. Sorry for the brevity. More later.

Posted by snackeru at 9:35 PM | Comments (16) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

May 23, 2006

New Ballpark Celebration! You are invited!

You are cordially invited to a New Ballpark Celebration at Summit Brewery in St. Paul this next Thursday, June 1 from 5:00 - 8:00 PM. The party will be put on by long time Greet Machine reader, and St. Paul booster, Jiminstpaul, and all "Greet Machiners" are invited! The Twins will probably send a representative, as will New Ballpark Inc.. And most importantly, there will be FREE BEER (and root beer, kids are welcome)!

If you can make it, leave a comment below! Jim and I have already heard from a lot of people who are going to be there. This is the party you've been waiting 10 years for! We look forward to seeing you!

NEW BALLPARK


CELEBRATION!


twins-summit.jpg

AFTER 10 LONG YEARS, THE TWINS FINALLY HAVE APPROVAL FOR A NEW BALLPARK

LIKE THE TWO GUYS IN THE TWINS LOGO, LET’S GET ALL ST. PAULITES AND MINNEAPOLITANS THAT HAVE WORKED HARD TO INSURE THE TWINS REMAIN IN MINNESOTA TOGETHER TO SHAKE HANDS AND TOAST OUR SUCCESS


WHEN- THURSDAY JUNE 1, 5:00-8:00 pm
WHERE- SUMMIT BREWING COMPANY RATHSKELLAR
910 MONTREAL CIRCLE, ST. PAUL
HOSTED BY- JIM LONETTI & SUMMIT BREWING COMPANY
FOR INFO- JIM LONETTI: 651 399-5155 SUMMIT BREWING CO: 651 265-7800

BEER, FOOD, MUSIC, SPEECHES?

Let us know if you can make it! Spread the word!

Posted by snackeru at 5:00 PM | Comments (33) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

May 22, 2006

What can I say?

• You know when something really good happens and you just don't know what to say? That is where I am at right now. I am just happy, happy, happy without anything really too important or compelling to say. Besides, cmathewson at Twinkie Town said it much better than I ever could. When somebody writes something this thoughtful, what is the point of even trying?

• That won't stop me, though, so here it goes. I think it is a given that Opening Day 2010 at the new ballpark will be called on account of rain or snow. In fact, I think it is a guarantee. And you know what? I will absolutely love it. A called game? In Minnesota? It will be cause for celebration! Let's embrace our crappy weather, put away our pansy attitudes about it, and revel in the fact that we live in Minne-fricken-sota, land of 9 month winters, 3 day torrential downpours, and mosquito infested summers. Bring ... it ... on!!!!!

• Now for something even more important than the new roofless ballpark: what will the new ballpark be called? I have heard a lot of people already calling it Best Buy Field but I must say that doesn't really excite me. I would love it if the new stadium was called Kirby Puckett Park, but I seriously don't think that will happen either. There is too much money to be made from naming rights. So, for your edification, I present to you the major companies that make Minnesota home:

Best Buy (Best Buy Field/Park? Too obvious)
Cargill (Cargill Field? Nope)
3M (3M Park? Yes, I could live with that. Or how about Post-it Notes Park? Yeah, that has a nice ring to it ...)
Northwest Airlines (No way)
Target Corporation (Nope, already have the Target Center)
U.S. Bancorp (Yes, there is a chance this will be U.S. Bancorp Ballpark. Not the best choice but a distinct possibility)
TCF Bank (Nope. Already the name of the new Gophers stadium)
Medtronic or Ecolab? (Wouldn't like it, but it is possible I suppose)
Dairy Queen (Started in Illinois, but now headquartered in Minnesota. Anything with "Queen" in the title should be avoided)
General Mills (Obviously, Wheaties Field would be highly appropriate, but how about Fraken Berry Field?)
Polaris Industries (Polaris Park ... now that would be cool)
Wells Fargo (Technically not a Minnesota company, but it does have a strong Minnesota presence with the merger with Norwest)
Kemps (Based in St. Paul, and they do make some very good ice cream)
Hormel Foods (Spam Park ... you know, that just might work)

So, what do all of you think? Any potential winners here? Anything I haven't thought of? I must admit a few years ago I thought the name "Marshall Field" was the best of all possible names. Dayton's had just changed their name to Marshall Fields and I thought naming the ballpark Marshall Field would be a good opportunity to build community interest in the name. I even wrote Target to tell them the idea. Obviously, it is not to be.

So, let me know what you think the name will be! I'll put together a poll and see if we can't figure it out on our own.

• I'm watching WCCO news right now and one of their top stories is that the Twins came out today and said there is a 5% chance that the new ballpark will have a roof! The Twins have said that a decision will be made in the next 4 months. Of course, there is no word where the money will come from, but I'd be surprised if it came from the state. Construction will start next spring,and the plans have to be finalized long before then, most likely before the legislature starts meeting again. I wonder what the Twins have in mind? Could the thoughts of having more out-state fans coming to the stadium and spending money be opening Pohlad's wallet a little wider? Unlikely. I'll see if I can't find something out ...

• Of course, at this point it is important to contact all the legislators that voted yes and thank them for having the guts to keep baseball in Minnesota. It may also be important at this point to write all the Hennepin County Commissioners and tell them how important it is that this Twins stadium plan actually builds a Twins stadium. You see, there is still one more step to go: The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners have to approve the plan one more time. And you better believe the three women on the board will do everything in their power to thwart this plan. Write them today, especially if you live in Hennepin County, and tell them to approve this plan!

• Finally, I've got a little story to tell you. Perhaps it illustrates the power of writing your legislators, and perhaps it doesn't. Quite frankly I don't know. Allow me to explain.

On Friday night, I was getting ready to hit the hay when I thought to myself, "What the heck. I'm going to write Ron Latz another letter." Ron Latz is my representative, and he has told me over and over and over again, that he will not vote for the stadium. But did that stop me? Nope. So, this is what I wrote him:

Tomorrow you will have a chance to vote for a bill that increases funding for Minneapolis police, that gives more money to Hennepin County Libraries and youth sports, and that creates a huge public works project in downtown Minneapolis with all those needed construction jobs. And of course, this bill will insure baseball remains in Minnesota for years to come. Do the right thing: vote for the Minnesota Twins stadium bill. Thank you for your consideration.

I won't give you exactly what Rep. Latz wrote back, but he did say, "At this time, unless there is a significant change in the Twins stadium finance package, I do not see how I will be able to support it."

This was not a surprise. And since I try not to be a one-issue voter, I wrote him back:

I understand. Of course, I am not surprised by your response. And believe it or not, I will not hold it against you. Have a good summer, Ron! Keep fighting the good fight.

He wrote back: "Thanks, Shane. I will ..."

So, why is this an interesting piece of correspondence? Rep. Latz voted in favor of the Twins stadium. Now, I am not stupid enough to think that my letter(s) to him actually had a big impact. I'd like to think, though, that they made a small difference, but probably not more than that.

Or did they? Was my correspondence with him on Friday night the straw that broke the camel's back? Who knows. Regardless, I sincerely appreciate his vote, and I will definitely have a Ron Latz sign in my front yard come election season.

Posted by snackeru at 9:24 PM | Comments (30) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

Stadium Architect Presentations Set for May 24

U of M Homecoming button, 1922

So, I was expecting to take a little break today, and then this news came out. If you want to get a little taste of how a stadium architecture firm is selected, this is the event for you. Note that HOK will be there, and they will discuss past projects. Maybe they'll throw a little about the Twins stadium in there.

Wouldn't it be nice if the Twins process was as open as this? Hopefully that will be the case.


Stadium Architect Presentations Set for May 24

Three finalists to design the proposed on-campus football stadium will make public presentations May 24. Public presentations will be in the Rapson Hall Auditorium [see map].

1:30 pm: HNTB Architects
2:30 pm: Crawford Architects
3:30 pm: HOK Architects

Each firm will be asked to present their qualifications and team, provide an overview of their firm, highlight past projects and experience, and talk about their approach to our project. Firms will not be showing images or pictures of what the new stadium will look like if their firm is selected.

(The image at the top is the U of M Homecoming button for 1922. Memorial Stadium opened in 1924, so this button must be in reference to the excitement the campus felt over its construction. This image has been graciously provided to me by the Social Welfare History Archives at the U of M Libraries.)

Posted by snackeru at 3:46 PM | Comments (6) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

May 21, 2006

Hallelujah!

YES!
House passage

71-61
Senate passage

34-32
My thanks to all the legislators who voted yes. You have saved baseball in Minnesota.

Posted by snackeru at 6:43 AM | Comments (64) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

May 20, 2006

The House is voting on the Twins bill

Finally. The House is about to vote on the Twins bill. Finstad is giving his description, and a discussion will happen soon.

Vandeveer is moving that the House refuse to concur on the conference committee report since there is no referendum on the bill. I seriously doubt this will pass. This will give a good indication on where the votes will fall when the bill is actually voted on.

UPDATE I: So far, really the only people that are for a referendum are getting up to speak. I think pro-stadium legislators are keeping quiet to move things along. Hopefully anyway.

And David is right, there is a lot of talking in the background. I wonder if anyone is really paying attention to these naysayers.

UPDATE II: This is gonna be ugly. Thank goodness Demmer is talking some sense. "We are elected to come here to make decisions!" Amen brother. Direct democracy is a bad idea. Turning over decisions to an ill-informed public is ill-advised at best. You rock Demmer!

Dang it! Can't they just vote on the Vandeveer motion? Do these people realize they are all saying the same thing over and over and over again?

UPDATE III: Dorman is a great advocate for this stuff. Do you like the Metrodome? Do you like the Xcel Energy Center? How do you think these buildings were paid for? That's right, a tax without a referendum. Vote red against the Vandeveer motion!

UPDATE IV: I gotta say, if this bill gets killed because the bill now includes language on the potential Vikings stadium, I am going to be seriously ticked at Sen. Kelley. It sounds like Dorn is now a no.

UPDATE V: If you want to watch (hey Vince!) click on this link: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/htv/liveweb.htm.

UPDATE VI: We are losing votes. This is just a stunner. Keeping the Vikings in this bill is the worst thing that could have happened. Now, if the Vandeveer motion is passed, that just means it will go back to conference committee. Of course, there isn't anymore time to debate this.

Lanning is really flipping out now and I gotta say I am with him. "Don't read into the bill something that isn't there! We won't build a Vikings stadium unless a future legislature says we should!!!"

Hey legislators, if you vote for the Vandeveer motion you will kill the Twins. I hope your constituents will be all right with that.

And Abrams ... put the smugness away.

UPDATE VII: Goodwin must be really dense or something. Believe me I wish the Vikings weren't in this bill, but all the bill says, according to Lanning, is that "the Vikings issue is still before us." People, drop it and lets get to the vote!

Stadium opponents are now grasping at everything possible to defeat this. It appears we have lost some votes, but we have 8 to lose. Hopefully we still have the 68 necessary.

UPDATE VIII: Ha! You see what I mean? Nothing to worry about! An overwhelming victory for the keeping baseball in Minnesota! The Vandeveer motion has been defeated 75-57!!!

This is a done deal people!

UPDATE IX: Hey Erhardt, as a Hennepin County resident I am thankful that we have some legislators with even a modicum of leadership ability. It is a shame our best legislators seem to live outside of Hennepin County.

Nornes is making some sense here. The debate should be over! We have discussed this and hashed it out for 10 years! Nothing is going to change any minds at this point. Let's move on!

UPDATE X: Do these legislators realize how much time they are wasting? They keep on saying that they have more important things to worry about, and yet they continue to argue a bill that WILL pass. Get this bill done and start focusing on your "more important" issues!

UPDATE XI: Third reading. Here comes the vote...

The bill has passed 71 - 61!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh man. I can barely type. I am overwhelmed with happiness! On to the Senate people!

Posted by snackeru at 9:42 PM | Comments (70) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

House in recess

The House is in recess. I imagine they won't return until at least 8:00, like the Senate. We are getting closer, but I think the two bodies will deal with taxes, transportation, and bonding before they get to the Twins. We'll see.

Go outside for a little bit and enjoy yourselves!

Posted by snackeru at 7:02 PM | Comments (5) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

House vote on the Gophers stadium

The House is now discussing the Gophers stadium bill. We'll see if it lasts as long as the Senate discussion. Getting this out of the way clears the way for the Twins stadium bill.

We'll see how the votes shake out.

UPDATE I: 30 minutes later and they are still yapping. And this bill should pass easily. The Twins discussion is going to last a long time.

UPDATE II: The Gophers bill has passed 96-37. It is official. Stadium Village will again have a stadium.

Funny thing: During the roll call Abrams light was red for most of the voting. It switched to green before the roll was closed. Very humorous.

Posted by snackeru at 6:00 PM | Comments (6) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

Gophers stadium vote

The Senate is currently discussing the Gophers stadium bill. I'm sure a vote will come soon. I wonder if the Twins bill will be next. I'll let you know how the vote goes.

UPDATE I: If the length of "discussion" for a Gophers stadium takes this long, I think the discussion for the Twins stadium is going to last all night.

The Gophers bill has passed 43-24. The House will vote on it next.

No word on when they will tackle the Twins bill. Looks like after dinner break.

Posted by snackeru at 4:22 PM | Comments (5) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

Saturday stadium bill updates

Hello everyone. Just checking in to give you some updates that I've heard and read. First, I've heard that the votes probably won't happen until late afternoon at the earliest and more than likely they'll probably happen in the evening sometime. From my perspective, though, I hope they happen soon because it appears that there are still efforts underway to unrail the stadium plan.

Eric Eskola reported on WCCO radio early this afternoon that some out-state legislators are threatening to withold their votes from the Twins bill unless there own pet projects are given the go ahead. I don't have any specifics at this point, but one project thatwas mentioned was improvements to a sports facility in Duluth which I guess did not get approved. Fortunately I don't think a vote lost here or there will matter much, especially with Steve Sviggum predicting as many as 80 votes on the House side.

Also, from "Black 47," the Star Tribune is reporting this troubling piece of news:

Before House and Senate lawmakers weighed in Saturday, a committee working on the tax bill provided some high drama on the stadium front. They nearly attached an amendment to that bill that would have allowed for a petition-driven referendum on the Hennepin County tax. Sen. Mee Moua, DFL-St. Paul, switched her vote at the last minute, killing the measure.

Like I said, final passage of this Twins bill and the end of the session can't come fast enough as far as I am concerned. There is always a chance for someone to screw things up.

JimJ also points some important realities in a comment below in that while Tim Pawlenty's signature on the bill may look like the end of our troubles, we still have to get past a final vote of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners. They will be the final vote on whether to proceed or not with the plan. So, during this summer they will hold three public hearings and then vote on the final plan. Luckily the bill that should pass the legislature today is almost identical to the bill that they originally negotiated with the Twins. Their final vote is really nothing more than a protective measure that gives them an out in case they don't agree with what comes out of the Minnesota Legislature. I think it is safe to say they'll agree with this bill.

And as Jeff A points out, monkeys are getting ready to fly out of my butt. Back in March I made the joke that if everything happened to the point where the first shovel full of dirt is dug, monkeys will fly out of my butt. So Jeff, I must point out that the monkeys will remain until dirt is dug. The monkeys are sad, but they understand what is at stake here.

More later...

Posted by snackeru at 2:12 PM | Comments (3) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

May 19, 2006

When will the fat lady sing?

• It is taking everything in me not to just burst out of happiness, but there are still two steps to go. The main question I think everyone is asking (pro-stadium people anyway) is when will the final votes in the House and the Senate actually take place? We all know that they will happen tomorrow, but when exactly? I doubt the Senate and the House will vote on the bill at the same time, but I have heard that the votes may take place Saturday morning. If anyone has any more definite information on this, please let us all know.

UPDATE: The vote will happen after bonding and tax legislation. Probably later in the afternoon, according to Steve Sviggum.

• In the meantime, it may be a good idea to write your legislators one more time. I know. If you're anything like me you have wore out your keyboard writing your legislators. And if you have never written your legislator, well, I suppose now is as good a time to start as any. Check this handy District Finder to find your legislator, and write him or her now. It isn't too late. And if you are sure your legislator will be voting yes tomorrow, write him or her a thank you!

• I don't think it is any secret that Aron Kahn of the Pioneer Press is the premier stadium beat writer in the Twin Cities. Today he highlighted some interesting new aspects of the Twins stadium bill that legislators will be considering when they vote tomorrow:

If [legislators] vote against the new compromise, they will be voting against more than a new ballpark.

The bill applies Minneapolis' 3 percent entertainment tax to Twins tickets at the ballpark, which is estimated to raise $2 million to $3 million a year that the city can use for police protection around the facility. The tax is not applied at the Metrodome.

The measure also gives Minneapolis $5 million from Metrodome cash reserves for downtown infrastructure improvements, even though Hennepin County is responsible for those costs at the new ballpark ...

While the negotiated measure reflects the House bill more than the Senate's, which included a regional sales tax, the transit funding and a Vikings stadium, Kelley did win some concessions for his body.

One of those funds youth activities and expanded library hours in the county for 30 years. The funding for each begins at $2 million a year and increases by 1.5 percent a year thereafter.

To recap, the new agreement includes more money for police, $5 million for Minneapolis, money for youth sports, and money for expanded library hours in the county. And the money for libraries starts at $2 million per year and increases by 1.5% each year. Don't think Hennepin County Libraries are excited about this Twins stadium bill? Well, they are.

I've been ticked at Kelley for about 5 days now, but these add ons may make the bill even more appealing to House and Senate legislators. As long as the Twins ballpark bill passes tomorrow, all will be forgiven.

• And just a reminder, back in February long time reader Jim in St. Paul extended this invite to everyone associated with this site:

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.

Jim! If the House and the Senate approve the bill tomorrow, I expect that you'll be sending me some dates for this party! Man, what a joyful occasion that will be!

And speaking of parties, freealonzo just recently sent out this comment:

Who wants to get together on Saturday and watch the Twins and Brew Crew to celebrate a new Twins ballpark??? [Email me] if interested.

What did you have in mind freealonzo? I must say I am very interested! Let's get the party started early!

• Finally, what a journey this has been. It is amazing that it is almost coming to an end. And honestly, I don't know what will happen to the Greet Machine when it does. A new Twins stadium has been my bread and butter for so long, I'm not sure what I will write about! The Vikings stadium? I'm not sure I have it in me, truth be told. This battle has taken a lot out of me, and it has taken a lot of my time. I am also of the opinion that someone in Anoka County may have to pick up the torch. Quite frankly, I am sick of arguing.

After the Governor's signature I may take a nice little vacation. But before I do, I might reveal just what the name "Greet Machine" actually means. Unfortunately it isn't really all that exciting, but I would be surprised if you haven't wondered what is behind the name of this blog. We'll see.

Anyway, have a good night everyone! We are about ten feet away from home, and the throw is coming in late. Man I feel good!

Posted by snackeru at 8:18 PM | Comments (16) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

Sounds like the Twins bill is moving on!

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

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

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

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

Channel 17 is replaying the vote right now

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

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

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

Posted by snackeru at 10:47 AM | Comments (27) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

May 18, 2006

Thursday Conference Committee Updates

OK! Here we go. I just tuned in and found that the conference committee is in recess right now. So, I have no idea what they have just talked about or what they are in recess for. I can imagine they are recessing to discuss a proposal, and I'm hoping that it is a proposal from the House to finally put this all behind us and move the original Hennepin County Twins bill to the floor of both the House and the Senate. When they resume the committee I will fill you in.

Before that, though, I just received an email from someone deep inside New Ballpark, Inc. who told me:

The word from the marble clad back hallway is that Kelley and Finstead have agreed to let the Twins bill out tonight. There may be some more theater but it is all moving in the right direction. We have one more set of hurdles to sweat the leadership in both houses may put ballparks at the very end of session which means they could fall victim to the clock running out.

Yes. That piece of information has both good and bad news. First the good news: it appears the Twins bill will finally be "let out tonight." However, the bad news that the Senate and the House still have a lot of big bills to work out, including the Omnibus Tax bill and the Omnibus Transportation bill, before the session ends. TIme could very well run out.

Anyway, more later. Stay tuned...

UPDATE I: I have just heard in an email that the Committee work may "spill into the morning." This is bad news as far as I am concerned. I want them to get this done tonight. We'll see. More coming...

UPDATE II: The committee is back. Kelley seems to be moving a proposal that suggests the transit stuff will move to the Transportation Committee, and it includes language that would give the Vikings the net proceeds of a sale of the Metrodome, except for $5 million that would go to Hennepin County. Kelley would also like some of the Twins bill to go to the State High School League.

Kelley is saying that the transit piece of the proposal could be discussed more tomorrow when they could be more assured the transit stuff could be taken up by the Transportation Committee. Kelley wants the Transportation Committee to feel some heat and give his transit requests a fair shake knowing that the Twins stadium legislation is waiting on them.

Kelley and Finstad are now saying that they could meet tomorrow at 9:00 and "move expeditiously" once Kelley can be assured the Transportation Committee is heeding his request. Kelley is saying that he doesn't think the meeting would last more than an hour tomorrow. Kelley, quite frankly, is driving me nuts.

UPDATE II: Lanning is saying that he is very happy that the Senate wants to move the transit piece to a more appropriate committee. And I gotta voice some frustration here: how can Kelley hold this conference committee hostage like this? It is crazy. I can't believe they are going to let this go on another day! Argh!!!

UPDATE III: The Star Tribune is reporting:

The state Constitution prohibits passing of bills on the last day of a session, which is Monday; that day can be used for ceremonial activities. That gives the Legislature an absolute effective deadline of midnight Sunday.

But convening floor sessions on Sunday is considered bad form and is apparently unprecedented, and Johnson and House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, have set a deadline of 7 o'clock Sunday morning.

Wow. The House and the Senate could seriously be working late into Saturday night. In fact, I think it is a given.

UPDATE IV: Finstad is a little frustrated right now. It sounds like he is frustrated that Kelley has bumped the transit piece back up to a tax of .5% (from .25%) and he is frustrated that we seem to have to wait until the Transportation Committee takes up Kelley's proposal tomorrow before the Twins bill can be moved on alone. He is saying he longs for the day when a face to face conversation and a handshake is all you need to make this kind of deal "in this place." I agree. Kelley is holding things up for very suspect reasons, especially considering (and according to Kelley) that his Senate colleagues have the gavel in tomorrow's Transportation Committee! Finstad has moved that the commitee recesses until 11:00 so that the House can discuss Kelley's proposal in full.

I'm sorry if my updates don't make a whole lot of sense right now, but I must admit that I don't fully understand the logistics of this potential handoff between the Stadium Conference Committee and the Transportation Conference Committee. But again, why is Kelley so concerned about this handoff? Transportation should have never been a part of the Twins stadium conference committee in the first place. Man! If time runs out and the Twins are left hanging again, I will put the blame squarely on Kelley's shoulders. Time is running out Senator! Stop messing around!

UPDATE V: We're back. The House has discussed the issue. Finstad wants to split the transit stuff off and let the Twins bill stand on its own. Duh. Kelley is saying that the committee will meet again at 9:00 tomorrow morning, the same time the Transportation Committee is meeting. The committee will also hear reports concerning some questions that Rep. Peterson was asking about funding for libraries (and education?), and youth sports that the Senate wants to put in the Twins bill.

Well, the meeting has adjourned. Before it ended Kelley said, "Tomorrow we'll try to get as far as we can." That just plain ticks me off. Senator, don't get as far as you can! Get the job done!

I will be in a meeting tomorrow at 9:00 at work, so I will not be watching this fiasco anymore (unless it carries on until tomorrow night ... I seriously can't bear the thought!). Please leave me some comments and let me know what is happening if you are watching it. See you tomorrow.

Posted by snackeru at 9:32 PM | Comments (18) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

For your edification

This is what Sviggum said last Sunday on the Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave:

"I wanted to finish a week ago. Here's where we are at. The constitution says we have to finish by the 22nd. We can not pass any bills that day. We're not going to meet next Sunday. That brings it to Saturday. That means to come out of conference committee you have to have an agreement no later than Thursday. Preferably, Wednesday. It takes some time to get back through the process and have bills drafted."

Tonight is the night. I don't know how hard this deadline is, but it would appear a deal must be struck by Thursday night for the Twins bill to have time to be voted on either Friday or Saturday.

Keep your fingers crossed ...

Posted by snackeru at 4:20 PM | Comments (3) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

We're almost there

Last night's conference committee was a fascinating display of "strained politeness." Kelley and Finstad should be commended for keeping things cordial when it was obvious both were getting a little frustrated with each other. To recap:

A couple of things are clear to me: 1) The House and the governor definitely have the upper hand here, and 2) I seriously doubt the House or the governor are going to accept any kind of transit funding attached to this bill. It looks like to me that Kelley is trying desperately to do something to make his mark on this piece of legislation. Whether he is trying to bolster his campaign for governor, or if he really thinks transit should be a part of the bill (probably both) he is grasping at straws here. And if this is a play to somehow gain some traction in the race for governor, you can be assured that Pawlenty will not play along.

I'm pretty sure that when the conference committee meets again today, Finstad (who now controls the gavel) will propose the same thing he proposed last night: a Twins bill only. Transit will be removed again with the statement that "transit proposals should be heard in the Transportation Conference Committee." Obviously, it will be interesting to see what happens.

Posted by snackeru at 7:30 AM | Comments (22) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

May 17, 2006

Conference Committee Updates

UPDATE I: Well, finally the discussion has begun to separate the Vikings bill from the Twins bill. Finstad is coming on strong saying "Let's call a spade a spade, the Vikings need to be attached to the Twins bill in order to be successful." No one seems to be disagreeing. Neil Peterson is making some hilarious analogies between the Twins/Vikings bills and the conjoined twins that were recently separated in Rochester. "In order for them both to survive, we need to separate them."

It appears the Vikings have a plan that they are comfortable with proceeding on but they, and Anoka County, are adamant that the Vikings and Twins move together. Dave Johnson, an Anoka County official, even seems to be threatening a lawsuit if the bills are separated. Wow. More coming...

UPDATE II: Lanning is arguing convincingly that the Vikings bill has not been "aired" properly in the House. He is also saying that the Twins bill was only passed 76-55. Good call. It would not take much to lose enough votes where nothing gets done. Lanning wants to separate the bills.

Kelley has argued before that the costs keep on rising and that now is the time to build a Vikings stadium. Can the Vikings bill pass the House on its own?

Dave Johnson is now arguing that Anoka County may not want to play this game anymore if it takes another year. That is a load of crap. Too much has been invested to give up now and Zygi has bought up too much land. Anoka County will be back.

UPDATE III: Kelliher is grilling Bagley concerning the proceeds from the sale and demolition of the Metrodome and whether or not the entire proceeds of that sale will go to the Anoka County Vikings proposal. Bagley is conceding that yes, the proceeds of the sale would go to that project.

I'm not sure I have a problem with this. The Twins don't have it in their proposal, and the Gophers certainly don't. Kelliher seems to be upset that the money will go to Anoka County when the stadium sat in Minneapolis and Hennepin County. It is an interesting debate, and it seems this would be a sticking point against the Vikings current proposal. More legislators in the House may not like this. Kelliher wants an "equitable" distribution of the funds.

UPDATE IV: Recess until 9:00 (probably 9:15 or 9:20 knowing how the legislature works), but it appears Finstad is going to come back with a proposal. My guess it will be to separate the bills. I know, quite a stretch on my part, but the other details of the plan should be interesting. More later...

UPDATE V: You know I honestly wonder what the other Senate conferees think about all of this. Since I've been watching they have been very quiet. Do they agree with Kelley? Or do they also think the bills should be separated?

UPDATE VI: Proposal time. Finstad says the 18% selling fee has been removed, and the MLB guarantee that the team stays in Minnesota is gone. The bill is back to almost its original form when the legislative session first started. The Vikings are gone from the proposal but Finstad is saying that the House will consider them in a separate bill. Finstad moves the proposal. Question time.

Kelley seems ticked. It appears that he can barely contain his anger. Finstad is saying, "This is the original bill. This gets a ballpark built for the Minnesota Twins."

Sen. Marko is saying that the Senate bill builds two stadiums for less and at a decreased cost to the taxpayer. Ugh. Marko and the Senate need to understand that their proposal doesn't build a ballpark or a Vikings stadium. Pawlenty will never sign it! The House will never approve it! I can't believe we are still arguing this!

UPDATE VII: Kelley and Marko are now really pushing the transportation add on to the Twins bill. Lanning is making a strong argument that the Transportation Omnibus bill conference committee is the most appropriate place to discuss transportation. Amen.

UPDATE VIII: Kelley is recessing for 10 minutes as the Senate conferees meet in one place and the House conferees meet in another. This may be it. If the rest of the Senate conferees can override Kelley and Marko, we may be done with this and back on the House and Senate floors.

UPDATE IX: Kelley is now handing out the Senate proposal. Argh!!!!! I thought this might be coming to an end! Unfortunately I have no idea how these things work. Kelley is proposing the Twins/HC financing, but adding language for libraries and youth sports. No roof and no referendum. Plus, the Vikings bill as it was suggested tonight with no referendum and a .25% tax for the 7 counties. 2 stadiums. We'll see what the House conferees think...

The original .5% tax has been reduced to .25%. This bill will raise $4.2 billion, a far cry from the original $12 billion. And only the county governments themselves would have to approve the tax. Kelley seems to think this is a big concession to the House. Marko is claiming that the governor would be amenable to this proposal if local county governments would approve it. Sykora is asking do all counties have to approve it? If only three approve it, does that scrap everything? Kelley responds that the Vikings and Twins would go forward, but the transportation portion would not.

What the heck?!?!? I suppose that would mean if Anoka County government and Hennepin County government approved, the two stadiums would be built. I am quite surprised by this, truth be told. It sounds interesting, but again, would the governor approve? Anyone got any thoughts?

They are in recess again until 10:20. I must say, this proposal sounds very interesting...

UPDATE X: OK, I've thought about it some more. The problem with this new Senate proposal is still that the Vikings side of things is a little shaky. It is better than it was yesterday, but will the House go for a bill that includes a Vikings stadium proposal that they really haven't aired out? That remains to be seen. Knocking the bill down to $4.2 billion and still including transit, plus leaving it up to county governments ... that is very interesting. I expect that Finstad and the House conferees have been in conversation with the Governor and Sviggum. It will be very interesting to see what they say. I agree with ryanlee_wags, if Kelley can pull this off ... wow. That would be impressive.

UPDATE XI: New House proposal. Twins bill stays relatively the same, but now it includes the Vikings proposal but separates it from the Twins and creates a new bill. It all but guarantees that the House will give the Vikings an up or down vote by the end of the session (am I right about that?). No transit. Finstad appreciates the Senate's recent move "in the right direction" but feels the transit debate should happen in the Transportation Conference Committee. So, I would guess the Governor and Sviggum had said, "No way."

Interesting ... there is discussion that the Vikings proposal could be attached to an existing bill so that it could be on the floor sooner. It sounds like Finstad has spoken with both Sviggum and Entenza who have both said that the House would not oppose attaching the Vikings proposal to another bill and voting on it. This is a move in the right direction. Kelley has recessed again for 15 minutes (yeah right) so the Senate can discuss it.

Kelley also wanted to wait to sign off on the Twins bill until the committee finds out what the fate of the Vikings is. In other words, if the Vikings proposal (and the bill it is attached to) fails, he wants to have an opportunity to re-evaluate the Twins side of things again (probably to try to again attach the Vikings to it). Finstad did not seem to pleased with this idea. Finstad and Sykora both said they can't guarantee that a Vikings bill would pass because the House has not ever voted on one. I don't think Kelley's proposal in this regard will fly.

UPDATE XII: Senate proposal. Then they'll take questions and adjourn. It looks like Kelley is going to still push for transit. Twins propsal as is, plus some form of transit funding. The Vikings have been removed. Language in the bill would suggest that the Vikings would be handled next year.

The meeting is adjourned. It sounds like the House will be given a chance to mull this over and that they'll meet again tomorrow (time unknown). I wish they would have gotten into the specifics of what the transit funding will look like, but I guess we'll have to find that out in the Strib or PiPress. And with that, I leave you for tonight. Thanks for tuning in and we'll see you tomorrow!

Posted by snackeru at 8:02 PM | Comments (37) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

May 16, 2006

Time for Finstad to drop the hammer

Sorry for the delays in my reports, everyone. When you have three kids and a wife, plus a sunny day and a couple of lawns to mow, time seems to rapidly go away. I only watched the last half hour of the conference committee, but from what I saw of the committee they didn't make much progress. And by "progress" I mean finally splitting the bill and focusing on the Twins alone. Mike Opat spoke towards the end saying that Hennepin County has done a lot of work towards getting a new Twins ballpark in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis, and their plan deserves a vote. Amen to that. Steve Kelley then made the claim that Andy Westerberg, the House sponsor of the Vikings bill, has done a lot of work too, and that his needs deserve consideration. I would have to say I disagree at this point.

The Twins and Hennepin County have a rock solid plan. You may not agree with the specifics, but the Twins and Hennepin County negotiated every aspect of the proposal and came up with a relatively simple, extremely tight plan to build a new ballpark. No state money, a third of the money from the Twins and the rest from the county in the form of a .15% general sales tax. Simple. The Twins bill that passed the House only has minor modifications. On the flip side, the Vikings and Anoka County still haven't agreed on if there should be a roof, or who should pay for it. Give me a break! The plan isn't ready. In fact, new plans seem to pop up everyday.

Here comes another one. According to Aron Kahn of the PiPress:

The new plan, to be unveiled today, is expected to include a user fee, possibly for spectators or businesses that benefit from the stadium. But state funds, albeit at a lower level, would still be needed to help pay for a retractable roof.

So, we've got yet another Vikings plan for the conference committee to consider while the Twins and Hennepin County are left to again wonder when their plan will be heard. One thing I will agree with Sen. Kelley on is that it would make a whole lotta sense to get a Vikings bill done this year in order to save time and money. But I seriously wonder, does Kelley have the votes? The conference committee could talk about the Vikings plan forever, but does Kelley have the votes to pass a bill out of the House and the Senate, and one that will probably call for state funds? I would have to say that from where I am sitting the answer is no.

At the end of the conference committee meeting last night, the Vikings agreed to come to the meeting today with a concrete plan. As David has already pointed out in a comment below, Finstad seems to be getting a little upset with Kelley's insistence that they spend so much time on the Vikings. It appears that the conference committee has the votes to override Kelley's delays and finally move on the Twins ballpark plan. I think it is time for Finstad to make a power play and shift the focus of this committee away from the Vikings and on to a bill that actually has a chance of passing.

The committee will meet again after the House and Senate floor sessions today. My guess is that it will be sometime in the afternoon, probably between 1:00 and 2:00.

Thoughts anyone? I must admit that it pains me to write stuff like this. I love the Vikings. I absolutely love them. But I think it is time to be realistic. Time is running out, and the specifics of a plan to build a Vikings stadium are not ready. Having said that, if Kelley can pull something off I would be highly impressed. My only hope is that at a bare minimum they get a Twins stadium done. Here is hoping they don't screw it up.

Posted by snackeru at 10:27 PM | Comments (22) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

Humorous look at the new Twins ballpark

In case you haven't seen this yet, Jim Caple, formerly of the PiPress and currently writing for ESPN, has a humorous set of design options for the new Twins ballpark:

Minnesota's Perfect Ballpark

My favorite new feature is the cornfield and silo in center field. That would put Houston's stupid little hill to shame.

It kind of reminds me of this rather ribald send up of the new Twins ballpark from Sportsgoons.com in which they write:

The stadium, which will be called the Mall of America Super Duper MegaField, will cost $18 billion. Investors will finance roughly $200 million, while citizens will cough up an estimated $17.8 billion - $500 million through a tax increase in the sale of fishing lures and snow shovels for the next 75 years, and the remaining $17.3 billion by channeling money that was previously used for welfare and education into the stadium fund.

Ummm yeah ... pretty funny stuff. I think both pro and anti-stadium people should be able to appreciate it. Watch out though, it has some pretty colorful language.

And in case you are wondering, as of 4:15 the House is still talking about the Omnibus Transportation Bill. The stadium conference committee should start a half hour after the session ends.

Posted by snackeru at 4:05 PM | Comments (9) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

Blah, blah, blah

Greetings and salutations, Greet Machine reader! Well, this post will be a little more of the same from your's truly. Man, I can't wait for this Saturday to come. After that this will be all over and I can start thinking about other stuff. Although, the only reason you are here is probably to get some stadium news. Well, I will try not to disappoint.

• Let me just say, I love the Vikings. Just love them. Sunday afternoons in the fall are a pure joy for me just because I know the Vikings are playing football. Truth be told, I grew up just across the border in Wisconsin. River Falls, Wisconsin to be specific. But my Minnesota born Mom brainwashed me to be a Vikings fan, and I have been in pain ever since. Growing up in Wisconsin as a Vikings fan was not very easy. I was definitely in the minority, and I even got into a couple of scuffles over it. It is probably for that reason that I am so rabid about the Vikings today.

Having said that, it is time for the Vikings to stop what they are doing and let the Gophers and the Twins finish off their stadium plans. The Vikings plan is at best a little messy, and during the conference committee yesterday it became clear that Anoka County and the Vikings haven't even agreed on whether or not there should be a roof. Zygi, please, give it up for now so we can move on. The Twins have been at this for much, much longer than you and they are rounding third on their way to home. Please let them get out of the way and then you can have the full attention of the legislature. Mr. Cheer or Die writes about this issue today as well. We are running out of time Zygi, and it is time to get this done.

The only good that could come out of this is that possible delays in stadium construction could convince Zygi to build one himself without a roof. I know, this is very unlikely, but if he wants to go down that route I think it is clear that he will do it without the assistance of Anoka County.

• Today or tomorrow a second stadium conference committee, this one for the Gophers stadium, will begin meeting. And if you haven't read Doug Grow's column on Larry Pogemiller, it is eye-opening. Pogemiller really screwed the pooch with all of these "shenanigans."

• I have been given some information about an old Strib Minnesota poll from 1978 that asked if people were in favor of building the Metrodome. 42% said no and 38% said yes. Hardly the difference in opinion that there is today, but had the legislature listened to the "will of the public" back then we wouldn't even have that building. In the case of the Metrodome, and the Xcel Energy Center for that matter, the legislature went against the will of the people, they showed some leadership, and the state became a better place for it. Does anyone regret these decisions to build these buildings now? No. Of course not. The same thing will happen with a Twins stadium. I guarantee it.

And more recently, we have yet another example of the legislature going against the will of the people, and this example still has me steamed. I am speaking of "conceal and carry." Really, how in the world did the "conceal and carry" law pass? According to a May 2003 article in 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 from the Strib:

"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."

Everyone was against this bill, and it still passed. Like I said, I'm still not in favor of the bill, but I will concede it hasn't turned Minnesota into the lawless wasteland that I thought it would. And I dare say not one legislator lost his or her job over it. Perhaps the stadium issue riles people up a little more, and perhaps the stadium issue is a little more bi-partisan, but I am almost certain that most people will be indifferent to this issue come November.

David Howe writes in a comment to another post:

So, even though the poll shows more people are opposed, legislators may lose more votes by voting against the stadium. Those of us in favor, are strongly in favor, and will vote against a candidate if they oppose it. Where the majority of those saying 'No' are really indifferent when it comes right down to it.

I absolutely agree with this. Most people, while they voted no in the most recent poll, won't care that the Twins are getting a new stadium. They won't even notice. However, one thing they would definitely notice is if the Twins left Minnesota. And that is when you would see the fur fly.

Oh well, it has been argued, dissected, and discussed ad naseum at this point. The end is coming, and I for one can't wait. Zygi, get out of the way so we can get this done! According to the Legislative Television web page, the committe will begin meeting at 8:30. Hopefully they make a little more progress today.

UPDATE: The conference committee just adjourned after spending most of their time talking about the Vikings stadium situation. Paul Tagliabue, the NFL comissioner, spoke convincingly about the need for a new Vikings stadium and the benefits of not waiting to build one. However, towards the end of the meeting it became clear, at least to me, that the committee will begin leaning towards dropping the Vikings off the bill and focusing on returning it to a Twins bill once again. Brad Finstad, author of the Twins bill in the House, said that he will be talking with House leaders today during the session to gauge the feasibility of splitting the two stadium needs and how likely it is that a Vikings stadium bill could move through the House in the remaining days of the session. My guess would be that isn't very likely or feasible. Regardless, I think the committee is finally moving in the right direction.

The committee will meet again today, a half an hour after the Senate and the House ends their respective floor sessions.

Posted by snackeru at 7:37 AM | Comments (3) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

May 14, 2006

More detailed thoughts

According to the Pioneer Press, T-Paw has identified construction of two stadiums, one for the Gophers and one for the Twins, as very high priorities that need to get done during this session:

Sviggum said the goals Pawlenty planned to give Johnson included construction of two stadiums — for the Minnesota Twins and University of Minnesota football team, pay raises for prison guards and new spending to house sex offenders committed to state hospitals. Sviggum said Pawlenty also would seek a Senate vote on an amendment banning gay marriage, approval by the Senate of anti-abortion measures and action by the Senate to crack down on illegal immigration.

• Pay close attention to Sid Hartman's column for Monday as Steve Sviggum was his in studio guest for his Sunday radio show. As of my writing of this (Sunday night), his column hasn't come out yet, but I'm sure it will highlight comments made by the Speaker of the House. While I didn't hear all of the interview, I heard enough to take away the optimism Sviggum has concerning a new Twins stadium, as well as the legislative session on the whole.

• I've held off on putting this up until I was reasonably sure that the Hennepin County plan was going to win out, so here it is: the Ballpark Tax Calculator. Feel free to download this and use it to try to figure out what your monthly and yearly ballpark tax will be. For me, I am hovering right around $10.00. It will probably be more like $15.00. And please keep in mind that this calculator assumes that you only spend as much as you actually bring in. Many of you, me included some months, may spend more than you make.

Also, if you still have a problem spending $10 - $15 a year on a ballpark just know that you will be making me (yes, me specifically) very happy. Isn't it worth it just to make me happy? Me? Your neighbor and friend? Who cares about Carl Pohlad. Just think about me and you should be fine. I would definitely spend $15 a year to make you happy. In fact, I probably already do.

By the way, thanks to freealonzo for making the calculator! (Sorry I didn't thank you sooner!)

• I had written a long winded rant concerning the most recent Minnesota Poll, but I've taken it down after reading the most recent Strib take on some new results of the same poll: Specifics boost stadium support. This is so obvious. The more you tell people and explain to people what is at stake here the more reasonable they become. In this case, the results now show that outstate Minnesotans become more supportive after being told they won't be taxed for it unless they visit Hennepin County. I would wager that if even more "specifics" were made apparent, such as the fact that the Twins aren't bound to the Metrodome anymore, even more people would support the plan. Hopefully it will all be moot after this week.

• Finally, if a stadium isn't approved this week, I will enjoy watching the fallout. Minnesotans are a fickle bunch. I'm not saying legislators won't feel heat over this issue if they approve the Hennepin County Twins stadium proposal. Some of them surely will. But not nearly as much if something happens to the Twins. If nothing gets done once again, and something happens to the Twins ... oh boy. I don't think our legislators want to deal with that. In fact, I am counting on it.

Posted by snackeru at 7:17 PM | Comments (12) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

More coming ...

Sorry for my silence everyone. The past couple of days have just been extremely busy with birthday parties, church activities, and Mother's Day. Some interesting things have been happening concerning my favorite topic which I will expound upon later. Until then:

So, this should be a fun week. More later.

Posted by snackeru at 2:09 PM | Comments (10) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

May 11, 2006

So close

• Friday morning, between 8:30 and 9:00, the conference committee will start. Watch it online, and keep us all informed on how it is going. There have been some positive developments which lead me to believe something will work out.

• First of all, Sid Hartman reported this morning:

Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, says he will meet with Pawlenty this morning and present some plans he believes the governor will like.

And why, you may ask, is this good news? Because we didn't hear anything about it. This means either a) the meeting was cancelled or b) it went reasonably well. No news is good news I say.

• Secondly, I was excited to read these comments from Steve Sviggum, who obviously is much closer to the situation than I am:

"My guess is that the committee will come up with a bill that's very close to the House's," Sviggum said. House members include the author of the Twins bill and the others were "very involved in the debate," Sviggum said.

This statement is much more positive than some of the other statements Sviggum has said since the Senate passed their bloated bill a few days ago. It leads me to believe that behind the scenes negotiations have been positive, and that the Senate and the House are willing to negotiate.

• And let's take a look at the conferees:

Senate conferees are: Sens. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins, chief author of the Senate combination bill; Don Betzold, DFL-Fridley, Senate author of the Vikings bill; Linda Higgins, DFL-Minneapolis; Sharon Marko, DFL-Cottage Grove; and Julie Rosen, R-Fairmount.

House conferees are: Reps. Brad Finstad, R-New Ulm, the Twins bill author; Barb Sykora, R-Excelsior; Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead; Neil Peterson, R-Bloomington; and Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis.

Did you catch that oddity in the Senate conferee list? Yes, Julie Rosen, a republican from Fairmount, is on the committee. Julie Rosen, by the way, voted NO on the Senate version of the Twins bill. This development proves a couple of things 1) I don't know what I'm talking about and 2) legislators that vote no on a bill that passes CAN be on the resulting conference committee. That is good news for this process.

Dean Johnson's appointment of Julie Rosen on the committee is what I would consider to be "throwing a bone" to the Republicans in the House and Senate. If this isn't indicative of Johnson's willingness to negotiate, I don't know what is. I wouldn't be surprised if Dean Johnson is looking for something in the bonding bill, or maybe even wiggle room with a possible Vikings bill. But needless to say, I am enthused by the appearance of a Republican on this committee. Very good news indeed.

On with the show!

• Finally, I got this press release from the New Ballpark Inc. people. If you are going to the game tomorrow, you might want to check it out:

To: All Media Outlets

From: New Ballpark Inc.

Event: “It’s Rally Cap Time;? a pre-game public rally on the Metrodome Plaza for a new Twins ballpark. Featuring former Twins; Tony Oliva, Dan Gladden & Tim Laudner.

When: 6:00 to 6:30p.m. Friday, May 12
** Please note PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES between innings of Friday’s Twins-White Sox game !

Where: Metrodome Plaza; The Plaza is located on Kirby Puckett Place on west side of the stadium.

New Ballpark Inc. is hosting a pre-game rally encouraging Minnesota baseball fans to show their support for a new outdoor stadium in Downtown Minneapolis. Fans are invited to the Metrodome Plaza to join former Twins Tony Oliva, Tim Laudner , Dan Gladden along with other personalities from the Twins broadcast team for a special pre-game rally to watch the easy steps on how to transform a baseball cap into a Rally Cap – and also learn details how fans can show support for a new Twins ballpark during the game. Friday night’s game against the defending World Champions is Dairy Queen Cap night; the first 20,000 fans going through the gates prior to the game will receive an adjustable Minnesota Twins cap.

A TIP OF THE RALLY CAP: FANS PHOTO OPP:
After the Twins bat in the bottom of the 2nd inning, all fans will be asked to please stand and tip their “Rally Caps? to show their unified support for House File 2480, encouraging lawmakers to pass the Twins ballpark bill.

2006 is the 20th anniversary of the Rally Cap. The Rally Cap was conceived during the 1986 World Series when the New York Mets were playing the Boston Red Sox. The Mets were losing Game Six and already down 3 games to 2 in the series. In the seventh inning, something amazing happened; the Mets all started wearing their caps inside out while sitting in the dugout. Catching on, the fans also started to sport their caps inside out and called it the 'Rally Cap'." That unique symbolic act has become a baseball tradition to try and help ignite a rally in support of your team. The Mets’ “Rally Caps? help the team overcome big odds and succeed, just as Twins fans hope their rally will spark a win at the Capitol.

New Ballpark, Inc is a grassroots organization made up of business leaders whose goal is to find an acceptable public/private solution to the long festering ballpark dilemma in Minnesota.

• Finally, if you have any thoughts or insights, let us all know! Especially if you think I am being too positive about all of this. I blame spycake for that. His well reasoned rebuttals to almost all of my "flying off the handle" posts have finally calmed me down for good I think. Unless, of course, the conference committee goes poorly. Then you are going to see some true "freaking out." Later!

Posted by snackeru at 9:00 PM | Comments (24) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

May 9, 2006

On to the conference committee

• Let's try to keep a positive outlook on this: there are only three more steps until a new Twins ballpark is a reality:

  1. Conference committee hammers out a compromise that everyone can agree on (including the Governor)
  2. House and Senate both vote to pass the compromise
  3. Governor signs it into law

Believe it or not, we have never been this close. Both the Senate and the House have passed a Twins ballpark bill. That is seriously amazing.

• And when you think about it, the conference committee should favor the House version of the plan. The House plan had 39 Republicans and 37 Democrats that voted in favor of the bill. That is an impressive bipartisan showing. The Senate version of the bill had 34 Democrats voting in favor, but ZERO Republicans. This lack of bipartisanship will weigh heavily on the conference committee. And if the committee decides on a compromise more in line with the House plan, there should be enough Democrats and Republicans on the Senate side that will vote to get this done.

We still need to help convince our representatives and senators, but things are still looking positive.

• From what I have heard, the conference committee will probably be made up of between 8-10 senators and representatives. The House appointees will probably be dominated by Republicans, with at least one Democrat that is a strong supporter of the House plan. The Senate appointees, however, will all be Democrats since only senators that voted for the bill are eligible for the committee. That should make things interesting, I would think.

• Today's events were exciting on a very shallow level, but they also raised a whole ton of questions. So many questions that freealonzo wrote me after the vote and spelled them out quite nicely:

Why did a majority of the Senate vote for a bill that they know is DOA with Guv and House? Is this a way to kill the stadiums while allowing Senators to say to their constituents that they passed a bill and was voted down by others? Or do they know that a workable bill will eventually be passed by the Conference Committee? Why so little debate? Why no debate on referendum? Why no amendments? It all seems so odd they had this huge complicated bill in front of them and it passed with barely an hour of discussion.

This is where the troublesome aspect of today's events come into play. Why was there no attempt to strip the referendum off the bill? Why was their so little discussion on such a complicated bill? It was almost anticlimactic.

There are, of course, some ideas I'm hearing that could answer some of these questions.

  1. Kelley knew he didn't have the votes in the Senate to get the House bill passed, so he stuck on transit and a referendum now in the hopes that he can pick up some votes after the confernece committee cleans the bill up.
  2. Kelley wanted to get his name in the paper a few times to jump start a struggling campaign for governor, but will most likely push the House version of the bill in the conference committee.
  3. Dean Johnson and Kelley both wanted the Senate to move quickly on the bill so they left transit and the referendum in knowing that, again, the conference committee will make the bill more acceptable to the House and the Governor.
  4. As commenter BT has written "the transit thing was a way of exorting more transit money out of the capitol bonding bill... not an effort to waylay the twins... i assure you on this." I like this thought. I could definitely see the House make this kind of compromise.
  5. And a more troubling possibility could be that Dean Johnson and Steve Kelley actually think they can get the Governor and the House to compromise on a metro-wide sales tax. If that is the case, give me some of what they are smoking. That is just plain nuts.

Whatever the case, it is very, very, very obvious that the Senate is putting a lot of faith in the ability of the conference committee to come up with a reasonable compromise. And by now we've all read what Dick Day had to say about that:

"There's a huge train wreck that's coming," said Senate Minority Leader Dick Day. "You're betting on a conference committee to solve it all."

This is not good to read. However, we also know that both Steve Kelley and Tim Pawlenty have said the Twins are their number one priority in the stadium sweepstakes. Let's keep the faith for now and hope Dean Johnson and Steve Kelley know what they are doing.

Posted by snackeru at 9:03 PM | Comments (27) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

May 8, 2006

What else is there to say?

There are two weeks left in the 2006 legislative regular session. The Senate will vote on the Twins and the Gophers stadium bills this week. The Governor has said he will veto any Gophers stadium bill that includes a 13% memorabilia tax, and he has said he will veto any Twins stadium bill with a metro-wide sales tax.

When the Senate floor hears the bills, there will be attempts to revert them back to the way they passed the House: clean, unbloated, and simple.

If you haven't done so already, and I'd be surprised if you haven't, now is the time to write or call your Senator to tell him or her that you favor the House versions of the bills. The House versions both passed with bipartisan support and it is time for the Senate to follow suit.

If you don't know who your Senator is, use this handy district finder. And if you are actually anti-stadium and you'd like your Senator to not vote in favor of a Twins or Gophers stadium bills, use this handy link to find your state senator.

Make no mistake, if a Twins stadium bill fails to pass the legislature this session, it will be the fault of the Senate DFL. They know it, and we know it.

For me, it is as simple as that. Let's get this done and move on.

UPDATE: The Twins stadium bill debate is underway in the Senate. You can watch it online. Leave a comment if you see something interesting!

Posted by snackeru at 10:34 PM | Comments (39) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Books"

Category "Stadiums 2006"

When? and more

• The big question on everyone's mind is "When?" When will the Senate finally vote on the bill? I have heard either tomorrow afternoon or Wednesday. I am betting that it is Wednesday. And unfortunately for all of us, all we can do really is wait. Leaders in both major parties have all come out in favor of the Twins stadium. They have all said they'd like to see it "get done." We are all just waiting to see what "get done" actually means.

I heard Pawlenty on Sid's Sunday morning radio show, and apparently Dean Johnson was also on the show. This is what Sid had to say about the situation:

Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he is ready to go along with the stadium bills voted by the House for both the Twins and the Gophers. But the Republican is definitely against the seven-county tax for three stadiums -- including the Vikings -- that has been proposed by the Senate.

He has been in favor of a referendum for the Twins, but he said he will go along without one because he is convinced the Twins will leave if a stadium bill isn't passed this session. The governor is not in favor of the putting the Twins and Vikings bills together as proposed by the Senate. In fact, he said the Vikings bill needs a lot of work before it is ready for a vote by the Legislature.

Pawlenty is in complete conflict with Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, who wants a vote on a combined Vikings-Twins bill but promises to appoint stadium- friendly conferees if the House and Senate bills for all three stadiums don't agree and go to conference committees.

On Sunday, Johnson did everything but promise that the Twins and Gophers bills will be reality. And he is going to try to make it three stadiums with the Vikings.

Johnson said that in a poll taken of 2,000 of his voters, 71 percent are in favor of voting in favor of all three stadiums. Of course his area won't be taxed for either the Twins or Vikings stadiums.

Again, I feel good about this. I expect the DFL will screw around a little bit, but in the end 71 percent of Johnson's district are in favor of getting this done. If Dean Johnson goes home this June without a resolution to at least the Twins stadium fiasco, he will be in big trouble. He has got to know that. Famous last words, heh?

• Bad news of the week: Phil Krinkie lost the GOP nomination for the 6th Congressional District to Michelle Bachmann. And not only did he lose, he got crushed. Why is this bad? This means the Minnesota legislature, and Minnesotans in general, are stuck with him for eternity. Yes, eternity. It is that bad. Phil Krinkie's motto seems to be "Making Minnesota into the 3rd Dakota Today!"

physicssuper.gif So, last Friday I took some time to attend a Libraries' sponsored lecture entitled the "Physics of Superheroes" by James Kakalios, a U of M professor of physics. Dr. Kakalios uses superheroes and their daily crime-fighting ways to illustrate some of the more important concepts in physics. It was by far one of the more enlightening and entertaining lectures I have seen in a long, long time. Dr. Kakalios used Superman's leaping ability, the death of Gwen Stacey (Spiderman's early girlfriend), Magneto, Electro, and Mr. Atom to discuss physics in a very easy, and hilarious, way that even a simpleton like me could understand. Consider:

Dr. Kakalios opened up his presentation with Superman's leaping ability. In the early days, Superman could not actually fly. He could just jump really far thanks to his super-human strength. How did he get this super-human strength? Well, it was always assumed that his home planet of Krypton had a higher level of gravity which made Superman that much stronger here on Earth. And as you all know, Krypton blew up after Superman's father put him on a spaceship bound for Earth, but more on that later ...

Using various mathematical equations and scientific theories, Dr. Kakalios postulated that if Superman was to leap a 200 foot building he would need a velocity of 140 MPH. And using more equations and theories Dr. Kakalios came to the conclusion that Superman would need 6,000 lbs. of pressure (leaping ability) to reach that velocity. Futhermore, and taking into account the theory that Krypton has a higher gravity than Earth, in order for Superman to exert that kind of force, Krypton must have had a gravity 15 times that of Earth.

The trouble is, the only planets that have that kind of gravity are a great deal larger than Earth: the gas giants. So, how did Krypton have that kind of gravity? Dr. Kakalios further theorizes that Krypton must have had a netron star as its core. A neutron star core would only have to be about 600 meters across to exert this kind of gravity. Interestingly enough, a neutron star core would also account for the instability and eventual self destruction of the planet Krypton which forced Superman to flee in the first place.

As I said above, this was all presented to us in an entertaining and "matter of fact" way that had all of us just nodding our heads. "Yep, that must have been what happened..." And we were talking about Superman. Anyway, if I ever had to take a physics course, this would be the one.

By the way, The Physics of Superheroes is now a book available for purchase. I am definitely going to read it. I'll let you know what I think.

Posted by snackeru at 6:29 AM | Comments (21) | Books | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

May 5, 2006

Strangely at peace

• After 10 years of debate, all of this seems to be finally coming to a head. And I am strangely at peace about all of it. Believe it or not, I actually think this will all work out. I don't know what has brought about this sudden surge of optimism, but I am concerned enough to go see a doctor. Now then, on with what I am thinking about.

• A reader was kind enough to send me a letter he received from Steve Kelley himself. It has some interesting information:

My current proposal grew out of conversations with Scott Dibble, Frank Hornstein, and Jim Davnie about their concerns over the stadiums and the need to have a broader approach that embraced transit. I took their ideas and made them concrete in terms of the stadium debate and how we could build them for less money and have money for transit. I became convinced that I had to talk about and be an advocate for a better way to build the stadiums, saving hundreds of millions of dollars, and jump starting a commitment to transit as we enter an era of high gasoline prices ... With this deal, I have some hope of having more Minneapolis senators support the project. Either way, I am committed to getting a stadium bill passed this year.

It is a noble goal, to be sure. I can't disagree with his intentions of trying to to fix a problem that is sure to get worse in the coming years. There is also something telling in his last sentences when he says he hopes to have the support of "more Minneapolis senators." Could this suggest that the Senate needed the support of more Minneapolis Senators to even pass a stadium bill in the first place? Perhaps. But his last sentence gives me the most hope, "Either way, I am committed to getting a stadium bill passed this year." A Twins stadium bill is sure to pass the Senate in some form. Will this "committment," though, carry over to the conference committee and the Governor's desk? Is Kelley willing to give up at some point and find a compromise?

I think what we all need to ask Sen. Kelley is does he have the votes? Does he have the votes in the Senate? Does he have the votes in the House? Can he convince Pawlenty that this is the best plan? If not, when will he cut his losses and make a compromise?

When will Kelley and Dean Johnson realize they don't have the upper hand here?

• We all know that both Sviggum and the Governor are dead set against Kelley's plan. However, today the Governor finally spoke out himself strongly about keeping the Twins in Minnesota:

In his first public comments on major DFL changes in stadium legislation, the Republican governor said the Twins are his highest priority for a stadium by far, and that two newly proposed stadium-related taxes are dead on arrival to his desk unless major changes are made.

"The real urgency or concern here is the Twins," Pawlenty told reporters. "The others can be considered on their own merits in their own time, in their own way, but the one team that we're at risk of losing now or in the near term is the Twins, and so we will stay focused on that as a priority.''

For a stadium supporter like myself, these are wonderful words to read. They show a real fear that it is possible something could happen to the Twins. They show the Twins are the Governor's top priority. But more importantly, T-Paw's words demonstrate he may finally be getting involved. And we need that.

So, what will happen?

• Craig Westover, the Pioneer Press columnist, writes on his own blog what he thinks could happen and who he thinks has the upper hand:

What the DFL is counting on, of course, is once we've tasted the sweetest of having a ballpark, the bitterness of a the 7-country metro plan (which philosophically is no different than the House stadium tax-and-spend plan, it only differs by degree) won't be noticed. Moreover, the GOP House (as Republicans are wont to do) prematurely declared mission accomplished on the ballpark. The GOP has lot of political capital invested in providing a ballpark. The Democrats never promised new transportation money. So who’s in a better position for compromise?

Unless the DFL blinks, and Sen Steve Kelley the author of the 7-county metro bill doesn't blink (see Q-Comp), if the House GOP is dead-set on delivering a ballpark, look for the "compromise" to be a Twins Stadium (no Vikes) and a 7-country tax something less than .5 percent but includes transportation funding. If not, the campaign rhetoric is the Democrats support the right of the people to the vote; the Republicans failed to deliver on their promise of a new Twins stadium.

What? Does anyone else think this? Does the DFL really have the upper hand here? I'm not convinced that the Republican House and the Republican Governor are in the backseat on this one. I am also not convinced that Sviggum and Pawlenty won't revel in their ability to blame the DFL in the case that this all falls through. My impression is also that the bulk of Twins fans state-wide (and there are a lot of them) are actually kind of ticked with the DFL Senate right now. Does anyone else feel differently?

• Given all this I think the Hennepin County plan, and its bi-partisan support in the House, will ultimately win out. The Senate will vote on Kelley's bill next week. Two things could happen: 1) it could pass and move to conference committee with the House or 2) it could fail only to be replaced by the bill that the House passed which the Senate will then pass. Whatever the case, a bill will pass the Senate and it will either be something the House will support and the Governor will sign, or it will become something the House will support and the Governor will sign.

That is the way I see it.

And if it doesn't happen this way, I would take a 7 county metro-wide sales tax too. I'm not picky.

Whatever happens, though, I am strangely at peace with the whole thing. It is almost over. Hallelujah!

Which Twins ballpark plan do you prefer?
The Hennepin County plan that passed the House
The Senate plan that includes a metro-wide sales tax for Twins, Vikes, and transit
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Posted by snackeru at 6:04 AM | Comments (32) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Links of the day"

Category "Stadiums 2006"

Category "UThink"

May 4, 2006

Random thoughts

• First of all, I must apologize for the problems I'm sure you've been having getting to this site. As you probably know, the site is hosted by the UThink blog server at the U of M. UThink as a whole has been seeing increased traffic in recent days on a number of blogs, so much traffic in fact that it is bringing the server to its knees. Usually, increased traffic on a site would be a good thing. However, it has caused me nothing but problems.

So, today we are working on upgrading the server. This hopefully will fix the problems for good. Thanks for your patience.

• You know, yesterday I was joking around when I called T-Paw: Tim "Scooby Doo Where Are You" Pawlenty. But it is absolutely amazing how appropriate the Scooby Doo theme song is for our silent governor. Check this out:

tpawgoldy.jpeg
T-Paw! Don't make Goldy cry!
T-Paw Doo, Where Are You?

T-Paw, T-Paw Doo, Where Are You?
We got some work to do now.
T-Paw T-Paw Doo, Where Are You?
We need some help from you now.

Come on T-Paw Doo, I see you... pretending you got a sliver
But you're not fooling me, cause I can see, the way you shake and shiver.

You know we got a mystery to solve,
So T-Paw Doo be ready for your act.
Don't hold back!
And T-Paw Doo if you come through
you're going to have yourself a T-Paw snack!
That's a fact!

T-Paw, T-Paw Doo, here Are You.
You're ready and you're willing.
If we can count on you T-Paw Doo,
I know you'll catch that villian.

Well, as you can see, the only place where this new theme song falls through is the ending line ... unless you consider Steve Kelley to be a villain. But you may not. Anyone got any suggestions for the last stanza?

• Here are some links for you to enjoy.

• Because of the problems this site has been having, and to celebrate another end to the class I teach at St. Kate's, I went out for pie last night:

pie.jpg

I love French Silk pie. Yummy! What is your favorite dessert and where do you get it?

Posted by snackeru at 7:06 AM | Comments (37) | Links of the day | Stadiums 2006 | UThink

Category "Stadiums 2006"

May 2, 2006

Key passage

Brian Bakst of the Associate Press has written the only Strib version of the events so far which include this key passage concerning Kelley's troublesome plan:

The Republican governor has kept a low profile in recent days. His spokesman, Brian McClung, issued a two-sentence response to the Senate activity.

"The primary problem is that the Senate bill does not build a stadium," McClung wrote. "The people of Minnesota should ask their senators how this bill would get the job done."

Pawlenty probably won't be forced to decide what to do with the bill. House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, said flatly that the House won't support the Senate version.

"It doesn't get the job done. It doesn't move ahead," he said.

This is very troublesome to say the least. I've searched the Senate website for Kelley's amended bill to no avail, but this passage suggests two things: 1) Tim "Scooby Doo Where Are You" Pawlenty will veto Kelley's version of the bill (duh) and 2) Kelley's plan must have more holes in it than Swiss cheese. How can you reconcile McClung's statement, "... the Senate bill does not build a stadium." Is he just saying T-Paw Doo would veto it (so it wouldn't build a stadium) or is he saying that the plan is financially unsound? Most likely it is both.

This is a nightmare. Believe me, I would love to have the Vikings situation taken care of too, and I would love to expand LRT, but Sviggum and the Governor's spokesman have both said this plan will go nowhere! Why does the Senate insist on pushing this?

Governor Pawlenty! Say something!

UPDATE: Great comment in post below from David Howe:

Senate Democrats you are making a mistake. If the Twins stadium gets built you will all get the credit. If it's not built, you will all share blame, but you will share more of it for playing these stupid games. We are smarter then you give us credit for. Stop playing games, pass the House version of the Twins bill and get it built. There is no reason you can't pass seperate Twins, Vikings and transit bills and we all know it.

Steve Sviggum is the only legislative leader in this whole state that is worthy of the label "leader." I may not agree with him on every issue, but at least I can trust his intentions. Dean Johnson, Steve Kelley, Tim Pawlenty ... all of them are more interested in playing games, taking credit, or passing blame than actually getting anything done.

Who will be most to blame if a Twins stadium isn't built?
Governor Pawlenty
Steve Sviggum
House Republicans
Senate Democrats
Steve Kelley
Dean Johnson
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Posted by snackeru at 8:46 PM | Comments (26) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

We just want you to vote on the stadium bill that was presented to you

From freealonzo:

Word is that Legislators read this site so this comment is directed to them. Elected officials, do you realize how foolish you look? When you read polls on how low regard we hold you, exhibit A will be this stadium mess. Right now you've put yourself in the inenviable position of making everyone angry at you: Pro-stadium, anti-stadium, people who could care less look at the events of the last week and shake their head in anger and amazement. We just want you to vote on the stadium bill that was presented to you. Either vote yes or vote no. We don't care if you put the Governor in a box, we don't care if are trying to fix other problems, we don't care if you make the republicans or democrats look bad, we just want to know if there is going to be a stadium. The lack of leadership from Gov. Pawlenty is appalling. The utter lack of legislative control from "Leader" Johnson is a joke, the ability to deal with the issue in a controlled manner from Senator Pogemiller is practically criminal. And using the stadium bill to ram a roof down our throats, while larding more funds for every other social issue facing the State by the Senator I used to support for Governor, Steve Kelley, is just plain gross. And you wonder why the population is so disconnected from politics.

Posted by snackeru at 7:50 PM | Comments (10) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

Still trying to sort out what happened ...

Good stuff happened today ... I'm still trying to sort it out. But for those of you that want to know, the stadium bill the House passed has been moved out of the "pit of death" (Pogemiller's Senate Tax Committee) into the Senate Rules Committee. The Rules Committee received permission from the Senate floor, and the Senate floor moved it back to Rules. Rules is now deliberating and will report back to the Senate soon. There will be no vote today, but it looks like the Tax Committee is out of the picture. I wonder if this is true for the Gophers bill too?

Either tomorrow or the next day, the Senate will probably vote on the bill. Oh yeah, the referendum was removed. And the Senate floor had the votes to allow the Rules Committee to make this move ...

UPDATE: Well, there is definitely more to this. According to the the PiPress, this move will also include Steve Kelly's attempt to tax the entire metro for a Twins stadium, a Vikings stadium, and transit improvements. I'm going to mull this over some more...

UPDATE II: And now the referendum is back, except now it is a seven county-wide one. Sigh. This plan won't work. The House is pretty much saying no way, and the governor is saying no, too. I suppose Kelly is trying to get their approval by tacking on a referendum, but then the Twins will say no way. Sen. Kelly's bill is too complicated and heavy. Again, I'm going to have to think about this some more. The news is coming out too fast and furious, and you better believe Kelly is trying to sell his plan. We'll see if he is successful.

Posted by snackeru at 5:59 PM | Comments (11) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

May 1, 2006

A referendum has been attached

On a unanimous vote, the Senate Tax Committee has just added a referendum to the bill that was passed out of the House. I don't know what else to say besides that. Well, actually, this doesn't surprise me at all at this point. I can't believe I ever thought a workable stadium bill could be passed and signed by the governor. Oh well, I'm used to it. The game isn't over yet, but the home nine is definitely behind.

I think this is probably pretty indicative of how the Senate as a whole feels on the matter. The Tax Committee is now adjourned. My hopes might be too.

UPDATE: You know, spycake's comment below got me to thinking. At first I thought that since it was a unanimous vote, this must be how the Senate as a whole feels. Now I am thinking the stadium supporters on the commitee, including the ultra-pro stadium Tomassoni, are just trying to get the bill out of the Taxes committee and onto the floor of the Senate. OK, I feel better now. Thanks spycake (Even though I'm getting tired of your always trying to calm me down. Don't you know I just want to be angry sometimes?).

UPDATE II: As Opat has already said, it is time for Pawlenty to speak up. In fact, it is well past time. T-Paw needs to make clear what kind of bill he would sign, and what kind he wouldn't sign. The 10:00 news should be interesting.

Posted by snackeru at 5:30 PM | Comments (12) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

Back in the saddle

Greetings and salutations, Greet Machine reader! You know what? I've got to admit something. It is kind of hard to do. I must admit that I don't have a clue what is going to happen. After years of focusing on the House, I have to admit the Senate is almost a complete mystery to me. Sure I know the big players, like Dean Johnson, Dick Day, Larry Pogemiller, John Marty and my own Senator Steve Kelly, but after that ... clueless. For the past three years it has been all about the House. Who is for it in the House? Who is against it in the House? What committees will it go through in the House? The Senate? Piece of cake. We don't need to worry about that! Wow, how wrong can a person get?

A couple of weeks ago, Lori Sturdevant wrote a great column in the Strib that discussed my favorite topic. She ended with this sentiment:

But within the Senate DFL caucus abides a core of bitterness over the fact that Gov. Tim Pawlenty, running as a stadium opponent, defeated then-Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, a stadium supporter, for governor in 2002. The DFLers so afflicted won't let Pawlenty win one or two, let alone three, stadiums without trying to make him squirm first.

So, those of us on stadium politics watch are keeping an eye on Sen. Larry Pogemiller and the drama he directs in the Senate tax committee. Look for a move there to alter the proposals' financing. These are state facilities, he will argue, and should be paid for with an increase in state taxes.

And then look to see if Johnson and the rest of the Senate are more interested in irritating the governor or building some ballparks.

And that, dear friends, is where we are at. What are the true intentions of Dean Johnson and Larry Pogemiller, who are increasingly becoming DFL thorns in T-Paw's side? Before anything can happen, the Twins stadium bill has to be passed out of Pogemiller's Senate Tax Committee. There are four scenarios that I can see:

  1. Pogemiller and the Senate Tax Committee could vote to send the Hennepin County plan as amended and passed out of the House to the floor of the Senate. Alone. Chances: Highly unlikely.
  2. Pogemiller and the Senate Tax Committee could vote to send the Hennepin County plan to the floor of the Senate, but with a referendum attached. Chances: likely
  3. Pogemiller and the Senate Tax Committee could try to pass a form of the idea to impose a 0.5 percent sales tax on the entire seven county metro area to pay for a Twins stadium and a Vikings stadium, plus transit projects. Chances: highly likely.
  4. Or, Pogemiller and the Senate Tax Committee could kill the Twins bill all together. Chances: unlikely.

So, you might be thinking to yourself, great! Let's get the Twins and the Vikings out of the way at the same time! You know, I absolutley agree with you, but there is the little problem of partisan politics and the Republican controlled House's hatred of the idea. Speaker Sviggum said last week:

Republican House Speaker Steve Sviggum said there's no chance the new tax plan would win support outside the DFL-controlled Senate, meaning not in the House and not by Pawlenty. Some Senate Republicans claimed Pogemiller is trying to put the heat on Pawlenty to approve taxes he normally would oppose, while minority leader Day said in a statement that Pogemiller's ego is the problem.

Holy crap, can you believe this? What was once a hot potato issue (I'm not going to touch it!), stadiums are now the ultmiate political weapon. What party's plan will ultimately result in stadiums being built in Minnesota? What party will ultimately be able to claim that they finally solved the problem? I have no doubt that Steve Kelly is doing what he thinks is best for the state of Minnesota, and solving two stadium problems at once is definitely best, but overarching this altruistic attitude is the idea of, the appearance of, a DFL victory concerning this issue. And that is a problem for Twins fans.

Unfortunately the best I think we can hope for at this point is the Senate Tax Committee to pass any bill they can, and get it passed on the Senate floor. From there a conference committee could work out the differences so that it has a chance to pass both the House and the Senate. I must say I'm feeling a little more pessimistic every day this drags on.

Back to Sturdevant's column: is the DFL just trying to make T-:Paw squirm? Or do they really think they can pull this off? To put it another way, how far is the DFL willing to push this? Because I can tell you one thing, T-Paw will not sign a bill that includes a 0.5 percent seven county metro-wide sales tax. Or maybe he just won't do it happily.

Again, what the heck do I know? If anyone can shed some light on this, I am all ears. Tomorrow the Senate Tax Committee will meet again sometime after 3 PM where they are expected to vote on the issue. Seriously, I don't think my heart can take this anymore. How many "most important day in Twins franchise history" can we have in the span of two weeks? Apparently not enough.

Posted by snackeru at 7:24 AM | Comments (26) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Life"

Category "Stadiums 2006"

April 28, 2006

This is who I am

I want to explain a few things to you:

My name is Shane. It isn't too hard to figure out who I am. I am not an anonymous blogger.

I have a wife and three kids all of whom I love very much.

I volunteer at my church as a sound technician for our Sunday School program.

I teach a graduate class on Tuesday nights at the College of St. Catherine in the Dept. of Library and Information Science.

I am the Tiger Den Leader for my local Cub Scout Pack.

I just put in a brand new basketball hoop on my driveway, and I recently visited Minnehaha Falls.

I enjoy reading (right now it is Air by Geoffry Ryman), listening to music (The Soft Bulletin by the Flaming Lips is in heavy rotation), and watching movies (Wow, was V for Vendetta ever good).

I still mow my parents lawn.

I am a librarian and the webmaster at the University of Minnesota Libraries and manager of the UThink blog system.

This is who I am. I like to think I am making a positive contribution to society.

I spend most of my time as a librarian. Now, any librarian worth his or her salt will tell you one of the most important aspects of librarianship is protecting intellectual freedom and the freedom of speech. Libraries collect a lot of material, some of which is very controversial. The saying goes, if you haven't found something in a library that offends you, you haven't been looking hard enough.

I also like baseball. Specifically Twins baseball. As a Twins fan, I have decided to support the effort to build a new ballpark. I don't have any hidden agendas. I just want to make sure the Twins stay in Minnesota, and I am excited for the possibilty of watching outdoor baseball again. For a lot of reasons, this is controversial. It even offends some people.

I'm sorry if you don't agree with me. I really am. But I have a right to my opinion. In fact, I would argue I have a right, in fact even an obligation to get involved in the issues that matter to me. It is my right as a citizen of this state. Obviously I have gotten involved by writing on this blog.

Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing. As a librarian, I enjoy my role as a protector of this right, and as a citizen I have enjoyed taking a few minutes out of every day to write about a Twins stadium. I am a firm believer that we shouldn't be afraid to speak out on issues that matter to us, and especially on issues that could impact us.

I have recently learned, however, that this may be a naive view of this wonderful right. Freedom of speech is not so much black and white as it is gray, and it is somewhat of a two way street. Sure I can speak my mind and say what I want, but that doesn't mean there aren't consequences. My freedom of speech can get me in trouble. It can also bring me a little pain. I have learned that there are consequences to the freedom of speech that one must be willing to deal with.

For example, some people don't like the freedom of speech, especially when they hear things they don't agree with. The freedom of speech can also cause the people around you to look differently at you. It can also make people become angry with you. In essence, your freedom of speech can make you feel very uncomfortable.

Are you willing to deal with that? Can you handle it? Am I willing to deal with it? For the past three years, I have been willing to deal with it. I would write on my little blog and maybe 100 people would read my drivel. Then a funny thing happened. More people started to read my drivel, word got around, and I got on the 10:00 news.

Wow. This has caused a whole bunch of interesting things to happen to me, both good and bad. I've had some fun conversations with people. I've gotten a lot of fun phone calls from family and friends. Friends have emailed me from all over asking if I could sign some autographs. I've also been confronted by a co-worker. I had a less than pleasant meeting with my own boss and his supervisor. I've gotten a lot of problematic emails, some of them CC'd to the president of the University.

I must also clarify that the Univerisity and the University Libraries have backed me up on this issue. But I will admit to some embarrassment over them having to do so. It makes me a little upset that my blog seems to be the most controversial on the UThink system. The system I developed. It makes me upset that my supervisors have been forced to defend me. So, I have considered letting it go.

You see? Consequences. Your freedom of speech, my freedom of speech does not come without a price. For a long time I have talked a good game concerning the philosophy of freely speaking your mind. What I have recently been forced to ask myself though is can I walk the walk? Can I pay the price? Can I deal with the consequences?

I have decided the answer is yes. Bring it on. A good friend of mine recently wrote me and said, "Remember--we don't do this because it's easy, we do it because it's hard. Anybody can do little things, work the margins, and not make waves -- but where's the fun in that?"

Yes. I am proud of the impact I've had, and I'm proud of the work I've done. I have decided that I want to continue to make waves.

Anyway, I just thought you should know why I didn't post anything today. See you soon.

Posted by snackeru at 11:30 PM | Comments (24) | Life | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

April 26, 2006

Back to work

• OK. Party's over. Let's get back to work. There is a stadium bill to pass out of the Senate, and some legislators to convince to make the right decision. The Voter's Guide is now a thing of the past. It is time to focus on the Senate.

• Before I begin, I must send a thanks out to Jason DeRusha (video included in link) at WCCO for treating me kindly last night. Jason called me yesterday afternoon in order to do an interview about this here blog, and at first I really didn't want to do it. Well, the piece turned out to be pretty good. He only had video of me saying two stupid things, and he mentioned my wife which made her happy. So, all in all it was an interesting and fun experience.

And let me tell you, when Amelia Santinello knows who you are? Oh man, that is when you know you have made it! Thanks for my 15 minutes of fame Jason. Now, I'll just go back to my quiet corner of the library.

Let me clarify though. When I said that "This will be my biggest day ever," I meant in terms of hits to my blog, not life in general. And it was a pretty big day. Between 800 and 900 unique visitors, and nearly 3,000 hits. My biggest day previously? The day I described my visit with the Little Brown Jug.

• Enough about all that, though. Let's talk about the Senate and the Senate Tax Committee. I have been working on a Senate version of the Voter's Guide for a while, but let me tell you Minnesota State Senators are tough buggers to pin down. Unlike a lot of their House counterparts, Senators, relatively speaking, have kept their mouths shut concerning this issue. So, it has been somewhat of a challenge.

Today's vote in the House should impact a lot of their votes so I am definitely not ready to say the Senate is a lost cause. However, certain things I've been hearing have led me to believe it will not be as easy to get out of the Senate as previously thought.

Sen. Larry Pogemiller, chair of the Senate Taxes Committee, has already made it clear that he will vote against this bill without a referendum. It is also well known that he will attempt to combine all three stadium bills into one "uber" bill and pay for all of them with a metro-wide sales tax. While I think this is a good idea, I also think that combining all the bills will kill all the bills. I just don't think the House would go for it. So, what will happen?

Today the Senate version of the Twins stadium bill will be heard in the Senate Taxes Committee. This is how I see the votes shaking out:

NameEmailPredicted Vote
Chair: Lawrence J. Pogemiller (DFL) sen.larry.pogemiller@senate.mn No ?
Vice Chair: David J. Tomassoni (DFL) sen.david.tomassoni@senate.mn Yes
Ranking Minority Member: William V. Belanger Jr. (R) sen.bill.belanger@senate.mn No
Thomas M. Bakk (DFL) sen.tom.bakk@senate.mn Yes
Don Betzold (DFL) sen.don.betzold@senate.mn Yes
Debbie J. Johnson (R) sen.debbie.johnson@senate.mn No
Warren Limmer (R) sen.warren.limmer@senate.mn No
John Marty (DFL) sen.john.marty@senate.mn No
Mike McGinn (R) sen.mike.mcginn@senate.mn ?
Mee Moua (DFL) sen.mee.moua@senate.mn Yes
Julianne E. Ortman (R) sen.julianne.ortman@senate.mn Yes
Rod Skoe (DFL) sen.rod.skoe@senate.mn Yes

Please note! I am not sure of these votes. So please, don't take my word for it. And if you know anything differently, please let me know!

UPDATE: I've been told that today's Senate Tax Committee meeting is only informational. They are going to go over all three bills and think about some possibilities. There may not even be any testimony. That starts at 2:00 today. Tomorrow at 9:00 AM is when the "real" meeting will begin. That is when we'll see what kinds of changes Pogey has in store. This gives us plenty of time to write these Senators! So get to it!

Also, I've been told that Pogey isn't necessarily anti-stadium. He may have a great plan in mind and he may really want to solve all these problems. In fact, I'm pretty sure of that. But I just don't think combining all the bills is going to work. Ramsey County legislators are not going to want to be taxed for three stadiums, none of which are in their county. That is my feeling, but we'll see.

We'll see how this goes. Yesterday, Pogemiller drastically changed the Gopher's stadium bill. Hopefully he won't be able to do the same with the Twins stadium.

More later!

Posted by snackeru at 10:36 PM | Comments (25) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

Today is the day

Well, I'm not really sure what to say. It would not be exaggeration to say that today is a very important day for the Minnesota Twins. I'll just leave it at that, because God forbid I turn into a drooling idiot. All of our emails, all of our phone calls, all of our debates and arguments ... it all comes down to this moment. Of course, if this bill passes the House it is far from over, but for right now, this is it.

At 9:00 AM today (or sometime around there), the House floor will debate HF2480, "Baseball stadium financing, construction, and operation provided; Minnesota Ballpark Authority established; and Hennepin County sales tax authorized." You can all watch it over the Interweb.

I'll try to update you on what is happening in the proceedings, and hopefully if I miss something you can update me in the comments below (I do have to work, you know).

Anyway, I'm nervous and excited all at once. Let's get this done. See you soon.

UPDATE I: 9:20 AM -- Both the DFL and the Republican parties have requested caucus meetings until 10:00. So, the House is in recess until then. I wonder what they will be talking about? Hmmmmm ...

UPDATE II: 10:33 AM -- Sigh. As I've said before, one thing I have learned about the legislature is that they are always late. When they say 10:00 they probably mean 10:30, or in the case of today, maybe 11:00 or 11:30. I can just imagine the "discussions" they are having in their caucus meetings right now.

UPDATE III: 11:05 -- Looks like it will be starting soon. Unfortunately I have a meeting to attend, so if anything interesting happens between now and 1:00 PM (especially a referendum amendment) leave a comment!

UPDATE IV: 1:07 -- I'm back, and thanks to all the commenters below, I can report that the referendum amendment on the floor was defeated 64-66. It is looking good people. Very, very good.

UPDATE V: 1:10 -- I gotta say, if Erhardt is anti-stadium (which I'm not totally sure of), an amendment to put a roof on that uses state-wide tax money is a sure-fire way to kill this bill. I'm pretty confident it will be defeated.

UPDATE VI: 1:31 -- The Speaker just said there are 12 amendments to go. Woo-hoo! Let's get past these and move on.

UPDATE VII: 1:50 -- Holy crap. Klinzing has just brought out the "taxation without representation argument" and alluded to blood being spilled over the stadium (although she admitted that it probably won't happen over a stadium). Egads, I should hope not. The amendment she is moving would have the tax imposed only on residents of the county where the representative has voted in favor of the bill. Very creative.

Plus, an anonymous commenter has given us all a link that lists out the remaining amendments (and the ones they've already covered) and the text of those amendments. Very cool.

UPDATE VIII: 2:07 -- You know, Klinzing is being a little disingenuous. A typical family in Hennepin County maybe spends $600 on taxable goods in a week (actually I'm pretty sure I spend less). That means they will pay maybe 50 cents 90 cents a week for the stadium (correction by freealonzo). Is it more than not paying anything? Yes. Is it substantial and noticeable? No. (thanks to freealonzo for supplying these figures). It isn't as doom and gloom as Klinzing is making it out to be. Her amendment failed.

UPDATE IX: 2:16 -- Kelliher is moving an amendment to use the yearly left over funds (from the tax, after debt service) to pay for youth sports and/or extended library hours. I am torn about this amendment. On the one hand, it is a great idea, but on the other hand I would like any left over funds to be used to pay off the debt quicker. Abrams is rightly saying this bill is for a ballpark only. Let's just pay for that. -- Huh, Kelliher pulled the amendment. Interesting.

UPDATE X: 2:40 -- Wow, that was interesting. You could just see all the votes switching to yes. I thought the Wagenius amendment would be defeated. Someone help me on this one ... does this mean that the "public" will get 18% of the sale price of the Twins no matter when the Twins are sold? The bill stipulated that the public would share in the sale price only up to 10 years after the stadium is built. Anyone?

UPDATE XI: 2:45 -- Kahn has an interesting amendment: put together a "ballpark account" and immediately put into it the money from the sale of the Metrodome. Then, use the money to pay off part of the ballpark. Interesting. We'll see how this one shakes out.

Interesting. Right now the sale price of the Metrodome would go into an account to build a football stadium. Likely the new stadium in Anoka County. Kahn is arguing that the funds should stay in Minneapolis. She might be making sense... Well it wasn't adopted.

UPDATE XII: Ah ... the Hennepin County Twins amendment. Stupid, but in the end I don't really care. Put an "HC" on the hat and I would still cheer for them. This really is, though, a waste of time.

Man! I cannot believe how much time they are wasting on this! Incredible.

Finally, it has been soundly defeated. What a phenomenal waste of time.

UPDATE XIII: Bernardy is moving an amendment that will try to assure the Twins will be on TV to as much of the state as possible. How? She withdraws, although it still took like 15 minutes of debate. Ugh.

UPDATE XIV: Well, if you've wondered why I haven't updated for a while, WCCO news is in my office right now interviewing me. So, me and the Greet Machine should be on the news tonight! Amazing heh? We'll see how the story comes out. I hope they get my good side!

What would really tick me off, though, is if they make me miss the vote!

UPDATE XV: It looks like there are about 3 amendments to go. We should see a vote maybe around 5:30!

UPDATE XVI: Yikes! I'm back. Oh man ... I guess I'm going to be on the 10:00 news tonight. But enough about me. Let's get back to business...

UPDATE XVII: I love Dan Dorman. I love his passion, and his intelligence. He is a great legislator to have on our side.

Two amendments to go according to Sviggum. Let's get the vote on!

UPDATE XVIII: I have totally been thrown off by this WCCO interview. Man! I probably said some stupid stuff.

Last amendment! Finally. Krinkie is moving the amendment, which doesn't sound too bad, but then again, I'm not sure why it is necessary.
Sertich is saying the amendment is beyond the purview of the state of Minnesota government. There are national broadcast rights that leagues sign with the media that we can't mess with. Why the heck is Krinkie wasting our time with this? Sheesh!!!

Wow. The amendment was barely defeated.

UPDATE XIX: Well, Hilty is moving to reconsider the "community ownership" amendment. Quite frankly, I'm surprised it was defeated in the first place. It has been passed.

3rd reading. Let the grandstanding begin ...

Juhnke is saying it is time to move on (amen brother!). We've had bills, we've had meetings, we've had task forces, we've had screening committees. It is time to get this done.

Urdahl is speaking in favor of the bill. Minnesota has a lot of memories with Minnesota Twins baseball. Baseball has a way of identifying who we are, our quality of like, our heroes, and it is about us. Let's build this ballpark and keep the Twins in Minnesota.

Gazelka is saying he has switched his vote to YES! Awesome. Paraphrasing: Do the Twins benefit the state? Yes. Will the Twins leave? The risk is too great to take that chance. He voted for the referendum, but this is the plan we have. We help a lot of businesses and we are going to keep jobs in Minnesota. Thank you Rep. Gazelka!

Wagenius wants to talk about another tradition of giving back to the community. 3M and the McKnight Foundation, or Alan Page's organization. One doesn't make a huge amount of money in this state unless they have reaped the benefit of having a well educated population. Carl Pohlad wants to promote a culture of greed, getting something for nothing. Let's just say she is not in favor...

Hausman: This is a simple proposal. Everyone loves the Twins, but no one wants to pay for them. That is what we've learned today. And now we are going to tax a small population (? small?) because no one wants to pay for them.

And she has taken a shot at Pawlenty! She is on a roll. Oops! And there is the education argument, and yep ... the transportation argument. Let's just say she is not in favor.

Demmer next. He is perplexed at all the gnashing of teeth over Hennepin County getting a $500 million public works project. He said counties in his area would be falling over themselves for the chance at public works projects at even a fraction of the cost. Good point (but I am pretty biased ... I'll admit it!).

And now he is bringing up the old people, nursing home argument! Goooooo Demmer!!! Just say no to the Las Vegas Twins!

Peterson from Bloomington. Great guy. Watched the North Stars leave and doesn't want to watch another team leave. He's talking about meeting Pohlad as a banker and how impressed he was with him. Pohlad has done so much as a benefactor to this community.

Greg Olson -- ugh. Republic? Democracy? No we are a plutocracy. Definition: A system of government whereby wealth and the benefits that wealth accrues lead to a concentration of power in the hands of those with disproportionate access to financial resources. This is ridiculous. We are building a ballpark, Rep. Olson. That's it.

Finstad -- We are solving a problems. Thanks to Hennepin County for taking the advice of the state and the governor and coming up with a proposal that works. A green vote will put this issue behind us and allow us to move on.

God bless you Rep. Finstad. Let's get this job done.

Erhardt -- Just compared this to the "land grab" that got the Dutch Manhattan island for a few "beads and trinkets." Erhardt will be a no vote.

Dorman -- This is a good bill. People that say the team won't leave don't know the history of Minnesota. The Lakers left. He wants to make sure his kids will be able to take their kids to a Twins game. Teams sometimes do leave, and we don't want this to happen in Minnesota. It would have cost us $10 million to keep the North Stars, and $200 million to get a team back. Let's not make the same mistake that allowed the Lakers to leave, and the North Stars to leave.

Nice Dorman, very nice.

Bernardy is saying that we've now spent more time on stadiums than education and other more important issues. Yes! I agree, and it is people like you that are to blame! We could have saved millions of dollars and tons of time if we would have done this 10 years ago! Sheesh!

Westerberg -- He's brining up the Vikings stadium bill. I can't worry about that yet. At least Anoka county legislators are in favor of the plan, unlike the legislators from Hennepin County.

Dempsey -- Jobs, ????, and no money from the general fund! Can anyone fill in the blank? I missed it. I think it is "Keeping baseball in Minnesota"

Sertich -- Speaking about 3/4 of a billion dollars in new investment in the area of the stadium. Tons of jobs, and maintaining a good quality of life. Schools should be funded too! The two issues are mutually exclusive. Let's do both.

Nelson -- Moving a relative into a nursing home he came across an old newspaper article talking about contraction. We need to do this now and not have to go through this again. It will cost a lot more money to get a team back. We should just keep the team we have. This is the best plan we are going to get.

Klinzing -- She is skeptical about the "creation of new jobs." "It just isn't so." She is saying that new jobs were not created when we tore down Met Stadium because those jobs moved to the Mall of America. Yeah ... about 10 years later ... this speech is a little confusing. Wants baseball to be treated like any business in the free market.

Holberg -- Looking for direction from the legislators in Hennepin County. She is concerned that we are ignoring the wishes of the representatives of the County. "This is a major steamroller. It is so wrong."

Hornstein -- The main reason we are here is because Hennepin County does not want to do a referendum. They want to circumvent state law (I don't agree with this). He doesn't know what HC is so afraid of. Referendums have passed all over the country for stadiums.

Kahn -- Wants to talk about her grandchildren, one of which was born in Montreal. She says Montreal isn't a "cold Omaha" but a fantastic city. Her grandkids have great health care, state subsidized, and Montreal doesn't miss the Expos at all. (This is just a horrible argument)

Delaforest -- $850 million investment and we don't know what the economic benefits are. No one can say. "Show me the due dilligence." Jobs won't be created, but they may be lost also because these businesses will be paying this tax.

Westrom -- Wants to talk about the roof. Ugh. Give it up. For more information on this topic, check out this.

Lanning -- Not so gung ho on a roof anymore. We just can't afford it! Plus the land selected just won't work. It isn't feasible.

Krinkie -- We passed the Gopher stadium bill, we are probably going to pass the Twins bill, and we will probably pass a Vikings stadium. Who is in the on-deck circle? The Target Center. It is the 7th oldest arena in the NBA. Members ask yourself, how many hundreds of millions do you want to spend to subsidize professional sports?

Greiling -- This is the second "strike out" for the taxpayers of the state of Minnesota. The next batter up is the Vikings stadium.

Marquart -- Will a roof be put on in conference committee? Could it be put on in conference committee?

Finstad -- There isn't enough dollars to get it done. The concourses will be heated and cooled and double the size of the Metrodome concourses. There will be shields to protect people from the sun. There is no roof on this proposal.

Peter Nelson -- Touch em all Kirby Puckett! Touch em all!

The bill passed 76-55. Wow, that is more than I thought it would be.

76-55: The bill passes!

TwinsConstruction.jpg

And with that, I leave you for tonight. Let's party!

Posted by snackeru at 8:35 AM | Comments (60) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

April 25, 2006

There are wackos and then there are opponents

A representative just sent me this email that a Minnesota citizen is sending to all the members of the House. It kind of speaks for itself:

Dear Representatives:

THOU SHALT NOT STEAL. There is no ambiguity in that commandment.

If you are instrumental in taking money from the taxpayers and giving it to a bunch of rich bastards, I wouldn't worry about facing the wrath of the voters; it's your immortal souls you should be worried about.

When you die and are trying to get into heaven, this will certainly come up. You all know deep in your heart it is wrong to steal from the poor and give to the rich. The only uncertainly is whether God will let you try and explain yourselves before he sends you directly to hell where you belong.

Quite frankly this email makes me sick. You know, I am pro-stadium. I don't think that is a secret. But one thing I have tried my hardest to hold off on is coming across as a complete nut case. I talk with proponents and opponents alike and I try to do so in a respectful manner. But this is too much. This is sickening. People ... we are talking about building a ballpark. We are not talking about killing puppies or baby seals, we are talking about putting together a building where people will be able to watch other people play baseball. That's it, and its something that a lot of other cities have already done. Will Carl Pohlad make money? Yes, he will. He has done it before and he'll do it again. But I don't understand why so many people care. Get over it. It isn't worth fretting over. We don't fret over the Xcel Energy Center, or the Target Center, or the Metrodome or any of the other buildings that were built with taxpayer money. And by the way, some individuals made a ton of money off of them.

I'm tired. But one thing I will be sure to do is thank the legislators that have voted for the stadium. They deserve to know that some people are happy with them. And I won't email the legislators that voted no, and I certainly won't condemn their souls to hell. They have their opinion and I respect that. Let's all take a deep breath and try to be civil to each other. If you are anti-stadium you are not the voice of morality or God or all that is good. You do not have a monopoly on the truth! You have an opinion that is different than mine, one that I respect, but I do not agree with. Please, please, please, can we just leave it at that?

Posted by snackeru at 2:18 PM | Comments (12) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

I could get used to this!

• You know, I've never seen this kind of success before out of a Twins stadium bill. For the past 10 years I have kind of resigned myself to the fate of seeing failure after failure after failure. But to see a Twins stadium bill pass through the House Taxes Committee (where it never saw the light of day in 2005) and the House Ways and Means Committee (where it failed in 2004) is almost surreal. But if it passes the House floor? Oh man ... that would be a sign that the end times are here. Passage of a new Twins stadium bill out of the House will be proof of the imminent return of Jesus and the upcoming battle of Armageddon. In addition, the very fabric of the space-time continuum will be ripped, we will reach the apex of the cone of time, and Marty McFly will not make it Back to the Future. If a Twins stadium bill is passed out of the House, I will either have a heart attack out of happiness or I will fall into a state of catatonic shock and eat jello from a straw for the rest of my life. Will it be worth it? Oh yes. Bring it on. For you, Minnesota Twins fan, I am willing to risk it. Besides, I like jello.

• Today I will be updating the Ways and Means Committee votes page to reflect what actually happened, but I am pretty sure I was one off with a few legislators passing or actually absent. Larson was a no (although it seemed to be painful for him to vote No for some reason) while Smith was a Yes (even though he said he was only voting yes to move it to the floor of the House, not because he was in favor of it).

What is strange about Smith's vote is if he would have switched to a No, the bill may not have passed. All of these shenanigans lead me to believe that the votes are all already lined up. We are just watching a play unfolding with the end result already written. Hennepin County legislators have struck a deal with out-state legislators that allows them to vehemently oppose the bill while also allowing the bill to pass. I am a firm believer that deep down, a fair amount of opposing legislators actually want this bill to pass. It is a win-win for them. They get to "stand their ground" and oppose this piece of corporate welfare, and if it passes they won't have to deal with the possibilty of something happening to the Twins.

That is why I have so much respect for legislators like Kelliher, Sykora, and Neil Peterson. These are Hennepin County legislators that understand what a wonderful thing it will be to have a $500 million public works project in their county, and what a wonderful thing it will be to have a new ballpark for the citizens of Minnesota.

Enough rambling ...

• OK, what needs to happen next? Let's take a look:

  1. On Wednesday the bill will be debated on the House floor. And you better believe this will be the floor session of the century. I wouldn't be surprised if it lasts until 2 am. Phyllis Kahn alone will take an hour with all her amendments. And of course, there will be another attempt at a referendum amendment. This will be a nasty, snarky floor session, but I predict that the votes are there. Barely, but they are there.
  2. If it passes the floor of the House, it will finally be taken up by the Senate Tax Committee chaired by Larry Pogemiller. Again, this will not be easy. Pogemiller has already made clear two things: 1) he will not vote in favor of the bill without a referendum and 2) he is not in favor of Hennepin County footing the bill. Pogemiller is going to try to combine all 3 stadium bills into one and pay for them all with a metro-wide sales tax. This is a noble idea, don't get me wrong, but this action would effectively kill all three bills. There is no way that the House, especially the legislators from the entire metro-area, would go for this. However, I think there are enough votes in the Senate Tax Committee to vote Pogemiller down. Hopefully we'll get a chance to find out. I'm putting together a list of the Senate Tax Committee members and where they stand for your edification.
  3. After it passes the Senate Tax Committee, it will go to the floor of the Senate for another rip-snorting session full of amendments, name calling, and angry legislators. Should be fun. It has always been assumed that the Senate will have an easier time passing a Twins stadium bill than the House. Hopefully we'll get a chance to find out.
  4. After that, there will be a conference committee because the stadium bill from the House and the stadium bill from the Senate will have differences. So, the conference committee will hash out the differences.
  5. Once the conference committee works out the differences, the Senate and the House will vote on the bill again. Hopefully this will go down more smoothly, but who knows. Again, it should be interesting.
  6. Finally, the bill will go to the Governor, who will have to sign a bill that raises a tax in Hennepin County in an election year. buttmonkey.jpg I think he'll sign it, but he will be feeling some major pressure from anti-stadium groups.
  7. If he signs it, if this bill to build a new Twins stadium is signed into law, monkeys will fly out of my butt. It will be painful, but it will be worth it.

That's it for now. Catch ya on the flip side...

Posted by snackeru at 8:07 AM | Comments (9) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

April 24, 2006

Ways and Means Committee updates

UPDATE I: Well, here it is. 7:57 PM and Phil Krinkie has moved a referendum amendment. This is it people. If ithe bill can get past this, it will pass the committee. If not, well, that would suck. I will let you know ...

UPDATE II: The grandstanding is at the highest level I have ever seen. Ugh. Just vote for it or don't. Thank goodness Dorman is talking some sense. He is saying there isn't an 11th Commandment that says "Thou shalt have a referendum on all sales taxes." Hilarious. Stay tuned for the vote.

UPDATE III: The referendum amendment failed 17-15!!! It is looking good people, very, very good. Baseball in Minnesota lives another day! Oh man, I was shaking on this one.,,

UPDATE IV: Knoblach is trying to get the sales tax ememption on building materials lifted, an obvious attempt to punish someone for this bill. Rod Hamilton rightly pointed out that lifting the exemption of the sales tax on building materials will only raise the tax overall and that Hennepin County residents will have to pick up this extra $87 million. This is a phenomenally stupid amendment. I must admit I didn't fully understand it, but it was soundly defeated 9-26, with even a lot of anti-stadium legislator votes.

UPDATE V: Carlson is moving an amendment that would require MLB sign an agreement that would assure the Twins remain in Minnesota for at least 30 years. Finstad has offered to work with Carlson to craft something that would be amenable to MLB. The amendment was adopted. This is interesting. I'm not sure that MLB has ever done something like this before, and I would actually like to see it happen. We'll see how this shakes out. Could be problematic.

UPDATE VI: Paymar is moving an amendment that removes the requirement statewide for referendums on local option sales taxes. It is a "fariness" issue according to Paymar. If the Twins get an exemption why shouldn't everyone? Very interesting. It appears Paymar is just being snarky because even his colleagues seem to be against it. It has been soundly defeated. The more I think about it, the more I think this amendment would have made this bill tough to pass on the floor.

UPDATE VII: The amendments are over. The vote is coming. Interestingly enough, the Strib home page is already announcing "Twins stadium bill clears last House panel." Are they clairvoyant or something? I think they are mistaking the referendum vote for the vote on the actual bill. Idiots.

UPDATE VIII: Krinkie is moving to reconsider the referendum amendment. Wow. He is not going to make this easy. It was defeated again 16-18.

UPDATE VIII: There it is! Dorman has mentioned that the stadium should be built in St. Paul. There you go Jim in St. Paul. Dorman is also praising Rep. Kelliher for being the only Minneapolis legislator to support this bill. She responded by mentioning that their may be one other Minneapolis legislator that will support the bill. Very interesting. It reminds me of Yoda's comment when he said, "No, there is another." Who is this mystery Minneapolis legislator?

UPDATE IX: Ugh. Another amendment has been offered, fortunately by the pro-stadium Kelliher. Hopefully this will be done soon.

UPDATE X: Steve Smith just said that he doesn't agree with the bill but that he will vote to move it out of the Ways and Means committee. Very interesting. Has Sviggum asked him to vote Yes just to get it to the floor? Larson is saying he is for the stadium, but he wishes it was a statewide or even regional tax. Again, very interesting. I think we are going to see this kind of idea when Pogemiller gets a hold of it in the Senate Taxes Committee.

UPDATE XI: The bill passed 18-16. Finally. More comment tomorrow. Have a good night everyone!

Posted by snackeru at 7:58 PM | Comments (13) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

Ways and Means Committee meeting time

• Got this note from the Twins ballpark people:

We just received word that the House Ways and Means committee will be meeting today at 5 pm, Room 200 in the State Office Building, 100 Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd. We encourage everyone to attend and wear Twins clothing to signify your support of the Twins/Hennepin County Stadium Plan.

As you probably already know, the bill passed a critical test last week in the House Taxes Committee. Your attendance at that meeting made a dramatic statement that this is the year to build a new ballpark.

The final step in the house will be Wednesday or Thursday of this week.

We will keep you posted on the timing of that meeting.

So, there you go. It should be an interesting evening.

Posted by snackeru at 12:30 PM | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

It is all about the Ways and Means Committee

• So, how was your weekend? Did you spend some time in the outdoors? Good, good ... Me? Oh mine was alright. I broke out the old barbeque on Sunday and grilled up some burgers ... ummmm ... pleasant weather we've been having, wouldn't you say? Although I heard there is a cold front moving in ... should be cold tonight .... (awkward silence .... ). Um, what else should we talk about?

ENOUGH! Enough of the niceties. Let's get down to business. There is a Twins stadium that needs passing and we are just the people that are going to make it happen! Today, the Ways and Means Committee will convene after the House floor session, so there is still time to let your voice be heard to the members of this committee. Check out this breakdown of the Ways and Means Committee. See all those question marks? In my opinion, these are the votes that could sway.

If you've got a second this morning, at the very least send these members of the committee an email gently persuading them to vote yes on the bill. Believe it or not, some representatives actually count up their yes and no emails so let your voice be heard! And for those of you that have already emailed the committee, if you have any insight into where the votes will go, please let me know!

I don't think the committee will actually vote on the bill tonight, I am thinking that will happen tomorrow, but I could be wrong. Anyway, it should be a lively debate again. I have the votes at 20 for and 18 against which means only one vote has to change to a no for the bill to be halted. This is important people!

That's all I've got time for, for now. More later ...

Posted by snackeru at 8:16 AM | Comments (2) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

April 21, 2006

I'm going to take some time to enjoy this

For those of you just joining "The Stadium Game" we still have a pretty long way to go. However, before I get into all that, I'm just going to take some time to revel in the victory of today. I mean, wow! A workable stadium bill, a bill that could actually result in a stadium, has passed through the House Taxes Committee! Am I dreaming?

And here is another wonderful thing: for the first time in about 10 years I am watching a Twins game with confidence that the Twins have a future in Minnesota. Do any of you have any idea what a wonderful feeling that is? Think about it ... by 2010 the Twins could be playing on green grass, under the sun, in a state-of-the-art brand, spanking new ballpark. That is nice to think about.

However, back to reality. The 2006 Twins stadium bill passed through the House Taxes Committee today and thanks to Myles (thanks Myles!) we know the votes went like this:

Yes(15): Anderson, Atkins, Brod, Davids, Dill, Dorman, Koenen, Lanning, Lesch, Marquart, Nelson, Rukavina, Sieben, Simpson, Westerberg

No(13): Krinkie, Lenczewski, Abrams, Bernardy, Davnie, Jaros, Erhardt, Howes, Knoblach, Kohls, Mullery, Vanderveer, Zellers

No Vote(1): Delaforest

So, I was two off in my prediction. Bernardy and Jaros didn't come through for us. And does anyone know why Jaros didn't vote at all? [Correction: As BT has already written, it seems Delaforest was absent (not Jaros), and he may have even stormed out.] I also found it humorous that Erhardt passed the first time his name was called, saw that the bill would pass without his vote, and decided then to vote No. It is probably a common practice, but I still think some legislators should grow a backbone.

One of the amendments on the bill does appear to be somewhat problematic. According to the Pioneer Press:

The Taxes Committee considered several amendments Friday in a hearing that was far more sedate than a boisterous Thursday meeting in Bloomington, where stadium proponents and opponents made their voices heard.

The committee passed one amendment capping Hennepin County's infrastructure spending to $90 million.

My opinion is that this is bad. But I'm going to ask around to get the straight skinny. From what I've read, though, the infrastructure costs are probably higher than $90 million. We'll see.

So, you might be wondering what happens next. Well, this was just another hurdle. Now the bill goes to the House Ways and Means Committee. I've also made some predictions for this committee, and again it doesn't look like this will be easy. Of course, I think it will pass, but it will be close.

What gives me a lot of optimism, though, is that Sviggum is making some bold statements that the bill could get to the floor of the House by Wednesday. For him to say that makes me think that it is expected the bill will mvoe through the Ways and Means Committee quickly. And if it gets to the floor, I predict the votes are there.

If it passes on the floor of the House, the Senate will start to move on it. But let's not think about that just yet. For now, I am going to be happy. I am going to revel in today's victory. So, have a good weekend everybody! Let's all enjoy some Twins baseball and start thinking about this again on Monday.

Posted by snackeru at 8:50 PM | Comments (3) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

Holy cow ... is this ever boring

You know usually I am really, really enthused about watching a House legislative committee concerning my favorite topic of stadiums. But this is like watching paint dry. Krinkie wasn't kidding when he said two weeks ago that he wanted to give Tax Committee members a chance to put together their amendments. Yikes! There are probably 50 that the the committee has to get through, and I think they have about 15 more to go. I've been watching/listening to this since 10:00.

From what I've seen and heard, the bill is still a workable bill. I haven't seen every single amendment, but I know that there are a couple of amendments that have been attached that Finstad was against. We'll have to see if those amendments are problematic in any way and I'm sure we'll find out soon if that is the case. The most interesting amendment came from Ron Erhardt who wanted to add a roof to the deal. However, he also wanted to tax every county in the state at .06 percent. Thankfully this amendment was defeated as it would have killed the whole deal.

Two things I've learned. 1) I'm sorry, but Ron Erhardt is a little loopy. I think he means well, but it almost seems the other members are just laughing at him. He also had another amendment that wanted to allow Hennepin County to hire the National Guard to keep public order on days where the games have high attendance. The other members seemed to be just dumbfounded by this amendment given that the governor is usually the only person that can bring out the National Guard and people don't really "hire" the National Guard. It was strange. And 2) whenever a legislative committee says they are going to "reconvene at 2:00" this probably means 2:15 or 2:20. Punctuality does not seem to be a big priority to the Taxes Commitee.

I think they are about 2 hours away from a vote. I could be wrong. I'll definitely let you know when it is all over.

UPDATE: Krinkie is trying to get an amendment passed that will give the public a share of the revenues from the stadium given that Hennepin County is paying for "73% of the cost of the facility." Ruckavina asked what the County or Ballpark Authority will do with this extra money, and Krinkie seems to leave that up to the Authority. Krinkie is suggesting that the extra money could pay off the bonds, or go back to the taxpayers. This is a big one. The Twins are not going to like this one.

Finstad is "respectfully disagreeing with this amendment." According to Finstad, operational costs of the ballpark are already being incurred by the Twins to the tune of $10 million per year. Hennepin County is also against, and ...yep! you guessed it! The Twins are against it too.

Roll call vote. It has been defeated by an overwhelming majority! Even Abrams voted no. Phew. That kind of freaked me out.

UPDATE II: You know, I have just had a realization of sorts. I am actually of the opinion that deep down inside, way deep inside, Krinkie actually wants this bill to pass. I would think Abrams probably feels the same way. Stay with me for a second. If the bill passes, Krinkie is still "Dr. No" and he can always say he was against the Twins stadium bill and that he fought against it as hard as he could, and blah, blah, blah. However, if the bill fails, and something happens to the Twins ... well, Krinkie has got to know that will come back to haunt him. He would always be known as "the man that killed major league baseball in Minnesota." Do you see what I mean? Politically, it would make more sense for Krinkie to fight only so hard to make his stance known, but not too hard so that the bill also passes. Crazy or no?

UPDATE III: Even Krinkie is getting sick of all these amendments. He just told Mullery to keep his amendments brief because some legislators have to drive home tonight. Sigh. Well, I gotta go home for now so I am probably going to miss the actual vote on the bill. Someone let me know what the outcome is, especially if you can write down who voted yes and no. Later.

Posted by snackeru at 2:23 PM | Comments (11) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

Holy cow ... I am overwhelmed

I can't believe it. The referendum requirement was defeated. IN KRINKIE'S TAXES COMMITTEE!!!! I am just overwhelmed by this news. Finally, finally we are seeing some positive action on this thing. Oh man, I don't even know what to say. So please, I ask all of you again:

Did you go to the hearing? Do you have any interesting stories about the hearing, or any insights into what happened? Please, let us know what you saw or heard in the comments below. I would absolutely love to hear your take on what the feel was in the auditorium.. Please share your experience!

We've already heard from Commissioner Koblick (in the comments on last night's post) and I thank her for her feedback. Believe it or not, as much as we don't agree on this issue, I think Commissioner Koblick is a pretty bright politician who usually has the best intentions. Anyway, enough of that ...

Here are the votes in the committee on the referendum:

Legislators voting NO (and probably YES on the overall bill):

Simpson, Brod, David, Dorman, Lanning, Nelson, Westerberg, Atkins, Dill, Koenen, Marquart, Rukavina, Lesch, Jaros, Sieben = 15
(Anderson would have probably voted NO but he was absent)

Legislators voting YES (and probably NO on the overall bill)

Erhardt, Zellers, Bernardy, Krinkie, Delaforest, Knoblach, Vandeveer, Abrams, Kohls, Lenczewski, Davnie, Mullery, Howes = 13

There aren't really any surprises here. I think I did OK with my predictions. Although I have Bernardy voting YES on the overall bill, she has voiced before that she is in favor of a referendum. She could still vote YES.

Anyway, what a beautiful day! The sun is shining brighter, the birds are chirping louder ... things are going pretty good. Be sure to tune into the Taxes Committee hearing today at 10:00 online for what I expect will be another jolt of happiness!

And let me know what you think, especially if you were there!

UPDATE: I think it would be wise if we all thanked the Tax Committee legislators that had the guts to do the right thing last night by recognizing we live in a representative democracy. So, to make this easier on all of you I have created the link below that will open up your email client and automatically put all the legislators voting no on the referendum last night into the "To:" field.

Email the representatives who voted NO on the referendum last night!

Carry on ...

Posted by snackeru at 6:22 AM | Comments (10) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

April 20, 2006

Sigh. I'm not in Bloomington.

• This is a rambling, probably boring, post. I'm not sure I am giving any interesting information, so read if you want or don't. No biggie.

• You may not be able to believe this, but I am not actually at the hearing. The Tax Committee Circus with Ringmaster Phil Krinkie is going on without me. I don't know why I feel like I have to explain myself, but the fact of the matter is as a father of 3 kids I have too much going on all of the time. Tonight I attended a Cub Scout Pack meeting with my 7 year old son. I am the Tiger Den Leader, and 4 of my scouts were getting their Tiger badges. That is kind of a big deal. Plus, my Den was scheduled to be the Color Guard. So, I made the tought decision to skip the Tax Committee hearing.

And I don't regret it. It was the right decision. The Pack meeting was fun, and I heard rumors that the Tax Committee would not be able to vote on the bill tonight anyway. Plus, I am pretty confident I have made a nice contribution to the Twins stadium effort already. So, there you have it.

You know what really ticks me off, though? Krinkie's effort to "bring democracy to the people" actually decreased the number of people this hearing reached because it wasn't on legislative TV and it wasn't broadcast over the Internet. The only way anyone outside of Oak Grove in Bloomington could listen to the Committee meeting was through WCCO, which I must admit I didn't even know about. I'm listening now, but it sounds like everything is over.

Mike Max has interviewed Mike Opat, Penny Steele, Steve Sviggum, and Phil Krinkie so far. Sviggum had some really nice and strong comments in favor of the plan, and Krinkie actually admitted that this is the best plan the Twins have come up with so far. That doesn't mean he is in favor of the plan, of course, but it was a shock to hear him say anything favorable about the plan. He also reiterated that his main opposition to the plan centers around the fact that the Twins are asking the public to pay for more than infrastructure. He said he didn't mind paying for roads or other infrastructure around the ballpark, but having the public pay for the bulk of the stadium itself ... well he has a big problem with that. Sviggum shot back that the state gives a ton of assistance to a lot of businesses beyond infrastructure, which Krinkie seemed to concede. Of course, I think it all comes down to the fact that a ballpark costs so stinking much. Anyway, it was interesting.

Sviggum also said that he thinks the bill could get to the House floor by next week and that he expects it to pass. Can you believe that? Next week? Oh boy, I can't even imagine this thing passing. I think I would have a heart attack. Someone better get a defibrillator ready!

Mike Max pointed out to Krinkie that the crowd at Oak Grove seemed to be at least 6 to 1 in favor of the Twins. That is good to hear. Krinkie almost seemed to be conceding defeat, too, and Max asked him if he expects the bill to pass. Krinkie didn't admit it, but it sounded like Krinkie can see the writing on the wall.

Max is interviewing Joe Atkins and Jim Davnie now, two members of the Taxes Committee. Atkins has admitted that he is leaning towards voting in favor of the plan without a referendum (as predicted) and Davnie is pretty much saying he is against. Again, nothing really unexpected is happening here.

Did anyone go to the hearing? Do you have any interesting stories about the hearing, or any insights into what happened? Please, let us know what you saw or heard in the comments below. I would absolutely love to hear your take on what the feel was in the auditorium.. Please share your experience!

• Finally, it has been announced that the hearing will continue tomorrow (Friday) at the Capitol. This is when we'll get to see if this bill can 1) get out of the Taxes Committee and 2) do so without a referendum attached. You better believe I'll be following that hearing.

More tomorrow, I'm sure.

UPDATE: Well apparently the hearing is still going on (it is 10:10 PM right now). I just heard on the 10:00 news that they are debating the referendum as I type this. If the referendum is defeated, well, that will be a pretty good indicator of where this bill is headed. We'll see...

Posted by snackeru at 8:31 PM | Comments (7) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

Nothing unexpected

So, we all watched the Tax Committee hearing for the stadium bill yesterday. If you didn't see it, you can see all 4 hours and 10 minutes of it on the Tax Committee television archives. According to the Pioneer Press, 24 pro-stadium testimonies were heard last night with only 2 speakers in opposition, and at least one of those in opposition was against the plan because it didn't tax the entire state. All in all, I think the hearing went rather well.

However, you wouldn't know that if you only read Mark Kaszuba of the Star Tribune. I know he is trying to be impartial, I know that he is trying to give both sides of the story, but his article on the hearing makes it sound like Twins supporters were overwhelmed by well-reasoned and intelligent arguments from members of the Tax Committee. One of his examples of this was when Ron Erhardt challenged whether or not this bill would actually result in a stadium:

Some legislators Wednesday said they had trouble understanding how the Twins' latest proposal differed from others that had failed at the Legislature in the past.

"Why is this any better?" asked Rep. Ron Erhardt, R-Edina.

"If we pass this, this will get the job done," Finstad said.

But Rep. Phil Krinkie, R-Lino Lakes, the committee chairman and a formidable opponent of publicly subsidized stadiums, was unmoved. "As someone who was there, that's what they said then, too," he said.

This isn't entirely how it went. Erhardt said that he voted for the plan in 2002 and that it didn't result in a new stadium, so why should he think that this plan would actually result in a new ballpark? First of all, I don't think there was a legislator worth his or her salt in the House that actually thought the Ventura/Sausen arbitrage scheme of 2002 would actually result in a ballpark. In fact, even before the House voted on the 2002 bill the Twins came out and said it would not work. I remember corresponding with my own representative at the time, Jim Rhodes, who did not vote for the plan mainly because the Twins were against it. So for Erhardt to come out and say what he said demonstrates at worst a lack of intelligence and at best a very suspect memory. And as for Krinkie's comment ... well, we all know what Krinkie is up to.

The more I think I about it, the more obvious it becomes that Mark Kaszuba is anti-stadium and that all of his articles are tainted with this viewpoint. It is a shame, too. In other words, if you want a little more of an impartial view on the proceedings please read Aron Kahn of the Pioneer Press. At least you wouldn't know if he is for the stadium or against it. And if you really want an impartial view, what the heck are you doing reading this?

• Well, based on legislator's comments yesterday, correspondence I've had with the representatives, comments they've made to the papers, and comments I've received from you, dear reader, I think I can finally make a prediction concerning the House Tax committee. According to all of this, my count currently stands at 12 against, and 17 for the bill. Am I 100% confident in this? No, of course not. In fact, of Bernardy, Jaros, Nelson, Sieben ... one or two of these legislators could vote no. Even if that happened, though, it would still be 14 no and 15 yes. And check out this letter I received yesterday from a legislator on the Tax Committee who wishes to remain anonymous:

Shane:

I actually was undecided until yesterday. And I know better than to tell anyone I'm undecided or suffer the onslaught of "persuasion" from every quarter. Yesterday, for reasons that are too complex to get into here, I committed my vote to Finstad. From what I can see, and have seen, Finstad has actually had the Tax Committee votes for the bill for several weeks, but to his credit he's still working everyone over like it's neck and neck.

Does this mean we can sit back and revel in our upcoming good fortune? No. Don't get complacent. I still wouldn't be surprised one iota if the votes in the Tax Committee completely fell apart. Let's all keep at it.

• And now, I'd like to show you all some pictures I have received from a local architecture firm (Hammel, Green and Abrahamson) who have sent me some of their drawings of the new ballpark and the surrounding area. And watch out, some of these pictures are huge! I left them large so that you could see some of the nuances of the design:

A view of the ballpark from the inside looking across to the left field seats and the apartments overlooking the stadium.
I kind of like this picture. And who wouldn't want an apartment overlooking the ballpark?!?!? In the words of the Napoleon Dynamite, that would be "sweet."

The master view as seen from above
Please watch out for this one! it is a big one, but only because it has to be to give you a clearer picture of everything around the stadium. Note that the ballpark seems to be a little more north than the Ballpark Rally set up of last week.

3-D view of the ballpark with skyline.
Again, this one is extremely large. I love this picture. It gives a really clear view of where the ballpark will be situated and it gives a better view of what the ballpark will look like. Beautiful.

A picture of the development around the stadium
This is a picture of what the developers are calling the North Loop Village. Again, this development will surround the ballpark.

• Anyway, that's all I got for now. Special thanks to Hammel, Green, and Abrahamson architects for the pictures! Tonight should be pretty exciting and for once in the 10 years of this debate I am feeling pretty good about the expected outcome. Of course, if anyone has anything else to add, please feel free.

Posted by snackeru at 8:18 AM | Comments (12) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

April 19, 2006

I can't help myself

• You know, I really thought I could let this one go. I thought to myself, "Shane, it just isn't worth it. Gollum is just trying to get your goat, and nothing you can say or do is going to change that." But I really can't help myself. I am just blown away at the exaggeration and hyperbole in Nick Coleman's column today. It almost makes my writing look thoughtful and intelligent! And for those of you that have read this blog for a long time, you know that is hard to do. Anyway, Coleman still seems to be concerned about his "precious" pennies, but I thought this string of sentences took the cake:

Today, with the exhausted opposition to welfare for billionaires collapsing, we are on the verge of gutting the law in order to put up a palace for the Minnesota Twins, opening the door to billions more for sports while everything we used to hold dear -- public education, public safety, public health -- goes down the toilet.

"Bonfire of the Vanities" has finally come to Minnesota, 19 years after Tom Wolfe's portrait of New York City as a place where wealth and privilege, racism and greed ruled.

Trends take awhile to reach us. But we're tragically hip now.

Wow. Wow, wow, wow. I am just stupified at this. Of all the arguments that a ballpark opponent can bring out, the argument that building a ballpark will somehow hurt education is the worst. For one the two issues are mutually exclusive, and more importantly, history tells us that NOT building a ballpark has absolutely no effect on education spending. Think about it. After 10 years of not building a Twins stadium, how much extra money has education received in our state? That's right: NOTHING! Not a dime extra has gone to education as a result of our legislators pissing away plan after plan in an attempt to protect us from the evil Twins.

I tell you what. I would welcome a switch to use the money in the Hennepin County plan to fund education. Absolutely, take that money, take that 3 cents on every $20 and put it towards education. But you know what? Our wonderful elected leaders would rather do nothing. I know this because that is what they've done for the past 10 years. So given that choice, given the choice between inadequate funding for education and no new ballpark, or indadequate funding for education and building a new ballpark, I'll take the latter choice every time.

And not to belabor the point, why don't they tack on another 3 cents and do both? Why not? These two issues do not have to compete against each other, and in fact they really don't.

Secondly, Coleman brings out a literary allusion concerning the Bonfire of the Vanities and suggests that Minnesota is about to reach the pinnacle of decadence. Holy crap ... just because we are building a ballpark? It doesn't even make sense! There has been something like 30 other stadiums built in America in the last 20 years and I don't see any of those cities imploding. In fact, look at Minnesota in the last 50 years. We've built Met Stadium, the Target Center, the Mall of America, the Metrodome, the Xcel Energy Center ... all of these private places of business were built with some form of public assistance. And speaking of the Metrodome, the public paid for over 90% of that building. Has it been worth it? And Coleman's favorite building, the Xcel Energy Center, that was basically given to the Wild for a pittance. So, Nick, haven't we already reached Bonfire status? Or have all these buildings made the Twin Cities a better place to live?

It is just plain comical. Does anyone really believe the doom and gloom Coleman spits out over building a ballpark?

• Finally, I'd like to reprint a comment I received yesterday from "Grant" a long time reader of the Greet Machine and long time contributor. In fact, if it wasn't for Grant there would be no Voter's Guide. Anyway, Grant had this to say:


"I believe that it is inevitable that the Twins will eventually leave the Dome, either for a new stadium here, or to leave the Twin Cities (possibly contraction). I doubt Pohlad is going to wake up some day and pay for a stadium out of the goodness of his own heart.

Combine that inevitability with the size of the Twin Cities (15th largest media market according to the Nielsons), and the Twin Cities will become leverage for every small market team asking for a new stadium.

My belief is that we are either going to pay now for the Twins or later for a replacement team. It may take years, but it will happen (e.g. the Wild). We can bury our heads in the sand and pretend like the Twins will never leave, but that did not work out so well for Cleveland Browns fans, did it?

So what happens when we draw the replacement team? Is that stadium going to be free? Was the Xcel Center free? Did Cleveland 'win' by holding out and then building a stadium for an expansion team five years later?

I see us eventually paying for a stadium for baseball. It could be now for the Twins or later for an replacement team, but I think it will happen. Given that choice I would rather 'invest' in keeping the Twins."

How many cities have gone through this before? Cleveland (Browns), Houston (Oilers/Texans), Charlotte (Hornets/Bobcats), Washington DC (Senators/Nationals), Minnesota (Lakers/T-Wolves, North Stars/Wild) ... any that Grant and I are missing? Let's just put it this way, it will be cheaper to bite the bullet and do this deal now.

In closing, I am hearing that the votes are there to get out of the Tax Committee. If anyone else has anything to share I am all ears.

Posted by snackeru at 8:22 AM | Comments (22) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

April 18, 2006

Crunch time

• OK people. This is it. If ever there was a time to get active on this issue, now is that time. Forget about all the votes in the House, and forget about whether or not a bill would pass the Senate. Right now it is all about the House Tax Committee. On Thursday or Friday (I don't know exactly when they will have the vote) 29 legislators will effectively decide on the future of the Twins. In the past I have been confident that the Tax Committee will pass the bill with a vote of 15 for and 14 against. However, there is always reason for concern.

Take a look at this page listing out the votes in the Tax Committee. See all those question marks? Those are the people that could sway either way. Write those people today, especially if one of them is your own representative. The people with the question marks are right now considering the pros and cons of a Twins stadium, and an email from a Twins fan would go a long way towards helping them make the right decision. Thanks for your help!

• Public opinion seems to be swaying towards the Twins right now. Of course, there was another great editorial from the Star Tribune in yesterday's paper concerning this issue:

Here's the best part for legislators: This ballpark costs the state nothing. It competes against no state need. Even those paying sales tax in Hennepin County won't notice a minuscule 15-hundredths of 1 percent added to purchases excluding groceries, clothing and medicine. What would be noticed is the departure of an important ingredient in Minnesota's culture, quality of life and economic advantage.

It is time for the state to decide are we better with or without the Twins? I know a lot of you feel the Twins aren't going anywhere even if this stadium bill doesn't pass this year. That may be true, but how long can this last? How long can we do nothing? Do you really think that another government entity will step up like Hennepin County has and go through this hell in the years to come? Do you really think another year of delay will make it easier to finally build a new ballpark? Like the editorial above says, the legislature should send Hennepin County a thank-you note for figuring out a way to take this monkey off of all our backs. The Twins are not going to stay in the Metrodome forever! Let's actually save ourselves money in the long run and get this deal done now.

When you look at other stadium deals that have resulted in actual ballparks being built across the country you begin to see that the Twins and Hennepin County have put together a very fair and standard package for ballpark financing. Check out this list put together by County and Twins officials that highlights the percentage of team contributions to ballpark efforts:

% Team Contribution to Ballpark Construction
San Diego     43%
MINNESOTA     35%
Cleveland     26%
Texas     24%
Atlanta     22%
Pittsburgh     19%
Baltimore     18%
Colorado     16%
Cincinnati     12%

These numbers are also reflected in a 2004 document put together for the Governor's Stadium Screening Committee. Note that the Twins contribution is at the higher end of average team ballkpark contributions. Add to this the fact that the public will share in the profits if the team is sold within 10 years, the Twins are on the hook for any cost overruns to the ballpark (unlike DC), the Twins will also commit to paying all operating, maintenance and routine repair expenses of the ballpark, and the Twins are also required to contribute yearly to a capital improvement fund for the stadium. And the Twins won't even own the ballpark! We will.

The time is now. If you think a better deal is coming along, it is not. Are we better off having major league baseball in this state? Oh yes. Hopefully we are willing to do what it takes.

• Finally, as I said above public opinion seems to be swaying towards the Twins and the Hennepin County ballpark effort. Even Doug Grow of the Star Tribune has decided to support the Hennepin County proposal. And I love his reasoning:

Given that Hennepin County is the place where the entire region gathers, this sales tax is as close to a regional tax approach as we'll ever have.

Perhaps construction of a stadium will serve to re-energize Minneapolis.

More importantly, maybe it will help get Minnesota out of its "just say no" slump.

In the past decade, the state has become a place that aspires to mediocrity in education, transit, environment. It's just so easy -- and cheap -- to decide not to compete.

But, little by little, we're left with a lesser place to live.

Maybe, if we build a stadium, we can start to get back in the game again.

The frame of mind so prevalent in Minnesota today, the "just say no" attitude currently permeating state politics, is not the attitude that made this state a great place to live. It was a "can do" attitude that allowed us to build up our infrastructure and compete with other big cities as an important metropolitan area. Don't let Krinkie continue his efforts to take us back to the 1940s. And with that, I leave you for today. Write your legislator and write the legislators on the Tax Committee. Now is the time for action.

Posted by snackeru at 8:20 AM | Comments (15) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

April 16, 2006

This is a very important week

• I hesitate to say that this is one of the most important weeks in Twins history; we've heard that before. But the outcomes of this week could indeed dictate the future of the franchise. Of course, I am talking about the House Tax committee hearings on the evenings of Wednesday and Thursday this week. I was forwarded a note from Dave St. Peter, President of the Twins, in which he had this to say:

In a unique move, Representative Phil Krinkie, chair of the House Tax Committee, has decided to hold two meetings to hear the Twins bill. The first meeting will take place on Wednesday, April 19 at 3 p.m. at the Capitol where testimony in favor of the bill will occur. The second meeting will take place on Thursday, April 20 at 6 p.m. at the Oak Grove Middle School auditorium in Bloomington where testimony in opposition to the bill will occur.

We are currently working to develop a slate of people to testify on Wednesday in favor of the bill including Twins fans, community organizations, former players, business and labor representatives.

Given the uncertain nature of Thursday’s meeting at the school, we are working to mobilize as many fans as possible to attend and demonstrate their support for the Twins bill by filling up the auditorium. This is where you come in. We strongly encourage ALL Twins [fans] to attend Thursday evenings’s hearing at Oak Grove Middle School ... And, we ask that all supporters wear something Twins-related to demonstrate your support of the team and the new stadium.

This is serious. The more I think about this "unique move" by Phil Krinkie the more I am bothered by it. Supporters of the bill have to travel to St. Paul in the middle of the afternoon to be heard, while Krinkie is giving those in opposition to the bill an evening start time and an easier place to get to. And all of this is being done under the guise of brining the democratic process to the people. That is a load of crap. If each side of the debate was given equal treatment, if each hearing was being held at Oak Grove Middle School in Bloomington, I might agree. In fact, that would be exciting. But this is such a blatant attempt to give one side of the debate more public sway it is really quite sickening. It is a chess move more than it is an example of democracy at work, and I sincerely hope Krinkie's move totally backfires on him.

If you are planning on attending the "debate" on Thursday evening here are the driving directions to Oak Grove Middle School from Minneapolis: Take I-35W south to the 106th Street Exit. Go west on 106th Street and arrive at 1300 W. 106th Street.

Twins fans should fill the auditorium. Of course we should be respectful of the debate, but I would also hope that cheers could go up anytime something favorable is said concerning the bill.

• And speaking of the "debate" ... hasn't it all been said already? Seriously, are any legislators' minds actually going to be changed on Wednesday or Thursday as a result of the testimony we've all heard so many times before? On Wednesday, Twins fans will speak in favor of the bill from an emotional and historical standpoint. Minneapolis business leaders will speak in favor of the bill in terms of downtown vibrancy and safety, not to mention what 81 games will do for Warehouse district bars and restaurants. Minnesota charities will speak in favor of the bill in terms of all the good that MLB and the Twins do for our state, and how much money the Twins have donated to state charities over the years. The Minneapolis Department of Parks and Recreation will probably speak on how valuable it is to have MLB in our state and how much it promotes baseball and the use of the ball fields in the city. And the AFL-CIO will probably speak to the fact of how important it will be to have all those jobs for the construction workers of the Twin Cities.

On Thursday night the same old antagonists will also give the same old tired arguments. Kenneth Zapp, an economist from Metro State University, will speak yet again against the plan saying the County is giving too much of the revenue to the Twins and how we should negotiate a deal more like the one in St. Louis (which was a pretty sweet deal for the Cardinals). Laura Lehmann of "Citizens for a Ballpark Referendum" will ask for ... yes, you guessed it! A referendum! Bruce Pomerantz, a citizen from Fridley will tell the commitee that if the Twins get this deal, then it sets a precedent that the Vikings will take advantage of (God forbid!). And Daniel Dobson of the "No Stadium Tax Coalition" will say the proposal is neither fair nor honest to taxpayers. This is all a given.

Here is what I think: we've heard all the same arguments. What is the point of all of this? The Tax committee hearing could get done in 20 minutes by first voting for or against a referendum amendment and then voting for or against the actual bill. 20 minutes! The rest of this is all for the benefit of grandstanding legislators. I ask again: is any of this "debate" actually going to change the mind of any legislator? I seriously wonder ...

• And speaking of legislators and other politicians, Joe Soucheray hit the nail on the head by lambasting our illustrious politicians while describing his 23rd reversal to now being in favor of the Hennepin County ballpark plan:

What turned me around this time was a photograph in the Enemy Paper on Tuesday morning about a guy in Washington, D.C., who works as a female impersonator at a club that would be demolished to make way for a new, publicly subsidized ballpark for the Washington Nationals. This guy was opposed to a new park and said that the only time he would go there "would be for protests.'' The implication seemed to be that hard-working female impersonators should not have to pay for a new ballpark for millionaire owners.

That's it. I'm on board. When it comes down to a new ballpark or preserving the working environment for female impersonators, I'm going with baseball.

Hilarious. But what Joe had me nodding my head even more over was the fact that our politicians are weak and "without fortitude." They are, quite frankly, afraid of their own shadows and wouldn't know a good deal if it bit them in the ass.

Minneapolis has no effective leadership. They stand to gain a $500 million public-works project and don't have a single solitary soul in the elected ranks who can make a case for it because they are all afraid of their various constituencies.

The state of Minnesota could get a new outdoor stadium and keep baseball for 3 cents on $20. We provide our public assistance recipients with enough money to afford 3 cents on $20. Well, people say, if it's a state benefit, maybe it should be a statewide tax then. It could be, I suppose, if you had anybody in the state who could get something done. I believe it is called taking the bull by the horns.

From the governor on down we have elected people who are gridlocked by conflicting ideologies the minute they take office.

I couldn't have said it any better myself. I gotta go to bed for now. More tomorrow, I'm sure.


Posted by snackeru at 8:20 PM | Comments (9) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

April 13, 2006

Just found out

The Hennepin County tax to pay for the Twins ballpark will not include a tax on automobile purchases. That's right, if you buy a car in Hennepin County you will not be taxed for the ballpark. And as you've probably heard before, you will not pay the tax when buying groceries or medicine, either.

Back to work now, all of you!

Posted by snackeru at 1:20 PM | Comments (5) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

April 12, 2006

Krinkie is a crafty devil

This is a letter from state representative Ann Lenczewski. Read it and weep:

I am writing to invite Bloomington residents to a public hearing of the Minnesota House Tax Committee in Bloomington on Thursday, April 20th at 6:00 p.m. We will be discussing and voting on whether or not to tax the residents of Hennepin County to build a Twins stadium.

Earlier this legislative session the Tax Chair asked if any legislators would be willing to host committee hearings locally so that Minnesotans could see our democratic process without having to drive to the Capitol during the work day. As the lead-minority member of the of the committee, I immediately offered Bloomington as a host site and am pleased that the Tax Chair has taken me up on my offer.

Whether you oppose or support the Twins proposal or are unsure, I strongly encourage you to come to Oak Grove Middle School next Thursday evening. This issue is extremely relevant to Bloomington residents given the fact that the bill proposes a tax subsidy from all Bloomington residents. Also, the House Tax Committee will be deciding whether or not the residents of Hennepin County would retain their right under current law to vote on this issue or not. Please note, the current stadium proposal would ask only the residents of Hennepin County to pay taxes to build the stadium while those Minnesotans who reside in the other 86 counties across the state would not contribute in any significant way to the construction of a Twins stadium.

As this is a local and statewide topic of interest, we expect there will be members of the media on hand looking to hear your views on the stadium plan. I hope to see you on April 20th at Oak Grove Middle School located at 1300 W. 106th Street at 6:00 p.m.

Sincerely,

Ann Lenczewski

State Representative

Here are my thoughts on this development. First of all, taking this debate out of a stuffy room in the capitol and putting it into a middle school in Bloomington, the heart of Hennepin County, is a pretty shrewd move from an anti-stadium legislator like Krinkie. I can only imagine what Lenczewski is planning and who she is planning on bringing in to speak against the Hennepin County plan.

I have also heard a rumor that Krinkie is planning on holding this hearing over a two day period, with the first day reserved for pro-stadium advocates, and the second day reserved for anti-American individuals. It is no accident that anti-stadium people will be given the last chance to speak. And again, since this is in Bloomington Krinkie is hoping that there are a lot of anti-stadium types ready to voice their opinion.

Wow. As if the Tax Committee wasn't going to be hard enough, now Krinkie is turning the hearing into a circus. Being in a middle school will allow more people to attend and I'm sure there will be signs (both pro and con) and a very vocal peanut gallery. Yikes. Here is hoping that a lot of pro-stadium individuals can make it out to Bloomington to speak in favor of the plan. Please, please, please consider attending if you support the Hennepin County plan.

Posted by snackeru at 9:34 PM | Comments (11) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

More stuff no one will probably want to read

• Oh, am I ever feeling it. Yes, I am feeling the "mailaise" that comes when you are so sick of talking about something, but at the same you are so addicted to it you just can't stop. Read or don't read, it is up to you.

• So, I was walking home last Thursday from the bus stop. If you'll recall, last Thursday the Twin Cities saw quite a nice little rain storm, and unfortunately for me my house is a good distance from where the bus drops me off. As I was saying, I was walking home from the bus stop and I was just getting soaking wet. In fact, I was so wet I couldn't even see clearly through all the rain and water on my face. Just as I get up to my house, Cheesehead Craig drives up, sees how drenched I am, rolls down his window and yells out, "God is anti-stadium!" And then he drives away.

Yep, I think he is right. If God isn't anti-stadium in general (over 30 have been built in the U.S. in the last 20 years), He is definitely anti-Twins stadium. So, not only do we have to get past the Taxes commiittee, we've got to get past God too? That is going to be tough.

• Sometimes I think other people should be writing this blog. For about two years I was writing some really good stuff. Stuff full of research and valid points and thought provoking material. Now? I'm not so sure. Anyway, my good buddy freealonzo has sent me a letter he recently wrote to one of the Hennepin County Commissioners. And even though I didn't ask him, I am still going to print it because it is pretty good:

I'm resigned to the fact that I am not going to convince you that your stand on the Twins ballpark is wrong (it is) but I do take issue with your characterization that a 0.0015 percent sales tax means that the Twins Ballpark is being financed "on the backs" of county taxpayers.

First as you well know, with sales tax not applying to clothes or groceries, there is a level of progressivity in our sales tax system. Second, even though the rate is the same on all taxable items, the buying patterns of poorer and richer individuals adds even more progressivity to the system. Here's an example. When you buy a new $40,000 SAAB, with the Twins deal, you pay an additional $60.00 in sales tax. Someone who is a lower income individual may buy a used $8,000 Buick LeSabre at a dealership and is paying $12 additional sales tax. If he's buying it from his cousin, he's probably not paying any sales tax. So two individuals, buying something similar (a car) and you are paying 5 times more sales tax. Same goes for other goods: flat screen TVs v. tube TV, Dinner at Figlio v. Dinner at Arbys, coffee table at Gabberts v. coffee table at Ikea, IAMS dog food v. Purina. Finally if you are so concerned about tax burden, I would think you would run on a platform that changes our practically regressive property tax system! (In the 10 years I've owned my home in East Harriet, my property taxes tripled. Needless to say my income has not tripled over the same time period).

Finally at 0.0015 percent, the tax is minuscule. Even in my $40,000 SAAB example above you are only paying an additional $60.00. For most people, regardless of income, they will hardly even notice the additional tax (less than a dime at a typical Target run). Furthermore, since Hennepin County takes in about 25 percent of its sales tax proceeds from individuals living outside the County, the impact on County residents will be that much smaller. In the end, it strains the imagination to think that the ballpark is being financed "on the backs" of county residents, its more like on the pinky toe of taxpayers.

I know being against a ballpark is a good pander to those active in DFL politics (well except for the construction trades) and will probably take you far in your political career, however hyperbole and scare tactics are a poor way to govern and are a major reason why our electorate is so polarized. Frankly, I'm not impressed.

Amen brother. If anyone else has pro-stadium arguments like this, please send them to me. I'd love to make this a clearing house of truth, justice, mom, and apple pie.

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

Posted by snackeru at 8:22 AM | Comments (15) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

April 11, 2006

A beautiful day for outdoor baseball

Hello everyone! As promised, here are some pictures of the Twins Ballpark Rally held in downtown Minneapolis yesterday. It was a great event and I had a wonderful time watching some outdoor baseball provided by Little League players from across the Metro. I attended the event with my brother in law Tim, but while there I also met up with freealonzo (nice chatting with you!) and Jim in St. Paul. Of course, Jim in St. Paul was wearing his "St. Paul YES!" t-shirt to let everyone know he stil prefers a ballpark on the east side of the Mississippi, but his presence was very much appreciated to lend support to the current effort. Nice meeting you finally Jim! We've been at this a long time, and it looks like we've still got a ways to go.

This first picture is a view of what the skyline will look like from the new ballpark. Not too shabby:

View of skyline

Here is a view from the first base side. Note the "garbage burner" in the background. You'll be happy to hear that I wouldn't even have noticed it if someone didn't point it out to me. No smells whatsoever. Plus the back of the ballpark will tower over the facility.

View from first base

While at the rally we were treated to delicious snacks like cheesy popcorn and, of course, Cracker Jacks. Plus, the organizers handed out free pop. I chose to drink "Mountain Fury" because the name just sounded so cool, while Tim chose "Orange." I guess the makers of Roundy's pop ran out of creativity once they got past the name "Mountain Fury." And it is true, you probably can't top that name.

Beverages

It is difficult to say exactly where the ballpark will be situated. We all were trying to guess exactly where home plate will really be. Depending on where it is could change ever so slightly how the skyline looks from behind the plate:

Another view from behind home plate

After watching the Little Leaguers play for a while, there was some speechifying by various individuals who organized the event (nice job Mark Oyaas!) and then Mike Opat stepped up to the podium with his son. Opat, my hero, didn't say too much, but he did say that he is more optimistic than he has been for a while, so that was definitely nice to hear.

Mike Opat

And finally, your's truly even got some plugs for this here blog, the Greet Machine, and everything I've done with the Voter's Guide. Let me tell you, that was kind of weird seeing a sign for the Greet Machine. To go from having three readers (Curt in Grand Forks, Cheesehead Craig, and my mom) to having a sign for this blog at a ballpark rally is quite a thrill.

Google the Greet Machine

Hopefully this will be the last year any of us have to hear about stadium bills or ballpark rallys. Hopefully this will finally be the year that our legislature realizes they CAN do something, that they CAN pass a workable stadium bill and finally put this mess behind us. We shall see. As Bell says, optimism isn't a part of our vocabulary anymore, but after seeing some outdoor baseball at this great site yesterday, I still have a little hope.


Posted by snackeru at 8:19 AM | Comments (12) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

April 10, 2006

An Open Letter to Nick Coleman

Mr. Coleman--

I don't always agree with what you write, but I appreciate your passion. One thing I definitely don't agree with is your stance on the Twins stadium issue. In fact, I find your stance a little inconsistent. I've read a lot of your past columns from the Pioneer Press, and I have found that you were in favor of the plan that built the Xcel Energy Center. As you know, that arena was built for $130 million, with $65 million from a no interest state loan to the Wild and $65 million from the taxpayers of St. Paul. Why was it OK to subsidize millionaires in this case, but not the Twins? Don't "kids' needs" also come before Bob Naegele? Is it just because you like hockey?

On March 23, 1998 you wrote a column that seemed to justify your stance in favor of the X by saying "[Sen. Roger] Moe forgets the reason the taxpayers balked over a new baseball stadium. We already provided one for the Twins: the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Similarly, we provided a basketball arena for the Timberwolves and state-of-the-art athletic facilities for the University of Minnesota. The only modern facility lacking in the Twin Cities is a hockey arena."

This was untrue. The Target Center could have easily been used as a hockey arena too. But using your same argument, we definitely do not have a ballpark already for the Twins. The Twins play in a football stadium.

Sorry to ramble on, but to wrap this up I ask you again, why was it OK for us to subsidize millionaires for a hockey arena, but not for a ballpark?

Sincerely,

Shane

Posted by snackeru at 1:24 PM | Comments (3) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

Should be an interesting day

• Just as a reminder, there will be a Ballpark Rally today from 4:30 to 6:30 at the Rapid Park ballpark site in downtown Minneapolis. I've heard there will be speeches, and games, and just a flat out good time for everyone. I will be there and I hope you can make it too. Also, for those of you that can't make it, I will be bringing my camera and I'll have a full report tomorrow.

• I just got an email from freealonzo that should also put a little bounce in everyones' step today. Freealonzo has forwarded me a note he acquired written by Mike Opat that says Hennepin County has officially begun negotiations with the Twins. Some of the text reads:

As you know, on April 3 the Senate's State and Local Government Operations Committee heard Senator Steve Kelley's ballpark bill, Senate File 2297. The legislation was recommended to pass and re-referred to the Senate Tax Committee.

At the hearing, the Committee's Chair, Senator Linda Higgins, requested that Hennepin County and the Minnesota Twins renew negotiations and if successful, put together a 2006 ballpark agreement in advance of the Tax Committee hearing.

Consistent with County Board Resolution 06-2-98S4R1, County staff has been directed to renew discussions with the Minnesota Twins to comply with this legislative request. The County will utilize the same team of negotiators that developed the 2005 agreement ...

We are optimistic that by using last year's proposal as the general framework, a new agreement can be negotiated in time for the April 11 Committee Meetings, and a 2006 ballpark proposal can be considered at the April 18 County Board meeting.

April 11, obviously, is tomorrow. So, we may be reading about a new agreement between Hennepin County and the Twins in the Strib and PiPress today or tomorrow. That should be very interesting and I look forward to it.

• I got a chance to listen to the Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave yesterday and early on in the show one of the callers was Steve Sviggum himself. Mr. Sviggum didn't say anything too earth shattering except that he reiterated his support for the Hennepin County plan and he said that the bill will be heard at the April 18th or 19th House Taxes Committee meeting.

What I found interesting about his comments, though, was that I suddenly got the feeling, the impression, that Sviggum is working behind the scenes to get this bill to the House floor, and he is working hard at it. I don't know why, but I am getting the feeling that he is pushing hard to get the Taxes Committee to pass this bill so that it can finally be voted on by the full house, up or down.

I certainly hope that is the case, but I'm not going to get my hopes up yet. We'll see what kinds of reactions the new agreement gets from our illustrious legislative leaders. I hope the Twins pony up enough to swing some votes in the Taxes Committee.

• Finally, and this is not stadium related, I watched the movie Crash last night. What a phenomenal movie. I was totally blown away by it. Definitely one of the best movies about racism and prejudice I have ever seen. I was riveted to the screen. I know there was some controversy as to whether or not this should have beaten out Brokeback Mountain for best picture, but I can't imagine a movie about gay cowboys was more thought provoking than this one. Someone correct me if I am wrong. Crash does a great job of showing you the subtleties of racism along side the more pronounced displays, and it challenges the viewer to realize his or her own prejudices. We all probably watch this movie thinking, "I'm nothing like these people." But when push comes to shove, what are we really like? Deep down inside? Very, very thought provoking.

• See you all later.

Posted by snackeru at 8:37 AM | Comments (4) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

April 7, 2006

So the House can pass a stadium bill!

Color me amazed. The House actually passed a workable stadium bill. Of course I am thrilled for the University of Minnesota and as an employee of this fine institution I am excited to see the construction of the new stadium. But as you might expect, I must look at this recent development through an obvious lens: how does this recent development help our beloved Twins? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for all of us (Vikings fans included)?

But before I get into that, I have a few comments about the proceedings last night.

• Ron Erhardt made me almost stand up and cheer last night. According to my own Voter's Guide Mr. Erhardt is anti-Twins stadium, but last night he sent a jab Krinkie's way that had me rolling. Because Krinkie is such a moron he actually put forth an amendment that would decrease the state's contribution by $3.4 million because according to the U's own documentation the Gopher athletic department stood to make $3.4 million extra if this stadium is built. His justification for this amendment is both beyond reason and is just plain moronic. Anyway, Erhardt got up after Krinkie introduced his amendment and said, "Representative Krinkie, I was going to support Jim Knoblach's candidacy for the 6th Congressional District, but now I am going to support you just to get you the hell out of here!"

Oh man, did I ever laugh. I've had the same idea for quite a while now.

• Phylllis Kahn is pretty loopy. I don't think anyone would argue with that. Last night she introduced an amendment to require a student body-wide referendum to ask students whether they want to pay for the stadium or not. Of course, this amendment was pretty easily defeated.

But that wasn't what was so amazing about this. What was amazing to me was that Ron Abrams, former chair of the House Taxes committee and with Krinkie a member of the Anti-Twins Dynamic Duo, used some startling arguments against the referendum requirement. First he said that today's students won't even be paying for the new stadium since this student fee would only kick in when stadium construction starts. That is certainly true. Why should today's student body be able to vote on something that won't even affect them? It makes me wonder why Hennepin County should be the only ones to vote on a state asset like the Twins? And furthermore, why should today's residents of Hennepin County be able to vote on something that will affect future residents of the County? Hmmm ... makes me think that a representative government, perhaps a representative democracy, may be the way to go on this one. You know, a representative government that has the guts to make a decision on my behalf, to maybe do the job I elected them to do. Anyone know where I can find a representative government around these parts?

Then, and this both sickened and delighted me, Abrams actually used the argument that the U of M's own student government has already voted overwhelmingly in favor of the proposal. Therefore a student referendum is unecessary. So wait a minute Mr. Abrams ... you mean since the U's own representative government voted in favor of the plan, a referendum is not needed? You mean we should trust the student government to make an informed decision on behalf of the entire student body? What a great idea!

The hypocrisy is just stunning. I really just can't believe it. Does Abrams even hear what he is saying?

• Ray Vandeveer is no longer a friend of the Greet Machine. Besides coming out with a pretty stupid amendment of his own, he voted against the Gophers stadium bill. This probably means he is anti-Twins stadium. Unfortunately for all of us, this brings the House Taxes Committee vote to 14 no and 15 yes. That committee is just way too tight to call right now. Does anyone have any other insight into the yes and no votes of this committee?

• Finally, I must say that after yesterday's bi-partisan and overwhelmingly in favor vote for the Gophers stadium I am feeling a little optimistic today. 103-30 in favor of a stadium bill is reason to celebrate and it may mean some hearts have softened for the Twins too. Can you imagine if we took care of all three stadiums THIS YEAR? What a savings of time and money that would be. Believe you me, I will be writing some legislators today begging them not to let this opportunity slip away. Let us inundate the legislature with praise for all these developments and let them know we strongly approve!

That's it for now. More later ...

Posted by snackeru at 8:45 AM | Comments (6) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

April 6, 2006

You are invited!

PUBLIC RALLY FOR NEW TWINS BALLPARK

MONDAY, APRIL 10th 4:30-6:30 PM

Dear Baseball Fans,

It’s time to step up to the plate and be a part of Minnesota baseball history. You are invited to attend a public rally at the site of the proposed new ballpark to show your support for a new outdoor ballpark for the Minnesota Twins in downtown Minneapolis.

Join local dignitaries and celebrities for an afternoon celebrating the sport of baseball and showing support for a new ballpark. This grassroots level event will celebrate baseball at its purest level, Little League.

It’s the bottom of the ninth and the public push is on to rally for support of a new ballpark just west of Target Center in Minneapolis’ Warehouse District. A Little League diamond has been set up and Little League players will get the chance to be among the first to take a swing from home plate on the proposed site of the new ballpark.

No R.S.V.P. is required. Just show up, have fun, celebrate America’s pastime, and show your support for baseball and a new outdoor ballpark for the Twins.

WHAT: Rally to Build a New Downtown Ballpark
WHEN: 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 10, 2006
WHERE: Proposed site of new ballpark, just northwest of Target Center in downtown Minneapolis at the corner of 3rd Avenue North and 5th Street. Parking at the site is free for this event.
WHY: To show the residents of Minnesota that baseball fans are united and ready to support a downtown ballpark.


Jim in St. Paul, haven't we always wondered about this? What will be the turnout? What are the organizers expecting? This will be too interesting to miss! So, even though I sounded wishy washy yesterday, you better believe I am going to be at this event. Let me know if you'll be there too!


A couple of good articles in the TC dailies today concerning stadium politics, the most interesting of which can be found in the Star Tribune: 3 stadium plans are in play at Capitol. Of course, I soak all of this stuff up like a sponge, but the most interesting piece of this article was this:

Sen. Don Betzold, DFL-Fridley, chief Senate sponsor of the Vikings stadium bill, meanwhile said that a move to combine the three stadium proposals into one legislative bill may occur and that keeping the proposals on separate tracks would be "problematic."

I would really like to know the thinking behind this because I don't think there would be anything more problematic than combining all three bills into one. There is no surer way to kill all of the proposals than combining them, in my opinion. Somebody please tell me if I'm wrong. All the proposals should be judged on their own merits, because truthfully they are all quite different, especially the Gophers bill. Get the Gophers out of the way so we can prove to ourselves that the sky doesn't fall when the legislature approves a stadium bill!

Finally, my new favorite senator (besides Steve Kelly) had this to say in the paper:

"We've had three stadium issues in front of us for a number of years. Once again, I think it's time to get these things done. The longer we wait, the more they cost," said Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisolm.

Amen. Let's save ourselves a lot of money in the long run and get these things done NOW. Is there enough political willpower? We shall see on April 19th.

As you probably know, I have heard the House Taxes committee will hear the Twins bill on April 19th. If you have some time today, please drop them all an email. If the bill can get through this committee, well ... I don't want to get ahead of myself.

Posted by snackeru at 12:31 PM | Comments (2) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

April 5, 2006

Quick Update: Ballpark Rally

• Sorry for my silence everyone! Sometimes work gets in the way of what is truly important: getting the Twins a new ballpark (ha!). Anywho, I just wanted to pass on that New Ballpark Inc, the people behind the website www.twinsballpark.org, are planning a rally for the new ballpark on the Rapid Park site this Monday (4/10) from 4:30 - 7:00 PM. Apparently, some important people will be there, like pro-stadium legislators and "politicos" as well as possibly representatives from the Twins.

Will I be there? I would definitely like to be. In fact, you can pencil me in, but I need to check with my significant other first, of course.

• Secondly, and this will be quick, I love it that the Gophers stadium is moving quickly through committees. Freealonzo even hints that the House floor may still be able to vote for it today! Amazing. Anyway, in closing, I just wanted to say pass the Gophers stadium bill fast so we can move on to the Twins. Here's hoping that passing one stadium bill will give our legislators the impetus they need to pass the next one (unlikely, I know).

UPDATE: Well, I just heard that Krinkie has pushed the Twins ballpark hearing back until April 19. Apparently, during committee work today he also said, "That will give you all time to work on your amendments." Gee thanks! What a guy. Anyway, hopefully my vote count for the Taxes Committee holds up.

Posted by snackeru at 2:52 PM | Comments (2) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

April 4, 2006

Paul Giel, you should be ashamed of yourself...

memorial-sm.jpg
Click for larger

Hindsight is 20/20, but this place should have never been torn down. Renovated? Yes. Revered? Most definitely, but not torn down. Dumbest decision the U has ever made.

Posted by snackeru at 3:41 PM | Comments (4) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

Category "Twins"

Let the games begin

• Let's get the obvious stuff out of the way: I am very excited for the first Twins game of the season today. Santana vs. Halladay should be a good one. And I am also excited to see 1) Kubel take over right field, 2) Liriano get the Rookie of the Year award, and 3) Morneau belt over 30 homers. I think all of this is a given. So, let the games begin!

• But you don't come to this blog to hear all of that, do you? You come because, like me, you like to torture yourself with news about stadium politics. Well, as has already been reported, the Twins actually won their first game of the season yesterday when their 10th stadium bill effort passed through the Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee. And not only did the bill pass, but it passed quite easily.

For those of you that want to know, the Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee has 14 members. 11 of those members voice voted "Yes" for the bill.

Linda Higgins - Yes
Charles W. Wiger - Yes
Debbie J. Johnson - Yes
Dick Day - Yes
D. Scott Dibble - No
Michelle L. Fischbach - No
Gary W. Kubly - Yes
Sharon Marko - Yes
Claire A. Robling - No
David H. Senjem - Yes
Yvonne Prettner Solon - Yes
David J. Tomassoni - Yes
Jim Vickerman - Yes
Betsy L. Wergin - Yes

Sen. Fishbach made an interesting speech at the end saying that she only voted "No" because there was no referendum attached to the bill and that she expects the Senate Taxes Committee to attach one in the next couple of weeks. She said then she would vote "Yes." Gutsy position, Senator.

All of this talk of votes in the Senate has whetted my appetite to figure out where all the Senators stand on my favorite topic. Yes, I am putting together a Senate version of the Voters' Guide. I am about a fourth of the way through and I should be done by the end of the week. I must say though that putting the Senate version is proving to be more difficult than the House version. Our senators have been a little quiet about this issue.

And speaking of Taxes Committees, I read in the AP version of yesterday's committee hearing that the House Taxes Committee will hear the bill this Monday. Can anyone confirm this? I don't see it on the schedule yet, and quite frankly I would be surprised if Krinkie has agreed to hear the bill so soon. Stranger things have happened I suppose.

In conclusion, I've got three thoughts. The first is that yesterday's committee hearing has now prompted the Twins and Hennepin County to begin negotiating a new agreement. Opat hinted yesterday that the extra $30 million would be split between the county and the team and that the agreement will look almost the same. We'll see how that shakes out. Secondly, it is very interesting to me how it looks like both the House and the Senate are building off of the work that was done last year concerning this bill, especially the House. Thankfully, it looks like this bill will not need to go through the House Government Operations Committee or the House Local Government Committe since last year's bill already passed these committees. Methinks House leadership (Sviggum) is working in the background to move this bill along in a timely fashion. Finally, now we will see the real fun begin when the bill is heard in both the House and the Senate Tax Committees. Oh boy, this will be interesting. Truth be told, I don't think the bill will get out of either of these committees without referendum amendments attached. And this might not be a bad thing. It looks like there are enough votes on the whole in both bodies to strip these amendments off if the bill gets to the floor of the House and Senate. At this point, it may be more important to get these bills to the floor than to fight off referendum amendments. We shall see.

Talk to you soon.

Posted by snackeru at 8:34 AM | Comments (10) | Stadiums 2006 | Twins

Category "Stadiums 2006"

April 3, 2006

Watching the Senate committee hearing ...

Oh yes, I am in heaven. Watching legislative committee hearings is like heroin, and I am a junkie. If you would like to be similarily entertained, point your browser to this link:

Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee (RealMedia)

So far, the Senate bill SF2297 has been received very favorably. In fact, the committee chairwoman, Linda Higgins, has already made an off-handed comment that she hopes the Twins and Hennepin County will put together a new agreement after this hearing is over. Mike Opat commented that if the committee recommended that as the next course of action that they would do that. Yes, the ball is rolling.

The building unions are testifying now. The AFL-CIO is very much in favor of the bill, as is expected.

More as the hearings go on (or if anyone says anything interesting).

UPDATE: Dick Day has just said Minnesotans are asking him to vote in favor of this bill, and he is going to do that when he gets a chance.

UPDATE II: Chairwoman Higgins just proposed an amendment to name the ballpark "Kirby Puckett Park." A good idea, don't get me wrong, but 1) the Twins are not going to like this one, and 2) I would rather the state got some naming rights money than making this mistake ... Yep, Bell is very diplomatically voicing his displeasure, beginning by saying, "I'm not going to oppose this amendment. I'm not as stupid as I look."

UPDATE III: Senator Tomassoni!! My new hero! Don't you agree spycake?

UPDATE IV: Senator Dibble just proposed an amendment to raise a half-cent sales tax metro wide. Oh please no ... Good, Kelly is against the idea. Boy, we sure don't need to muddle this up further.

Spycake, if you are still reading and watching, I have to go pick up my wife now. So, I'm going to be gone for about a half an hour (8:15 - 8:45). If anything of note happens while I am gone, please leave me a comment! Thanks!

UPDATE V: Well, the bill passed (as amended) but I missed the vote! Shoot. Oh well, onto the Senate Taxes committee...

Posted by snackeru at 6:33 PM | Comments (4) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

March 30, 2006

Quick News Flash!

I don't have time for a proper entry right now, but a little birdy has told me that the Twins stadium bill may be heard for the first time in the Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee on Monday, April 3. Yes, this Monday. There are a couple of things to note about this development. First of all, there still isn't an agreement yet between the Twins and Hennepin County for 2006, so this committee will be debating the merits of the 2005 bill. Secondly, isn't it interesting that a Senate committee is the first to put a ballpark bill on the agenda? Again, it makes me wish the Senate was the only legislative body in this state, and also it is obvious they have time to consider this measure because the Senate has already passed its version of the bonding bill.

Of course, come Monday this could all fall through, but I am pretty confident "baby steps" are currently being taken to get the Hennepin County plan a hearing in the hallowed halls of the capitol. Good news indeed.

Posted by snackeru at 7:46 AM | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

March 29, 2006

Quick shots

• Lots of news to report, so let's get to it!

• A while back I wrote about some erroneous comments made by Ron Abrams in the Sun Sailor concerning general obligation bonds vs. revenue bonds (and how the HC plan will only use revenue bonds). Anyway, Mike Opat has written a reply which also appeared in the Sun Sailor:

[Abrams'] assertion is absolutely not true. The Hennepin County Board has not and will not propose issuing General Obligation bonds backed by property taxes to build the ballpark. Hennepin County will also not pledge its property tax base as a credit enhancement for the ballpark revenue bonds.

As has been widely reported since April of 2005, the Hennepin County ballpark plan would be financed through tax-exempt revenue bonds that would be supported by a .15 percent county-wide general sales tax. We are proposing tax-exempt debt to keep interest costs as low as possible. In addition, we believe that sales tax receipts will grow over time and allow us to pay off the debt early and end the tax early. In the Denver area, a .1 percent general sales tax was used to finance Coors Field and the 20-year bonds were retired in less than 10 years.

Read the whole letter if you are interested.

• Also a while back spycake and an anonymous contributor got into a "discussion" concerning whether or not the money raised from the revenue bonds could actually pay off the debt in less than 30 years. According to my anonymous contributor:

Hennepin County finance guys seem to be from the 'measure twice, cut once school'--meaning ultra conservative. Hennepin County has held a triple-A bond rating for 30 straight years. A 30% coverage ratio gets HC to that 'lowest cost' debt i mentioned in my earlier message.

In fact, HC's own website highlights their goal of 130% total debt coverage. According to this site:

Estimated Annual County Debt Service Payment - $21.5 (at a 4.75% interest rate)
Estimated Annual Tax Revenue Required at 130% Coverage - $28 million
Estimated Annual Sales Tax Proceeds at .15% - $28 million

So, the plan was clearly to pay off the debt early. I'm pretty confident they would have done it, too. But it seems we'll never know.

• Finally (for now), New Ballpark, Inc. (NBI) is reforming to try to put pressure on the legislature to pass the Hennepin County plan. The original NBI was made up of high profile civic leaders, this iteration will be people with some more enlightened self interest (Real Estate, bars etc). Look for this group to get more attention as the weeks progress and the legislature continues to do nothing concerning this problem.

The group has also released a Call to Action (PDF) that you may want to peruse. It is interesting.

• That's it for now.

Posted by snackeru at 8:34 AM | Comments (5) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

March 28, 2006

Nothing to worry about apparently ...

Twins can quit Dome after '06

Posted by snackeru at 3:49 PM | Comments (2) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Life"

Category "Stadiums 2006"

Category "UThink"

March 27, 2006

Not feeling it today

I'm not feeling it today. So, here are some quick thoughts before I move on:

I'm in the Star Tribune today in an article about the wonder that is UThink. They did a pretty nice job with it.

• The Gopher's men's hockey team disappointed me. I know that is an understatement, but what a phenomenal collapse these last two weeks. Like the saying goes, "That is why they play the games."

• Garnett's recent locker room chat sessions are scaring me a little bit. If he ever left ... wow. I'm not sure what the NBA would mean to me anymore. And SBG probably has more to say about this than me, but is it even possible to reuinte Steph with KG on either the Knicks or the T-Wolves? Doesn't the salary cap situation of both teams make it nearly impossible?

• I watched Good Night and Good Luck last night and I thought it was pretty good. Not as exciting as I thought it would be, but a good treatment of what it means to dissent without being disloyal. It surely is no coincidence that Clooney would choose to make this movie now with talk concerning what it means to be "patriotic." However, it also got me thinking about the power of the media today vs. the 1950s. In the 50s there were three major networks, and then, of course, all the major newspapers. I would wager that back then the media was much more powerful in swaying public opinion than it is now because 1) there is less to choose from and 2) so much news happens live today that we can (we should) form our own opinions before we are swayed by editorializing journalists. Concerning point number 1, though, we have so much news coming at us today from 24 hour news channels (of varying political persuasions), internet sites (like blogs and the like), and the tried and true network news and newspapers, that news today is less about finding the truth, and more about finding the angle you want to see the "truth" through.

I guess what I'm saying is that Murrow would have less impact today because people have more choice concerning the news they want to hear, and they are more entrenched in their viewpoints because of it.

• I saw a lacrosse game at the Xcel Energy Center this weekend. No one was protesting outside of the arena and people seemed pretty happy inside the arena too. I guess giving "free money" to millionaires is OK in this instance.

• Finally, this weekend it was announced that our esteemed legislators have come up with a new plan to build a new Gophers stadium that will cost less in yearly student fees, but retain corporate naming rights for TCF.

I am so jaded at this point that I can only think of one thing to say: I'll believe it when I see it. We haven't seen the last of the problems for this bill.

Over and out.

Posted by snackeru at 8:21 AM | Comments (9) | Life | Stadiums 2006 | UThink

Category "Stadiums 2006"

March 24, 2006

Boondoggle inspector

• Tonight I will be making my first trip to the boondoggle that is the Xcel Energy Center. Back in 1997-1998 people in St. Paul and around the state, and legislators in the hallowed halls of the capitol building, were ticked off with the idea of giving a private business (the Wild) any kind of assistance to build a new hockey arena in St. Paul. Man people were angry! But regardless, after literally years of negotiations they came up with this deal:

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 Wild's 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. In other words, the people of St. Paul will pay off this $65 million.

I'll be attending a Minnesota Swarm lacrosse game tonight and I am excited to see what a boondoggle the Xcel Energy Center is. Because I've been told that when you give tax money to private corporations it is a boondoggle. I am excited to see just how much the people of St. Paul hate the Xcel Energy Center. I'm excited to see the continued anger and malice towards the idea of giving taxpayer money to millionaires and billionaires.

I mean, don't people in St. Paul still feel this way? Aren't they still angry about their tax dollars going to this facility? Aren't you still angry that your tax dollars went to an interest free loan for the Wild? We could have invested that $65 million and made tons more money than by giving the Wild an interest free loan. I expect I'll see some protests outside of the arena ... you know people chanting "No corporate welfare!" and stuff like that.

I will see that kind of thing, won't I?

• So, the Senate passed a $990 million bonding bill yesterday. This makes me think of two things: 1) Man I wish the Senate was the only legislative body in this state and 2) people don't care. Well, let me reiterate that last thought a little bit: people don't care about that as much as they care about something else in this state: sports.

One of the best things about the new Star Tribune web site is the two sections on home page titled: Top Read Stories, and Top Emailed Stories. When the news came out that the Senate did the impossible and passed a bipartisan bonding bill in March I expected to see this story race to the top of both of these lists. I kept checking over and over again to see when this news would make even an appearance. You wanna know when that happened? Never.

The top stories through most of the afternoon were stories having to do with the Vikings and the Twins. The Vikings signed a washed up backup QB and the Strib ran a story about Francisco Liriano. Both of these stories stayed on these lists throughout the day, but the state Senate passing a huge bonding bill saw little to no interest. What does this say?

To me it says two things (again): 1) people don't care about politics nearly enough in this state and 2) there is a slumbering giant out there called the "sports fan." Remember when the Twins were trying to get Victory Sports off the ground and how much people from all over the state freaked out that they couldn't see the Twins on TV? Wow people were angry! They wrote letters to the editor. They even wrote their legislators begging them to do something. All so they could just watch the Twins on TV. Do you remember?

Can you imagine what will happen if the Twins moved or were contracted?

A wise person once wrote a comment on these pages saying that we won't really see the true colors of the people of Minnesota until either a stadium is approved or the Twins cease to exist. Here is what I think: if a stadium is approved you will certainly see some anger from anti-stadium zealots, but much like what has happened to those negative feelings and the Xcel Energy Center, people will quickly move on and embrace the new facility.

However, if something ever happened to the Twins where they moved or were contracted ... that will be fun to watch won't it? I often complain about the apathy of Twins fans regarding the stadium issue. If the Twins ever ceased to exist in Minnesota, though ... wow. That is when we will see some true "freaking out." How long would it take before we got a new MLB team? Seven years like it took us to get a new hockey team? And how much will it cost us then to build a stadium? Let's just say way more than it would cost us right now.

Posted by snackeru at 8:18 AM | Comments (9) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

March 16, 2006

I'm packing it in (for now)

Well, just as I was feeling all "optimistic" over a Twins stadium bill this year, we get rumors of a potential debacle with the Gophers stadium chances at the capitol. I am so disheartened I don't even know what to say. This was supposed to be the "no brainer" of the bunch. Over the course of the fall we were told over and over again, "If any stadium gets approved, it will be the Gophers stadium." And now it looks like it is completely falling apart.

Are you serious? Here the University has bent over backwards, spent literally years putting this plan together that relies on over 60% of the money being raised by the University itself, and now Pogemiller and his cronies are flipping out over naming rights and student fees? I can't believe I agree with Abrams on this one, but where do they think the Carlson School of Management got its name? And furthermore, TCF is already all over this campus with branches and signage. Plus, the TCF logo is on all of our fricken IDs! What is wrong with these people?

We ... are ... governed ... by ... morons!!! All of the University's plans, all of the future private funding they would have received is now in jeopardy. Over a name? Our esteemed legislators would jeopardize all the good that a stadium would bring to this university ... over its potential name!!! We are lucky to have corporations in Minnesota willing to put this kind of money forward for the University, and our legislature is telling them to stick it!

What is the point? What is the point of all of this? If the University can't get any love from the legislature then I am packing it in. I'm taking a page from Hennepin County and I'm saying what is the point of worrying about any of this crap until the legislature gives me even the tiniest inkling of proof they walk and chew gum at the same time.

The legislature is taking a rock solid plan from the University that took YEARS to put together and they are completely mucking it up. Don't think it will happen to the Twins? I think it is a guarantee. Guess what? Does the Twins plan have public funding? Check. Does the plan have corporate naming rights? Check. Do you think some "genius" legislator is going to bring this up? You better believe it, not to mention all the other reasons not to do anything concerning a Twins stadium for the 11th year in a row.

This was the "easy" one, people. Our legislature is incapable of passing stadium legislation. They just can't do it. Better luck next year ... if there is one.

Posted by snackeru at 8:24 AM | Comments (7) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

March 15, 2006

The path a bill would take

A recent correspondence with Twins Geek and yesterday's discussion of a possible delay by Krinkie's Taxes Committee got me to thinking: what actually needs to happen if a Twins stadium is ever to be built in this God-forsaken state? I have always had a rough idea in my head of the path a bill would take, so I decided to spell it all out for you. And once you read this, you will hopefully understand what a daunting task this really is:

  1. The first thing that needs to happen is the Governor or "legislative leaders" need to ask Hennepin County to being negotiating a new agreement with the Twins. Last year's agreement expired in December. A possible sticking point in these negotiations will be the extra $30 million needed to pay for the facility.
  2. Hennepin County and the Twins come up with an agreement that results in a bill in both the Minnesota House and Senate. Again, we are not at this point. There isn't a bill right now, and negotiations between the Twins and the County haven't even started yet.
  3. The bill would then need to be passed by a number of committees. In the House, the path for stadium legislation has typically been the Government Operations Committee, the Local Government Committee, the Taxes Committee, and the Ways and Means Committee. However, in a shortened session, how many committees will the legislation need to go through to finally get to the floor of the House? And furthermore, if Krinkie carries through with his threats and he doesn't hear the bill until mid-May, I can see this backfiring on him and expediting the bill to the House floor. How many committees this bill will need to go through in the House is a mystery, but I wouldn't think it would escape committee work without passing through the Taxes Committee at the very least. Luckily, it looks like the votes are there to pass this frustrating committee.
  4. If the bill passes all the committees, it will get to the floor of the House where it will continue to be hammered by anti-stadium legislators. There is a chance that a referendum will be attached as an amendment to the bill in committee work, but I wouldn't panic if that happens. Once the bill gets to the floor, there are enough votes to strip any uneeded amendments off the bill. For the sake of this exercise, let's pretend the bill passes the House as a workable bill that will actually result in a stadium.
  5. In the Senate, the corresponding Senate version of the bill would also need to pass a number of committees before it gets to the floor of that legislative body. Right now, we know the bill would start in the State and Local Government Operations Committee, but after that it is a little bit of an unknown. Typically the Senate has waited for the House to pass a stadium bill before it will even begin working on their version. After the State and Local Government Operations Committee I'm pretty sure a bill would have to pass Pogemiller's Senate Taxes Committee, but truthfully the committees in between and after are unknown.
  6. Once the bill passes through committees in the Senate it would go to the floor of the Senate where it has always been asssumed that it would have a much easier time passing than a corresponding bill in the House. Hopefully we'll get a chance to find out if this is true.
  7. Let's say that a workable stadium bill passes both the House and the Senate. While that would be amazing in itself, most likely the two bills passed would have some differences. Potentially even major differences. So, a conference committee would need to be called to work out those differences and come up with a bill that everyone can hopefully agree on.
  8. The resulting conference committee bill would need to be voted on by the full House and the full Senate again. I know, can this process get any more painful?
  9. Yes, it can. After the bill passes the House and the Senate it must be signed into law by the governor. T-Paw, in an election year, would have to sign a bill into law that raises a tax in Hennepin County to build a Twins stadium. You better believe T-Paw will be feeling the pressure from anti-stadium zealots and the Taxpayer's League to not sign this bill.
  10. Let's say T-Paw does sign the bill into law. All done right? Wrong. Now, the Hennepin County commissioners will meet again to vote on whether or not to proceed with the plan based on the resulting bill passed by our legislature. Conceivably, there could be some parts of the bill that don't make the commissioners happy, and they could vote to not proceed. This is extremely unlikely since the pro-stadium commissioners will be a part of the legislative process in an advisory capacity, but it could happen. Most likely the vote in the Hennepin County Commissioners meeting will be 4-3 in favor of the bill, with Linda Koblick, Gail Dorfman, and Penny Steele vociferously and angrily protesting its passage.
  11. At this point, if a bill got this far, if it actually got to the point where the first shovel-full of dirt could be dug, monkeys would fly out of my butt. And thus ends the path a bill would take.

So, do you have a better understanding of what needs to happen for a Twins stadium to actually be built? I don't know, but writing all this out makes it seem almost impossible. The 2006 legislative session will end on May 22nd. Can all this work be done before that date? Don't worry, I'll never give up! It also demonstrates the importance of contacting our legislative leaders and making your voice heard.

As always, please let me know if I've missed anything. Until next time, have a good one!

Posted by snackeru at 8:23 AM | Comments (5) | Stadiums 2006

Category "Stadiums 2006"

March 14, 2006

Stadium news

• Last week the illustrious spycake challenged my notion that the Hennepin County plan would be able to pay off the debt early like in Denver:

Shane, I'm no bond expert, but I wouldn't be so confident that these bonds will be retired early. The Coors Field sales tax in Denver covered a six county region, in a rapidly growing metro area during a generally improving economy throughout the 1990s. I don't quite see the same conditions here, especially if big new suburban developments in Blaine (*ahem* Vikings *ahem*) or Maplewood (Target) divert some retail spending from Hennepin County.

Well, believe it or not more than just anti-stadium people read this blog. I got an interesting anonymous rebuttle to spycake's comment:

In order to secure the lowest interest rate on the bonds (the cheapest debt), the rating agencies require a 'coverage ratio.' This means the proposed tax must generate more than the scheduled debt service. For a tax-exempt revenue bonds supported by a general sales tax, the coverage ratio is 30%. So even if there was zero growth in Hennepin's economy (doubtful), HC would still be collecting 30% more than was needed for annual debt service--and the opportunity for early debt retirement would still be there. This state-wide sale tax chart does show a dip in sale tax revenues the late 1990's, but ... overall the trend line shows steady growth and you can bet a good deal of the state's growth was generated in Hennepin County.

Lastly, Target's proposed $1.7 billion development is in Brooklyn Park--Mike Opat's district.

So, there you have it. I think it is safe to say the debt will be paid off early. And while there may be more money flowing to Anoka County thanks to a new Vikings stadium, there will be a lot of new money coming to Hennepin County thanks to the Target development spycake speaks of.

• A little birdy tells me that Phil Krinkie has been making threats that he won't hear any Twins stadium proposal in his House Taxes Committee until May 15. In my opinion, this threat is very real given that Krinkie did the exact same thing last year. Last year's Twins stadium bill passed the Government Operations Committee, and the Local Government Committee before finally coming to the Taxes Committee where it was never heard. Granted, Krinkie and the other legislators had a possible government shutdown to deal with, but delaying a bill's hearing at the committee level is a tried a true method of killing it, especially in a shortened session.

Remember, even if the Twins stadium bill passes the Taxes Committee it has to go to the Ways and Means Committee next where it will continue to get hammered and delayed.

I am hopeful that Sviggum, as Speaker of the House, can speed things along in the case of an inevitable delay, but who knows. I am also told that May 7th is the 6th Congressional District's caucus to endorse candidates for the federal House of Reps. Krikie wants desperately to win this endorsement. Could Krinkie be delaying because he wants the endorsement? Could there be a conflict of interest here? While I would love to see Krinkie recuse himself over a possible conflict of interest with the Twins stadium bill (what is the color of the sky in my world?) it is very unlikely to happen.

I'll keep you posted as I hear more.

• The Gopher's stadium bill will receive its first hearing today in the Capital Investment Committee. Here is hoping it can be quickly passed so they can move to the Twins bill.

• Finally, if you didn't see the Viking Underground yesterday, you should check it out. Mr. Cheer or Die interviews the great Larry Spooner in a new podcast discussing the new Vikings stadium in Anoka County. Larry Spooner is the fan representative on the Minnesota Momentum campaign and he's got some interesting things to say about the positive effects of that development.

That's all I got for now. Pretty good, heh?

Posted by snackeru at 8:34 AM | Comments (1) | Stadiums 2006

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