Posted at 4:32 PM on May 31, 2005
by Ben Tesch
In this scrap heap of tidbits on ESPN.com, Tim Keown throws in a comment on the Twins stadium:
It's comforting to know in these trying times that there's a chance Twins owner Carl Pohlad might soon become the world's richest welfare recipient: Contrary to previous years, there's a chance the voters of Hennepin County might vote for a sales tax that would pay for roughly 75 percent of a new stadium for the Twins; the 25 percent Pohlad would contribute will be quickly recouped by his sale of stadium naming rights.
I think it's absurd that people get so up in arms about state subsidized sports facilities. A stadium is like so many other investments in quality of life that we make as a society. I think a lot of the anger stems from either disinterest in sports, or envy regarding the amount of money involved. To the latter, I simply laugh... sport is one of our nations leading industries, and like all other businesses, the market dictates payroll.
Before someone runs screaming, "but they dont get a big fat subsidy!" yes they do. Most private sector business in some way or another recieve benefits from government. To decry a stadium as corporate welfare rings hollow when we engage in it all the time. I would equate the stadium more with funding for snowmobile trails that I never drive, stocking lakes I never fish, funding museums and theaters I never visit, and even funding MPR. All of things are quality of life investments, and SHOULD be made. Simply because something does not interest you does not mean it doesn't benefit us all.
$353 million, 75% of the funding for a private enterprise, just dwarfs the "quality of life" investments the state makes in something like the non-profit Guthrie--which cost $25 million in bonds from the state, or 20% of the project cost. Is the MPR budget even a speck on what Pohlad wants from the state?
When you have that much money involved, most people aren't persuaded by telling them that outdoor baseball simply adds to the local "quality of life." You have to give them some other direct incentive to get on board, whether it's a fair cut of the revenue streams, reducing the amount of public money involved, or whatever. A decade into the debate, the Twins still haven't figured out how to appeal to the general public on this issue--and that's entirely their fault.
Idealistically, I wouldn't give Carl Pohlad or any other uber capitalist a red cent, but I live in the real world.
In the real world, tax payers subsidize new stadiums. So, if we want a new stadium, we are going to have to subsidize it.
It's that simple.
Randy Moss said it best, "The truth hurts. People don't like to hear the truth."
It isn't state money. Not one thin dime is state money. I've studied stadium proposals for five years, and I can say without a doubt, that the deal the Twins have on the table right now is better than many of the deals out there around the country.
Oddly enough, the common factor among all successful stadium developments of the past 15 years, is that they are tied to a broader redevelopment plan. The Twinsville project is similar to what was done in Cleveland and Denver, where the new stadia were centerpieces in both communities renaissance.
However, I too, live in political reality, and I fear that many Minnesotans will "stand on principle" and look on as something that filled us with pride take an offer to play in greener pastures elsewhere. They will say things like "who do they think they are? thats our team!" The irony of their statment will likely be lost on them.
I'm concerned about this stadium. I live in downtown Minneapolis. People already don't want to come downtown because 1. Not enough unique stores (especially weekends) for shopping 2. Parking is a pain in the butt and expensive 3. Crime (especially Block E--all my friends in the suburbs are saying "SEE! That's why we don't go there" since the gun shooting).
And so on top of all the detraction and no real reason pulling people downtown, let's increase prices -- great idea. Hennepin County has other concerns, such as filling all the vacant street level spaces along Hennepin. I'm sorry, Twins fans don't spend enough money in my city for me to give a damn about their stadium. I would NOT vote to have taxes increased for this stadium. Reality is, such fans go to the game and usually go home, complaining about the parking fees and high price of cheap concession "food".