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Session 2004

Session 2004: Stadium Issues

Struck out. Fumbled. Dropped the ball. Pick your sports metaphor. Despite early session optimism and major commitments from several communities, the Legislature failed to vote on any bills to build new stadiums for the Twins or Vikings. The Twins have been seeking public funding toward a new ballpark for about a decade and the Vikings got into the stadium game not long after. Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a past critic of stadium plans, offered his own this year. But it was a casualty of the dysfunction of the session. Leaders called a stadium "dessert" that couldn't be voted on until meat-and-potatoes issues such as the deficit and bonding were decided, and they never were.

When the Minnesota Legislature adjourned earlier this week, it went home without a budget fix, a bonding bill, or a stadium deal. The Twins, the Vikings, and the University of Minnesota were all hoping that lawmakers would agree on a plan to get a stadium built for each team. <I>Morning Edition</I> host Cathy Wurzer talked with Aron Kahn, who covers the business of sports for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and followed the stadium issue at the Legislature all session. (05/19/2004)
With the prospects for a new publicly-subsidized stadium fading yet again, the financing puzzle for the Minnesota Twins remains unsolved. It's much the same position the San Francisco Giants found themselves in. But after voters rejected public financing four times in the 1980s and 1990s, the Giants financed their new park largely on their own. Since 2000, Barry Bonds and the rest of the Giants have played to a consistently packed house in one of baseball's premier parks. But that doesn't mean San Francisco's privately-financed stadium honeymoon will last forever. (05/14/2004)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposal to fund new stadiums for the Minnesota Twins and Vikings may have suffered a fatal blow on Friday when the $1 billion stadium construction bill was held back in the House Ways and Means committee after members deadlocked over whether to approve it. The setback came moments after a major funding change was added to the bill. The change, the vote, and the approaching legislative deadline make the bill's fate highly uncertain. (05/07/2004)
After more than a week of hearings, a House committee barely approved a bill that would help build new playing homes for the Minnesota Vikings and Twins. A telling pattern emerged with the vote: No lawmakers from communities competing for the stadiums supported the bill while rural members tended to back it. ( 05/05/2004)
- A bill devoting public money toward new Twins and Vikings stadiums got through the House Taxes Committee on a 15-13 vote Tuesday. The vote came after five hours of committee deliberation and amendments that capped the public contribution at just below $1.1 billion. (05/04/2004)
Like Minnesota, Wisconsin went through years of contentious negotiations before lawmakers authorized public subsidies for the Milwaukee Brewers three-year-old home, Miller Park. And like Minnesota, supporters there said the small-market team needed the ballpark to stay competitive. It hasn't worked out that way. The team continues to lose more than win and attendance is poor. And ill will lingers over the way the deal came together. (04/29/2004)
If Monday's hearing was any sign, the Twins and Vikings are in for a tough week as they try to persuade the House Taxes Committee to keep stadium legislation on track. The committee set a decidedly negative tone in the first of several hearings this week on the stadium bill. (04/26/2004)
A plan to build two new stadiums for the Minnesota Twins and Vikings has taken another step forward. The bill advanced fairly easily out of the House Government Operations Committee on Monday night without the lengthy debate that has often accompanied stadium discussions. The plan remains a work-in-progress, but critics contend it's not receiving the full scrutiny it deserves. (03/30/2004)
A study at the University of Dayton in Ohio finds that Major League Baseball owners could finance stadiums themselves, and still make money in the long-run. The study looked at more than a dozen new baseball stadiums built since 1989, and found that a typical owner could have recovered the construction costs of his or her new stadium in an average of 12 years. <I>Morning Edition</I> host Cathy Wurzer spoke with Larry Hadley, economics professor at the University of Dayton and the study's author. (03/26/2004)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's stadium proposal has begun its journey through an uncertain legislative process, clearing its first committee hearing late Tuesday night. The House Local Government and Metropolitan Affairs Committee voted to advance the package to its next stop, but declined to give its full endorsement. And pointed questions by committee members indicate the plan will face many obstacles along its path. (03/24/2004)
Gov. Pawlenty's proposal to build two new stadiums for the Twins and the Vikings will have its first legislative hearing before a House committee on Tuesday afternoon. The teams, their lobbyists, and their assorted allies will be there to present their case. But so will the opponents. And while their numbers may have dwindled, those opponents have essentially won each of the previous rounds. (03/23/2004)
Gov. Pawlenty has maintained for months that he would block any attempts to use the state's general tax revenues to support professional sports. But critics say he's slipped just such a proposal into the ballpark financing plan he released earlier this week. The governor's package would plow a portion of the sales and income taxes generated at new Minnesota Twins and Vikings stadiums right back into the facilities' construction costs. Minnesota Public Radio's Michael Khoo reports. (03/17/2004)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced his stadium plans Monday afternoon. The governor's stadium advisory commission recommended the state build new ballparks for both the Minnesota Twins and the Vikings. ( 03/16/2004)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Monday presented a plan for new Twins and Vikings stadiums that would require team owners to pay about one-third of the project cost. Pawlenty's plan would authorize local governments to raise restaurant and lodging taxes. (03/15/2004)
State officials say Minnesota's budget outlook shows a slight improvement from last fall. The latest revenue forecast shows a projected $160 million deficit through June 2005. That's a smaller deficit than many lawmakers had predicted, but plugging the budget hole may still prove contentious. (02/27/2004)