Tuesday, January 10, 2006

 

The Twins

I haven't gotten into the sports realm too much in this space, but the ongoing soap opera between the Minnesota Twins, Major League Baseball, Hennepin County, and the State of Minnesota does have political undertones. I'm also a huge baseball fan, so you bear the brunt of my rant on the subject :)

From the Twins vantage point, a lot of other clubs have gotten beautiful new parks and public subsidies for building them, and many of those clubs have not had as much success over the past four seasons as the Twins have, to the tune of three Division Championships and a string of exciting young players and award-winners like Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, and local boy Joe Mauer.

From MLB's standpoint, the state should cough up hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new stadium because, frankly, everyone else did.

Local politicians are put in a terrible, and I mean terrible, position by this situation. Frankly, a 0.15% tax increase in Hennepin County wouldn't kill anyone - we're talking about three cents on a twenty-dollar purchase. And I can understand some citizens' concerns about putting a tax increase through without voter approval - a referendum on things like this is a reasonable idea, but I just don't agree with it. Elected officials were elected to make decisions like budget issues and taxation - would we have a referendum on a tax increase on, say, cigarette sales? For school funding? If a baseball stadium (and by extension, a baseball franchise) is part of the public infrastructure (and I believe it is) then it's the Legislature's job to fund or not fund it, and clamor for a referendum really is not much more than a stalling tactic to save some people a few pennies.

However, as a studied fan of the Game, I don't trust Bud Selig and his braintrust as far as I could throw their collective hides. Baseball Prospectus has done some wonderful research and economic analysis of current ballpark funding and construction plans, and have found out not only that public subsidies end up costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars more than the project plans call for, but that due to the inextricably complicated nature of these deals in other cities, the Metrodome has contributed the largest number of tax dollars to its community of any park constructed in the past thirty years. Is it a great place to go see a baseball game? Well, my answer is no - cheap refreshment prices compared to other parks I've been to, but baseball simply wasn't meant to be played indoors on turf. But it would be great if baseball officials, club officials, and state officials could get together and acknowledge all that the Twins and the Metrodome have given to the Twin Cities and to Minnesota, and figure out a fair way to get the Twins a new ballpark.

As for the Vikings.....I honestly can't say I care.

Comments:
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Blogger lloydletta said:
If this stadium is such an asset let the state pay for it - rather than sticking it to Hennepin County Taxpayers.
 
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