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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Another Stadium Boondoggle

This time the Vikings.

House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, DFL-St. Paul, said Wilf has gotten off on the right foot.

"There's always going to be a lot of uneasiness about funding stadiums, but Zygi is doing a good job by making it clear we won't be blackmailed by the threat of a team leaving,'' Entenza said.

How the plan will fare though is another matter, and Entenza said he'd withhold judgment until seeing it in writing.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty's spokesman, Brian McClung, said the governor is "open to finding a reasonable way to ensure their long-term presence in Minnesota.''

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

Interesting, John Jordan - a former representative from Brooklyn Park - has a blog - which has been up since June - similar to Republican Minnesota. He's trying to defend the stadium boondoggle and fisks the Taxpayer's League Elert.

Governor should call Special Session for stadiums

And now a post to tick off my more conservative friends....

The Governor should call a Special Session, just before Thanksgiving, to pass bills to build stadiums for the Twins, Gophers and Vikings.

Phew. There, I said it.

Doing the Governor's bidding. At least he's being honest - this is a stadium session. The other items on the agenda are being added to provide political cover. Personally if they wanted to do the Gopher stadium and call it a day, I wouldn't have any objection. I think there are more important priorities than a Stadium at the University - but I'm not opposed to the U getting state funding for a stadium.

Jordan goes on to huff and puff about the survey:

I know, the "survey" done at the fair showed overwhelming opposition to this idea. Of course, little is said about the fact that it wasn't a scientific survey. It was just done by any schlep who walked by their booth in the Education Building. I went there for one reason, get my free St. Thomas bag.

That's a reasonable survey method. The people coming up to the legislator booth are people who are more likely to vote.

The Gophers deal is easy - they're raising most of it themselves through private contributions. Only the most hardened anti-anything person can be against this one.

As I said, I think there are more important priorities at the University and I resented getting an email from the Alumni Association urging me to sign their petition in support of the stadium session. However, I think the U Stadium bill from what I know of it isn't so bad.

The Twins deal is where it starts to get interesting. Supporting this deal is not supporting a tax increase, it's allowing the elected officials of Hennepin County to pass or not pass a micro-tax increase. This gives the Governor his way out of the Taxpayers League non-sense.

This is supporting a tax increase - 1.1 billion dollars worth of a tax increase.

In the Taxpayers League email this afternoon, they had this to day [sic] (relating both the Twins and the Vikings):

Dear Mr. Wilf,
Thank you for your recent purchase of the Minnesota Vikings. I sincerely wish you the best of luck for the rest of the season (at least the Bucs weren't the Packers). Now that you've remedied the team's kicking problems, I see you intend to tackle an even greater problem - building a new stadium. Believe me when I say there are very few fans who will miss the Metrodome. That being said, if it comes down to the Dome or a sales tax sans referendum, I'll take the HHH (that goes for you too, Carl).

Minnesota's recent history with team owners isn't great (Norm Green still can't set foot safely inside the state and Pohlad's lucky we let him back in after scheming with Bud Selig), but it isn't hopeless. Follow the lead of Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who turned down a publicly financed stadium to build his own in Foxboro, MA. Not only will you then be able to charge whatever you want for concessions and parking spots (what true Vikings fan isn't going to tailgate in December?), but you will instantly create a surplus of goodwill that will allow to draft and sign all the petty criminals you could ever want.
Thanks again and Skoal Vikes!

This was a letter to the Taxpayer League from a reader of their action alerts.

The key line is this: That being said, if it comes down to the Dome
or a sales tax sans referendum, I'll take the HHH.

What this means is that the Taxpayers League is attempting to influence public policy with a personal position that they'd rather let the team leave our state than pay an extra, what, $.02 on their $30 meal? Isn't that nice of them to make that decision for me.

That's a straw man argument. The Taxpayer League's position is that they oppose this deal which leaves the taxpayers holding the bag.

I will give you this fact - the way the Taxpayers League and rabid anti-anything people like that Knight fellow portray it has influenced people to generally be opposed to this deal.

Yup, and Knight the Taxpayer's League and Dan Dobson from No Stadium Tax all have done due dilligence to help stop the fleecing of the taxpayers on this deal. I appreciate John Knight - because he convinced me it was worth my while writing letters to the editor and blogging about this issue. I'd pretty much given up on this issue - but now I think the taxpayer fleecing of the Hennepin County Taxpayers - without a referendum can be stopped. What really torks me off is that we voted to limit the city of Minneapolis contribution in any stadium boondoggle. In Minneapolis we have voted to increase our taxes for libraries and for schools. The voters in Minneapolis clearly spoke against this boondoggle.

But I guarantee you this - the day the Twins leave the state these people would be run out with them. And if that ever happens, I will lead the public trial and tar and feathering of these short sighted people.

Is he seriously calling for tarring and feathering? I'd hope not.

The Twins deal, as negotiated by Mike Opat, is a good one and should be implemented. It will cost the average person almost nothing and will bring a world of good to our region. It will also re-invigorate the Twins and the area where the Statium is built.

This deal is a bad one - especially for the Hennepin County Taxpayer - and it really sticks in my craw when I hear rural legislators on talk radio saying that since this doesn't tax their constituents, and they want to keep the Twins, they are fine with sticking it to the Hennepin County Taxpayer.

I have a suggestion: let's amend this Hennepin County proposal and take Minneapolis out of this. Then replace the money with taxes on Dakota County (where Pawlenty lives), Goodhue County (where Sviggum lives), Owatonna (where Day lives) and Kandiyohi County (where Dean Johnson lives). I'll be glad to write my legislators in support of that proposal. I'll talk to John Knight to see what he thinks about it. He might want to get Minnetonka - where he lives - and trade it for another county where one of these "let's stick it to Hennepin County" legislators live.

That't [sic] a fact, my friend, not just rhetoric like the anti's like to say. All one has to do is visit Coors Field in Denver to see it in action. I've been to maybe a dozen Rockies games and love the stadium. Around it you see an area that once faced blight but is now full of people, restaurants and shopping.

The economic impact argument has been shown to be bogus. The Twins have dropped that reason to support a Stadium.

Regarding the Vikings stadium, Anoka County is poised to jump on this. A referendum taken there would likely pass for a variety of reasons.

Last spring I golfed with Steve Novak, the point man for Anoka County on the Vikings issue. He felt confident they had a good deal in the works and from the way it sounds from a variety of sources it's about ready to be announced soon.

The Metrodome is a lousy stadium. It's bad for football and it's worse for baseball. I once had partial season Twins tickets maybe 20 rows up from First Base. Prime seats, right? I left every game with a sore neck. It's a lousy place to watch America's pasttime.

Now I've never heard that one. How does the Dome cause sore necks.

Try being a male over 150 lbs and squeezing into those corner, upper deck seats for Vikings games. Ever wonder why so many people are drunk? It's so they forget they are uncomfortable and can't see.

It's time to end a decade of stadium talk and do it right. Work the deals, prepare for the future, and save us from becoming a Cold Fargo (which is worse than Omaha).

Why don't you put your energy into selling this deal to the business community? There's no reason that these stadiums can't be built with private money. Why should the taxpayers be left holding the bag on this.

What really sticks in my craw about this sales tax increase for the twins stadium is that Twins Tickets are exempt from this sales tax.

Just say no to the stadium session.