Twins in, Vikes out?

The Minnesota legislature’s conference committee approved a Twins stadium bill this morning, okaying the team’s demand for $373 million in sales-tax money, without the public referendum that is normally required for tax hikes. The committee had earlier in the week killed a bill for a Vikings stadium, effectively reverting things to where they were before all the mishegoss in the state senate began.

If the conference bill is approved by both houses of the legislature this weekend – which is widely expected, though the Minneapolis City Pages wonders if it’s really a slam-dunk in the senate – it would mark the end of one of the longest-running stadium battles in the country. Twins owner Carl Pohlad started stumping for a new home way back in 1995, when the Metrodome was barely into its teens; along the way, he exploited dead children, faced a citizen opposition that flooded the capitol switchboard with record call volume, and threatened to move the team to North Carolina before slinking back to the Twin Cities after Southern voters soundly rejected his stadium plan. The thing about stadium campaigns, though, is that the team only has to win once to be victorious for all time – and so if it took a decade of lobbyists’ fees to gain his $373 million windfall, no doubt that’s a bargain Pohlad will be glad to take.

As for the Vikings, they will doubtless be back next year to demand an equal share of boodle, as the legislature has asked them to refine their stadium plans and resubmit them in 2007. In the meantime, Minnesota residents can rest easy knowing that eleven years of Twins stadium headlines are behind them, and they can look forward to watching their team’s renowned sluggers in the open air for many years to come – at a cost of more than $320 per man, woman and child in Hennepin County, plus whatever Pohlad & Co. decide to charge fans at the ticket office.


8 comments on “Twins in, Vikes out?

  1. Hey, don’t forget that Pohldad also raised his hand when Bud Selig asked for contraction volunteers.

  2. Yes,$320 for every man woman and child. But that’s spread out over 30 years, and is also assuming the population stays at 1.1MM. Keep in mind that in MN, there is no sales tax on groceries nor clothing. I don’t think this is going to put people on the street.

  3. No, it’s not spread out over 30 years – that’s $320 in present dollars. Spread out over 30 years it’d be more like $800 per man, woman, and child.

    And no, even then it’s not going to bankrupt anyone. But it does mean that the county won’t be able to use that tax increase to fund any other public needs that come up. It’s not a bottomless well – at some point, consumers will start going to neighboring counties to buy their MP3 players and waffle irons.

  4. Wouldn’t it be cost prohibitive to fly to Canada to buy a waffle iron? The thing needs to be built at some point, and it could have been built in 98-99-00, etc etc. Each year the price tag goes up as the commodity inputs and labor costs go up. Not a huge fan of tax dollars for private enterprise, but reality trumps principle.

  5. I know Twin Cities types probably don’t think much of outstate, but calling it Canada – dude, that’s harsh.

    As for the rising cost of labor and steel, you’re absolutely right, but those pressures were there on Pohlad as well. The legislature (or Hennepin County) could well have said: “Look, Carl, we’re not going to give you $400 million for your stadium, but we will give you $200 million. And you’re going to have to pay serious rent, like you do at the Metrodome, so we can make some of our investment back. Don’t like it? Have fun next year, when your construction costs have gone up, and we’re still offering only $200 million.”

  6. The local baseball cabal found the correct strategy: 1) Change from logical (facts) to emotional (“Quality Of Life”) discussion, and 2) Place the financing on a single political unit thereby making it acceptable for most politicians.

    I’m not a finance expert, but it appears to me that the expected additional $40M in annual revenue extends to $1.2 BILLION over the length of the 30-year “ironclad” lease arrangement. The cabal invest $130M, and gets a 900%+ return. Nice numbers if you can get them!!

    They couldn’t win with facts, so they switched to emotions. The lesson to be learned here is be prepared to counter this specious claim in the future.

    Allen
    Burnsville, MN

  7. Again, the added $40 million a year needs to be translated into present value, which comes to about $550 million by my calculations. Still, not a bad return on a $130 million investment, and a clear sign that Pohlad could have afford to lighten the public’s load without costing himself anything other than windfall profits.

  8. Carl “The Crybaby” Pohlad just kept coming up with one-sided stadium proposals until the state legislators got stupid enough to cave in. This is a bad deal for the taxpayers and can only get worse since those same taxpayers are on the hook for cost overruns on infrastructure, site improvements, environmental remediation, etc. The team pays for cost overruns on “ballpark costs” only. Since sales tax revenues automatically increase with inflation, waiting a year or two to negotiate a better deal wouldn’t cost any more in real dollars. The $30 million sales tax ( 3 cents on $20 ) collected in year one will generate well over $1 billion over the thirty year bond period. Indexed for inflation as low as 3% would yield $1.4 billion in sales tax revenue. Try your own future value of an annuity calculation at:
    http://www.uic.edu/classes/actg/actg500/pfvatutor.htm
    That goes to show you that people pay $20 dollars for taxable purchases fairly often. It is bad deal for the taxpayers of Hennepin County and an embarrassment for the citizens of Minnesota. Best Wishes-Jim

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