Field of Schemes
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June 13, 2004

Build it, and Jim Thome will come

Carl Pohlad's pet columnist Sid Hartman is keeping up the drumbeats for a new Minnesota Twins stadium, pointing to the Philadelphia Phillies' signing of free agents Jim Thome and trades for high-priced pitchers Eric Milton, Billy Wagner, and Kevin Millwood as a sign of "what a franchise can do when it gets a new stadium."

Hartman fails to mention that all those high-priced acquisitions still haven't let the Phils catch the stadium-deprived Florida Marlins. As of this morning's standings, in fact, of the six division-leading teams, exactly zero are playing in new stadiums. And of the six last-place teams, three (Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Colorado) have moved to new taxpayer-subsidized digs in recent years. And, for that matter, the Twins (34-27) - that would be the first-place Twins - have a better record than the Phillies (31-28).

In any case, even if you concede that having more money helps teams win (or at least can't hurt), there's still the question of whether a new ballpark in itself would bring in revenues after construction costs - in which case Pohlad should just ask his old banker pals for a loan and put shovels in the ground himself - or whether it's only the public subsidies he's after that would - in which case, as a Minnesota legislator once suggested, it might be cheaper for taxpayers just to pay Brad Radke's salary.

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