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January 02, 2007
Twins stadium tax debuts, no stadium in sight
Happy new year! For our readers in Hennepin County, Minnesota, 2007 brings the arrival of the new 0.15% sales tax surcharge that will go to pay the bulk of construction costs for the new Minnesota Twins stadium planned for downtown Minneapolis. (The total sales tax is now 7.15% in Minneapolis, 6.65% in the rest of the county.) According to a report last year by county officials, "a married couple with two children earning $60,000 a year" - apparently child labor is really well-paid in Minnesota - would pay a average of $25 a year via the tax. That, though, doesn't count any potential lost income from the (small, but no doubt positive) drag on the county economy that will result from purchases there carrying a higher price tag.
As for the stadium itself, meanwhile, ground still hasn't been broken, and the project is hitting some potential snags:
- Property owners on the proposed stadium site are refusing to sell at the county's price; an eminent domain condemnation hearing has been set for January 22, but county commissioners say they prefer to cut a deal before then. The county's land costs have been capped at $90 million - if the sale price goes above that, no one's sure what happens
- The site chosen for the Twins stadium is tightly hemmed in by surrounding streets, which may be good for funky ballpark design, but is problematic when it comes to the light-rail line which is supposed to bring fans to the games, and which as currently planned will dump them on a sidewalk just 23 feet wide. As the Mankato Free Press notes, "design and logistics already bear signs of becoming tangled balls of fishing tackle." Ah, those charming Minnesotanisms.
Twins designated newspaper shill Sid Hartman goes so far as to predict that "the ballpark might not be built if the purchase price for the land can't be worked out," though that's likely to be largely a matter of the county trying to pressure landowners into giving up their land cheap: "Sell now, because this offer might not last long!" It is very possible that the price tag for the project will go up, though, which could make for some interesting times ahead either for the state legislature or for Carl Pohlad's treasure goblins.