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Sometimes, readers make this job much easier. Here’s an email from Cris
Enestvedt, regarding the stadium situation in Minnesota.


You should be covering the MN situation if you're into seeing owners get
stiff-armed. A few years ago a referendum in St Paul went down 58% to 42%, but
in this session a couple of new efforts have risen from the ashes.

The first was for a $300-$350MM stadium with $100MM in state loans (paid back in
user fees), $40-$50MM from the host city/county and the balance from Pohlad plus
responsibility for all overruns staying with the team - and a sales tax free
zone around the stadium to keep costs down. All of this is contingent on
"substantial reform in baseball economics that enables small market teams to
compete" or words to that effect, and they proposed a panel of three retired
judges to decide if enough reforms had occurred by some date. So in summary: an
interest free loan plus some coin from the local government, which was expected
to come in the form of land and infrastructure. OK, no good, and it died in
committee.

The latest one appearing [the week of May 7th] has no loan, no sales tax zone
and no user fees, but the state would issue $140MM in bonds, payable by the
team. Depending on which version passes, the team will pay for 97% or 83% of the
park. Oh, and Gov. White Trash will replace the retired judges in determining if
baseball has made substantial enough changes.
Twins spokesman Jerry Bell told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that it was
"doubtful" that the team would support that version of the bill.

And as a fine parallel to this story, the Vikings have been trying to get their
own stadium built on the public dime and are being stonewalled by everyone. They
even tried dragging the University of Minnesota in and sharing the place with
them, but the Gophers want nothing to do with it. The proposal is dead and
rumors are that Red McCombs is giving real thought to Los Angeles. The stadium
commission has a robustly drawn up contract locking them into the Dome for
another dozen years (requiring them to perform their games at the facility, not
just pay rent). Also from today's St Paul PP: "If the NFL switches the Vikings
to the NFC West at league meetings in Chicago in two weeks, it could be an
indicator that league officials figure the team isn't long for Minnesota.
Remaining in the NFC Central would indicate the league doesn't believe Vikings
owner Red McCombs would be able to move the team to Los Angeles in the near
future."

Anyway, MN is still the place to be for stadium ploys to go awry. Keep an eye on
us in the next couple of weeks to see how this plays out.

We will, Cris. Adding to the complexity of the current situation in Minnesota is
the fact that the team is doing well – not just on the field, but also at the
gate. The Twins drew about 27,000 fans for their matinee against Seattle on
Wednesday of this week, one day after 29,000 watched the Twins knock off the
team with the best record in baseball on a Tuesday night. My BP colleague Derek
Zumsteg pointed out that "that’s only 4,000 less than saw the
Diamondbacks-Giants game in BOB, and only 2,000 less than saw the Astros-Padres
game in Enron." The Twins’ claims that they can’t compete without a new stadium
were obviously fraudulent before this year, but it appears that the baseball
gods would like to make that point a little clearer.


Keith Law is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Contact him by

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