It's Got That New Stadium Smell!

« May 2005 »

Memo to Twins Stadium Opponents: I HAVE A PLAN.

The old joke is that Minnesota has two seasons. Winter, and road construction. But that's wrong. We have three. Winter, road construction, and stadium bitching. And while I firmly come down on one particular side of the argument, we need to end this once and for all.

And the only way it will end is with a new stadium. That's the worst part. After years of rejected proposal after rejected proposal, it keeps coming back. Because they know they only have to get one "yes". And then they break ground and then, well, you don't unbuild a stadium and get the money back. So they'll keep repackaging it, keep finding ways or loopholes or cracks to get what they want.

This year, the trick is classic misdirection. The plan involves the team the stadium's going to be built for, the only team that will actually use the building, shelling out $125 million. And the county government? $353 million. This is, of course, completely fucking insane.

Even given the argument that the stadium brings people in to the city to spend money, no other business or industry on the entire globe gets three quarters of its building built for them by the government. THREE QUARTERS. And it's not like the Twins are competing with some other baseball team in town. They're part of a monopoly, and they can't manage to cough up some fucking dough? Let 'em leave, if they're so desperate. Can't be that desperate. They've been threatening to leave for, what, five years now? No takers yet, but that Bat of Damocles still seems to hang over our heads.

Now, since $353 million vs. $153 million is completely fucking insane, those numbers are never mentioned. It's $235 million for the park, and $83 million for the roads, and $34 million in interest. But it's all going to be paid for with three cents! You can afford three cents, can't you? The tagline for this stadium deal is "three cents on a twenty dollar purchase", because it's going to be paid for with a county-wide 0.15% sales tax increase. Never mind that people make hundreds of twenty dollar purchases a year, and this added tax will accumulate pretty quickly. Never mind the hypocrisy of raising taxes for sports while the governor cuts everything else to prevent any tax increases. It's ONLY THREE CENTS.

But we can end it in a way that will be ultimately satisfying, and all it requires is a subtle shift in strategy, in expenditure of political capital. It'll certainly be more fun than whining about putting it to a vote, which is both annoying and counter-productive. Here's the plan. Let the stadium get built. Don't oppose it. Let it fly. Let it go up. And then, down the road, when Carl Pohlad comes hat in hand to put a roof on it, FUCK HIM IN THE EAR. No roof under any circumstances. And then they will be well and truly hosed, and $353 million is a small price to pay for that kind of large-scale corporate mockery.

You see, they left any plans for a roof off this plan to keep the price down and get it passed. More misdirection, this time in the form of poetic waxery about the joys of open-air baseball. And, you know what? Open-air baseball does have a certain charm, now that I think about it. So much charm that sullying a bright new stadium with a roof, even a retractable one, years down the road would really be an aesthetic crime.

Sure, this is Minnesota. Sure, it snows for at least two months of the baseball season. Sure, our spring and fall are notorious for their random dips into sub-freezing weather. But that's the charm of open air baseball! The sleet in your nachos! The frostbite in your ungloved hand! The fresh air!

Oh, and about that last one. They're going to build the new stadium next to a garbage-burning energy plant. And this is part two of the No Roof Ever plan. Because the closer the weather gets to the hot, sunny idyllic baseball ideal, the worse that fucking place is going to smell. So as long as there's no roof on the new stadium, baseball in Minnesota will be either freezing, stinky, or both. And as long as there's no roof, they'll be stuck with it.

They got what they wanted, after all. A new stadium, built with public money to support private enterprise out of nostalgia and extortion. If they want to slap a roof on it to keep the rain, reek, and dioxin out, they can fucking well pay for it themselves. Hell, pay for it out of all the salary money theysave from the new, tougher steroid suspensions. But they won't do that, because they're Major League Baseball, and they don't pay for buildings. So they'll spend years trying to get public money for a roof. And that's when fighting them will actually hurt.

Right now, all stadium rejections do is maintain a reasonably tenable status quo. If a new building were really so vital, they'd find the money, because that's how business works. But when the stank ash and the hail starts coming down, every year we can keep a roof off the stadium is a year of misery for the fuckers who've been pushing for this boondoggle for half a decade. Be careful what you wish for, assholes, because we'll let you get it.