** News Flash **

The PiPress has a report on how pollution issues might affect the Ford Plant site and an almost unreadable Joe Soucheray bitch-fest about yuppie developments.

Elsewhere, MPR ties the gay marriage issue into Richard Florida's arguements about the creative class -- before Pothole Pawlenty, the Twin Cities were doing very well on Florida's creative class rankings. Now? They have to be falling fast . . .

Meanwhile, the Strib is all stadium, all the time, with an Op-Ed on how Hennepin County needs a new Twinkie ballpark. The Twins stadium should be in the news a lot the next few weeks, as the Legislature is hearing the stadium bill.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a big Twins fan, but this is a horrible waste of development money, as Richard Florida also argues in his book. Look at the cities that have built new ballparks (Saint Louis, Pittsburgh, Detroit, San Diego) and you'll see cities struggling to build diverse economies and/or vibrant downtowns. Here's a question for the Strib board: What's more important for the future of downtown Minneapolis -- a new Twins stadium, or good relations between the MPD and the African-American community?

For an alternate viewpoint, read this article in Governing magazine about how most cities are saying "no" to stadium welfare.


Driver2165 said...

I don't think it's really an either/or proposition, Twins stadium or Minneapolice not driving around harrassing brown people.

St. Louis's ballpark is approx. four days old, so it should really be left out. Pittsburgh and Detroit haven't been able to build diverse economies or vibrant downtowns, for sure, but they weren't able to do that without their stadiums, either. We've already got a starting point well beyond what those cities have seen since the late 60s.

If you're going to compare a new stadium in Minneapolis to other cities with new Stadiums, why not mention San Francisco, who build their stadium a block from their train in a rather desolate former warehouse district that turned into a desirable neighborhood overnight? Or Denver, who's stadium I've seen mentioned as the only reason for new developments downtown. Seattle, Baltimore and Cleveland are all also success stories.

Now, I'm not trying to argue that a stadium should be the only project, but the rest of the pieces are in place to make it successful. Even now, if you drive down 1st Av, you see a lot more twins hats at 3pm at the bars when there's a night game because downtown is already more vibrant than it was four years ago, and they can take the light rail across town to the dome.

Anyway, how many options are there to get 35,000 people downtown for 81 days during the entire summer, on top of people going down there for theatre and shopping. At some point you're just going to be attracting people that go there anyway.

Wm said...

It sort of is an either/or proposition with gov't money. They could be spending sales tax revenue on a streetscape or development plan for West Broadway, for example.

The bang for the buck for a Twins stadium is simply too small. Cities don't rise or fall on pro sports stadia (though MLB revenues do). They rise and fall b/c of neighborhood infrastructure and community strength. The Govt can spend money wisely in this arena, if they try.

The problem is that there's not a really easy constituency for these kinds of problems, whereas baseball fans provide readymade PR on a platter.

Driver2165 said...

I don't disagree that there should be sales tax with a development plan. One small sales tax lift won't stand in the way of another small one, especially in a liberal county like Hennepin.

It is my opinion that the city of Minneapolis needs to fix its zoning codes and philosophy before any sort of development plan will work. That wouldn't even require any money, and it would probably work better in the long run. The city's offering enough help for locally owned businesses, it's just near impossible to put one anywhere.

Also, there are many who would argue that neighborhood infrastructure would include community gathering places and target zones like stadiums. The only catch is that it has to actually be a community gathering place. I think people are just afraid that the Metrodome is as good as a stadium is, and the truth is that we got ripped off then, and we don't need to keep paying for that mistake.

lloydletta said...

I think there are much higher priorities for a better quality of life in Hennepin County. This was my email to the tax committee.

Dear Tax Committee Members:

I am a long time resident of Hennepin County. I have noticed a
decline in basic services during the time that I've lived in Minneapolis - library hours are decreasing, streets aren't getting
fixed, street lights frequently don't work and property taxes are
steadily increasing all the while basic services are decreasing.

At the same time, some Hennepin County commissioners spearheaded by
Mike Opat are promoting a 30 year sentence on the Hennepin County
taxpayer. This proposal passes by 4-3 votes in the county - with one
of the 4 votes, Mark Stenglein having a conflict of interest on this topic. At the same time, legislators from outside of Hennepin
County see this as an opportunity for a "free vote" on this issue, by
sticking it to the Hennepin County Taxpayer. If the Twins are truly a
statewide quality of life issue and responsibility, then the entire
state ought to share in paying for this stadium, rather than sticking
it to Hennepin County.

The current plan proposes to exempt Hennepin County from the
referendum requirements to increase the local option sales tax to pay
for a Twins Stadium. If this law requiring a referendum for local
option sales tax increases is a bad law, then repealing that law should be discussed and debated in the legislature prior to considering the Twins and Vikings bills.

The Hennepin County plan includes a property tax increase. Cities were
mandated to pay sales tax on all purchases in the early 1990's when
the state experienced revenue shortfalls. This proposal increases that sales tax which is paid for by property taxes. Democrats and
Republicans are rushing to offer property tax relief bills this
session - each in their own way.

The tax committee should either repealing the sales tax on cities
altogether or at a minimum - exempt cities from this proposed increase
to pay for the stadium. To add insult to injury, the Twins deal
proposes to exempt the stadium project from paying sales tax - the
very tax imposed on everyone else. How ironic that essential city
projects like water treatement plants, police stations and ice arenas ALL have to pay sales tax to add to the state general fund. The
stadium proposal will raise this hidden sales tax on local property

When cities want to enact a local option sales tax - they are REQUIRED
to get a vote of the people. That still does not guarantee they will
be able to go forward with the project because they STILL NEED
legislative approval in addition to the referendum requirement under
current MN law. It just doesn't seem fair that the Twins stadium gets
a different set of tax rules - does it? This is very poor tax policy.
Please pay attention to the details of this very bad deal for the
Hennepin County taxpayer - and taxpayers who own property in Hennepin County municipalities.

Eva Young