Sports

Stadium Welfare: More Baseball Bashing

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When baseball players aren't using steroids, their bosses are robbing polite Minnesotans of millions so that they can have nice new locker rooms in which to use the aforementioned steroids. A new ballpark is being built for the 2007 season of the Minnesota Twins at the low, low price of $522 million:

On Monday, an additional 0.15 percent sales tax—3 cents per $20 purchase—kicks in. Over time, it is expected to generate enough money to pay for three-quarters of the stadium.

Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat, who helped steer the stadium plan through the Legislature, said he hears complaints "from time to time" about the new tax. The county won permission to enact it without a voter referendum.

"I'd imagine there are people who are going to see that appear on sales receipts and continue to gripe about it," Opat said.

Legislation limited the county's spending on infrastructure to $90 million, so they're also planning court action to condemn some of the properties on the site of the proposed ballpark or take them with eminent domain:

"It's going to be a challenge. We're not in this to pay any price," Opat said. "The land needs to be purchased at a fair and not unreasonable price because the public is in for a defined amount and that's as far as we go."

NEXT: Drug Propaganda Thursday

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  1. This is yet another example of why TWC went on strike against major league baseball a couple of decades ago.

  2. TWC,

    I cannot blame MLB for getting what it can out of the public kitty. I blame the gov’t, which is elected by the voters, which is me, so I hate myself.

    But I still get to watch baseball! I love baseball.

  3. High, I can blame them…and the government.

    I guess it’s like Sams Club who used the we owe it to our stockholders cop out to justify the eminent domain game. Everybody else is doing it, we have to do it to compete.

    I can understand teaching in a public school because you love to teach even though it violates your libertarian principles. But I just can’t get past the whole corporate welfare aspect of pro sports. Corp welfare is what allows a crappy seat in the second deck behind the foul pole to be called a Season Ticket, why the nosebleed seats go for 10-15 bucks a pop, why there’s seven dollar beer and five dollar hot dogs.

    Just a bunch of welfare queens, on the field and in the offices. And you thought Clinton ended welfare as we knew it.

  4. Oh, forgot to say, I used to love baseball so damn much.

  5. Corp welfare is what allows a crappy seat in the second deck behind the foul pole to be called a Season Ticket, why the nosebleed seats go for 10-15 bucks a pop, why there’s seven dollar beer and five dollar hot dogs.

    Um, no. Demand for nosebleed seats and beer and hot dogs it what allows those prices.

    The good news is that the cities with some pride (like LA) are starting to refuse to build stadiums for teams. It can’t be long before the second tier cities follow suit.

  6. TWC,

    You are completely, entirely, totally right.
    However, I cannot, I do not want to, and I will not quit baseball. I left it for a few years after the strike in the 90s. Never again.
    Understand, I am from Chicago. My boys won last year after 88 years. My wife is a Cubs fan. They can knock us down, kick us, steal our wallets, and spit on our mothers. We will ask for more.

  7. Baseball is the most boring team sport in the world (and probably the galaxy). Even cricket is more exciting (more runs).

    Yet somehow, billionaire welfare queens sucker city after city into building stadiums for their teams. And then they blackmail the cities for ever-lower rent by threatening to move to another city. If the mayors and city councils had any guts, their reply to this blackmail would be “We’ll help you pack.”

    Same goes for any “professional” sports franchise, the Olympics, theatre companies, opera societies, art galleries, folk festivals, etc. If you can’t get it to go on its own here, go on down the road. [Try Chicago, we hear they’re desperate.]

  8. The story is that Minnesota fought against the stadium for over ten years. The newspapers wanted one; the politicians wanted one; developers were on board. They used every trick: they tried to create an aura of inevitability about it, they tried creative accounting, deceptive accounting, and outright false accounting. They threatened to move the team. They promised mythical economic advantages.

    At every turn, gadflies worked ceaselessly to inform the public, expose connections among the players, and pepper politicians and pundits with embarrasing questions about the assumptions of the various plans. And this worked in Minnesota because, like a lot of states, Minnesota has a large, liberal urban area and a huge, conservative rural area. The gadflies played skillfully on the social-justice theme in the urban areas and the government-waste theme in the rural areas, consistently creating a consensus against the stadium that caused the politicians to back down.

    Why is it being built? Because the state isn’t putting in a dime. In the end, Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis, created a plan that rests solely on county and city money, meaning the rural counties won’t have to pay for it. Suddenly, the issue no longer resonated for anyone who didn’t live in Hennepin County.

    This is the only reason they managed to squeak it through. Even so, the Minnesota State Lege, which has to approve local bonds, put strict limits on the money to be spent, which is why they’re trying to screw the landowners. Too bad for them, I suppose, but the rest of the state can only discipline the county government so much: it’s up to Hennepin County voters to turn out the commissioners.

  9. This is not an instance of rape by a ball club owner. It is an instance of political sluts.

  10. A new ballpark is being built for the 2007 season of the Minnesota Twins at the low, low price of $522 million:

    But think of the children. A mere $522 million paid now will surely ease a much higher cost later.

    Wow, it works. Just throw in a few political catch phrases, and the sentence practically writes itself.

  11. James,

    So, this eventially happened because the public eventually wanted it but you didn’t?

    Granted, I am against public funding of businesses too, but I would propose a more direct argument: it does not matter what the public wants, subdizing a business is just wrong.

  12. But, but, but…it will create JOBS.

    At only a million bucks per job too….

  13. I bet once construction gets going and $200 million or so has been spent, there will be “unexpected costs” which will raise the price. Do I have any takers?

    No?

    How about a little pool on how high the cost will go?

    I’ll guess $850 million.

  14. Guy: I’m not sure I said anything like that. I think I said the public didn’t want it, they fought it for ten years, and finally put it off on the county that wasn’t paying attention. I was celebrating the fact that fighting the stadium actually worked for voters in the rest of the state.

  15. Gimme, granted demand factors into every economic equation but subsidy distorts every transaction, which was my point. If you have no capital costs maybe you don’t care if the fans buy hot dogs or not. Price them at seven bucks and every sale is gravy. Every foregone sale is a big shrug. If you’ve got a mortgage nut to crack maybe you focus on selling a lot of hot puppies and making a good profit on each by lowering the price. Or, maybe not. The thing is, we don’t actually know because MLB is heavily subsidized. From local bonds to federal labor law.

  16. Oh, High, forgive. I didn’t know you were a CUB fan. And such a gorgeous ballpark, too. I will, someday, make the journey and see a game at Wrigley. I have, however, seen a game at the old Wrigley Field in LA. Not the same thing I suppose.

    Paul, cost overruns are a given. I used to live in a small town that agreed to build a ballpark (Single A). It cost 3.5 times the original estimates and it doesn’t even generate enough revenue to cover the interest payments on the bonds.

    It’s a beautiful stadium though. You can stand at the bar in the restaurant down the left field line and drink cabernet while watching the game. I know, nobody drinks red wine at a baseball game–good heavens man, it’s just not done.

  17. AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    NO NO NONONONONONO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I am not a Cub fan. My wife is. MY Team won it all in 2005. We just waited a long time.
    Our ballpark was funded by the old “team threatens to leave, city/state create a new tax” plan, by the way.

  18. “Because the state isn’t putting in a dime.”

    Ahh, the old “free money” ploy. We’ll get the tourists
    (or some other suckers) to pay. I won’t cost us a thing. And think of the prestige!

    Welfare for millionaires- where do I sign up?

  19. James is right, for as long as I can remember (well, I’m only 19) we fought this stadium. I’d lived in rural areas and then near the cities and no one was on board for the stadium (despite certain newspapers, hmmmm….).

    Then I left for college in Chicago and *bam* the Sox win it and the Twinkies get a stadium. -sigh- I hope those in Hennepin get some local heads to roll later on, this is disgusting. I was never overly proud of the great liberalness of MN, but as James explained, sometimes the “dfl union” of rural and urban can get people to oppose bad things together.

  20. Similar story…

    SkyDome in Toronto was built in 1989 at a cost of approximately $600 million (CAD) which was paid for by a public/private partnership, with the Canadian federal government, Ontario provincial government, the City of Toronto paying the largest percentage of the tab. A consortium of 28 corporations (Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Labatt, Moslon, etc.) were offered 99-year exclusive marketing rights and a Skybox for $5 million. The Toronto Blue Jays, who enjoyed the greatest financial benefit from the construction of the new stadium, only contributed $5 million.

    The completed stadium started with $165 million in debt, which grew to $400 million by 1993. In 1994 the Ontario government paid off all the debts from the Provincial treasury, and sold the stadium for $151 million to a private consortium (including Labatt’s parent company, then the owners of the Blue Jays franchise).

    In 2004, Rogers Communications, new owner of the Blue Jays, acquired SkyDome for about $25 million CAD – about 4% of the cost of construction.

  21. Yeah, but that’s Canada. They’re all socialists anyways.

  22. Having these stadiums built with taxpayer money is like being fucked with your own dick.

    First you pay for it in your taxes, then if you want to go, you still pay $30 for a nose bleed seat and $7 for a beer.

    Give me a break.

  23. Any taxpayer funding of any sports venue is an affront to all libertarians. Why should taxpayers being paying for anyone’s passtime? London is getting shafted with this crap over the Olympics.

  24. Salt Lake County is going through something similar right now. The wealthy owner of the local MSL soccer team (Real Salt Lake) is making noises about how the team will have to leave if he doesn’t get $40 million in taxpayer dollars to build a new stadium.

    To his credit, the county mayor is holding firm and refusing to be blackmailed (so far). I think the problem for Dave Checketts (the owner) is that most Salt Lake County voters recognize he is worth far more than $40 mil, so naturally they ask why he can’t pony up the money himself.

  25. 3 cents per $20 is a small price to pay for our children to see America’s pastime. I somehow doubt that 3 cents is going to break anyone.

  26. Make your own troll post!
    Fun for all ages!
    Just choose from among the potential knee-jerk replies and submit!

    [Drug wars/Smoking bans/Seatbelt laws] are a small price to pay for [our children/the poor/the elderly] to [be safe in their cars/breathe clean air/avoid criminals]and enjoy [blissful nannydom/freedom from want/eternal good health]. I somehow doubt that [higher taxes/a prison sentence/confiscated property] is going to break anyone. Only a [right-wing libertoid/fascist Rand-lover/neocon dead-ender] would disagree.

  27. The Metrodome is not a baseball stadium. It’s a miserable place to watch baseball. If the people in Hennepin County are willing to pay for a new stadium, so much the better.

    However, if the Vikings want a new stadium, they can pay for it themselves.

  28. 3 cents per $20 is a small price to pay for our children to see America’s pastime. I somehow doubt that 3 cents is going to break anyone.

    What right do you or any of the politicians involved have to say that? Its “for the children” is such a pathetic excuse. If you parents want a stadium so your kids can watch their favourite team then you stump up the cash and not force non-sports lovers to have to stump of the cash to pay for your passtime.

    This type of funding is amoral, wasteful and against nature justice.

    No taxpayer should be expected to stump up cash for anything sports related…period.

  29. Highhhh, sorry, I didn’t read that more carefully……..

  30. Baseball is the most boring team sport in the world (and probably the galaxy). Even cricket is more exciting (more runs).

    There’s on average about 10 minutes of “action” in an NFL game and about 17 minutes in a 9-innning baseball game. The average NFL game has about 7 scoring plays (not counting the ho-hum PAT’s) while baseball has about 9.

    Hands down, football is THE most boring sport ever invented.

    End of completely biased rant.

    As disgusting as the funding of US Comiskular Park was, it was one of the few boondoggles that actually turned a profit and the debt was covered almost 20 years early. There was actually talk of repealing the hotel tax that paid for it. Until the pork butchers of the state (politicians) decided to use the tax to pay for Soldier Field. That thing will never cover its debt.

  31. “There was actually talk of repealing the hotel tax that paid for it.”

    You make me laugh.

  32. Russ 2000

    Your points are noted.

    However, NFL football does offer us violence junkies the possibility of serious injury on every play. 😉

  33. My, those Senators are making a ruckus again, are they?

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