A St. Paul legislator and a Twin Cities businessman are proposing that an
urban baseball stadium modeled after the storied Ebbets Field in Brooklyn be
built to keep the Minnesota Twins in the state.
The plan, called the Ebbets Field Village District, would incorporate
affordable and market-rate housing, shops and eateries, and a private management
company to oversee the district and make it profitable.
Rep. Andy Dawkins, DFL-St. Paul, and business consultant Mike Adamovich
made the pitch Thursday.
They presented their idea at a meeting of a tripartisan stadium task force,
which has been meeting to make recommendations on stadiums for the Twins,
Vikings and University of Minnesota football Gophers. The task force hopes to
make its recommendations to the 2002 Legislature, which convenes Jan. 29.
The latest proposal would be to build a replica of Ebbets Field, once the
home of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the site where the color barrier was broken in
Major League Baseball when Jackie Robinson became the first black player in the
majors in 1947.
The new 30,000-seat stadium, which Dawkins said could be built for less than
$300 million, would be the focal point of an urban village similar to "the
friendly confines" surrounding Wrigley Field in Chicago.
The district would be chartered by the state and operated as a development
company, with profits from it paid out to private investors, the state and the
Twins. The Twins could make money by sharing year-round revenue streams from
small businesses in the district, parking revenues and an ownership share in any
Dawkins said he has even spoken to new St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly about two
possible locations: the Lower Flats area across the Mississippi River from
downtown St. Paul and Lexington and University Avs. in the Midway area. Dawkins
said sites in Minneapolis could be considered as well.
But like many stadium concepts that have been floated (another speaker
proposed a casino, a football and a baseball stadium and a Muppets amusement
park to be built in Eagan), the Ebbets Field plan may find itself in an uphill
battle. Front-office representatives of the Twins attending Thursday's hearing
had not heard of the idea before, and its supporters acknowledged they had no
designs and no concrete financing in place.
Earlier in the day, another state legislator proposed stadiums for both the
Twins and the Vikings without using public financing. Rep. Tony Kielkucki,
R-Lester Prairie, would extract a $450 million fee from a private gambling
company in exchange for a license to operate two casinos in the Twin Cities area
for 30 years. He said his plan would also provide as much as $75 million a year
from a 10 percent tax on casino receipts. The plan, however, requires voters to
amend the state Constitution to allow private operation of casinos. The existing
18 casinos in Minnesota are run by American Indian tribes, as permitted under
While much of the talk was on business, with discussions of team elimination
and revenue streams, the day also brought out emotions for some speakers. Greg
Hawkinson, who drove to the St. Paul hearing from Mankato to offer what he said
was a "blue collar" perspective, spoke about the importance of
baseball as a national treasure and its relation to family values.
"I'm not here because baseball is the most important thing in my
life," he said, holding up a picture of his children and getting tearful.
"I'm here because my children and their children and future generations are
the most important. I'm hoping we can continue to cherish my grandparents' love
affair with this wonderful game."