Return to Index Mission Statement Stadium Situation Articles about the Twins' quest for a new park Why the Twins need a new park Concerns about a new Twins park Thoughts about the Twins and the stadium issue Save the Twins poll Twins links Contact Webmaster Save the Minnesota Twins is dedicated to keeping baseball 
in Minnesota by helping the Twins build a new stadium.
home > articles > article

Baseball / Death comes to a reasonable bill
Star Tribune Editorial

Easter break is the traditional time for legislators to escape the Capitol bubble and take the public temperature. On the issue of baseball's future in Minnesota, our sense is that hostility toward a new ballpark has receded, replaced by a cooler, more pragmatic view that the Twins (and Vikings) are important assets that should be retained if some reasonable solution can be found.

The bill for a new Twins stadium offered this session was a reasonable solution that didn't get a fair airing. House Speaker Steve Sviggum and other Republican leaders may have miscalculated by killing it, and it's possible they'll pay a political price eventually.

Surely the dagger inflicted on Wednesday will be taken by Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig as a message from Minnesota that reads as follows: If part of next year's deal with the players on restoring competitive balance to the game requires lopping off a few recalcitrant franchises, please move the Twins to the top of the list.

No one can say how real the threat of contraction is, only that a number of owners have proposed eliminating Montreal and Minnesota, clubs that are struggling in large part because they've failed to secure suitable places to play. Owners are wondering why, in their upcoming negotiations, they should agree to share even more of their revenues with the Twins and Expos when their communities refuse to help. After all, 18 other franchises have built new ballparks in the last decade, 17 with public money.

Our hope is that baseball will give the Twins more time. If not, Sviggum and his caucus leaders bear significant responsibility. They're right that in a perfect world the public subsidy for professional sports would be zero. Unfortunately, the world is far from perfect. The bill they killed included no new taxes and required the Twins initially to pay 50 percent -- and eventually cover more than 90 percent -- of the cost of a new ballpark. Stadium deals don't get much sweeter.

There's nothing wrong with Minnesota driving a hard bargain as long as the team is not sacrificed in the process. Sviggum has invited the Twins (should they avoid the chopping block) to return with a bill next session if baseball mends its ways. With the Vikings also in the hunt next year, the price tag will be eye-popping. Legislators are doing no favors by continuing to dodge this issue. Sviggum's cavalier dismissal was an insult to the hard-working volunteers -- Republicans and Democrats -- who labored six months to craft the ballpark bill. Its resurrection is unlikely, despite the spirit of the season.

That leaves St. Paul and Minneapolis to tackle the problem -- although neither city can deliver without some state involvement in the end. Minneapolis' plan has special merit because it's led by private initiative and envisions a classic neighborhood ballpark on a particularly good site.

Despite obvious flaws, professional sports are important to this region's cultural fabric and competitive future. A reasonable solution for keeping the Twins is close at hand if only legislators can grasp it.