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Ventura Speaks On Stadium
Questions Even The Necessity Of New Ballpark For Twins; Says 'No' To Any Public Money For New Stadium

MINNEAPOLIS -- Governor-elect Jesse Ventura essentially vetoed any hope by stadium supporters that the former sports radio talk show host would sympathize with their efforts to secure public financing for a new Twins stadium. First, Ventura told WCCO-TV's Mark Rosen on his sports show Sunday night that he questions whether a new stadium is even needed. "My point is this, and I'll say this again. That dome is only 16 years old. Now, I coach football at a school that it six years old, Champlin Park, a brand new school. Ten years from now are we going to replace Champlin Park High School? Of course not," said Ventura.

As to arguments that the pro teams in the Metrodome have an inadequate "revenue streams" from the stadium to compete, particularly the Twins, Ventura, shown, scoffs: "Maybe the Twins need to fill it up, once . . . There was no talk of a new stadium in [the Twins World Series championship years] '87 and '91. The Twins need to put a winning team on the field first, and then come back and say they can't make it," he said.

While he shut the door to any public tax money subsidizing a new stadium, he didn't rule out other options to get it built. "I'm not opposed to alternative methods of building a new stadium if they need it, and all that. But I have to stick to my guns, I said there will be no public dollars to it. Now, if they want to go to referendum and have the people vote . . . if the people vote for it, then the people have spoken. If the majority of the people but the people that I saw a year and a half ago, over 70, 75, 80 percent of them said 'no' and we've got to listen to them," Ventura told Rosen.

Ventura's sentiment on using public money to pay for a new baseball stadium was echoed by state Rep. Steve Swiggum, expected to be elected House speaker when the GOP takes control in early January.

"The possibility of there being any type of a bill containing public funding, the use of either general fund revenues or increasing tax to publicly fund a baseball stadium or any sports stadium, would certainly not be high on the agenda, and would have a very difficult time in passing the Minnesota House.," said Swiggum.

Public-money for sports stadiums fared well around the country during the election last week.

Voters in Denver OK'd a penny-per-$10 six-county retail sales tax to build a new stadium for the Denver Broncos, Cincinnati voters voiced their opinion on where they want to see a county-supported stadium built for the Reds. And, in San Diego, voters approved a $225 million city bond issue for a new baseball stadium.

There are reports of Ventura's past support for enabling addition of public slot machines at Canterbury Park race track and using that revenue to pay for the public portion of stadium construction. But, Sunday, he wasn't talking one-armed bandits:

"I think you've some of the most brilliant business minds in this town. We've got more of those big companies, Fortune 500 companies, here per capita than anywhere in the world almost. You're tellin' me they can't figure out in the private sector how to make this happen? I believe they can. The problem is nobody in the public sector has said no. And that's what we got to work on," said Ventura.

Meanwhile, there are reports that Hennepin County, which had been prepared to donate land between Washington Avenue and the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis for the stadium has since put the parcels up for sale.