Discussion on Vikings demand for new stadium & Twins dissolution

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MPR sports analyst Jay Weiner will be in the studio to discuss Vikings Owner Red McCombs' demand for a new stadium or he'll move the team, and the proposal from Major League Baseball owners to drop the small market teams (like Minnesota). Jay is a sports writer for the Star Tribune newspaper.

Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.

(00:00:17) Good afternoon. Welcome back to midday on Minnesota (00:00:20) Public Radio. I'm Gary eichten. Glad you (00:00:22) could join us. Well, sometimes you know, sometimes it's hard to keep up with it all one day a couple of Major League Baseball owners are quoted as saying in Sports Illustrated that money-losing baseball teams, like the Minnesota Twins should be dissolved and their players divided among the surviving teams. No major league baseball in Minnesota until a new Revenue generating stadium is built why stay in a market? That's not supporting us. They asked then yesterday the owner of the Minnesota Vikings lays down the law build a new stadium for the Vikings in the next five years or Red McCombs says, he will move the Vikings to another state empty threats or the harsh reality of big-time professional sports joining us this hour to share his thoughts on these latest. ATM related developments is Star Tribune writer and Minnesota public radio sports analyst J weiner who has been working on a book about the tangled web of stadiums and sports teams. He's been reporting on this issue for some long while and of course, we invite you to join our conversation as well fair amount to talk about today. Give us a call here at 6512276 thousand 6512276 thousand outside the Twin Cities 1-800 to for 228286512276 thousand or 1-800 to for 22828 J. Is it just me or is it hard to keep up with all of these developments? It's not just you. I think that people have Whiplash here in town and as we've had talked in this area before it's really started back in 1993. I think we're into a year turning the year seven when the North Stars moved and we've had a continuous process of North Stars moving debate over MIT Center standing the timber wolf saying they couldn't make it at their own privately financed Target Center the effort not real to move the Timberwolves to New Orleans almost immediately twins owner Carl pull ad saying he needed a new stadium by the summer of 94 and early 95 continuous task forces and work over at the state capitol through 97 admits that the Vikings beginning to Make Some Noise. Some people thought sabotaging the old Viking ownership that is sabotaging the twins in the 97 session and then the sale of the Vikings to McCombs and here we are facing the Millennium and the debate still goes on really around all four Sports to the extent that a new hockey arena will be opening in st. Paul and people will wonder about the finance plan there and how that will work. The Timberwolves at Target Center undoubtedly will be asking for improvements there. And of course the Twins and Vikings are still ahead of us. So the answer is It is hard to keep track. Well now we're going to go into more detail on both of these developments. But in general are these these latest items the McCombs threat the Sports Illustrated story. Are these are these is there a real possibility that we could end up losing both the major league baseball team and the National Football League team or is it is this just a lot of rhetoric at this point. My opinion today is that I don't believe that there's a real possibility that we would lose both teams. I think there is a reasonable rational scenario that would say that the twins could move at some point. And then I think there's a rational political science point of view that says if any one team would move then the public in the politicians would respond and Aid the second team for fear that we would lose both teams. So I think we got to look at the political Dynamic of that as for the economics and the All six of each league, it's pretty clear that baseball doesn't have a place to go and that's why this idea of shrinking the league as opposed to moving teams is confirmation of things that have been written over the last couple years that the twins really don't have a market to go to a market that's ready to build a stadium for them. They could move people think to Charlotte to a temporary Stadium, but it seems like owners aren't too thrilled about that as for the Vikings in a story that I wrote for the Star Tribune this morning, that would be full employment for lawyers for six to nine months to two years fighting over whether the Vikings could leave the Dome let alone the fight that McCombs would have within the NFL to move the team. So, you know hate Sonic politician anything's possible, but the idea that we would lose both major league teams here. I would find hard to believe if you put together all of the economic political and legal dynamics that will play out in this case J weiner is with us. So Star Tribune writer and Minnesota Public Radio. Sports analyst we're talking about these latest developments Stadium related developments including Red McCombs comments yesterday that as the owner of the Minnesota Vikings if the Vikings don't get a new stadium in five years. He's going to move the team somewhere else like to have you join our conversation, six five. One two, two seven six thousand outside the Twin Cities one eight hundred two, four two two eight two eight now of the two stories Jay. I find the Viking story particularly interesting. Mr. McCombs has said all along that. He did need a new facility of some sort. He said that when he bought the team last summer so that that comes doesn't come as a big surprise, but all along he's also had a second message for fans without it'd be interesting to play a clip here from midday program from January 8th. Last January right before the football playoffs began when purple Pride was running at fever (00:06:04) pitch the fear amongst me and my Friends are that someday? You know you might bring Tech Vikings back to Texas with you. Do you have any plans to ever move the team? No, I don't. I think the Vikings are a Minnesota tradition. And and that's not even on the radar screen. They have great following here and we have to find a way to make it work here. Okay, and I was Red McCombs in (00:06:29) January of this year what's changed since then has anything changed since then that would lead mr. McCombs to announce that he is ready to go in five years if necessary. I don't know exactly what material is changed. I know what's changed relative to his thinking and this came to me in an interview I had with him about a month or so ago where he said much of what he said to the businessmen yesterday except yesterday, the two new elements were a timeframe and the notion of actually moving. He's really stopped short of saying that he was going to move if I may say so, I don't know how much due diligence McCombs did before he bought the Vikings that is the team was for sale. He wanted to team the price was relatively good. I'm not quite sure that they thoroughly played out all the scenarios at the Dome and I think that he bought the team and was happy to get it and then began to do the work of looking at how the stadium generates the revenues that he feels the team needs to succeed and to get him a rate of return on his investment. This is not a toy to Red McCombs. He's a businessman. I might be a fun business for him, but he doesn't do this stuff just to wear purple shirts. He likes to make money and as the NFL stadium situation has been changing around the country with more than 20 of the team's getting either new stadiums or refurbished stadiums and with the local dollars within the NFL being more important to teams as these new stadiums have come online. He's beginning to see that his team is falling behind and he's seeing it in he says and Tim Connolly the general manager of the Viking say in a dramatic fashion. He also has realized after the sports facilities Commission in June came up with a refurbishing plan that anything in Minnesota takes a long time. This isn't Texas and even if he would buy into a renovated dome which he says now, he will not that plan could take between five and seven years to be completed. Assuming the twins had to get a new stadium to so he's probably at this point saying look now, I know the Dome isn't going to keep me up with the new stadiums and Caroline and Jacksonville and Baltimore. And now I know that even if I get something passed here, it's going to take a long time to do it. So I'd better shake things up sooner rather than later or here. I'm going to be in three years still trying to shake things up. So, you know, most people wouldn't view him as a political scientist, but I think that that's his analysis and you know, it took the Dome 11 years from the beginning of the debate to opening to happen in this town. And now as we said in terms of the Twins were in about year five going on six, so maybe he's just eyeballed and said we'd better push this sooner rather than later. I know he was unhappy about the total lack of progress that took place during the summer months when general manager economy was going around to the capital on the mayor's and seeking some assistance and pretty much falling on deaf ears and he's an impatient guy. Jay weiner is with us. And again, if you'd like to join our conversation, six, five, one two, two seven six thousand or one eight hundred two, four two two eight two eight. We should also note that if you check out our website, Minnesota Public Radio website, there's Lots of information about the stadium issue discussion area the MPR forum and a matter of fact, we'll have this program on the web a little later today. So all of that at our website right now, let's get to some callers Roger your first. (00:09:52) Yeah. I just have a question. I wonder if the owners of all the sports have thought about grouping together a fund to build stadiums from the oldest to the newest and they just keep replacing them every year instead of having our money and our tax dollars building them. They put together a fund for all the sports. (00:10:11) The answer is yes, and the NFL actually does have a fund. It's called the G3 plan and I don't know what G or three stand for but it's tied really to the size of the market. That is the larger TV markets would get more money from a central fund that the NFL owners control than with the smaller markets. And if I'm correct our mark would be considered a smaller market and any private money. The Red McCombs would invest in a stadium would be lent to him pretty much interest interest free by the other owners up to 34 percent of his investment. So if in the case that McCombs is talking about he was willing to invest a hundred million dollars the other NFL owners would lend to him interest-free 34 million dollars of that now I think the caller is wondering if the owners would give money to the communities and not to their their Pals. The only person I've heard talking about this is Peter Angelos the owner of the Baltimore Orioles who says that Revenue sharing in baseball such as it is should not go to help teams pay their players but should go to help teams pay off debt service on stadiums. So in the case of the twins annually if they're getting 10 to 12 million dollars in reshuffled money with with in baseball rather than use that to pay their players Angelo's wanted them to pay off debt service on a new stadium. I believe that the league should be involved in funding stadiums. But as long as other cities and counties and states are willing to subsidize them. I don't see why the owners would start to pay for it themselves Dawn. You're come at Place. (00:11:56) Yeah. My husband was in San Antonio Texas in early August and he talked to several locals there who are very convinced that McCombs assigning to move the team there. They have a new stadium there and they say they're all ready for the team. And he was he was quite sure from what these people said that McCombs was planning to move the team there and I was wondering if the guests could comment on that you certainly weren't surprised by today's headlines. No, I wasn't (00:12:24) a couple things there is it is true that the Alamodome exist and it was it was built for football. It's a dome stadium. But if you saw in this morning's newspaper, the rules and guidelines that a team has to jump through and meet before it moves. It just can't happen just like that. So a while if in fact Red McCombs has decided at this moment that he's going to move this team to San Antonio. He's got a lot of work to do as an any relocation other owners are one concerned about the size of the new market and San Antonio is significantly smaller than ours and Fox TV nbc-tv ESPN are concerned about the TV markets that these games are beamed into as well, which is why the NFL is trying to get a team in Los Angeles. Switch has been dark for those years. And then the other point is that if San Antonio is an attractive Market other owners want it to be an expansion team not to be eaten up by a an existing owner because the expansion fees now are going to rise between 500 million and a billion dollars for a team depending on the size of the market. He'd have to pay transfer fee if he moved the team and if you played it all out Minneapolis would then be an open market and a very attractive mm open market for someone to move into as well in the Hopscotch of teams, but I'm sure in San Antonio people would love this. I don't know if people in Dallas would love to have another team in Texas and Houston is the Open Market in the NFL right now and whether the we could sustain three teams or want three teams in Texas is another is you know, one one other issue, San Antonio is an Emerging Market, but the question is whether it could support an NBA team is it already has and an NFL team with the corporate support there is still uncertain. You were pointing out in your article today in the start review and that it is apparently quite difficult to move a team. But Al Davis, for example, the owner of the Oakland Raiders one Not only was he able he challenged the National Football League on this very issue several years ago Not only was he ultimately able to move his team from Oakland to Los Angeles and then back to Oakland, right? But in the process one a huge amount of money from the league because League tried to stop him from doing it given that that Court precedent it would seem to an outsider IS F Well really if a guy wants to take take his team some placing go you can do it. Yes, but the answer is yes, if a guy wants to do it and really wants to fight the league and and he he can do it witness Art Modell moving the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore as well. But just two and a half months ago the we came out with new rules and new. One of the reasons that Dave is won his lawsuit, which I think would have been in the in the 80s was that the NFL did not have any reasonable guidelines. They just had a 3/4 vote at that point and there were no rules and no Hoops through which he had two job and he thought that they were arbitrary and capricious in the courts found for him and he won hundreds of millions of dollars. They've tightened up those rules and also as in all the sports and this is where the two stories that were talking about Link in shrinking the big leagues in baseball and can a team move as in all the sports. They're running out of cities and if expansion is one of those easy quick dollar hits for owners, if we add a team we can make lots of money real quickly. They don't want to see the open markets taken by moving teams. They want to see the open markets taken by new teams. So I think the environment is different these days as to team movement than it was when out Davis did or even Years ago when Art Modell did because where would an NFL team go now Houston La seem to be spoken for San Antonio. Birmingham we're now getting into mid-sized cities the NFL is you know thriving in Jacksonville it is it has been thriving in Green Bay, but over time if the stadium dollars become more important to the owners, I think you're going to see that the smaller markets are going to have the same problems as they do in baseball. So the Al Davis case is definitely one out there that we should all be concerned about but I think the political environment within the NFL has changed since then and McCombs couldn't simply hook up with some folks in LA or in Houston and take the team to one of those open markets a big markets National Football League clearly interested in having a team there and they've got at least in Houston anyway big stadium and you know a lot of money and let's go back to the anything's possible answer again. It would cost him a huge chunk of change to get that expansion Market is a worth it for him and his new partners in Houston to pay the 500 million dollars on top of the Do that. He's already paid for the team and yank it there with the other owners allow that I think is I wrote today that the end game is probably at the in the NFL boardroom more than in the courts here with the other owners deciding where and how he moves much the same way that Carl pole ads move potential move to North Carolina was also an internal issue does baseball want to be in Charlotte or in Greensboro. When that Community is smaller and less attractive from the TV point of view than the Twin Cities. Hmm Dennis you're (00:17:52) next. Yeah, I one of the problems I think is especially in the case. In many cases the numbers just don't add up and if it were if they were explained better, I think people would better understand it. I mean in the case of the Vikings they're saying that there's revenue shortfall is like 15 million dollars. I guess it would be better. It would be cheaper just to write them a check for fifteen million dollars a year than to build a 400 million-dollar Stadium according to any business methods that would be used to analyze. It just wanted your opinion on it. (00:18:26) There have been meetings at the sports facilities Commission in Minneapolis where it's been suggested that the the checks be written. You might be right about the numbers not adding quite quite adding up quite right and one of the things that Red McCombs has said in the past is that he would quote unquote open the books so far with the Vikings have shown the news media and some political leaders are charts developed by the NFL that show that the Vikings Stadium revenues are far behind those of other new stadiums. And that's really the most that we know so far. They have raised their prices considerably over the last two years that's increased their intake as well as the sports facilities commission is giving back their ticket tax to the Vikings. They've also allowed them to have more in stadium advertising. So I personally can't figure out quite yet all of their numbers either but I think it's pretty clear that they're in stadium dollars are significantly less than those of stadiums a that are larger like Dallas Carolina Jacksonville, Kansas City and also smaller than those that have more sweets and more of these fancy club seats and restaurants and clubs that kind of a mini mall with in the stadium. All that being said though. They're still breaking even without any doubt and maybe making some money, but of course McCombs dose of Huge mortgage to pay on the 250 million dollar investment that that he made but is there some philosophical reason or legal reason why if if the political leaders in the citizens decided Well, the team is worth saving keeping around and McCombs if the story is accurate today in your newspaper Macomb says, all he needs is 15 to 20 million dollars more per year in Revenue to get the team up to the league average over the next 25 years. Why not? Just is there some reason not to send him a check for 20 million every year for the next 25 years. It would as our listener points out the heck of a lot cheaper than building a new stadium. Well, first of all, it might not be cheaper if you look at the current twins deal on the table and st. Paul the state and city of st. Paul have got to contribute about Seventeen million dollars a year in annual Debt Service for 325 million dollar stadium. So We're probably right there. It's probably a push between writing the check but secondly and this is now an idealistic point of view that I'm about to present here. There is a view that I think many minnesotans don't hold any more that stadiums like Mets stadium in particular when it was built in the 50s is actually a piece of cultural infrastructure that's worth supporting in order to have pro sports. That's what people would have said in 1956 and 1957 when they were trying to get the a major league baseball team here because of the disconnect that's happened between taxpayers and teams and fans and teams over the last 30 years. I don't think the people are embracing this notion of cultural infrastructure anymore. But I think you can philosophically argue you can I'm not saying that I would but you can philosophically argue that there's something good with in the public realm to fund a stadium but to Simply directly fund a team, even though we know the stadium is a pass-through to the team would be a little bit too. Blatant this Goes to the connecting the dots to public ownership of teams, and you know, which is another discussion, but it definitely comes up. I think this caller's point of if we're going to spend all this money to build a stadium. Why don't you just buy the dart team and then deal with the stadium issue after which is what a lot of people talked about in baseball and something that I think will increasingly come up with with the with football now, it definitely would be cheaper to buy the Vikings in the dome then to build a new $400,000,000 stadium because I don't think today in the Dome. The Vikings are worth more than 400 million dollars in a new stadium. They be worth five to six hundred million, you know, potentially and with wheels on the team if McCombs could get out of the lease and sell it to San Antonio or sell it to LA or sell to Euston be worth a billion dollars in La is apparently so I think really what we're talking about now is should we own the teams. Should we build the Stadium's? We need to break here for news headlines, but let's get one quick call. Before we do so Joan your comment, please. (00:22:59) Yes, just a comment and not a question. I'm just tired of being threatened by multimillionaires. And I think it's time that we question that oversized player salaries and owner remuneration, which I consider really misplaced priorities. I've reached the point where I've become disillusioned by minnesotans and Untold Americans but tolerate professional athlete salaries oversharing salaries for educators, for example, and you know, I just haven't gone to now I mean I we're talking about football today, but you know, we used to go to twins games occasionally and I just don't go on General principle anymore because I'm not going to support it. Right even though I happen to talk and and they're my tickets are cheap want but I really am becoming discouraged by them the priorities that we have. Thank you John hmm. (00:23:49) We are talking about football today. The Vikings were also talking though about the twins couple of interesting stories surface this Week probably you've seen them the big headlines today, of course Vikings owner Red McCombs indicating that if he doesn't get a new stadium for the Vikings within five years, he's going to move the team out of Minnesota earlier. There was a story in Sports Illustrated quoting a couple of Major League Baseball owners as saying that since some small Market teams just can't survive including twins until in the twins case until the politicians are willing to build twins a new stadium. So they can make more money best thing to do is to shut the twins down altogether and disperse the players all around the league will have interesting stories to talk about this. Our J weiner is with us Star Tribune writer Minnesota public radio sports analyst. And again, we invite you to join our conversation here, six five. One two, two seven six thousand outside the Twin Cities one eight hundred two, four two two eight two eight credit Cunningham joins us now with some news. Good. Good afternoon, Gary. Yes or Arafat says a last-minute snag in peace talks with Israel should be worked out in just a few hours. The dispute has been about the number of Palestinian prisoners that are to be released by Israel a signing ceremony on the deal is spend tentatively set for tomorrow in Egypt US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is planning to attend the man who caused the worst drunken driving accident in US history is out of a Kentucky prison, Larry Mahoney spent less than 11 years behind bars for a collision that killed 27 people a police investigator says Mahoney wants to blend back into society quietly a rescue pilot may have spotted some movement near the wreckage of a crashed chartered plane in Tanzania. The plane was carrying 10 American tourists from a game lodge, but still not clear whether there are any survivors in Regional new shareholders in both companies have voted today to approve the proposed merger of Honeywell and Allied signal under the deal Allied signal is buying Honeywell for about fifteen billion dollars in stock. The new company will keep honeywell's name. Use Allied signals base and Morris Township New Jersey as its headquarters, the merger still needs regulatory approval from the US justice department and the European commission today is the first day of school in Minneapolis. And for many Minnesota school district thousands of seniors face the possibility of not graduating on time. This is the first year schools will withhold diplomas from students who have not yet passed the state basic standard tests in reading and math students in the st. Paul School District won't return to class until next Tuesday. That's the day after Labor Day the forecast for Minnesota calls for increasing clouds across the state of Minnesota. There is a chance for afternoon showers and thunderstorms in eastern and western portions of the State high temperatures today from 75 to 85 degrees tonight. Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers and thunderstorms in most areas low temperatures from 50 in the north to 60 in the south at this hour. Mostly sunny skies reported in Duluth report sunshine and 75. It's sunny in Saint Cloud and 77 sunny in In 75 some light rain falling in Sioux Falls and 77 and in the Twin Cities, mostly sunny a temperature of 80 degrees Gary. That's a look at the latest news. Thanks Greta 27 minutes before one. This is midday on Minnesota Public Radio. Jay weiner is with us and we're talking the sour about some Stadium related developments including the comments Yesterday by Vikings owners Red McCombs that the Vikings will be leaving Minnesota within five years. If there isn't a new Stadium built for the team now Jay we've been focusing almost exclusively on the Vikings and we're going to continue to talk about their situation, but I did want to talk to about this this proposal apparently buy or lease discussion among some major league baseball owners that that the twins and a few other small Market teams should just be shut down altogether rather than perpetuating this fiction. Now the cynic would suggest that this is nothing more than another ploy to (00:27:55) At Minnesota (00:27:56) and other areas to pump more money into the baseball team with the cynic be right or is there more to this suggestion or idea than just some backhanded pressure? I think the cynic would have a valid point of view that that that it's a that's another technique on the part of you know of I think when I'm gathering a very small handful of owners to say to markets that aren't responding and really it's just Minnesota and Montreal right now on the stadium front that we're just going to do away with you and and shoot the horse as it were because the lake seems to be broken. I think though that historically speaking this is not that new of an idea a couple years ago. First of all to go back into just a quick flash back at owners meetings when the twins issue was up during the 97 session one owner who was in an inebriated state. I told a couple of us reporters that this idea of contraction the word now being used as consolidation in baseball but contraction made a lot more sense than expansion because in a lot of ways even though we've talked about in football how the expansion dollars gives owners within the league quick hits of cash. It does dilute the quality of the game and the talent and it really dilutes the club you nature of leagues if you remember majorly basically step 16 teams and think how important George Steinbrenner would be if they're only 16 teams. Now, he's got to hang out with 14 other guys and and and to expand is really to make your league and your status somewhat less special. It's more of a quarterly earnings kind of concept. Gosh, we can get 20 million dollars this year on a quick hit but over time besides creating more jobs and therefore more free agents and therefore having the salaries rise. It really takes away from from your your league. So people are beginning to think why not contract and make our Tries is more special for a while. However that philosophy. Doesn't work because historically speaking as Whenever there are open markets people will fill them and in 1956 1957. It's go back to ancient history. The reason that the twins came here are the Washington Senators came here was because there were very many at that point open markets like Minneapolis Denver Dallas Los Angeles in the southern part of Los Angeles New York was open because the Brooklyn Dodgers New York Giants and moved to Toronto is open and will be called the Continental League was formed by Branch Rickey who was the general manager of the Dodgers who brought Jackie Robinson in the 40s and instantly they were owners who wanted to fill those markets Clark Griffith the former twins executive who's now still trying to bid for the twins from po Ed pointed out to me a couple days back that if in fact Kansas City Minneapolis Oakland and Montreal were abandoned by the big leagues within about a nanosecond a new league would form Or a thoughtful minor league like the northern League win instantly pick up those those cities baseball. I don't think can afford to really lose those markets and certainly can't afford to have a new League formed. I view this more as an indication that some big Market owners don't want to share their revenues any more than they already are and to certain extent. I think that's kind of sad that it's an indication that rather than figure out some fundamental solution to their economic problems baseball's owners are just going to kind of triage some franchises and in that sense some community so it to me it more than a signal of another threat. It's a signal that even if you bought the twins today and maybe even if you got a new stadium in st. Paul over time, the twins relative position within the standings and within the rankings of dollars being brought in won't really change much the owners of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the San Diego Padres who are getting new stadiums are already saying these new stadiums aren't going to save us unless there's more sharing by the other owners. And to me that's the kind of the global look of this report that some owners say fold. The team's really what the owners are saying is we don't want to help the team's hmm back to the phones mats on the line from Blaine. Go ahead Matt. (00:32:15) I've got a couple just basic questions. I'm kind of confused by all this and no aren't we all basically I want to know first of all, what was our taxpayer. What was our contribution to the present Dome and what was went into that. I was in high school. I think when it was being built, so I don't remember any of the hoop while that's going on now 55 million. Okay, (00:32:35) actually we can talk about it. What's your second question? (00:32:38) I've been getting questions. Even I guess more basic is what's wrong with this present Dome that both teams need a new one and I'll hang up with okay (00:32:49) in 1979 55 million dollars of Bonds were issued by the Metropolitan Council but of those 55 million dollars a limited amount have actually And paid for by quote-unquote the taxpayers that is non-users of the Dome. There was a tax on in the metro area the seven-county metro area for a short time in 1979. But then when Minneapolis actually between 77 and 78 when Minneapolis was awarded the stadium the other counties backed out and said they weren't going to support it. I forget exactly how much was raised during that period but it was somewhere I believe in the 10 to 15 million dollar range then for the next couple years. It was the Minneapolis bar Drinkers and hotel stayers who had to pay an excise and a surcharge on their drinks and on their hotel stays and I believe too that that raised in the 8 to 10 million range. I'm pretty sure the total number was about 24 million dollars of non Stadium users who contributed taxes to the 55 million dollars of debt, then ticket buyers hot dogs and popcorn buyers have paid through ticket taxes and the sale of Met Center land and met Stadium land help to also buy down the debt of the Dome. Now there have been other costs over and above the 55 million. There were some infrastructural the county jail had to be moved you. Remember I forget the total number but relatively speaking compared to other cities. There's been small taxpayer usage payment to the Dome now that that doesn't speak to Target Center nor does it speak to the new Arena and st. Paul but as for the Dome as for the second question the Metrodome was the last of the multi-purpose stadiums built in the cycle of stadiums that started in the in the late 1960s the cookie cutter Donuts of Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia in Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh Busch Stadium, sanguis dual-purpose two teams one Stadium just at the cusp of free agency in both Sports and the Dome was built of remember in 82 and a lot of these other store opened in 82. A lot of these other stadiums were opening Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta open and 65. Almost 20 years earlier by the time the Dome had opened already teams were beginning to realize that they needed their own stadiums to sell their own advertising to have their own season tickets and they didn't want to share naming rights sweets in stadium signage with their brethren in football or baseball that goes to the economics of it as for the Aesthetics of it. You know, the Dome was a football stadium. In fact, it was a football soccer stadium because the Minnesota kicks were popular than and I don't mean to sound like Jerry Bell the twins president, but it is true. If you sit in left field at the Dome down the third base line that is your face your head your body will be looking kind of it at left-center field. And if you want to look at home plate, you'll have to see a chiropractor after the game. So it's a football stadium and over time. The twins have used that argument to say that the Dome is inadequate as for the Vikings they say they need more seats more sweets more so-called points of sale for concession. Ends, they need to keep up with this fancy Club seating what's happened to sports is that it's become corporatized and the Dome is not a corporate friendly Stadium. Now, that's what the teams would argue as to why they you know, they need a new stadium. I hope that answers that question. I want to go back to this business of the 15 to 20 million dollar Gap that mr. McComb cited yesterday. Is it would it be unreasonable again for the cynic to point out that mr. McCombs is said to be worth about a billion dollars. I think it's to now actually Battalion. Let's let's let's just round it off to a billion against say that he took his money over here to the Wells Fargo Bank put it in a passbook savings account got his 2% interest that comes out to 20 million dollars a year. Mmm. I won't have to do anything except collect the interest and he'd be all set. Meanwhile the value of the franchise appreciates. He's making money on the side. Why in the world would a public be required to Help him out in that circumstance. Well, I think this is the hurdle that he faces the Minnesota public the Minnesota public. Is it as far as I can gather over the last six years of following this is not going to do that for him. It's just it's just not going to happen and I believe that political leaders have told that to him and so now he has decided that the only way is to he's not appealing to the public. He's apparently, you know, threatening the public I think a better question Gary really might be this the sports facilities commission came up with a renovation plan. It would cost a hundred sixty million dollars, which is 240 million dollars less than he says he needs for a new stadium. The sports facilities commission says that would generate at least 8 million more dollars per year the Vikings using the currently say, that means they would only knit four million. Although I think the sports facilities commission would would renegotiate the lease if the Dome were to have a lifespan beyond the year. 11 which is when the current lease ends. It seems to me that a possible compromise is a renovated Dome as the earlier color points out we have invested in it. It is a good football stadium for most people and already without even working on it. You're halfway to the 15 million that he says he needs with the sports facilities commission plan. I know that mayor Sharon sales belt and thinks that the Dome should be has to be preserved Governor. Ventura has said the dough has to be preserved and I think that what we need what the community needs to do is focus on you know, not only preserving the teams per se but preserving the sports infrastructure. We already have and one of the shortcomings of the McCombs idea is that we would abandon the Dome after 17 years and in Minnesota, we all live in a lot of us live in old houses and we preserve buildings and we're just not used to knocking down things except Arenas. We do eat our Arenas young, you know, we We have knocked down Arenas pretty early. And so you're right. I mean that this issue of a billionaire, you know, it goes to Carl poet to why wouldn't 84 year old man worth two billion dollars build the darn thing himself. Hmm. Why wouldn't Red McCombs build the darn thing himself people have done it in Washington DC and in Carolina private money built the Stadium's because it's easier to try to get public money. I guess Al your question, please (00:39:33) I guess first of all, I remember back in Eighty was at 83 or 93 when the stars moved that they were Community Asset and such and they never move and oh heck no and I'll never sell the team in such as that. Well, gosh, they're gone and two years later he sold the team and we could have gotten out of that deal for 15 million dollars to renovate the Met which was right next to one of the biggest malls in America, but no the downtown interests had their way and said no way. We're not going to we're gonna do it. We're pushing everything downtown and gosh a year later year and a half two years later. The Met was gone. Now, we're looking at 67 million dollars for another downtown which is got you know, horrible access horrible parking just like the Dome has soon as that Dome was built. I remember when it's built just after I got out of high school and people were whining complaining about it then I mean, yeah, I think your little you're being a little bit too kind to the place as there's a reason people call it that for dump. Come on. It's you know, I believe if I'm not mistaken was built on fairly a Spartan Spartan budget and it really shows. Yes. It's only 17 years. It'll be 23 when he threatens to leave. Okay. So your point here is right here is that we I guess if you wanted not be as someone said a cold all the ha we have to make a decision here. And I first of all don't think it has to be downtown. I'd like to be in a place what has a little bit open space and tailgating, etc. Etc. And why does it number? I have to be downtown and 2y is what do we have to do to make a decision here? If you want to be a real quote unquote real City. I'll take the comments up here. (00:41:11) Well couple reactions one is my interpretation of history. And the loss of the North Stars isn't the same as Al's I think and also it happened at a different point in history Norm greens demand for free access to his own new mall attached to Met Center that would connect to the Mall of America was the first time that this community really had an owner say I want I want I want and I think that it was the sports facilities commission wasn't used to that sort of hubris really at that point subsequently. Wolfensohn a Ratner had a similar thing with the Timberwolves and pull out with the twins, but I think we've got to put ourselves in the place of sports facilities Commissioners at that moment and hearing an owner say I want land that's worth 25 million dollars for like 6 plus I want this to be fixed up. So it was another atmosphere than and but it is true. The sports facilities commission is controlled by many apples interest in that was a Bloomington thing as for why Stadium should downtown well over the last six years. I have not heard one suburb screaming to have a stadium. I haven't heard too many proposals floating into the capital saying God darn it. Let's put one in Roseville or let's put one in Eden Prairie just hasn't happened Bloomington. I think if we got a city manager someone inner city council member here would say they're thrilled. There's no stadium in Bloomington. They've got the Mall of America instead and and also downtown seem to be the place where stadiums are being placed, you know around the country and unique things generally are in our in our in the downtown's and as for what would it what will it take for us to remain Major League, you know, I have some theories but I think that we need to have we need to rethink in Minnesota ourselves how we want stadiums to be built and we should this is my opinion not worry about what the owners wonder what the League's one but have a public policy that decides how many teams can we really afford? Can we support for teens? Where should they play and what are we willing to pay for them? It might not be enough. To retain all the teams and it might not be enough to satisfy all the League's and it might be that we do have a AAA AAA teams. And if the community believes that that's good enough then that's the way that will be. It seems to me there right now. There isn't a public consensus to poor between three and seven hundred million dollars into pro sports facilities and I could be wrong and hopefully people will call I don't sense that. There's a ground shift going on in Endless stories like ours today about McCombs seem to harden people's positions rather than get them scared. So right now there is a tremendous tremendous amount of gue around Pro Sports in this community and I don't see it changing for a while Star Tribune writer and Minnesota public radio sports analyst a wiener is with us. We're talking this hour about a couple of interesting Sports Stadium related developments yesterday Vikings own a red McCombs telling a breakfast meeting of Business Executives that if the Vikings don't get a new stadium football stadium within five years. The team will be leaving Minnesota. This came on the heels of a story that was published in Sports Illustrated initially quoting some major league baseball owners is saying that since well in the twins case, since there's no new stadium to generate more Revenue. Probably the best thing to do would be to shut the twins down altogether dissolve the franchise and ship the players out to other teams consolidate Major League Baseball lots of callers on the line here. But again, if you would like to get some more information on this issue participate in a discussion, check out our website npr.org Stan your question, please (00:45:01) yes, I was we talked earlier about public ownership of the teams, but I think the league have some sort of rules about that. Does Jane know anything about that? (00:45:11) The Green Bay Packers are grandfathered into the ownership status that they have and baseball last year. I think in 1998 did open up the idea of you know selling teams selling stock in the team's Allah the Cleveland Indians who are now on this stock market the NBA has the Boston Celtics are in a partnership, but they are they're also on the stock exchange and the National Hockey League has the Florida Panthers who are treated and I there might be some others as for communities owning them and City Zoning them. I think that that would be I don't think there is any league right now that would approve that but that doesn't mean that it couldn't be done and I have believed that if we had political leadership here in the state and around the country that began to press the League's on this that and assuming there were cities or counties that wanted to buy the teams that maybe there'd be some some some On this front will have an it'll be another political discussion relative to the woman who called about priorities. Is that something that we should invest our money in a baseball team versus the infrastructure of a stadium, but it might it might win over more people at least it would be our team and there are many minor league teams more than a handful now who are owned by their communities or counties Roger your question, (00:46:37) please first. I'd like to recommend a book to the listeners called field of schemes by Joanna Kagan and kneeled Emmaus. It's a very good book critical of this kind of macro sport of what the guests referred to as Hopscotch team Hopscotch from City to city is endless cycle of renewed demands for what's essentially corporate welfare. It's not enough for us just to buy the tickets at the back end but we have to provide tax breaks and infrastructure development and a State-of-the-art Stadium every time a nicer one gets built somewhere else in the country. I hope I don't speak for just myself, but for other minnesotans when I say that I wasn't excited about bailing out General Motors. I'm not I wasn't excited about bailing out the savings and loans and I'm not particularly excited about bailing out a team whose owners can't seem to manage it profitably who claim that they're losing money. It sounds like incompetence to me. The only other thing I'll say is people complain about getting big government off our backs. I think we should get big Sports off our backs and I'll go off the air. All right, (00:47:46) I guess are you familiar with that book? Yes. And in fact, I spoke with Neil duhamel's just the other day on this issue of consolidation of teams, and I do I would agree with the call or it's worth reading. It has a strident anti-public funding point of view, but it is particularly does a very good job at explaining This Hopscotch of the Baltimore Colts moving to Indianapolis and the Cleveland Browns moving to Baltimore and and connecting all of the dots between those transactions over a period of 11 years. And so yes, I think it's worth reading quick question before we get our last caller on here. There has what there was many many comments especially during the stadium debate at the legislature that Minnesota needed to take a stand and that we could be a leader in terms of setting the setting a new trend in this country where where communities would say. No, no, no there any evidence that other people have picked up the Baton not really or if they have they been defeated, you know Seattle there were definitely activist against Public Funding in Seattle and two new stadiums are have gone up there San Diego. They were activists against it and the Padres are getting a stadium. No, there is no evidence, but that doesn't mean that people who feel this way here in town should stop feeling that way nor is there any evidence that We've been hurt yet by it. The teams are are still here. You know, this is why if we begin to sort of think outside the so-called box a little bit about public ownership about keeping the prices of the Stadium's down about making them smaller not bigger. Maybe we'll be able to maybe some people will be able to say no and still come up with this Solution. That's affordable. This is an idealistic, you know point of view and my but we are beginning to be the The Last Stand on this and you know time will tell whether we go naked without teams or whether we preserve Sports in the way that we want it which again might be a Triple-A baseball team an NBA team in NHL team and Life Life Will Go On some of us will miss the Vikings and some of us will miss the twins but not too many people really miss the North Stars. I don't think there was not people at the ramparts, you know Throwing Fire rockets at anything, but I do think a key point is the expense that Does that we do incur if we lose a team and then after we've lost the team and made the decision that we don't want to pay for a new team our new stadium that then some booster stand up and say let's get a new expansion team which is what happened with the NHL and then the cost really is a lot higher than that putative 15 million that we should have paid in 1990 Richard quick comment before we wrap up here. (00:50:33) She is at 15 million dollars in the near term that they claim is a shortfall because they don't have boxes and so on and so on (00:50:42) I believe that that's the number that McCombs used although (00:50:46) because if he took his hundred million invested it he turned 10 or 12 million or maybe more and as and and I would rather take 300 million of the state's money or whatever amount and put it in a sport that's not dying. So I've been out to the Blaine hockey blind SportsCenter when you have thousands of kids out there playing soccer. That's a cake. That's that involves kids. I don't know what the demographics are going to run here. Richard but (00:51:11) but that another another piece of the big puzzle. I can see the headline Thunder demand Stadium right now your colleague Patrick Roy C over at the Star Tribune wrote a column today saying that what's ultimately going to happen. The twins will leave that will Grease the skids essentially for the Vikings because they'll be so much political pressure to keep at least one of the two big teams here that the Vikings will be a shoo-in. Do you would you agree with? Mr. Royce? He's analysis I wouldn't agree but I wouldn't say that it's not impossible and I think it would in terms of economic impact assuming there's any I think it would be too bad to see 81 games a year ago and ten games today, which is a difference between baseball and football and but I think as I said earlier, if one team should we leave there would definitely be some sort of support for that second team to stay that would be an unfortunate scenario, but it is possible. Thanks Jay. Appreciate your coming in welcome. I'm guessing we'll be talking about this for the next six years. I'm sure Jay waiter who writes for the Star Tribune? Minnesota public radio sports analyst Jay has been working on the stadium issue for years working on a book on the issue as well. Like to thank all of you who've been with us will be rebroadcasting this program at 92 night or you can check it out on our website npr.org reminder that programming on NPR is supported by Gedney the Minnesota pickle home of Crispy Crunchy hand-picked pickles for over 100 years. That's it for midday today. Thanks for tuning in. Now tomorrow we're going back to the state fair would be out the state fair. So if you're out there make sure you stop by our booth at the corner of Judson and Nelson right across from the new wall of speed of the State Fair. Our guests tomorrow should be an interesting program first hour at 11 o'clock. We'll be talking with Minnesota senator Rod grams. He is of course up for re-election next year wide range of issues to talk about big Federal proposed federal tax cut Farm issues and so on that's it 11 and then over the noon hour. What should be a very Lively discussion about whether Minnesota should move to a unicameral legislature tomorrow and midday at the fair.


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