Bill Wareham, MPR Editor, and Jay Weiner, StarTribune/MPR Sports Commentator, will field the questions about the St. Paul ballpark vote. Other guests include Erich Mische of Vote Yes, and Brishan Rogers of Progressive Minnesota on "Get-out-the-vote" efforts underway.
Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.
(00:00:24) Good afternoon. Welcome back to midday on Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Gary eichten. Glad you could join us. Well, if past elections are any guide the future of the Minnesota Twins, or at least the future of the Minnesota Twins in st. Paul will rest in the hands of 30% of the city's registered voters tomorrow is election day across Minnesota. And while there are no Statewide races on the ballot there is lots of Statewide interest in the election in st. Paul st. Paul voters tomorrow will decide whether they want to increase the city's sales tax by half cent to pay a third of the cost of a proposed new ballpark for the twins in downtown st. Paul if the voters approve the tax increase the proposal would still require approval by the legislature and the governor since the state would be required to pay a third of the cost and front the money for construction of the stadium. So a yes vote tomorrow won't settle the issue but if voters reject the tax increase the issue will presumably be dead at least in st. Paul st. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman the leading advocate of the Downtown Stadium says he'll drop the matter altogether if voters reject the plan, so, how's the boat going to turn out? Well, we won't be able to answer that question this hour, but Bill where M&J wiener are here to answer all your other Stadium related questions bill is a news editor at Minnesota Public Radio. He's been tracking this issue for several years Jay a commentator for Minnesota Public Radio has been covering the stadium issue for the Star Tribune, and he's also writing a book about Stadium politics, and we invite you to join our conversation as well. If you've got a question or a comment about the stadium vote coming up in st. Paul tomorrow. Give us a call now. We would like particularly to hear from those of you in st. Paul who haven't made up your mind yet about how you're going to vote. If you've got some questions trying to sort this out in your own mind. Give us a call here, six five, one two, two seven six thousand 6512276 thousand outside the Twin Cities 1-800 to for 228286512276. Thousand or one eight hundred two four two two eight two eight election day is tomorrow. Now first of all before we get started with our conversation a Minnesota Public Radio is Michael coup as a report on some late developments in the debate over the stadium mere Norm Coleman acknowledges. He has faced an uphill battle to convert skeptical voters throughout the summer he and other Stadium Advocates experimented with a variety of media and messages they talked about possible economic benefits. They showcased potential new owners. Now Coleman has settled on a considerably softer more sentimental pitch. (00:03:01) It's about our kids. It's about our community kind of lighten up. It's about baseball, you know, it's a good thing. It's a real good thing and in the end if you love st. Paul if you love saying Paul, how do you not vote Yes for st. Paul the question of you know before us is not about who loves st. Paul and who (00:03:18) doesn't Jennifer Smith is the director of progressive Minnesota a group opposing the stadium say (00:03:24) Tax initiative the real question here is who should be paying for private stadium and the benefits of that and I think clearly the pro Stadium tax people who are now at this point just relying and appealing only to people's emotions because that's all they've got. The literal question is (00:03:42) whether to raise the st. Paul sales tax a half percentage point to pay for one-third of a 325 million dollar open-air ballpark the state would kick in in additional third and the team would cover the rest with revenues generated by the facility opposition groups, like Progressive Minnesota and fans for st. Paul have been relatively consistent with their message Smith says, it's a matter of economic fairness and spending priorities. (00:04:11) A lot of people think that we should be focusing all this time and energy and money on whether it's creating more housing better jobs looking at the schools and parks and libraries Paving projects. The list goes on and on. And people have named all sorts of things. It's also you know, what what's the best use of our dollar? What can we get for that dollar and clearly the stadium is not the best use of public money (00:04:36) supporters of the stadium tax seem less inclined to play the card of Economic Development these days preferring to promote the psychological and intangible benefits of a Major League ballpark in the city's backyard, but in response to critics Coleman says a new stadium could rejuvenate the downtown creating additional tax revenues to address the same needs Smith sites, and this is an instance where but by the people st. Paul stepping up to the plate. They will bring two to three million people downtown again. If you don't believe that bringing two to three million people downtown st. Paul will generate more economic vitality and ease the tax burden then don't vote for this if you don't see that if you can't see it, (00:05:17) so I wish we could have transported folks to Denver a Cleveland to Baltimore and they would (00:05:21) have seen I mean you we insane Can do it right entertainment districts located near ballparks in Denver and Cleveland are flourishing but critics and most academic economists say the new bars and restaurants don't reflect new activity rather. They represent a transfer of existing Leisure dollars from throughout the Metropolitan region into the stadium neighborhood Economist. Andrew Zimbalist of Smith college in Massachusetts has been a leading figure in deflating predictions of direct economic benefit and he is often cited by opponents of the mayor's plan. But he also says the more nebulous psychic benefits of ballparks do have public value, even if they're hard to quantify. (00:06:07) So I don't think that it's reasonable to expect there to be a hundred percent private financing. There are externalities economists uses word externalities. There are externalities and there is consumer surplus it does get captured. By the presence of a ball team. So I think there is there is a basis for some public subsidization again, I just think one has to concentrate on what what what the fair share is (00:06:34) here Zimbalist says the excitement and status of having a HomeTown team particularly during a winning season benefits an entire Community. Even those who don't attend games the real question then is should City residents pay for that benefit. And if so how much st. Paul voters decide tomorrow, I'm Michael coup, Minnesota Public Radio and of course will be on the air tomorrow night starting at 8 o'clock as the election returns come in to keep you posted on just how the vote tomorrow actually turns out right now though. We thought it would be good to give those of you who have not been paying as close attention to this issue as other people have an opportunity to get your questions answered about the stadium issue. Where M and J wiener are here to answer your questions. Give us kind of the basics kind of a stadium primer this hour here on midday. And again, if you'd like to join in give us a call, six, five one two, two seven six thousand or one eight hundred two, four two two eight two eight Jay Bell. Thanks for coming over. You're welcome. My pleasure. Well, let's start with the real basic things here. What kind of ballpark we talking about? 325 million dollar open-air 38,000 42,000 seat Stadium pretty much copycat potentially, of course field and Jacobs Field which are the new stadiums in Denver and Cleveland respectively. They're actually about five years old. Now. We really haven't seen a specific design. It looks in the pictures similar to the stadium that was proposed by the twins in 1997 when they were trying to get a Riverfront stadium in Minneapolis. It would be filled with the sorts of bells and whistles that the new stadiums have of high-end luxury suites elite club seating and old-fashioned so called retro feel but it would not be the kind of stadium that some other folks have been talking about which would be heaps smaller still perhaps in the 38 thousand seats. And that would be cheaper and that might fit into a neighborhood a little bit more. Although mayor Coleman to his credit has been trying to figure out a way to get the stadium to fit into the Lower Town neighborhood in particular. So I think that would be the basic picture of stadium that people growing up actually in the more industrial cities of the United States would be familiar with it would not be a redone met Stadium. It wouldn't be the Erector Set kind of feel that we had here but more of a traditional brick stadium and it would either be and Lower Town part of downtown st. Paul or across the river on the West Side Bill. They've narrowed it down to three sites to over on the in the downtown side of the river one in Lower Town one to the north of there a few blocks and then there's a site on the west what we call the West Side here, which is actually south of the river go figure that out but a couple of sites have been eliminated just in the last few weeks. So three sites. The house ate a half cent sales tax increase would pay for a third of the 325 million dollar stadium. Is that right? And it would it would pay for a third of the annual Debt Service on the stadium the The Upfront money to actually build the stadium would all come from the state. So all 325 million dollars that would have to be paid to the contractors would come from the state and then over time over the 30-year perhaps less years that it could be paid off 1/3 would come from that half cent sales tax increase and then the team's theoretically would pay a third of The Debt Service and the state would pay a third right? It's a little more complicated than that, but more or less that this way it goes. Hmm. And what happens is there any general agreement as to what happens if the if this sales tax increase is not approved does that mean then the Twins Minnesota Twins will be leaving town. Oh, I think that Still Remains to be seen I think a lot remains to be seen after Tuesday depending on how this goes. But no, there's no threat for the twins to leave. The twins still have another year left to go on their lease at the Metrodome. There is no promise that the fellows who stepped in to buy the team from Carl polad for this deal will remain that they will remain in place should this fall through there's just long and short of it pretty much everything's up in the air after Tuesday and even if it passes and or if it fails I think we can expect that the Minneapolis Hennepin County forces will be heard from one way or the other if it should fail I would think there might be a little bit more of a period of time of waiting but there is a plan that has been floated and publicly discussed in which Hennepin County countywide would try to raise its own sales tax in that. Define not only a twin stadium and a Viking Stadium or refurbishing of the dome, but some other Public Works projects and if it should pass I think we'd see that to pretty quickly because their plan in Hennepin County they will argue has no State piece to it at all. And st. Paul is really relying on the state to come forward. So if well, we could have dueling plans or we could have no plan or we could have one plan and if you have a plan you can shoot the three. All right. Well, let's get some more listener questions answered here again J. Weiner and Bill Wareham joined us. They've been tracking this issue for years now and they've come by to answer your basic questions about the stadium vote that's coming up tomorrow in st. Paul. If you'd like to call in with a question, six, five, one two, two seven six thousand or one eight hundred two, four two two eight two eight and we would particularly like to hear from those of you who haven't yet made up your mind one way or the Other on this is to how you're going to vote. If you have some questions that need to be answered so you can make up your mind. Give us a call Richard's up. First. Go ahead. (00:13:01) Yeah. My question is this I live off Snelling Avenue and st. Paul and I can either shop in Highland Park where I can go up to harm our to shop up there and basically everybody always talks about the sale tax only going up a half a percent but the fact of the matter is it's already a half percent higher in st. Paul versus a surrounding suburbs at this time. So it's going to be a full percentage Point higher in st. Paul that it is saying Roseville, you know, what harm are where I could also shop and I think that that really does make a difference in terms of when you have a big purchase a to $300 for an air conditioner or a refrigerator that type of thing you're going to you're going to be much more apt to go up to harm our and by it versus downtown or you know, Highland Park or Grand Avenue, whatever. That's my comment. The other thing I want to say is I was down in Wrigley near Wrigley Stadium the other day in Chicago and I know that on game day. You just can't get a parking spot in the whole area. So really there are some negatives that I don't think anybody ever talks about. Okay, I'll take my pants off the air. Thanks. (00:14:09) All right. Thanks for the call. Okay to two issues there. Is there any agreement as to how this sales tax increase would affect existing businesses already in the city. Probably not. I would say that the stadium proponents would argue that it won't have a gigantic effect and that those coming in from out of st. Paul for games and for events around games will generate some so-called new dollars that might compensate for what's lost it might be new to st. Paul. They won't be new to the state of Minnesota. So I think that there unless Bill knows otherwise, I don't think so any agreement as to how to affect know I would just say that, you know, the economist who look at these things suggest that it varies widely from person to person a lot of people wouldn't pay attention to that half cent and go across the border to Rosedale to save a half percentage point there. But as the gentleman says, you know in larger purchases, it adds up a little more. It depends on the kind of thing. You're buying the type of This year you're dealing with there's there's really no easy answer to how sensitive people are two sales tax increase. It does not affect cars and boats and those gigantic big ticket items. Those are called excise taxes, I think in that sales taxes, so someone won't not buy a car on University Avenue versus Rosedale because of the car purchase, but he's right a refrigerator an air conditioner. You could feel it. There is General agreement. I understand though as to the per cost basis for st. Paul taxpayers. Am I right about that 21 dollars a year of twenty two twenty one dollars a year is what apparently competing sides of this have looked at for about 15 years 15 to 20 years depending on how long it takes to pay off the bonds. But then again reiterate it depends a lot on the type of person who's doing it if you brown-bag it and you're buying groceries, you're not going to get hit up for sales taxes in Same way that somebody who eats out at Taco Bell or a nicer restaurant every day when now on the notion of competing side, so they were both City officials one was a city council but fiscal rep and most of the city council members have come out against the stadium and the other was the City Finance director said, they're both City officials. There's been no kind of so-called independent look at that but no one has seemed to have disputed this $20 76 figure and it does assume that about half of all the taxes paid in st. Paul are paid by businesses and not by people as well. And that's an assumption that was created. I think by a proponent for the stadium, but it's probably correct. So there hasn't been any bomb throwing over whether this $21 is right? Okay, another another point to clarify here the as I understand that the language would of the ballot question talks about imposition of this extra sales tax or the increase in the sales tax for 30 years and yet Other time about paying it off in 15 years. What's that all about? Well, the figuring out how long it takes to pay off. These bonds is far more complicated than you think it would be but you have to make assumptions about how much added sales tax would raise. So how much you have available for Debt Service and the same set of figures that went into figuring this $20 $0.76 annual hit to the average st. Paul light. Also those folks figured that it would take about 16 years. Well, actually the Greg beliefs was the fiscal policy Director City Council is now saying it would take 13 years. And the reason the numbers go up I think is because of inflation and increased sales. So they have they started out at a number of today's sales and if sales increase the percentage stays flat at 7, and it grabs more of Increased sales in the city. And also when they put this together in July and August, they did a pretty quickly, you know trying to figure out how this Finance plan would work. They did it somewhat conservatively to their credit. So they thought it would take 30 years to pay it off. It only might take 13 might on. That's just the City's piece though. The twins would still have to be paying their 8.5 million dollars a year for 30 years and the state would still have to be capturing all this new money so called new money for 30 years. So I don't think the stadium would be paid off in 30 years. The City's piece. The sales tax piece would be paid off in 30 years and got to remember the case of the dome. For instance. That was supposed to take 30 years and that took about 19 years because things happened. Hmm Timber. Go (00:19:04) ahead. Yes. I'd like to know what the sales tax it be removed. If enough of if enough funding would be created. And then also why wouldn't the stadium be public since I'm a third of the voter. I'm a third of the funding will be coming from coming from the vote. Listen to the answer to thank you. Okay, (00:19:24) I think the question is to whether it would be removed would be up to City officials somewhere down the line. Once the debt is paid off. I don't think no no, I don't think it blinks off when the stadium is paid for. I think it stays on but somebody should call and let us know if well, that's what I mean. You know, I mean they there it wouldn't go off automatic, right? Yeah, and why isn't it why would the essentially this be the well, would this be the twin Stadium or would this be a state or city Stadium that's used by the twins who actually would own this Stadium. It will be owned according to the use this term sheet that exists by the city of st. Paul or the port authority of st. Paul. All of the revenues will go to the twins. So that's the way and therefore there would be no property taxes on the stadium because would be publicly owned but the revenue This will be controlled by the team. So when we say that the twins would pay a third of this does this mean that actually what they're doing is just assigning some of the extra money they make from the new stadium to pay for the new stadium. I mean, it's not like Glenn Taylor and Bob Negley would write out a check. It's rent. It's what is the twins annual payment is an eight point five million dollars a year rent, but the team places no money up front into the construction of the stadium Bill. You're next. (00:20:50) Thanks. I actually have a couple questions one is my understanding is that the deal calls for three million people to attend games after the stadium is built. I believe this means sellout crowds every home game and I'm wondering if you think that's a reasonable expectation. And and what are the ramifications are the taxpayers on the hook if the If the crowds substantially come, you know come in a lot less. The other question I have is I'm really curious and owner had a never had a really good answer to this. Why is it that the pattern Nationwide seems to be that most often the public when asked in one way or another says know sometimes repeatedly and yet public officials seemed ready and willing very often to ignore that and to find a way to put public money into a stadium. Anyway, obviously they think if they don't they're going to lose something big and I'm wondering what that (00:21:55) is. Okay. Let's see. What are the attendance estimates under the proposal the mayor started out the campaign saying 3 million somewhere in between it became two million and then thankfully it's become about 2.5 million which makes sense and I think the internal projections on both. Team and City should be about 2.5 million over time. There's a belief as in the 97 debate that the first couple years would be substantially higher and maybe 3 million but Bill makes a good point and that is an open-air stadium and Glenn Taylor has acknowledged this injury Bell. The twins president actually talked about this in the Day of the Dead Carl pull had said his so-called goodbye that an open-air stadium in st. Paul is my word is somewhat problematic because in April and in September when school is still on when we still have rain and some snow it's going to be hard to expect the 38,000 people will show up for every game and if you've got the typical number of rainouts just rainouts alone, which would have been somewhere between five and eight every year at MIT Stadium when we had an outdoor stadium in the 60s 70s and first couple years of the 80s, you're automatically going to lose two hundred forty thousand fans right there swimming a sell out of six games at 40,000 people there for your three. In figure instantly comes down with an open-air Stadium. I think the 2.4 million is what a baseball team in America in the 21st century needs to draw to to be successful based on the payroll. Then what happens if the fans don't respond they get their million fans like they did this year who who's supposed to pick up the financial slack? Well, if the team is on the hook for that just as they are now, of course that makes it difficult to pay all your bills including your debt service, but there's it's the team's responsibility. Well what the state piece of this Finance plan and thankfully we didn't get into it before but I might have to get into it now is reliant on increased revenues generated by the twins over and above what they generate today at the Dome. That is the so-called new dollars. That would be spent in the stadium. Are going to flow into certain amount of them via taxes flow into the state's funding piece. So in theory the state is a little bit on the hook, but if the state can't pay it, the twins are guaranteeing that they'll make up the difference a bill where I'm is right the teams on the hook. Now some people would argue like with the case with the hockey team the wild that the rent is so high in each of these facilities that if and when the teams meet some distress, which hopefully they would not rent could be reduced and the 8.5 million dollars a year that they're paying rents would somehow be reduced know who would make up that difference. I'm not I'm not sure we're going to break here for news headlines, but very briefly the the other half of bells question and that was repeatedly around the country when they've had votes of one sort or another on stadiums voters have said no no, no and yet the the plans keep coming back. What is it about these stadiums that Public officials why do public officials continue to pursue these projects in the face of public opposition? What is it about them that that forces or not forces, but but encourages public officials to plow ahead. Well at any given time there is a significant part of the population that does enjoy sports and does like having teams around, you know, if you look at the most recent polls here in st. Paul thirty percent of the people would like a stadium in st. Paul that's enough to drive interest in at least keeping the issue alive. Okay, well where I mange wiener or whether it's this hour they've been tracking the stadium issue for a long long time and they've come by today to provide us with something of a midday primmer. The big vote is tomorrow in st. Paul and whether the city will raise its sales tax by half percent to help pay for the city's portion of a proposed new ballpark for the Minnesota Twins in downtown st. Paul again if you have a question here, If you're especially if you're on the fence yet don't know how you're going to vote and you want to get something clarified help you make up your mind. Give us a call six five. One two, two seven six thousand outside the Twin Cities one eight hundred two four two two eight two eight will get to more callers in a couple minutes. But right now here's got a Cunningham with some news Greta. (00:26:34) Good afternoon, Gary a coast guard official says Searchers no longer expect to find any survivors of the Egypt air crash. The Coast Guard has been meeting with families and loved ones of the crash victims the (00:26:45) plane plunged into the (00:26:46) Atlantic Ocean yesterday off the coast of Massachusetts 217 people were onboard 106 of them were Americans EgyptAir is chartering flights to Providence Rhode Island for families of the victims, so they can be closer to the crash site Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is welcoming the Palestinian prime minister as a partner in (00:27:05) the making of a piece of the Brave (00:27:07) Arafat says that he hopes his talks with a hood Barack will follow in the footsteps of its Aqua Bean the Israeli Prime Minister assassinated for years ago tomorrow. That says he'll do everything possible to revive the peace process and put it back on track. He spoke shortly before meeting with President Clinton who held a separate meeting earlier with the Israeli Prime Minister Arafat and Barack have scheduled a two-hour meeting together later today in Oslo, Norway, New Hampshire Senator, Bob Smith is now a republican again Smith left the party over the summer and blasted Republican leaders saying they had abandoned their conservative base on issues like abortion and gun control. He decided to run for president as an independent but last week week Smith dropped his White House bid and today he rejoined the GOP Smith says he wants the chairmanship of the Senate environment and Public Works committee a committee that was chaired by the late Senator John chafee, but he says he made his decision to return to the Republican party before chaffee's death in Regional news. John and Sandra win of Oakdale are the winners of the sixty one point 1 million dollar Powerball jackpot. They say they're taking their grandchildren to Disney World the couple claimed the prize. Is at Lottery headquarters in Roseville this morning, they bought the ticket Saturday morning in st. Paul. It's the second largest Lottery prize ever won in Minnesota checking current conditions around the region Duluth report sunshine and 46. It's clouding in Saint Cloud in 47 sunshine in Rochester and 52. And in the Twin Cities. Mostly sunny skies a temperature of 50 degrees Gary. That's a look at the latest (00:28:40) news. All right. Thank you Greta 25 minutes before one. This is midday in Minnesota Public Radio. This hour. We are previewing tomorrow's big vote in st. Paul on the proposed Twins baseball stadium lot of people RJ wiener and Bill larimar with us. They're here to answer your questions. A lot of people have suggested that the key to the vote tomorrow is going to be voter turnout. And so we thought we'd check in with both sides to find out just what efforts are underway in that regard Eric Mishi is with us a top adviser to see Paul Mayor Norm Coleman. Definitely. Mr. (00:29:11) Music. Good morning. Good afternoon, I guess. Yes. (00:29:13) What do you folks up to today to try to get your supporters to the polls? (00:29:17) Probably the same same thing that folks who are trying to keep baseball for coming to st. Paul. I do one which is contacting your supporters and encouraging them to get out to vote and bring their friends and families with them and make sure they get out there tomorrow. (00:29:30) How do you know who's with you? And who's again? (00:29:33) Yeah. Well you it's a long process it started about four or five months ago. You contact registered voters in the city and you talk to them you converse with them you share with them your thoughts on why we believe the ballpark be good for st. Paul and hopefully at the end of the day you get them to agree that it's a good idea. And then from there you get them to get out and vote. (00:29:57) Have you got the sense that public opinion is still fairly fluid or is everyone pretty much made up their (00:30:02) mind. I think pretty much made up their minds. I mean, we obviously go into this election tomorrow behind and I'm well aware that this is a tough issue. There are strong feelings on both sides and All we can do is appeal to people in st. Paul that if there's going to be a ball park built somewhere Minnesota and as I listened to your program both Jay and Bill had suggested that somewhere there will be a ballpark built in Minnesota. And if there is going to be one why not st. Paul (00:30:35) 30 percent turnout, I as I understand it is fairly typical for these off-year elections. Are you expecting substantially more people or fewer people to vote tomorrow? (00:30:44) Yeah. I don't really have a sense wonder where the other eye. I've been in this business for 20 years and I've made it a practice of not trying to figure out what turnouts going to be. The focus of what we're trying to do is continue to remind people who support our efforts that tomorrow is an election that they've got to get out and vote that you can't hope this in you got to vote it in and you just got to show up, you know, the people who show up they count. Okay. Thanks a lot for joining us. Thank you, (00:31:09) Eric me. She was one of Jay Paul Mayor Norm Coleman's top advisors are leading the effort to try to get the Stadium initiative passed one of the leading organizations opposed to the sales tax increase is a progressive Minnesota and briefs on Rogers whose political organizer for credit for Progressive Minnesota joins us now. Good afternoon. Hey Gary, how you doing? Well, I'm just fine. What are you folks up to today? (00:31:35) We are on the phones. We're calling a lot of Voters and st. Paul just to make sure the folks who are opposed to the sales tax do get out to the polls tomorrow. (00:31:43) How do you know who to call or are you just randomly picking (00:31:46) people know we've actually we have not had you know, the resources to send out a lot of mail to people or you know to really broadcast your message out there and that kind of way what we've been doing is we've had phone Banks up and running for the past six weeks contacted about 25 thousand households in st. Paul and at this point we're just recalling the people we've already spoken with who said they're against the stadium tax to urge them to get out to the polls. (00:32:07) Do you get the sense that public opinion is still fluid or is everyone pretty much made up their (00:32:13) mind know people's minds are made up people's minds are definitely made up. You know that said though it is all about turnout tomorrow because public opinion doesn't necessarily reflect who's actually going to get out to the polls. You know, this was actually the paper a couple months ago. One of them are Coleman's former aides said The more normal people who show up the worst chance, the initiative has of passing. So what we're doing you could say we're working to get normal people out to the polls people who believe public money should be spent on neighborhoods on education and parks and the housing not on (00:32:40) stadiums. What's your sense again? As I was noting with mr. Mishi, apparently the traditional turnouts about 30 percent of registered voters in an off-year election. Do you sense that (00:32:52) lots more people are going to vote tomorrow or pretty know it's really really tough to call, you know back in 95 the turnout was I think around 25% that was the last comparable election year, but even that time all the city council races were contested in this year. There are a couple uncontested races. So because of that and because we've been outspent so heavily, we've just been on the phones urging folks to get out there and vote. That's what this race is all about at this point. All right. Thanks for joining us. No problem. Thank (00:33:17) During operation Rogers who is a political organizer with Progressive Minnesota. One of the organization's that's opposed to the proposal to raise the st. Paul City sales tax by a half percent to help pay for a new ballpark for the Minnesota Twins in downtown st. Paul now before we broke we were talking with Jay Weiner and Bill Wareham about Stadium proposals like this elsewhere in the country. The operating principle was that people all around the country have turned these down and yet politicians persist but ju say that's not true. Yeah, that isn't really the case everywhere. I'm thinking off the top of my head Houston Cincinnati Scottsdale Arizona recently new arena for the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team these cities without saying no first have said yes first and so there are some communities in which the plan or the stadium or that moment in history for those cities has That said to the majority of the people that it's worth it to have a stadium now that is true. There are the worst case scenario cases of Pittsburgh and Seattle where people said no and the politicians went around them and got a plan put together anyway, and I think those are the ones that stick in people's craw but Minnesota and it's continuous no overtime. I think might lead people to think that everybody in the country says no and that just isn't true. The only time we've had a referendum on this issue was the progressive Minnesota backed one in Minneapolis in 97 that put a top a cap on how much that City could spend before it goes back to the voters to approve any new sports facilities for proteins, but we really haven't had a vote here. Although those calls and November of 97 was sort of a de facto 250,000 phone calls flooding the state capital might be viewed as a gorilla vote of some way. You know. Hmm Tom your (00:35:11) question. Well, I had a comment and a question either the comment was I Heard the the mayor today talk about if you love seeing Paul you'll vote for this and I'm just a kind of fun that a little offensive just because I'm not sure what love has to do with and I mean if you love a child do you let him make bad decisions on the grounds that you love? I mean, I think the people that love st. Paul enough to get past the feelings that they may have about the Twins and outdoor baseball should be should be saying no and I think that you know, this is the thing to really give the twins a real incentive for a true public private partnership. The thing I could question I had though was about the like Isis of Jay I think because he's so knowledgeable about this stuff is in Seattle. Now, I understand that there's quite a problem there because there's a over 100 million dollars in cost overruns and I understand the Mariners had originally said that they would be responsible for that. Just like the the twins are saying that they're going to be responsible for deficits. Shortfalls and overruns what happened in Seattle and why I why is it appear that the taxpayers of Seattle are going to get stuck with this and could that happen here (00:36:27) Ida star in the paper last week about this and Erica Misha who would just heard from and Deputy Mayor Susan Kimberly and some of the other Consultants assured me and threw me the readers of the Star Tribune that the cost overrun issue in Seattle would not be reborn here in st. Paul the language which I have not seen the language in the Seattle deal between the Mariners and I believe it's King County was not as exacting as the Saint Paul officials say their language would be if and when there's a formal contract and lease with the twins, they would be looking more the st. Paul officials would be looking more at the Phoenix language in which the Diamondbacks Arizona Diamondbacks said, they would pick up all the costs on the stadium if there were cost overruns. And in fact, they had to and Maricopa County picked up nothing on the Runs between X did the Seattle Mariners language seems to have been pretty squishy. Nothing has been determined yet. But the Mariners are saying because the tax that was created to fund the stadium has brought in more money than it was anticipated to be to bring in the Public's got it. So the public should use its money and I've just spoken with people in Seattle who say, you know, the public is pretty mad at you know about that. So that's what the possibilities are on the cost overrun. Not one thing in cost overruns though the team the twins would only be responsible for Stadium cost overruns not infrastructural cost overruns meaning roads sewers Etc. And again Eric Mishi, and the mayor's people have said if it comes to having it cost more than the 48 million dollars. It's been allotted for cost overruns. It just won't happen or they'll have to find money elsewhere. But the twins are not responsible for the kinds of stuff to get people to the stadium. Most of the new stadiums that have been built have been built with some kind of public. Private Arrangement the exception though is in San Francisco in my right amount that that's essentially a privately financed deal. But the baseball team will build its own stadium. What's how would that compare to the st. Paul situation? What lessons are what should we draw from that? Well, I think that's still an experiment that we haven't seen the end of yet right. Now. The the San Francisco voters turned down large amounts of public money. I think three times before the owners of the Giants decided to come forward with the deal that would provide about 95% private financing for their project. Now that stadium is an up and running the there's a it just remains to be seen at this point, whether that kind of financing model can work in a league where the public is putting up large amounts of money for Baseball stadium one of the things that keeps coming up in this conversation is the need for baseball to rearrange its economics. The II the argument being that no matter whether the twins get a new ballpark or not. The fact is they're not going to be able to remain competitive with the Yankees and other big Market teams. Is there any movement at the Major League Baseball level to actually change the way the game is structured economically people involved with this so-called Blue Ribbon committee that's been formed by commissioner bud selig in the Carl polite has been attending some of the meetings the current winds owner say that there will be some changes made when the report comes out and they claim it'll be sometime this year. Although baseball has a tendency to take things beyond that and so there seem to be some internal discussions about how to revenue share more in baseball as they do in football and basketball that does remain to be seen it remains to be seen to what level right now even some owners like the owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the owner of the San Diego Padres are saying that even new stadiums won't change their relative position within the league in terms of competitive standings and financial standings will improve their status and new stadium for the twins would undoubtedly make them better than they are today whether they would make them good enough to move substantially higher in the standings, you know, Israel Israel uncertain and some owners are saying that might not be the case. Remember the the Yankees payroll this year was 86 million dollars and even in a new stadium here in st. Paul the twins revenues undoubtedly would not top 100 million unless something really dramatic occurred. So already they'd have to be in the 60 million dollar probably payroll range, maybe seven if they were pushing it and that would really be tough to do unless they're winning all the time and drawing those three million people were talking about Jennifer your question. (00:41:10) Yeah, a custom part of my question was an answer before about what what the At the city is planning to do to make this these neighborhoods accessible to the people. I work and live in the lower town area and there's no way that our neighborhood is ready for the three million people that would be coming in and out of this town. And where are those tax dollars coming from have any estimates been made on how much it would cost to get these neighborhoods ready? I guess would be my question and I'll take my answer after (00:41:42) year and that reminds me that we didn't answer the fellows question earlier about the parking where in the world are all these people supposed to park here in the MPR lat but her cook her the answer to Jennifer's question is the ordinance caps infrastructural costs to the city at 48 million dollars. And so we're extra money might come from or how the rest of that is going to be done. I'm not sure and as parking I don't think we've seen very good designs on how they would Implement new parking here in downtown. St. Paul or cross (00:42:18) the river cross the river (00:42:19) be easier because you're dealing with a largely industrial area and you could do some surface parking some Lots around there. But if you put a stadium in in Lower Town, we just haven't seen the designs on how they put something in that would handle that level of traffic and the tentative term sheet does guarantee might be too strong a word but a lot six thousand parking spots for the Twins and which they would capture the money from that. So there is some thinking that they'll be 6,000 Parking Spot somewhere available that you know, we live in st. Paul no might be tough downtown right now. Jay weiner is with us. He writes for the Star Tribune has been tracking the stadium issue. He's a Minnesota Public Radio commentator as well Bill Wareham MPR editor is with us. He's been tracking the stadium issue for a long time and today on the eve of the big vote on the stadium in st. Paul. They've come by to answer some basic questions about What's at stake here? What's going to be voted on and we don't have a lot of time left. But if you've got a question, we'll try to get it on quickly here six five. One two, two seven six thousand or one eight hundred two, four two two eight two eight again would particularly like to hear from those of you who haven't made up your mind one way or the other yet. You're on the fence and would like to get a little more information on some aspect of this to help you make your decision John you're (00:43:42) next. Hey, thank you Gary a lot of good questions and a lot of good discussion. My question is, you know, if the twins are going to be here here now, but sold maybe in a year or two or three where is their responsibility as far as funding of the stadium and the next the years to (00:44:07) come? Okay. So the tailor group buys the twins from Carl polad and the stadium is built but then down the road here Glen Taylor. Bob negly and his group decide. We don't really don't want to own this team. We're going to sell it what happens then to all the obligations that they've incurred. Well, they're couple scenarios one is they sell to someone here in town and that person that group would pick up its obligations. And in fact, there is a clause in the term sheet that says the city and the state would get 33% of the appreciated value of the franchise at that moment of sale that might not amount a lot of money, but conceptually it's an idea that says the public gets some money back the second scenario is they want to sell it to somebody in Las Vegas. There's a clause in the term sheet. I'm pretty sure that says Taylor and negly or these new owners have got to pay off the bonds. And in fact, they might have to pay off a hundred fifty percent of the bonds meaning if there's two hundred million dollars left on the stadium. They've got to pay three hundred million dollars to the city and the state to make them whole and good for the construction the stadium so for right now, The protections are pretty good. There was a story in this morning st. Paul Pioneer Press in which mayor Coleman floated the idea that the city would quote unquote by the team if if someone was going to sell it out of the out of state and really it reads to me like a cause this in the Target Center deal that says the city would kind of be a broker for who might buy the team and could actually hold it for a year 18 months if there were no buyers. So that answers question I think for as any Stadium deal in the country. I think the public seems to be protected on what happens that assumes that the values of teams increase and the wealth of owners, you know, stays that high in the Marvin harv the wolfensohn Ratner case Target Center a privately built Arena. These guys went belly-up and that became a problem in the you know, the public had to buy that out is this doesn't look like that at all but there's always some worst-case scenarios that occur what does happen if the team comes to the city and the state Road and says we can't make these payments and so, you know do what you will we're not going to pay that certainly a plausible scenario. I think if we've learned anything over the years here in watching how Stadium deals work. It's that there's really no such thing as an ironclad lease, you know, the contracts are business Arrangements. They aren't moral obligations and if business is losing money, they've got to find a way to stop losing money. And if that in fact is happening, you can be sure that one of the things they'll at least consider is whether they can get a better lease Arrangement and if they can't they they'll start talking about going somewhere else, you know, we're talking about, you know, a lease a 30-year lease something like that. That's a heck of a lot of business Cycles in in any business. I mean the only team recently in Major League Sports history, that's gone bankrupt is the Pittsburgh Penguins Seattle pilots in 1969 who became Milwaukee Brewers, they went bankrupt. So it's rare that a team absolutely goes under I think it's easy for us to think of absolutely all the bad things that can happen. But to me the issue of this high rent is one easy adjustment down the road if it would come to that of bringing the high rent down, you know, it would be a disaster if 1.7 million people showed up to a new stadium. That would just be awful. I don't think we can we should even think about that but you know anything is possible when the public funds it and sports goes through cycles and only 20% of Americans 22% of Americans. I think consider themselves Baseball fans these days and when only 18% of the people in the MPR poll said they had been to a Twins game last year. These are all things that are, you know part of the mix that said I think an outdoor stadium in Minnesota, I think would You know pretty well, but the team would have to improve Rich your question. (00:48:23) Yeah, I'm wondering about what the possibility would be if the Vikings playing in the new stadium was there is a baseball stadium absolutely nowadays. They just they just can't some other dude play football and baseball stadium. (00:48:40) I would say that there's absolutely zero chance that the Vikings would play in this new stadium. It's designed specifically to be a baseball stadium because everybody's decided that (00:48:50) that trying to put a baseball stadium inside a football (00:48:54) footprint over in the Metrodome is just awful and that combined with all the modern day revenues of twins aren't getting the reason that they're making this Porsche. Could it be used to for our fledgling soccer team? No nothing. I mean, I don't think that there'd be the dimensions to put a field. To fit us a soccer field in there, but I think he raises a point that people just should stick in the back of their minds that no matter what happens in the referendum tomorrow. The Vikings are like Waldo back there sort of, you know with their hand raised and well, this is a twins vote tomorrow if it should get to the legislature in February. It will be a Twins and Vikings vote. Let's get one more caller on here. Anyway before we wrap up (00:49:45) Joann. Hello. See I'm wondering this what guarantee is there that admission tickets will be affordable for families. I've heard a friend of mine is absolutely militant on the subject because other Athletics are so expensive. But what kind of a situation would you think would be ahead for people who want to take their kids? (00:50:07) Okay baseball tickets today are absolutely the cheapest of all the Big League Sports by far whether they'll be as cheap as a movie ticket. I No, they're the twins have always been good and having reasonably priced tickets have got some of the lowest ticket prices in the league and so in comparison to other Pro Sports, this will be affordable. Now will the average ticket price be 22 bucks. I'm sure I'm sure it will be but I bet they'll be some $5 or seven dollar tickets, but you will begin to see in a new stadium the $40 Twins ticket without any doubt, but that's going to compare very reasonably to the average ticket price in NHL of $60 these days 45 to 60 dollars Bob a quick one. (00:50:48) Yes, this is Bob doing in Bloomington. Yes, quick question. Yes, very quick the first of all I do not favor public money for sports teams subsidies, but my point today is nobody seems to tell st. Paul voters that if they vote the half cent sales tax, the st. Paul voters will also have to pay when Minnesota increases its tax. If the statement is stadium is to happen. Nobody seems to tell them that it's just a half percent. It's not just a half percent. It's going to cost them more. Okay, they should know it clearly (00:51:16) right now. Think what that cost estimate indicated that it that would have raised an extra two dollars of cost extra $2.00 wouldn't it for st. Paul voters according to that study that was done by the Saint Paul people $21 for the city tax and then another couple of Doc's well and that assumes that the if the state went along with this deal that they would raise taxes to do that. There's you know, I can't foresee what the state would do what the legislature would do, but presumably they could take their share out of existing revenues and cut out other services. So there's no promise that taxes would be raised at the state level. Hmm very briefly again. If it if the ballpark is initiative is approved tomorrow that does that mean then the twins will be playing here in st. Paul and three years. No, absolutely not and if it is rejected tomorrow, does that mean that the Minnesota Twins will be leaving, Minnesota? No. This thing will go on until it gets settled one way or another. All right. Thanks a lot guys. Appreciate it. Good information Bill where our Minnesota Public Radio editor and Jay weiner Star Tribune reporter. He's written a book on the Stadium's Minnesota Public Radio commentator joining us this hour with a kind of Stadium primer on the eve of the big vote in st. Paul and whether to raise the city sales tax to help pay for ballpark for the Minnesota Twins in downtown st. Paul the polls open tomorrow, they'll be open from 7:00 until in the morning to late at night. If you don't know where to vote check with the city clerk, there are elections, of course all across the state tomorrow and tomorrow night at 8:00. We'll be on the air with the results from on the stadium vote and many many other issues around the state as well. So I do hope you'll be able to join us tomorrow night 8 o'clock for our live election coverage now another place to get some information. About the stadium issue specifically if you'd like to get some more dope check our website npr.org massive collection of documents on the stadium issue and I think you might find that quite informative as well. Today's programming is made possible in part by The Advocates of Minnesota Public Radio contributors include ATC telecommunications and elects Corporation Foundation supporting communities, like ours that does it for midday today again. Thanks so much for tuning in today. And thanks for calling in those of you who called inner tried to call in with your questions and comments will be re broadcasting as program at 9:00 tonight. So you get a second chance to hear from Bill and Jay check our website out for more information on the stadium stay to now Talk of the Nation coming up next tomorrow on midday over the noon hour. It's off to the national press club or a speech by the new UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.