Stadium Plan Questions Linger

Many questions remain surrounding a plan unveiled this week by Minnesota's governor concerning getting two sports stadiums done.

With the Vikings, Twins and Gopher football team all looking for their own stadiums, the discussion of funding has been bogged down by a bunch of empty suits in St. Paul concerned more about getting re-elected than serving the public good.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty released his proposal earlier this week, which calls for tax increment financing and more burden to be placed on the city that hosts a stadium -- enough to get Eden Prairie out of the Vikings bidding. Under plans to build a stadium for the Twins and Vikings, Pawlenty said he didn't want to lose the team "on my watch" as governor. But there are some lingering questions.

First is the amount the teams are going to be expected to pay. In his draft plan, each team would pay one-third the cost of a stadium -- $150 million for the Twins and $200 million for the Vikings. Both of them are viewed as too high. Second, and perhaps more importantly, Pawlenty wants a deal done with the Twins by the end of this year and with the Vikings by the end of 2006.

The Vikings issued a press release this week praising Pawlenty's effort.

In a best case scenario, the Twins would use a new stadium anywhere from 81 to 92 dates a year. The Vikings would use a stadium anywhere between 10 and 12 dates a year. The Gophers would use it five or six times. Do the math. At most, all three teams would need the stadium just 100 days out of a 365-day year. Why build three stadiums that will spend much more time vacant that in use? And why spend what sounds like it will be $1.2 billion to construct three stadiums when you could spend $750 million on one facility and have a state-of-the-art facility that will last for decades to come and appease all the revenue stream questions the Vikings have and whatever issues the Twins have now that they're no longer voting to contract THEMSELVES as they did when contraction first came to a vote.

Pawlenty's effort is admirable, but the bottom line is that only one stadium might be needed, one stadium could be jointly built by the three teams with less outside money required and, with the money available, a stadium that makes the Metrodome look like the dump it is could be built to make it a showplace for Minnesota.

All that's left now is for someone to listen to that plan.

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