Editorial: Outlook mostly good for Twins ballpark bill

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Tribune staff editorial

Now that the House of Representatives has passed a stadium bill modeled after Gov.

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

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Now that the House of Representatives has passed a stadium bill modeled after Gov. Jesse Ventura’s proposal, the chance that the Minnesota Twins will have a workable stadium plan in place this year is better than it has ever been. The best part about it is the lack of significant financial risk for the state, and the fact that under the House plan, rural Minnesota residents won’t pay a dime unless they attend games.

When the Senate and House work on the bill in a conference committee, they will probably scrap most of the plan the Senate passed, which relied on things like newspaper and magazine taxes to pay for the stadium. Instead, the state will probably settle on something similar to the Ventura administration’s innovative proposal, which uses the earnings from a $165 million team investment to help pay off bonds for the ballpark. It’s assumed that the host city would also contribute to paying the bonds using ticket taxes and the like.

The threat that Minnesota could lose the Twins has been more serious this year than it has since Carl Pohlad bought the team. The legislature and governor’s ability to find a good solution despite a busy year at the Capitol is good news for the state.

One problematic part of all this, however, is a provision tacked onto the House bill requiring major league baseball to reform its financial system before any stadium can be built in the Twin Cities. This allows legislators to both help justify their votes for the stadium, while possibly even dooming the stadium plan to failure, since it’s up to the discretion of an appointed panel to decide just when baseball has reformed itself enough. It makes some sense that the sport should show a commitment to helping teams like Minnesota compete, but unless the stipulation is removed in conference committee, it may derail the ballpark and expose the Twins to another contraction attempt – and the next time around, contraction may succeed.