Editorial: Speak out now about a new Twins’ stadium

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 18, 2002

In the aftermath of the Minnesota Twins’ valiant run in the American League playoffs, talk is already starting on how long the team will stay together.

On two counts.

There is a question, of course, of how long the Twins will stay in existence. The answer will come from the Legislature, since a new stadium at least partially funded through public funds is the only way the Twins will stick around.

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The other question is whether owner Carl Pohlad will be willing to spend the money on player salaries to keep the nucleus of the team together. The team’s payroll already was $40 million this year. Just to keep many of the players the team has, Pohlad’s payroll will increase to $55 million.

Both questions could be answered at the polls in November.

If the Legislature agrees to a new stadium in the upcoming session this winter, it is likely that Pohlad would be agreeable to increasing the payroll, maybe even adding a high-priced free agent. If a new stadium is approved, Pohlad is more likely to find a new owner, since a stadium would increase the team’s value.

However, if Minnesota residents feel the way they have for the past decade &045; that tax dollars should not be used to fund stadiums &045; then the Legislature isn’t likely to approve a stadium, and the Twins aren’t likely to stay around long. Or perhaps Minnesotans have softened their stance on non-general-fund dollars being used for a stadium. A variety of plans rely on ticket taxes, local sales taxes or even gambling proceeds, rather than asking for money from the majority of the state’s taxpayers.

The fact is, many legislators probably haven’t determined if Minnesotans have changed their minds about using any kind of public funds for a new stadium.

Considering what has happened in the past year with the Twins &045; from contraction to contention &045; it might be time to let your legislators and legislative candidates know.