Column: One fan’s view of the new Twins’ stadium

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 25, 2006

Jon Laging, Sports talk

The Minnesota Twins have stopped losing most of their games, progressing to the equivalent of losing every other game. For a Twins fan that produces a mild euphoria, but what has really given the endorphins a boost was the legislature passing a bill that provides a new Twins stadium.

I know many readers are not pleased about that, thinking that the money should be spent in other ways. If I could trade the half billion for education, believe me, I would. But that trade-off wasn’t going to happen. Therefore, I was pleased at the result of the Senate’s early morning vote. It keeps major league baseball in Minnesota and gives an immediate and long-term benefit to the state’s culture and economy.

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There have been millions of words written and spoken as to why the stadium should or shouldn’t be built. Suffice it to say that the debate is over and after 10 years of contention, it’s time to move on.

I remember that after two years of a hospital union fight I was involved in, both sides decided after the vote, that the campaign was over and it was time to continue our primary concern, which was to take care of patients the best way we knew how.

The same principle should hold true for our baseball team &045; the object of the Twins’ administration after a hard-fought victory should be to provide a winning team. They got the stadium, now put a good team in there.

There were many excuses over the years as to the poor product the Twins put on the field: Fans didn’t want to watch in the dome. Free agents didn’t want to play in the dome. The Twins had very little side income from concessions, parking, naming rights, etc. These excuses will no longer be true. Now, I understand that income will not change immediately. After all, the stadium doesn’t open for almost four years. Yet there is an old poker axiom saying that a player might bet a potential good hand in anticipation of receiving a winning card. The Twins will be in that situation in a couple of years and should spend a little more free-agent money to give fans additional reasons to come to the new stadium. Just think, we can afford to keep Batista and Castro (just kidding.)

Perhaps future generations will look at our time and say that the stadium helped give a signal that Minneapolis with its two new ballparks, the new library, the new Guthrie Theater, and light-rail are providing its citizen’s venues for them to learn, study and enjoy the arts and sports. Not every citizen will benefit from the stadium, neither will all of us benefit from the new library nor the Guthrie Theater, but Minneapolis is speaking to all its people. St. Paul is doing the same thing for its population with its renewed downtown and the Excel Center.

It seems that the Twin Cities are the engine that pulls the Minnesota train and are showing the way to the future. As Reggie Jackson might say: They are the straw that stirs the drink.

The time may come when future generations look back on this time and call it the golden age of Minnesota. The time when projects got done, not to benefit just one section of the populace, but all the people.

However, for the short term future, it gives us older Minnesotans a goal. I called Swede and asked him if he would join me in a pact to attend opening day in the new stadium and quaff a beer? Deal or No Deal? Swede said yes.