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Hennepin board OKs Twins stadium plan

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  • Hennepin board OKs Twins stadium plan

    A deeply divided Hennepin County Board approved a revised Minnesota Twins stadium proposal Tuesday that increases the project's cost by $44 million, to $522 million, and sets up a key showdown at the State Capitol.
    Following a three-hour debate, the board voted 4-3 to increase the county's total construction commitment for the proposed stadium in downtown Minneapolis to $392 million. The Twins would pay $130 million, or about a quarter of the stadium's construction.

    With an important House Tax Committee hearing scheduled on the proposal next week, county supporters of the project -- believing they had the necessary votes -- worked through the afternoon to nudge the issue to a preliminary approval. Opposing the stadium were all three female board members.

    The women argued that many of the project's details had not been fully discussed.

    Many details in the revised agreement faced intense scrutiny. On Monday, team and county officials announced a tentative agreement.

    Under the agreement, the county would pay $20 million of an estimated $30 million increase in the project due largely to increases in the cost of steel. County officials acknowledged Tuesday that the county would actually pay $25 million, the team would pay $5 million and another $5 million would be paid by the team toward the project over an estimated 27 years.

    "We're going to have one of the most exciting places in North America," said Commissioner Mike Opat, the board's lead negotiator on the project. The modifications to the agreement, which the county initially approved a year ago, "are truly minor," he said.

    But opponents were hardly convinced, and argued against the proposal even as crowds of fans could be seen streaming by outside on their way to the Metrodome for the team's opening home game of the season. "I honestly think this is one of the sadder things a public body has done to its constituents," said Commissioner Penny Steele. "I'm terribly distraught and sad on behalf of the people who live in this county."

    As in the past, the board's stadium supporters and opponents clashed over using a 0.15 percent countywide sales tax over as many as 30 years to fund the project. County officials are also asking for a controversial legislative exemption to impose the tax without being required to hold a citizen referendum on the stadium.

    "It's essentially the same deal that we've had before," said Commissioner Gail Dorfman. "It's funded on the backs of Hennepin County taxpayers." The board had also split along gender lines in approving the original deal last year, with all four male board members voting for the plan.

    Tuesday's vote, and emotional exchanges, underscored the tension the Twins stadium project is generating as supporters try to jockey for votes at the State Capitol. The Twins stadium is, at least in some eyes, competing with similar proposals at the Legislature to use public money to build new football stadiums for the Minnesota Vikings and the University of Minnesota.

    The revised financial figures show a project whose total cost -- and cost to the public -- increased significantly in just a year. When the Twins stadium proposal was unveiled last April, the total cost was $478 million. On Tuesday, the total had risen to $522 million. The county's cost to build roads and bridges surrounding the stadium, initially set at $84 million, had risen to $90 million. The county's financing costs for the project, which stood at $34 million one year ago, now are estimated at $42 million.

    With a judge ruling that the Twins are not legally bound to play in the Metrodome beyond this year, however, supporters have argued that this may be the last opportunity to end the 10-year off-and-on struggle to build a new stadium for a team that has been in Minnesota since 1961.
    Unlike most other team sports, in which teams usually have an equivalent number of players on the field at any given time, in baseball the hitting team is at a numerical disadvantage, with a maximum of 5 players and 2 base coaches on the field at any time, compared to the fielding team's 9 players. For this reason, leaving the dugout to join a fight is generally considered acceptable in that it results in numerical equivalence on the field, and a fairer fight.

  • #2
    New Stadium

    Is this a joke the twins want a new stadium after playing in that dome for only 24 seasons.i liked the old metropolitan stadium the first home of the twins i cant understand why they left it in the first place for that dumpy dome only to use it for this short time period. I MISS THE MET.


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