When it comes to the prospects for a new Twins stadium, New York Yankees hall-of-famer Yogi Berra said it best: "It's deja vu all over again."
It seems that during each legislative session the idea of a new home for Minnesota's Major League Baseball team is broached, only to be abandoned by nervous legislators. And why are they so nervous?
They don't want to be accused of taking state money away from cute school kids to aid millionaire athletes and billionaire owners. But this year, baseball contraction talk has given them something else to worry about. They still don't want to be seen as patsies for professional sports but they also don't want to be blamed for chasing away the Minnesota Twins, the state's first major league sports franchise and the only one to ever win a championship for the state. Lawmakers realize the talk about the Twins' departure or demise is real and they don't want to end up crying in their own Homer Hankies after the November elections.
So rival plans that would place a new Twins stadium in Minneapolis or St. Paul are being considered by lawmakers who are trying to assess the prevailing political winds much the way a centerfielder tosses a tuft of grass in the air as a power hitter steps up to the plate.
If some plan can be devised for a new stadium with user fees (not revenue that is currently going into the state's general fund) the Legislature should seriously consider it. Examples of user fees would be liquor or hospitality industry taxes from the area surrounding the new stadium or taxes on baseball souvenirs. And it would be appropriate to use the state's bonding power to sell bonds that would later be paid off by the Twins' owners.
A Twins stadium is a nice addition to Minnesota's quality of life but not a necessity. It's going to have to pay its own way.
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