ST. PAUL (AP) -- When the Texas Rangers signed Alex Rodriguez to the largest contract in sports history, the baseball team might have made it even harder to build new stadiums 1,000 miles away in Minnesota.
The Rangers agreed Monday to pay Rodriguez $252 million to play shortstop for 10 years. His average annual salary of $25.2 million dwarfs the entire payroll of the Minnesota Twins last season, which was just under $17 million.
When St. Paul voters rejected a Twins stadium plan last year, baseball economics was a crucial issue. Voters said a new stadium would only support more unrestrained spending in the league.
Now plans are once again under way to try to build a stadium for the Twins and another one for the Minnesota Vikings. Those plans could end at the state Capitol in legislation calling for a mixture of public and private money.
Twins supporters point to baseball commissioner Bud Selig's resolve to control spending, share revenues and help smaller-market teams compete. But the new contract of Rodriguez, 25, appears to go against that resolve.
"It proves that major league baseball has not put its economic house in order," said state Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, a strong opponent of publicly financed stadiums. "Any subsidies we give the team will enable them to continue a dysfunctional system."
Tom Goldstein, publisher of Elysian Fields, a St. Paul-based literary journal focusing on baseball, said team owners and players are walking all over their communities, and the news from Texas continues the march.
"As absurd as these contracts are, what's more absurd is the fact that the communities are the ones that ultimately are paying," Goldstein said. "If new ballparks were not being built, and there was not this huge public subsidy, the money would not be there to offer these huge contracts."
"We ask our fans to be patient, because we think there are good things ahead," said Dave St. Peter, senior vice president for business affairs.
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