Sometimes a well-turned phrase can cut through vague and obscure public discussion on an issue and quickly illuminate a key point.
State Finance Commissioner Pam Wheelock, a major player in Gov. Jesse Ventura's administration, proved she's as adept with a quote as she is with financial figures this week when the talk turned to the future of the Metrodome.
Wheelock is a member of the stadium task force that will make recommendations to the 2002 Legislature on stadium needs. While public enthusiasm for building any sort of stadium is lagging, it's a problem that's not going to go away. And like it or not, the state is a player in this scenario unless the University of Minnesota decides to disband its Division I football team.
The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission has worked hard on plans to renovate the Metrodome into an improved, football-only stadium. There's some sense to the commission's plan that would place the Vikings and Golden Gophers in a remodeled Metrodome, but the biggest drawback is that those two major tenants have no desire to continue playing in the sterile, nearly-20-old stadium.
Wheelock, represents the Ventura administration, which is interested in renovating the dome. However, she candidly pointed out that it might be ill-advised to upgrade the dome unless the tenants are solidly behind the plan.
"It's a little like putting a party dress on and having no one to dance with," she said Tuesday.
Perhaps the biggest mistake the University of Minnesota Athletics Department made in recent years was when it moved its football team off campus and into the Metrodome. The department is financially ailing and boosting football-related revenues has been identified as the only way out of its current financial morass. This rejuvenation, university officials contend, can't be done in what they term as an "urban, sterile environment that doesn't lend itself to a collegiate environment."
Add to the mix the uncertain status of the Minnesota Twins and the stadium issue is just about as muddled as it can get.
So lawmakers will have their work cut out for them on this issue when they convene next January. And the voting public, already weary of stadium talk from previous legislative sessions, had better brace themselves for at least one more round.
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