Stadium Debate in Minnesota – Again

Cross-posted at Market Power

The stadium debates are back in the news here in Minnesota:

A day after Hennepin County leaders passed a deal to build a new ballpark for the Minnesota Twins, the relatively easy ride for stadium bills at the state Capitol is expected to hit some detours today.

The House Taxes Committee will begin two days of rigorous public hearings on the Twins stadium plan today. And the plan will likely run into more diversions in the Senate, where the tax committee chairman is expected to try to merge the Twins, Vikings and Gophers bills and fund the projects with state money — a radical move with potential dire consequences for stadium supporters.

I like this part:

Many stadium supporters agree with Lenczewski that taxing one county for a state resource is far from ideal, but the Twins, the Hennepin County Board and their backers have resigned themselves to a political reality: You might lose the votes of some lawmakers from Hennepin, but you’re more likely to win the votes of legislators from the other 86 counties.

First of all, just because they are called the Minnesota Twins does not make the team a “state resource.” There is some evidence from MLB that teams named after regions have higher franchise values than teams named after cities, but that implies a wider appeal, not that sports teams are state resources. They are not “your Vikings” or “your Twins.”

They are also businesses that compete with other businesses in metro areas, and if we want to point towards economic impact, it’s worthwhile to note that workers in these other businesses tend to work in the same cities/states in which they live. We can’t say that, generally, about the resources that produce sports entertainment.

So, call the Twins and the Vikings what they are: private businesses that provide entertainment in a market and that compete with other entertainment providers for entertainment dollars.

Addendum: The Star Tribune points out a gender issue:

As in the past, the stadium vote led to emotional exchanges and pitted the board’s four men — who supported the agreement — against the three women — who opposed it. “I think it will render the relationships up here irretrievably broken,” Commissioner Penny Steele said tearfully as the vote was taken. “This thing is just a bad deal.”

To me, this is not a big deal, but it must be to others.

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Author: Phil Miller

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