Chris Uggen's Blog: stadium-arcadium*

Saturday, May 27, 2006


minngov tim pawlenty, my runnin' rival, signed off on a new ballpark for my beloved twins tonight. earlier this week, he also signed off on a new football stadium for the minnversity.

football and baseball stadiums are polarizing propositions. i've straddled the fence for years, but finally came out with a bold pro-ballpark stance during my gubernatorial debate with t-paw and jonathon the impaler. while i'm less convinced that the minnversity needs a new football stadium, i remain cautiously optimistic that both stadiums could become decent community-building public works projects. or maybe i'm just putting a durkheimian gloss on my personal desire to sit in the sun and watch a ballgame in 2010.

these stands put me on t-paw's side, in stark opposition to the enormous noncomformist. barring injury, my lad thinks he has a fighting chance of actually playing in one of the new stadiums. still, he's vehemently opposed to public funding, accusing me of profligate spending that saddles his generation with the burden of my own self-indulgence. and i must admit he's got a pretty good point there (aside: yeah, i'm proud when the kids box me in with principled arguments).

yes, i know that i'm in the minority on this one. we ballpark supporters represent the sentimental don't-care-what-it-costs rubes, jock profiteers, and greedhead developers. the opposition is made up of a powerful coalition of righty cheapskates and lefty anti-corporate welfare-staters-but-not-for-these-guys (not to mention certain radical left tackles).

in truth, i'm conflicted and guilty about supporting a new ballpark. i would rather earmark such funds for transportation infrastructure, public schools, public safety, and health care. nevertheless, even if every arts and entertainment project in the state were mothballed, i'm skeptical that we'd really see greater investments in transportation infrastructure, public schools, public safety, and health care.

ralph nader thinks so. he wrote an op-ed today imploring t-paw to reject the ballpark bill. moreover, he jumped into bed with the spooky taxpayer's league (motto: "no new taxes, no old taxes, we're keepin' it all")to do so:

How can you possibly defend such disenfranchisement of local voters to enrich a commercial entertainment company? Even if you are a supporter of the public subsidization of stadiums for the benefit of private, monopoly entertainment, there is certainly no justification, other than autocracy, to deny residents the right to vote on having a tax levied upon them for such a purpose. But judging from past pledges, you are not a supporter of taxpayer funded stadiums. According to Citizens for a Stadium Tax Referendum, you pledged to specifically oppose public funding for professional sports facilities. And according to the Taxpayers League of Minnesota, you signed a Taxpayer Protection Pledge promising to "oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes."

i'm intrigued that a ballpark brings mr. nader out of the woodwork when he's kept quiet over myriad other (ahem) controversial expenditures. does he really think t-paw should "veto any and all efforts to increase taxes?" why is ballpark spending (and not, say, NASA spending or even halliburton spending) such a political lightning rod? is it the magnitude of the expenditure? obscene player salaries? something tells me that attention to pro- and anti-ballpark vitriol might tell us something about political and cultural divides that run a little deeper.

*note: kinda liked the new rhcp album. kinda loved john frusciante's guitaristry.


At 1:07 PM, Anonymous oblion said...

I understand there are pros and cons to the stadium issues. But I was talking about it with my parents this weekend and if you live in Hennepin County, I belive you bear the brunt of the taxes more. Is it correct that it is only an increase in sales tax in Hennepin county? I know that other people will come and spend money in the county, but for those of us who live here, we have our property taxes increasing (ours will double in two years) and then when we buy close to home, we are taxed more. If I am right, I wold be more supportive if the tax was at least metro wide, if not state wide.

As for the UMN footbal stadium... I went to a school were college footbal was a religion and I don't that is because there was on campus stadium. There were no professional teams there, the footbal team was good, and it was a college town. I think there is competition here with the Vikings and I believe were are a commuter campus, where college life and identity are different than in a "college" town. Maybe I will be wrong about this.

I was and am not athletic. Though I give kudos to those who are, I am dissapointed that there is lack of funding for scholarships, etc for those students who try, but are not the best student nor athletic.

At 2:01 PM, Anonymous chris said...

oblion, that's a great point. i think it was stuck on hennepin county alone when it really should be at least a metro-wide tax.

gopher football was *once* a religion in minnesota, back before the twins and vikings arrived in 1961. i doubt we'll see those days again, but maybe it will play some small part in fostering a sense of identity and community among the students. or maybe it will just piss them off to have to pay another fee...


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