Thursday, June 02, 2005

A piece of the action

"Nobody helps nobody but himself!"
--Bela Oxmyx, in the Star Trek episode "A Piece of the Action"

Unfortunately, under the guise of baseball, hot dogs, the common good, and "this is a republic; stop with the referendum talk," the controversy over raising a Hennepin County sales tax to pay for a Minnesota Twins stadium is validating Bela Oxmyx.

The Fair Stadium Funding Act, introduced by Representative Phil Krinkie (R-Shoreview) and Senator John Marty (DFL-Roseville) is simple: it says that while team owners retain 100% of revenue equal to their last year at the current stadium, they must share increased revenue from the new stadium. For example, if taxpayers subsidize 50% of the stadium, they would receive 50% of the increased stadium revenue.

Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat and Minnesota Twins President Jerry Bell say that the billionaire team owner Carl Pohlad cannot share any stadium revenue with taxpayers. This despite the fact that the $1.1 billion stadium tax would have Hennepin County taxpayers funding nearly 80% of the stadium costs. Why shouldn't they get a piece of the action?

As currently proposed, unlike with the Metrodome, taxpayers would receive absolutely no revenue from concerts or other non-baseball events held at the proposed open-air stadium.

John Knight, who leads a citizen group that is seeking a referendum of Hennepin County voters on the sales tax increase, asked, "My question: who is representing taxpayers in this forced deal?"

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