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What Now?
By Mark Zdechlik
November 3, 1999
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Now that St. Paul voters have rejected a stadium tax to lure the Minnesota Twins to the Capitol city, attention in the stadium debate is shifting back to Minneapolis. Community leaders there say the time has come for them to find a solution that will satisfy the Twins' and the Vikings' needs. But they also say a firm proposal may not come forward until the 2001 legislative session.

JIM POHLAD, son of Twins owner Carl Pohlad, says his family had expected St. Paul voters would approve the proposed stadium sales tax increase despite polls which consistently suggested otherwise. Pohlad says the rejection kills the purchase agreement his family had with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and businessman Bob Naegle. And Pohlad says right now there is no "plan b."
Pohlad: You know I don't know exactly what the message is. I can give you the glass is half-full or half-empty. If you look at it from the glass full, you can say, "well people of St. Paul are saying they want the stadium in Minneapolis." If you look at it half empty, people are saying either they don't want baseball or they don't understand in order for baseball to be here, it has to be a public-private partnership.
Pohlad says his family believes it would be in the best interest of the Twin Cities to hold on to professional baseball. But he notes the franchise's Metrodome lease expires after the 2000 season. The team has an option for another short-term extension, but Pohlad says his family wants to make a decision on a sale sooner rather than later.
Pohlad: I would say at this point anything's possible, I don't want to get into any kind of speculation or things that people could take to be threats because we are not there yet we don't know what we are going to do next. We have another year to play in the Metrodome and if you were to make any kind of changes, you have to plan for these changes well in advance.
Glen Taylor is traveling on Governor Ventura's Japan trade visit. Speaking from Japan, Taylor's business partner Dennis Frandsen, told Minnesota Public Radio, Taylor's interest in keeping the Twins from leaving the state has not diminished in the wake of St. Paul "no" vote.
Frandsen: That's Glen's primary goal: to keep the Twins in Minnesota. If it failed in Minnesota, that was "plan a," and if it didn't, he had a "plan b," so and I don't know what that is.
Minneapolis community leaders are already floating some ideas about how they might address the stadium needs of the Twins and the Vikings. Downtown Council president Sam Grabarski says one possibility would be to spend more than $200 million to renovate the Metrodome for the Vikings and to build a new $325 million stadium for the Twins. They're considering asking the Legislature to reduce the state sales tax by a half cent everywhere except an unspecified metro region. The half cent from that region would be redirected toward the stadiums.
Grabarski: We would need something in the vicinity of a half- cent sales tax if that was all we wanted to accomplish in downtown Minneapolis alone. If that's all we wanted to accomplish and we wanted to spread that out, we would need a fifth-of-a-cent in Hennepin County. If we did it seven-county wide, it's a tenth of a percent.
Grabarski says it might make sense to package a stadium plan with other metro-wide projects such as transportation improvements. In any case, Grabarski says Minneapolis likely will not have any plan for the Legislature until it convenes in 2001, after next year's election when every House and Senate seat will be on the ballot.

DFL Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe says given the resounding "no" vote in St. Paul, attempting to get any stadium bill through the next legislative session would be political suicide.
Moe: I think in the short run it makes a difference. I don't see where this is going to get any attention now in the 2000 legislation. But the flip-side of that is: is the issue going to go away? I don't think so.
As stadium proponents regroup, the people who fought the St. Paul initiative are poised to speak out again if a new stadium plan calls for tax dollars. Holly Rodin chairs Progressive Minnesota, the group claiming victory for St.Paul's vote.
Rodin: This does seem to be an issue that as much as people say "this is the vote and after this it's gone," it seems to keep coming back. We never can compete with the amount of money opponents are going to have to issues we're concerned about. But we know how to talk to people and people know how to talk to each other, and that's really what we learned, and we will keep working because that's the formula that will make make a difference.