Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Notes from Underground on the New Ballpark

Most Twins fans are celebrating the news of the Twins ballpark plan finally passing the state legislature last weekend, but I have mixed feelings about it. Like I said on Batgirl's site: by this point, I feel a bit like I've been served with a juicy Polish sausage--after I've been working a long shift at the Hormel factory. I've seen too much of what goes into it to really savor the meal.

On the one hand, outdoor baseball. I'm generally in favor of it.

On the other hand, it's too bad that the deal finally pushed through because some politicians had enough of their arms getting twisted. From what I've heard, it's essentially the same plan that wasn't good enough last year. Did the club or Hennepin County make any substantial changes to their proposal this time around?

I would have liked to see the club make more concessions to the public by offering a greater share of the profits generated within the ballpark. I don't think that happened. Now I see a minor groundswell in the online Twins fan community to get the park named after Kirby Puckett. My friends, my poor, naive dears. That is so sweet. So sweet to believe that Carl Pohlad would let sentiment get in the way of a $40 million windfall, to dream that he might actually give a damn about your wishes. Have you forgotten who you're dealing with? Did you think that any of this is really about you?

No, I'm sorry. The ballpark will not be named after Kirby, Carew, or the Killer. If I had my way, it might be called El Palacio Presidencial with each gate posted by a regimental guard who would salute the fans with cries of ¡Viva Santana! every 15 minutes on gamedays. Oh, and Gameday would be the official program, sold inside as well as outside the park. But that will not be happening, either.

The Twins didn't insist on owning the naming rights for nothing. Their marketing people may tease you with rumors of names like Puckett Park, or maybe something to honor Carl's late wife Eloise, just so you know they have a heart and gave the notion some serious consideration. But in the end, some local corporation is going to write a fat check and the place is going to be named after a medical research company, a bank, a chain of electronics stores, Post-It notes, or maybe Spam.

For those who haven't already left in tears, I'll make a final prediction here: by 2015, most of the Twins promises related to the new ballpark will prove to be hollow. The dreams of local economic development, an influx of free-spending fans who keep coming back just to feel the thrill of outdoor baseball, and a payroll that lets the GM roll with the big boys... poof. It won't happen; the histories of such projects in other cities typically show a lack of longterm benefits either to the local economy, the box office, or a team's payroll. I expect there will be crying about the location, the crowded transportation access, and the lack of a roof on those dates when it's too cold, too wet, or unbearably hot and humid, as well. Even now, the Twins probably have a contingency plan to stir up the cries to retrofit the park with a roof, circa 2013, if only someone else could step up to pay for it, of course.

But, despite my mood, I hope that the committed baseball fans in Minnesota are left with a first-class ballpark to enjoy. If it can't be Camden Yards, I'm encouraged to see that the early artist renderings indicate that the idea men have something better in mind than Miller Park. As long as they don't try to copy that monstrosity in any way, the place should be alright. After all we've been through, isn't that the least we could expect? It's all most of us wanted, really. A nice spot outside that's better than what they got in Milwaukee.

Carl, Jerry, Dave. Dick & Bert. You got your funding.

Now don't fuck it up.


At 5/23/2006 8:37 AM, Anonymous Jim H. said...

Mr. Wig:

On every point, I agree with your post. I think the line comes from Woody Allen -- "I feel very strongly both ways." Outdoor baseball in a well-designed park is wonderful, and I will spend the time and money to go to some games. But the extent of public funding probably won't be matched by the amount of public benefit.

My daughter, a Twins fan and power shopper, is delighted. As she said this past Sunday, "Let's go shopping -- in Hennepin County!"

At 5/23/2006 3:40 PM, Blogger MNPundit said...

Andrew Berg said at Minnesota Baseball Central: "My impression of the process is that the people most in favor of the stadium behaved like spoiled children, repeatedly insisting on the need for a new toy while increasingly frustrated caretakers denied their request over and over. Eventually, the hassle of “parenting” became too great..."

I could not agree more with his assessment. This whole ordeal has left a sour taste in my mouth. We didn't get a roof, we didn't get 50%+1, and I sure as hell hope Pawlenty doesn't get a 5-10% approval boost from this or I'll be pissed.

At 5/25/2006 12:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Went to the game yesterday...Spent $17 rounded off($6-ticket,$6 for a beer,$3 and $1.50 for l/rail/gameday)and I wonder what it will cost in 2010 ???


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