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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Now It's Official

Judd can have a truly great morning as the governor signed the Gopher stadium bill yesterday. The fun continues tomorrow as the Twins push back the start of their game with Seattle to 7:30 PM so they can have a bill-signing ceremony for their new ballpark.
Personally, I've been fairly neutral on both of these. As a matter of principle, I oppose the corporate welfare that the Twins stadium represents (next up the Vikings), and we're paying for the wrongheadedness of Sid Hartman and those who thought the Metrodome would become the Taj Mahal of college football. On the flip side, if we're going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars of state and local money to have big toy trains, then the prices for these stadiums don't seem too high.
When the Clan used to live in Oklahoma, we often attended first, 89ers games at All Sports Stadium, and after the city built the Bricktown Ballpark and the team was renamed, Redhawks games. The prices were low, and Class AAA ball is pretty good quality (not much for pitching, though). I enjoyed both ballparks and we had a lot of good times. That said, I also said I would rather not live in a city that didn't have a Major League club nearby (I have tempered this a bit since moving back to the Twin Cities). And the reality is that the Twins were almost certain to move within a couple of years without a new stadium. Plus the Metrodome, a football stadium, is a miserable place to watch a baseball game (nothing like having seats pointing behind second base instead of toward home plate). I could wax George Willian here about how the performance of excellence in sport, particularly the lessons available in baseball, deserves a fitting venue... Yes, I would have preferred to see the stadium funded solely by private money, but I'm also glad the team will be around awhile, even if we won't be able to afford very many family outings there.
Now, what gets me about the Gopher stadium is that for all the talk about the importance of Big Ten football being played outside, how this will tie in the student body, and what a boost for recruiting this will be, all of which may be true, they are proposing a stadium with a capacity of only 50,000, which not only doesn't match Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium (80,000), or Iowa's Kinnick Stadium (60,000), but barely surpasses the conference powerhouse Northwestern's Ryan Field (47,000). There is clearly no expectation that the Gophers can (or will be allowed to?) build a program that has a substantial corporate, fan, and alumni base, the kind you need if you're ever going to compete for a conference title more than once every 50 years. Therefore, I think there should be consideration given for a moratorium on putting "big time college football" and "Minnesota Golden Gophers" in the same breath/sentence/paragraph/piece/anything.
[posted by e-mail]

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