Here’s why stadium opponents won’t — and shouldn’t — let it go.
The author of the May 13 commentary “Stadium foes really should ‘get over it’ ” neglected to mention that at critical junctures in the legislative journey of bills for Target Field and the Vikings stadium, a way somehow was found to do an end run on the law that requires a referendum on every proposed local tax increase.
As I recall the Target Field scam, even its staunchest backers admitted that had such a referendum been conducted, the bill would have been dead and the next move would have been up to then-owner Carl Pohlad, now deceased. Ditto Zygi Wilf and the Vikings.
There also was the question as to whether Major League Baseball would have approved the sale or moving of the Twins and whether the NFL would have approved the sale or moving of the Vikings from such a desirable market, so maybe Pohlad and Wilf were bluffing all along. I was quite willing then to call their bluffs.
We’ll never know, but we do know that had they sold or left, there would have been others willing to start new teams here immediately with the understanding that if they wished new stadiums, they would have to pay for them themselves and that our tax dollars would be spent on socially needed and appropriate projects, not appeasing two of sports’ most ruthless greedmeisters.
Is it any wonder, then, that citizens/voters/taxpayers lose faith and trust in the elected public officials who sell them out to mollify extortionist billionaires if they are not allowed to raid the public treasury with impunity? And where were the watchdog media to stand up for the people instead of for themselves?
This is the same arrogant, plutocratic mentality that tries to limit free speech in a zone around Target Field for Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game here in July. Only the threat of a suit by the ACLU got a modification of a policy that shouldn’t exist at all for a game being played in mostly publicly funded Target Field (which never would have existed had the referendum law been observed in the first place). It is the same mentality that refuses to divulge before a decision on a 2018 host city is made later this month the contents of the Minnesota Super Bowl bid that is anchored in the largely publicly funded Vikings stadium (and which never would been possible had the referendum law been observed). What’s more, the bid-critical Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority is publicly funded but acts like a wholly owned subsidiary of the Vikings.
I have maintained in a number of letters to the editor of the Star Tribune and other media — some of which have been published, some not — that good government trumps Big Sports any day, that the Twins’ and Vikings’ financial contributions to community projects are merely business investments, the cost of doing business and being allowed to socialize their private profit at taxpayer expense.
I could live very nicely without professional sports, their complicit professional media shills and legislative patsies who have made angry, frustrated taxpayers out of so many of us who, the May 13 commentary notwithstanding, never will “get over it.”
Willard B. Shapira lives in Roseville.
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