There never is a guarantee that a publicly funded stadium plan is going to work out well for taxpayers, but 10 years into the funding of Target Field, it’s clear that the Twins and Hennepin County put together one of the better tax deals you can have for stadium financing.
The announcement in 2007 that Target Field would be jointly financed by the Twins and Hennepin County through a sales tax was met with a lot of skepticism from legislators and the public alike.
But last week Hennepin County released updated information on its stadium sales tax collection and how that has affected its bond payments for its debt obligation.
Hennepin County financed $350 million of the total cost of $555 million for Target Field and levied a 0.15 percent sales tax to collect that money to pay off 30-year bonds that were estimated to cost $675.6 million with interest.
So far the returns have been so robust that it looks as if the stadium could be paid off by Hennepin County around 10 years ahead of schedule in 2027.
Through May of this year, the county has collected $315,766,661 through the sales tax and has shown net collection growth in every year except for 2009, when its sales tax collection dropped from $28.5 million in 2008 to $26.9 million that year.
Hennepin County already has paid off one of its liens and refinanced another bond to create $64.3 million in savings.
In addition, because of that robust sales tax return, the county has been able to make a number of prepayments on its bonds, and now instead of costing that original $675.6 million in total, with interest, the number is now at $585.2 million, nearly $90 million in savings.
And things are looking better again in 2017, as the county reported that through May net receipts are up 2.1 percent on last year, when the county generated $35.9 million in tax collections, the highest mark in the history of the tax.
To consider that the county was able to make this deal while imposing a sales tax that worked out to 3 cents for every $20 spent in Hennepin County is a great success.
Park, libraries gain
But on top of paying off its debt, the county has put the stadium sales tax to use in other areas to benefit the county.
The team has given $2 million per year in capital facility grants, $250,000 per year in small equipment grants, $125,000 per year in playground grants, $30,000 per year in scholarship grants for swimming lessons, and allowed 15 local libraries to be open an additional day each week.
That has to give the county at least some leeway in saying that this sales tax has worked as well or better than county officials thought it would.
In total, since 2009, the county has given $19.6 million to youth sports, and has worked to build multipurpose athletic fields, soccer fields, baseball fields, playgrounds, tennis courts, hockey rinks and put in lights so those facilities can be used at night.
Whether it’s fair to have taxpayers pay for a private team’s stadium is its own debate, but this deal has worked out great for Hennepin County and has had relatively low impact on taxpayers.
What will be interesting to see is if Hennepin County works to find some way to re-purpose the tax when Target Field is paid off, again most likely by 2027, or if it lets the sales tax expire.
One would have to think that at 3 cents for every $20 spent, a tax that can generate this much revenue would be hard to let go, even after the Twins’ ballpark is paid off and operating without taxpayers help.
Jets, Decker to part
The word out of New York is that the Jets are set to part ways with former Gophers wide receiver Eric Decker.
Decker had hip surgery in the offseason, after finishing with nine receptions for 194 yards and two scores in three games. Decker was due $7.25 million this season and $7.5 million in 2018 on his five-year, $36.3 million deal he signed in 2014. The Jets are looking to cut contracts in a rebuilding year, and are either going to trade Decker or release him.
And while his tenure in New York was short, there’s no doubt that Decker filled his part of the bargain when he wasn’t injured. In his first two seasons with the Jets, he was ver y good with 154 receptions for 1,989 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Decker sent out a Tweet on Wednesday that read, “Thank you @nyjets for the opportunity the last 3 years! I truly made some great memories and friendships that will last forever!”
• The Twins are getting another look at former third baseman Danny Valencia, who is in his first season with the Mariners. Heading into Wednesday’s night game Valencia was hitting .283 with 29 RBI and 24 runs scored in 52 games. In Tuesday night’s game, he went 1-for-3 with a three-run double and two runs scored. Valencia has driven in 12 runs during the Mariners’ current six-game homestand, and he has 24 RBI at home this season. That is the fifth-highest mark in the American League.
• The Twins have to be thrilled having Robbie Grossman with the fourth-highest on-base percentage in the American League at .413 and Miguel Sano in fifth at .409, but it has to hurt to see former Twin center fielder Aaron Hicks sitting at second in the AL in on-base percentage, trailing only the injured Mike Trout, with a .439 OBP.
Hicks is hitting .329 (fifth in the league) with eight home runs, 31 RBI and 31 runs scored in 45 games. Heading into Wednesday night’s game with the Red Sox, Hicks was on a nine-game hitting streak.
• Coon Rapids native Logan Shore, who was a second-round choice by the Oakland Athletics in the 2016 draft, is on the disabled list because of a lat strain. Shore, who is with the Athletics’ Stockton farm team in the Class A California League, is 1-3 with a 3.12 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 34 ⅔ innings.
• Former Hopkins High School standout Royce White completed his first season of pro basketball with the London (Ontario) Lightning of the National Basketball League of Canada, winning its league title over the Halifax Hurricanes. White scored 34 points on 11-for-19 shooting to go along with 15 rebounds, nine assists, two blocks and one steal in the series clincher.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org