Friday, February 09, 2007

SNAFU--Situation Normal; All Fucked Up

In Minnesota, and in the Northern Midwest in general, there are lots of jokes about the seasons. They ring particularly true right now, and we find ourselves rooting for high temperatures that break double digits, or wind chills that don't bring us into negative double digits.

So, there's the joke (used in NewsRadio) about "I love Winter in Madison [or Minneapolis]! It's the best 8 months of the year." Or the joke that there is two seasons in Minnesota--Winter, and Highway Repair.

Here's a version that isn't new, but hasn't been articulated--There are two exciting times of the year for Twins fans. The last month of the season, as we bite our fingernails, watching our scrappy bunch of underdogs attempt to make the playoffs after a disastrous April, or May. Then there is this time, right now, the month before pre-season when baseball writers start to evaluate the Twins future in Minnesota. That's also a nail-biting time.

But, hey this time around, we're safe, right? Hennepin County and the Twins and private contractors have agreed about the site for the new stadium, right?

Not so fast, says the City Pages, which even after being subsumed by the Borgy Village Voice Empire, is still the best place for real sports journalism in the Twin Cities. G.R. Anderson has a great article about the various people in angry discussion over the site of the future stadium. If you are a Twins fan, or someone who worries about the power of eminent domain, this is a must read.

Here's a key passage:

Ah, yes, the land. Groundbreaking for the stadium is slated to begin in March 2007, just a few weeks from now, but the county has not yet acquired the land where it will be built. And its owners seem nowhere near reaching an agreement to sell it.

Rich Pogin, the spokesperson for the three private companies that represent some 150 shareholders in the land, says the main issue is that the county has never dealt with him or his company, Land Partners II, squarely. He is resigned to the fact that the county will eventually get the land through eminent domain proceedings, but he's upset about what he deems bad-faith negotiations by the county. Further, he claims, he and his main public partner, Bruce Lambrecht, are being unfairly painted as greedy developers who want to derail the deal—even after they lobbied lawmakers at the Capitol to consider their site for a stadium in the first place.

"I've always been a believer that keeping the Twins, and building this stadium here was the right thing to do, with an impact on the city's economics that would be phenomenal," Pogin says, before adding: "If it ever happens."

Edited to make the block quote to look a little less like bad blank verse poetry.

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