Monday, February 20, 2012

Sid Hartman, Making Sense (Not Really!)

It has been awhile since I've written a blog post specifically targeting one of our local Star Tribune columnists. The only excuse I can offer is that the Star Trib experimented with a Pay to Read structure for some of their most "in-demand" columnists, which of course meant that no one read them (aside from the tech-averse who thought getting a paper stuffed to the gills with AP articles was worth having delivered to their doorstep). But that experiment has died, and we can all read all of the Star Tribbers in all of the glory.

And today, I'd like to focus on Sid Hartman, the hardliest-working columnist in the Twin Cities. Believe me, it was a tough choice. After all, Patrick Reusse wrote this defense of urban teachers in the Twin Cities:

 "We have received an enormous influx of poor and tired and tempest-tossed people from cities that have decayed, and from other lands...And as Minneapolis and St. Paul teachers and administrators have done their darndest to educate these often disadvantaged pupils, they have seen their efforts bad-mouthed by legislators from school districts with newer buildings and better equipment and with one-10th of the problems in a week that a Twin Cities teacher can face on a daily basis."

It's a wonderful sentiment, except that Reusse is using that as a jumping off point to argue that anyone against $700,000,000 of public money on a new Vikings stadium is an idiot. Seriously. Just guessing, here, Pat, but if you polled those teachers, they would say, "Hey, if you are going to raise $700 million dollars, how about you spend it on the education system you are lauding? (you fucking dummy)." Just to be clear, I'm not calling Patrick Reusse a fucking dummy--that was just my imagining of what 95% of all teachers in the Twin Cities would say. Those teachers would also probably point out that an investment in education has been proven, by serious economists, to be an actual investment--every dollar put into improving education leads to about ten dollars in revenue for the state. Stadiums? Not so much. Just sayin'.  Not that Reusse couldn't dig up a Gym Teacher or two who support the new stadium. He didn't bother to, of course (that would require "work", something the sports columnists of the Twin Cities papers have heard rumors of, and this "work", you speak of? It gives them the willies.)

And that's as good as any segue into Sid Hartman's latest inanity. Let's do it!

I won't bother with Sid's opening paragraph, in which he argues that a new Vikings stadium would host exactly the same number of Vikings games that the Metrodome hosts (though it does take some special chutzpah to make that a selling point.)

There's a metric ton of idiocy in Hartman's column, so let's just take the prospect of the Super Bowl argument for now. Sid says, "[One] showcase event that could come here with a new covered stadium would be the Super Bowl, which was at Indianapolis this year, at Cowboys Stadium last year, at Arizona's University of Phoenix Stadium at 2008 and at Detroit's Ford Field in 2006. The Giants and Jets' new MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., is getting the Super Bowl in 2014, even though it is an open-air stadium."

All true. And if the Vikings got a brand new, Billion Dollar Stadium, the Super Bowl would undoubtedly come here. Once. Exactly Once. That's how the NFL backs up its owners, by essentially guaranteeing that if  an ownership can get one over on their populace, the NFL will reward it with a Super Bowl. But let's be clear, the Vikings could spend $10 Billion on the new stadium, and have it outfitted with tiny cameras that flew across the field on solar powered wings and rendered every image in perfect, hi-definition 3D graphics, and the new Vikings Stadium would still get exactly One (1) Super Bowl. You know why? The Super Bowl is in February, and that brand new Vikings Stadium would still be located in Minnesota. So Sid's inventory of future and recent Super Bowl's is that perfect kind of fact--it is true, but it isn't illuminating. Dallas and Arizona will host again, to be sure. Indianapolis' current stadium will not host another Super Bowl. I guarantee it. Neither will Detroit. I'll be shocked if Metlife Stadium gets another one after what I assume will be a debacle (by NFL Super Bowl Standards) in 2014--wind! Maybe snow!

You know how I know all of these things? I've looked at the damn history of the Super Bowl--Miami and New Orleans, between them have hosted 19 Super Bowls. (That does not include the four held in Tampa Bay, by the by. Or the seven in Los Angeles...between Miami, New Orleans, Tampa and LA, we are talking about 31 of the 47 Super Bowls played). Everything about Super Bowl distribution screams "Nice Place To Go In Winter, Unless We've Got a Debt to Pay". Which is fine, but Minnesota Vikings fans should know, without a doubt, that it doesn't matter how awesome their new stadium is...they are getting one Super Bowl. And given the state of their team, it won't be the Vikings playing there come February of whatever year. Because the Vikings are terrible, you see.

There's some dirty pool going on in the NFL with this--yes, if you build a new stadium, you will get a Super Bowl, almost certainly (especially if it has a roof, regardless of how temperate it is). But let's not kid ourselves, the Super Bowl sells itself on tourist destinations, for the most part. If the NFL doesn't have a new stadium to reward, it will always go with tourist-friendly, warm in February locales. But you could have one Super Bowl, at least, as opposed to zero, whispers Roger Goodell in your ear. And if you happen to be in a Southern City, with a stadium younger than Lindsey Lohan, like Atlanta, you'll be told, "Yes, you are a perfect city, in a southern locale, that can generate some idle tourist dollars, but Gosh, with all of these new stadiums popping up, suddenly, your venue looks old and busted, like Lindsey Lohan." I explained all of this in my excellent post, "The Super Bowl as Economic Weapon", which apparently Sid Hartman never read. Someone should teach him how to operate a computing machine.


Ray Barrington said...

Good column. And if you want more proof, look at Seattle. Great stadium, beautiful metro area, impressive, chance to take the SB to a large area that has never had it before - no Super Bowl.

Of course I'm in Green Bay, and will never have the SB in the stadium my taxes renovate, so...

Ben Miller said...

Something tells me the Control was off in that study that proves that a buck spend on public schools raises $10 in tax revenues.

Anonymous said...

Sid has no regard for truth, only his agenda. His empirical claims are laughably wrong. It's pathetic.

Big Blue Monkey 2: The Quickening said...


I was really struck as I was looking through the stadium numbers that Seattle hasn't hosted at least one Super Bowl. With the deserved reputation that the city has, and that stadium, I figured there would have been at least one.

solar tube said...

What strikes me more is the passive mentality they are taking and not doing anything to address what the Twin Cities need--jobs, more jobs.

Big Blue Monkey 2: The Quickening said...

What they'll say (we know, because they've been saying it) is that they are creating construction jobs.

But construction doesn't have to be stadiums, for heaven's sake.

For the life of me, I don't understand how there hasn't been a New Deal type of infrastructure improvement program implemented.

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