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Stadium Task Force

[This excellent summary was prepared by Todd Olson of the Senate Staff]

* Note: Due to the nature and purpose of this Stadium Task Force meeting (to receive input from the public), comments from testifiers have been paraphrased for task force members that were unable to attend and/or as a resource for those that were present. The testimony outlined is not intended as direct quotes.

1. Meeting convened by Co-Chair William Haddeland. Introduction and purpose of the Task Force. Thank you Nelson Gables and Alexandria for hosting the meeting. Meeting agenda and overview.

2. State Senator Cal Larson (District 10) welcomed the Task Force and citizens to Alexandria. Special thanks to Dennis Anhalt and Virginia Bloom for helping organize the meeting.

3. Representative and Co-Chairman Goodno introduced Representative Nornes and Cassell to the Task Force as observers. Representative Goodno also made brief comments concerning baseball and the current political climate.

4. Testimony from Dennis Anhalt (local radio personality). He felt owners were shunning the public in the name of profits and that baseball's antitrust exemption should be eliminated. Elements of reform need to be present in any proposal and that members of the legislature should stand tough even if it means the elimination of the Minnesota Twins. He thought there would be more public support of the effort for a new stadium was led by the University of Minnesota. He also expressed that all parties involved have to cooperate for this to be successful.

5. Testimony from Virginia Bloom of Alexandria (local radio personality). Local baseball is a matter of community pride and Sunday afternoon social events. You do not see kids playing sand lot baseball anymore. Sports are good for our children and for our innocence.

6. Testimony from David Goltz (businessman and former Minnesota Twins pitcher) of Fergus Falls. Twins baseball is a way of life for Minnesotans just like hunting and fishing. Him and his son talk of all the tv's and radios that are on at night around the community watching and listening to baseball. The impact and loss of baseball to Minnesota is hard to comprehend. It wouldn't just effect the metro area, but greater Minnesota as well. It would impact our youth and hinder their long term goals and opportunities. We need to find a solution.

7. Testimony from Ryan Voz (General Manager of the Northwoods League Beetles) of Alexandria. We need to show our support for the Twins. 250 players from his league have gone on to play minor league baseball. Elimination of the Twins would hurt not just the major league, baseball as a whole.

8. Testimony from Jim Curtiss (Mayor of Montevideo). The loss of the Twins would hurt rural Minnesota businesses as well. Three major highways pass through Montevideo from three states and they would suffer great losses in sales from travelers going to the metro area.

9. Testimony from Charlie Meyer (local businessman) of Alexandria. As a coach, having professional baseball in the state is valuable to our young players. If a new stadium is built it needs a roof so that out state people know the game is going to be played regardless of weather. Slot machines could be put in local bars and lounges with proceeds going towards the stadium. Would support the sale of license plates with proceeds going towards the cost.

10. Lee Behrens of Alexandria (local employee and season ticket holder). He has been to many stadiums across the country and the placement of the new one is vital. It should be downtown and in a good neighborhood. Would support surcharges on professional sports paraphernalia.

11. Testimony from Tim Ost (KVOC Radio) of Valley City, North Dakota. The loss of the Twins would be very detrimental to big and small radio stations across the upper midwest, not just in Minnesota.. Baseball is a great source of revenue even during a slow economy and North Dakota has a large fan base.

12. Testimony from Cal Hall (WJON Radio) of St. Cloud. His radio station has been covering the Twins for 15 years and it is a good business marriage. Many people will turn the sound off of the TV and listen to the radio or will listen while roofing their house or while outside gardening. He would have to fill 500 hours of programming to replace them and would have to look at another baseball franchise. Otherwise the material would most likely not appeal to their listening audience. They raise money with the Twins franchise for youth baseball. Mr. Selig, whether intentional or not, will benefit from the elimination of the Twins. His believes stations would be willing to pay a reasonable tax on their broadcast to keep the Twins here.

13. Testimony from David Anderson (businessman) of Alexandria. We need gophers football back on campus. Attendance will be there as seen with basketball and hockey. It's not just about a winning team, but also about being on campus.

14. Testimony from Bill Voller (retired) of Alexandria. The state should put a 5% tax on the bottom line of casino's profits or threaten slot machines across the state. Additional costs for new infrastructure would most likely hurt out state projects.

15. Testimony from Anthony Schuster (student) of Morris. Minnesotans are not fair weather fans. The positive intangibles are a great asset to the state. It's not a matter of IF we should build a new stadium, but HOW and WHERE. The benefits of having a team out weigh the costs.

16. Testimony from Chuck Peterson (small business owner) of Glenwood. If funding sports stadiums is such a bad thing, why does every other city want our team to move to theirs? The state helped Northwest Airlines, why not baseball? The state needs to come up with an idea that works. More money will be lost by trying to get a team back than by keeping one. Just look at basketball and hockey. The whole state pays for things like light rail and the arts but not everyone uses them.

17. Testimony from Sarah Bitzen (9th grade student) of Alexandria. We need to have a baseball team in town, but not at the expense of other, more important things. We need to help homeless people and schools.

18. Testimony from Heidi Knutson (9th grade student) of Garfield. Our stadium is fine and the money should be used for other things. However, they would be in favor of user fees and the players paying for it.

19. Testimony from Joe Uphus (Ford plant retiree) of Alexandria. Put gambling in at Cantebury Downs to pay for the stadium. Let people use the money they have they way they want. If you do build a stadium, build one that is first rate.

20. Testimony from Diana Aasen (Relator) of Battle Lake. Do Something! The Gophers and Vikings need a new stadium. People going to the games impact the metro economy. Would be in favor of entire midwest user fees.

21. Testimony from Robert T. Olson (Retired School Superintendent) of Alexandria. Thank you for trying to save the Twins. The stadium debate reminds him of his youth when he would hitchhike to Milwaukee or Chicago to see a baseball game. Don't make his three grandchildren do that. They cried when they found out that the Twins might leave. The owners are the ones to blame and they need to get their house in order. Owners in New York should not decide our fate in Minnesota. Today's Star Tribune Editorial had it right. Get it done. Tax me if you have to.

22. Testimony from Vern Lorsung (Douglas County Commissioner) of Alexandria. Many proposals have been suggested. But don't make the same mistake that we did with the Minneapolis Lakers and the North Stars. The deficit the state has now would be even bigger if the Twins weren't here.

23. Testimony from Craig Riznes of Alexandria. The Twins are a regional team. If other states see a value in them, they should help pay the cost of a stadium.

24. Testimony from Allan Hager of Alexandria. Keep the Twins here because I want to take my 4 year old grandson to a baseball game next year. Do whatever it takes- user fees are good. Not too thrilled with the gambling idea. Put a roof on the stadium if you build it and get rid of Carl Pohlad.

25. Testimony from Larry Gasperlin of Alexandria. When I go to the movie, I don't pay for the theater. This is private business and the state shouldn't be involved. Pohlad and McCombs should build the stadiums. This is just another ploy by MLB to get a new stadium because they know we're suckers and will build them one. No one should give them a penny. The legislators shouldn't be involved and we've been talking about this for too long. He doesn't want to see the Twins leave but the owners are too greedy.

26. Testimony from Randy Olson (farmer) of Sunburg. We should not be wasting our time with professional sports. We should be focusing our attention on the agricultural crisis instead.

27. Testimony from Opal Martinson of Alexandria. Just because I am a 92 year old woman does not mean that I am not interested in sports. We need to support our sports teams. I talk with my son in Texas, and when we talk I better know about the Twins or Vikings games. Senior Citizens watch and listen to the games in the senior citizens homes and it is important to our lives. Thank you for coming to Nelson Gables.

28. Adjournment at 3:50PM.