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Tim Pawlenty Wants it All

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Message Robert O'Connor
Target Field opened last month to a great deal of praise and fanfare. The Minnesota Twins have played to sold-out crowds in their new home. TCF Bank Stadium has been open for a while and has already lined up an appearance later this year by U2, although residence of nearby Prospect Park have complained about the noise from the new Golden Gophers home.

Both teams moved out of the Metrodome, where the Vikings still play (although they now play on "Mall of America Field" just to be sure they're venue has at least some product placement). But they still want a stadium of their own and have been threatening to move elsewhere should they not get it.

Governor Tim Pawlenty would like a new stadium, but he doesn't want to raise taxes, the same requirement he's had of every piece of legislation that's come to him.

For years, all three teams - and the franchises that owned them - lobbied the state to help pay for a new stadium. The state relented in 2006 and agreed to pay 48% of the final cost of the new Gophers stadium (which is now $288.5 million).

As for the Twins, the state raised $390 of the $545 million needed to build the stadium through a sales tax hike in Hennepin County - which most residence did not approve of. Tim Pawlenty didn't have any problems with it either.

Target Field was also wrapped in bitter irony, as the groundbreaking date was originally August 2, 2007 but had to be moved. Why? The day before, the I-35W bridge collapsed, killing 13 people. The following day, there was an editorial in the Star Tribune by Dave Hage that shamed the state for focusing on building stadiums and not repairing bridges.

And while the collapse delayed discussions about a new Vikings stadium, time has passed and now there's discussion about it again.

This at a time when the state is $1 billion in the red, and Gov. Pawlenty, wants the legislature to balance the budget through cuts - he won't sign anything that raises taxes.

And what is the legislature cutting? Health and welfare programs. Aid for the disabled and the mentally ill. No one is quite sure what else will be cut, but there's 2 weeks left in the session, and the Governor does not want a special session.

And what Tim Pawlenty wants, no matter how implausable, he'll get it.
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Robert O'Connor is a journalist from St. Paul, Minnesota. His work has been published by the Chi-Town Daily News, Newcity Chicago, The New Indian Express, the Twin Cities Daily Planet and others. He's also worked in radio at Radio K (University of (more...)
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