Add It Up: Mpls Council Member Finds Hidden Fees in Stadium Deal

The Twins ballpark proposal may have narrowly passed the Hennepin County Board (four of seven commissioners voted "yea" on the deal), but it's not clear that the Minneapolis City Council will follow suit. On May 13, council members Dean Zimmermann and Natalie Johnson Lee introduced a resolution that decried the stadium deal, claiming, among other things, that the sales tax provision would suck $9.8 million a year from the city of Minneapolis.

"This is the most blatant example of corporate welfare that I've seen since George Bush invaded Iraq to fill the pockets of Halliburton," Zimmermann said at the time, with notable understatement.

Last Tuesday, the resolution went before the council's Intergovernmental Relations committee, which voted to postpone any action on the resolution. (It's not entirely clear what the council could do to thwart any plans even if a majority of members wanted to do so.) But not before Zimmermann, according to the Minneapolis Observer, claimed that stadium construction could end up costing the city as much as $80 million in infrastructure and development expenses.

Saddling the city with those bills would seem to betray a referendum Minneapolis voters approved overwhelmingly in 1997. That vote, taken during one of the many eras of stadium hysteria, ensured that the city could not spend one penny more than $10 million toward any stadium deal. Given this mandate, longtime anti-ballpark activists have looked skeptically at the current site next to the Hennepin County garbage burner. City officials, it is no secret, have hoped to roll money into redeveloping most of the industrial spaces in the area. The new stadium, it seems, would represent the beginning of that movement.

In other words, the current plan doesn't explicitly call for any money from Minneapolis, but--as Zimmermann has noticed--that doesn't mean the city won't be spending any.

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