City council half-pregnant on ballpark

The Minneapolis City Council can't seem to get a grasp on the political, uh ... football ... that is the proposal for a new Twins baseball stadium. As reported in today's Star Tribune, the council's Intergovernmental Relations committee has approved several aspects that serve to qualify--but not necessarily clarify--the ballpark stance that city leaders have assumed.

As noted before on Blotter (Item 3), council member Dean Zimmermann has been trying to get his colleagues on board to cry boondoggle--no small feat given the council's love for all shiny development projects. Zimmermann even laid out some math in recent meetings.

But many council members are unwilling to come out against a deal between the team and Hennepin County--which hinges on the whim of legislators during a special session; state approval for the tax increase to build it is required--that is essentially now-or-never between the Twins and the county board.

And there's the political conundrum: No Minneapolis politico wants to upset state lawmakers with too much anti-stadium griping when there are other more pressing issues requiring legislative go-aheads; at the same time, in a citywide election cycle, nobody wants to be picked off in a campaign by leaning too far off of first.

So, in an ill fit of Clintonian compromise, the IGR committee yesterday approved some resolutions that seemed designed to appease the vast majority of Minneapolis constituents who are likely against the deal, but that also won't muck up the process too much (second item, with several links to several resolutions).

Suffice to say yet again that the deal heavily favors the Twins, uniquely burdens Hennepin County consumers, and falls far out of the domain of the City Council. But it's worth noting that there are many, many unresolved questions.

Mike Opat, the Hennepin County commissioner who primarily orchestrated the deal, tells the Strib: "To the extent that [city council members] tie our hands with provisions that would be unworkable for the team or the county, that would be unfortunate."

Reading through the "provisions" that the council is likely to approve--a majority on the council isn't clearly opposed to the ballpark--Opat needn't worry too much.

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