Wrath of Kahn: Strib won't publish Phyllis's anti-stadium op-ed

Wrath of Kahn: Strib won't publish Phyllis's anti-stadium op-ed


State Representative Phyllis Kahn (DFL-59B) is a little torqued off that the Star Tribune's editorial page gatekeepers have turned away yet another of her anti-stadium op-ed submissions, so she published it herself, on the Minneapolis Issues list. Here is what Kahn wrote:

Once again the Star Tribune editorial pages are being used to promote a hopeless cause: a special session to pass a stadium construction bill right after complaining about the scheduling of special elections at the end of the year in the holiday season.

Commissioners Opat and Johnson do not seem to understand that the election year is now. There is no political advantage or cover between acting at the end of 2005 or in 2006.

A previous editorial on November 9 gloomily concluded that if we don't expeditiously fund a stadium, the Twins may end up outside of Minnesota, ending with the plaintive call, "It doesn't have to be that way."

We note a persistence in asking the wrong question, IE (how do we build a stadium?), when we should be asking (how do we keep the Twins here?) The answer from a growing number of legislators has been a community ownership of the team model to keep baseball here by taking the wheels off the team. The most recent version, HF 1368/SF 900, with chief authors Rep. Kahn and Sen. Anderson finished the 2005 session on the House and Senate floors, poised to pass (only lacking a nod from the Governor.) The House bill alone had 35 bipartisan authors from all parts of the state with a breadth of political philosophy ranging from Rukavina to Krinkie.

The purpose section of this bill states:

"Section 1. [4B.01] [PURPOSE.] The legislature determines that: (1) a professional baseball franchise is an important asset to the state of Minnesota and ensuring that a franchise remains in Minnesota is an important public purpose; (2) providing broad-based local ownership of a major league baseball franchise develops trust among fans, taxpayers, and the team, and helps ensure this important asset will remain in the state; (3) providing community ownership of a professional baseball franchise ensures that the financial benefits of any increased value of the franchise will accrue to those members of the community who own the franchise; and (4) enacting legislation providing for community ownership indicates to major league baseball continuing support for professional baseball in Minnesota."

Our ownership structure is not government ownership; it is a public ownership model that complies with Major League Baseball's criteria to have a major private owner responsible for operating the team on a day-to-day basis.

This proposal is the most effective and politically feasible way to save baseball for Minnesota and eventually get a ballpark built that may actually meet the fans' interests.

As far as Carl Pohlad, Bud Selig, and the rest of Major League Baseball are concerned, promoting public ownership is the moral equivalent of promoting incest. Schemes for public ownership have been batted aside by MLB before, most memorably when Ray Kroc's widow, Joan Kroc, tried to give the Padres to San Diego. Why doesn't MLB want public corporations in its fold? Because baseball's special anti-trust exemption--unique among American professional sports industries--has helped MLB to keep its financial records from public view during all the years it has cried poverty to the players' union and to the state and city governments from which it's begged stadium subsidies.

Public ownership would tatter that veil of secrecy, and the demi-gods of baseball won't have it. That's no reason to keep the discussion out of newspapers, though, is it?

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