Twins stadium proposal clears House, encounters hurdles in the Senate

Updated: April 26, 2007 - 2:06 pm

The Twins stadium proposal faced new obstacles late last week at the Capitol when the Senate Taxes Committee considered new financing options for the ballpark, including a plan for a metro-wide sales tax increase.

Earlier in the week, the House approved a Twins stadium bill on a 76-55 vote with just two Minneapolis legislators voting in favor of the plan. The bill passed despite opposition from several Hennepin County legislators.

The proposal calls for funding the $522 million stadium largely through a 0.15 percent sales tax increase in Hennepin County. The bill gives Hennepin County permission to raise its sales tax through an exemption to a state requirement that voters approve the local tax increase through a referendum.

Rep. Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL-60A) and Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL-63A) were the only Minneapolis legislators to vote in favor of the proposal. Kelliher said she has long been in favor of keeping the Twins in Minneapolis and supports the economic growth a new stadium could provide.

“This bill, although not perfect, is a bill that will get a stadium built in the North Loop area of Minneapolis,” Kelliher said. “The building of the stadium is going to produce other investment in the North Loop of at least a half a billion dollars, housing, retail and amenities.”

But other Minneapolis legislators said they opposed increasing the sales tax in Hennepin County without a referendum.

Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-59B) said she was disappointed the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners did not negotiate a better deal with the Twins organization. She said she’d like to see tax increases for other metro priorities, like public transit.

“We could then get a big dent in our transit problems and we could build the three stadiums with the change left over on the way to the bank on that one by essentially paying cash for them,” Kahn said.

When the Downtown Journal went to press Friday, the Senate Taxes Committee continued to deliberate on the ballpark bill.