Would you pay $66 a year for a new Twins stadium built in your neighborhood?

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March 19, 2002 // UPDATED 1:17 pm - April 30, 2007
By: Terrell Brown
Terrell Brown

That's what a typical Downtowner will be forced to pony up if the Hennepin County Board wins the ballpark derby

It's Twins stadium time again; to nobody's surprise we've been presented with a financing scheme which claims to tax users of the facility. A major part of financing a Minneapolis stadium is a tax on food and beverages sold Downtown. The proposed tax is an additional 2 percent on food and beverages.

I'm one of the 19,000-plus people who live Downtown, and I'm also one of the 150,000-some people who work Downtown. I'm unclear about what the benefit of building a stadium near your home or office is. This is not to say that I'm necessarily against a stadium, or would never attend an event there. I just have a problem with at least the tax-the-neighbors part of the financing plan.

At our neighborhood meeting the other night, someone told the group that he had computed the impact of the proposed tax on those of us who live or work Downtown. I think his hypothetical person is more or less typical of many of my neighbors and co-workers.

The person buys five coffees a week at $2 each, has couple of $10 lunches and a $20 dinner per week and quaffs four drinks at $4 each. If the proposed stadium passes, each and every person like this would pay an extra $66 per year. But that's not all - it's on top of the $219 per year that the same person is paying in current Downtown taxes to finance the Convention Center -- another amenity the whole city (and region) benefits from. That's a stadium-swollen total of close to $300 per year for specific purposes that don't offer specific benefits limited to those of us who live or work downtown.

The proposed 2 percent stadium tax would result in a total tax in a restaurant that hosts entertainment of 18 percent on your meal, and over 20 percent on your glass of wine.

Interestingly, if you wait until you get inside the Metrodome to buy your meal, the Downtown taxes do not apply. However, if you eat across the street at Hubert\'s they do.

If 19,000 downtown residents spent $350 per year in restaurants instead of paying for stadiums and Convention Centers, that $6,650,000 would be enough to support at least a couple of new restaurants. Add a few thousand Downtown workers, and all of a sudden it's real money.

It gets worse, though. Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat, who sponsored this proposal, wants a referendum on the

proposed taxes.

Guess what? He wants everyone in Hennepin County to vote on whether we in Downtown should pay more taxes.

Huh?

Can I vote to increase taxes in Orono, Wayzata or Maple Grove? A couple of hundred years ago a little skirmish broke out when the folks in London tried to tax the folks in Boston. I'm not sure I see a whole lot of difference.

I like living in Downtown. I can't think of anywhere I'd rather live. I'm not sure that my neighbors and I, and those who work nearby, should be forced to fund facilities for everyone who wants to come to visit.

Terrell Brown lives in Loring Park and works in the

Downtown core.