05/07/2004 7:45 PM ET
Ballpark bill hits snag in House
New financing amendment derails bill in committee
By Patrick Donnelly / Special to MLB.com
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The bill proposing to build a new Twins ballpark and a new Vikings stadium hit an unforeseen snag in the House of Representatives Friday when it failed to advance out of the Ways and Means Committee.
The committee vote was split 13-13 with two representatives absent. While the setback could be temporary, it also could prove fatal to the Twins' hopes for a new ballpark unless the prevailing winds at the Capitol change before the May 17 session-closing date.
"We've been down this road before, and we've certainly dealt with setbacks in the past," Twins president Dave St. Peter said. "Certainly this is disappointing, but it's unclear what happens next, if anything."
The bill is dead in the water unless Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a stadium supporter, and other influential politicians can rally support before the session ends. The Ways and Means Committee could get another chance to approve the bill if one of its members moves to put it back on the agenda.
"Early next week, we'll see if there's any appetite to find a way to reintroduce the bill into this committee," St. Peter said.
The biggest sticking point and most significant amendment to the bill adopted by the Ways and Means Committee was a change in the main financing mechanism that would generate the State of Minnesota's contribution to the project's costs.
Rep. Tom Rukavina (DFL-Virginia) proposed that a metro-wide liquor and car rental tax replace a complex tax-increment financing proposal that would have generated funds based on the difference between tax revenues gathered at the Metrodome and taxes generated by the new ballpark.
A current liquor and car rental tax in the metro area is set to expire at the end of 2005, and legislators who voted against the bill objected at least in part to that tax continuing.
"It's clear that it changed the dynamics a bit," said St. Peter. "We understand everybody's frustrated. We certainly are, and we respect that in others.
"But the session's not over yet," he continued. "Right now it's time to stay engaged and see if we can get it back on track. It's a slippery slope, but we're still at the table."
Patrick Donnelly is a contributing writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.