FROM: A concerned taxpayer
We met back in March at the Twins’ stadium when you announced a Major League Soccer expansion team will begin play in Minnesota in 2018. You pointed out that you want to build a new soccer stadium near the Farmers Market site, but you didn’t offer any specifics.
However, we now learn that you have proposed a “3-no” plan to City officials: No sales tax on stadium construction. No property taxes after it’s built. No future local taxes as well.
Rightfully so, Mayor Betsy Hodges is against it: “This proposal is as if a private developer asked to pay no taxes,” she wrote. The city council currently is divided on the issue as well. According to Hennepin County records, the three-parcel site is worth $343,000.
“[It] can help spur further development in our community,” you claim.
You and your ownership group, which includes the Pohlads, who owns the Twins; Glen Taylor, who owns the Wolves, Lynx, and the Star Tribune; and Wendy Carlson Nelson, whose Carlson family company owns thousands of hotels worldwide and supposedly has pledged $250 million for the team and stadium.
You promise almost 2,000 stadium construction jobs will be created, but the MSR has duly reported in the past that non-Blacks get the lion’s share of such jobs.
We heard such talk before — another ballpark built within a stone’s throw of the North Side, which many call the state’s most economically depressed area, again promising new economic benefits. But since the Twins’ park opened in 2010, not a dime has come across the North 7th Street bridge that connects downtown Minneapolis to North Minneapolis.
I was the only Black reporter there that day who caught you off-guard with my diversity questions. You told the MSR, “All we can say is look at who we are, look at what we say — we are people who stand by our word.”
We saw instead an all-White, all-rich ownership group that tap-danced around our questions. Now you’re trying to pull the economic wool over our poor eyes to build essentially a private sports clubhouse, since many U.S.-born Blacks aren’t soccer fans. Now you are asking for something that we non-rich folk don’t get when buying a home or necessities for our home, certainly not any property tax waivers.
Therefore, we propose the following three-point community benefits agreement (CBA), co-signed by a community-selected oversight committee to last for the life of the franchise, and with no strings attached:
- We want an ironclad, non-negotiable commitment to diversity and inclusion from digging the hole to opening the stadium to operating it afterwards.
- The city’s Black population is almost 19 percent — let’s round it to 20 percent. That’s the percentage of construction jobs we want to be Black jobs. We also want 20 percent of your front office staff, excluding traditional positions as secretaries, administrative assistants, staff assistants and receptionists, to be Black as well.
- And finally, you will dedicate 10 percent of your annual purchasing to Black-owned firms, the current percentage of area Black-owned businesses.
“We do recognize the community you’re talking about,” you told us. “[It] will be a big part of this.” If this is so, sign the CBA and we’ll support your no-tax plan. If not, then we stand with our mayor.
The Non-rich Taxpayers
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.