Keeping Minnesota teams in Minnesota

Minnesota should take a serious look at how to publicly own its sports franchises.

In 2005 the hot topics on campus and around the Minnesota area revolved around stadiums, stadiums and more stadiums. In 2006, with renewed proposals and a new legislative session, stadiums once again are poised to be the contentious issue du jour well into the new year.

Minnesotans should not only be asking how to build stadiums, but also more importantly, how to keep teams within Minnesota. Let’s end this extortion racket of privately owned teams threatening to leave their residence unless they are publicly subsidized.

The public should not be held hostage by privately owned teams that profit off public money. Sadly, the sports leagues and owners have thwarted all attempts at public ownership. The Green Bay Packers is the only professional sports team that promotes a community ownership model. Not coincidentally, games at Lambeau Field have been sold out for more than 30 years, the waiting list for season tickets is longer than 36,000 names.

Unfortunately, as far as the private owners are concerned, the Green Bay Packers are to remain unique in the world of professional sports. Nevertheless, Minnesotans should fight for a public ownership model similar to the Green Bay Packers’ for all their major sports franchises. State Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, has a bill in the Legislature that would do just that.

Not only would public ownership make Minnesota sports teams a permanently rooted civic asset, but also it would facilitate a level of loyalty between the teams and fans heretofore inexperienced.

This year in Minnesota, there is a possibility that the Gophers, the Twins and the Vikings will have stadium proposals simultaneously vying for state money at the Legislature. In an election year, the chance all three will receive legislative approval is nil. This could motivate the Vikings or the Twins to look outside Minnesota for a new home.

The sports teams of Minnesota are an integral part to the state’s identity and community. Minnesotans should call for public ownership of sports teams to keep it that way.