On the Star-Tribune's website last night, a story was posted under the title "E-mails Reveal Under-the-Radar Maneuvering To Land Vikings' Stadium." Contained within is a shocking revelation.
A week before the stadium deal was announced, Target Executive Vice President John Griffith urged Rybak and others to finalize the city's agreement and bluntly told them what should be included and left out of the package. "I can imagine that some of this has made many of you anxious, my apologies," Griffith, the company's property development specialist, wrote on Feb. 21. "Much work awaits us. Let's go."
In those final days, the city's source of funding for its share of the nearly $1 billion stadium changed dramatically. In a Feb. 18 presentation by Griffith, much of the city's contribution came from a new hotel tax and game day parking surcharges, both of which were eventually dropped from the plan because of perceived opposition from Republican legislators and downtown residents. Other e-mails show the city pushed unsuccessfully to unload the city-owned Target Center onto a newly created stadium authority.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to tell you that a concerned citizen exchanged correspondence with an elected official on a subject that they felt strongly about, and as a result something got done.
The tone of the Star-Tribune story, from the way I read it, makes this out to be a big deal. As if dealings in the proverbial smoke-filled back rooms haven't been a part of pretty much every single political deal in the history of politics. Quite frankly, I'm happy that John Griffith did whatever it was, exactly, that he did in order to attempt to move this process forward.
Now, if only we could get the legislature to stop screwing around, maybe something could get done here. The legislative session is supposed to go to the end of next month, but there has been talk that some folks want to wrap things up as early as April 5. Hopefully that won't happen and some actual, serious discussion of the stadium bill can take place.
(And, yes, I know this is all taking place in Minneapolis. The stadium bill, however, is languishing in St. Paul at the moment.)