Why stadium support was an acceptable progressive compromise

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How could a progressive have supported building the stadium? This question is asked by Professor David Schultz and others. What Schultz does not know is that the issue was not enthusiastically supported, it was accepted with great pain. Schultz, being an outside commentator, could not know this. I was in the middle of the discussion.

For Progressives that question was whether one can ever compromise or whether one embraces absolute values.

Here is what made the case for an acceptable compromise:

Minnesota was badly in need of stimulus. At the time of this decision, power was split between a Democratic Governor and Republican-controlled Legislature. A stadium was possibly the only building project that both Republicans and Democrats could support. Remember the possible alternatives are like Polymet that poisons our water for 360 low-paying jobs. I would gladly pay more in taxes to build a stadium in Northern Minnesota to keep out all copper sulfide mining.

A wise state senator told me his reasoning for supporting the stadium. In addition to the stimulus reason, there is the reason that no state has ever successfully resisted building a new stadium. In all cases, the stadium supporters eventually won. Building a stadium in the economic recession meant the lowest cost that we would ever get. Buying on sale makes great economic sense.

Another person pointed out that having a great stadium makes a Minneapolis, a “destination” city – a place one goes to. Being a destination city means more cash inflow. Proof that the stadium attracts more cash-flow than its’ costs is hard to find. Yet Minnesota is doing better than other states.

In this state, Progressives govern, going for every incremental step. It made sense to support building the stadium. But when the stadium support passed, there was no wild cheering. Instead the passage was marked by a funeral-like silence. We, Progressives did what we had to and we don’t like it. For better choices, we need to always turn out the Democratic vote.