The great debate over funding for pro sports stadiums and arenas

Anyone who lives in a large metropolitan area like myself, probably has at least one professional sports team located in their city and in many cases, more than one.  And chances are at one time or another, one of those teams have probably discussed the need for a new place to play, since their current facility is not up to par.  Here in Minnesota, we are currently discussing ways to build a new football stadium for the Vikings.

As you can imagine, there is and always has been much opposition to using any type of public funding to build a new stadium. In fact, this debate has been going on for years around here. It started in 1994 when the owners of the local NBA team threatened to move the team because of financial problems with the arena that the team plays in. The city of Minneapolis stepped in to help pay for the arena.  Our major league baseball team, the Twins have been battling to get a new stadium for about 10 years before one was finally approved. And now the Vikings are at the trough for taxpayers money.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about using taxes from ordinary people to finance stadiums. I understand both sides of the argument.  The owners of these teams are extremely rich and in most cases, billionaires. You would think that they could build their own stadium using their own money. A new stadium increases the value of a franchise and thus makes the owner even better off when they sell the team. So this is essentially welfare for the rich and I do not really agree with that.  However, people need to understand that the owner is not the only one who benefits from having a brand new stadium.  The city and the state get additional tax revenue from having a team and stadium or arena.  Unfortunately, an owner can just hold a town hostage and say that they will move the team if their demands are not met. Other cities are willing to build new stadiums or arenas for pro sports franchises. It is a highly competitive business for getting franchises. There is no such thing as owner loyalty anymore.

I have to laugh at those so-called economic experts who say that pro sports teams bring no economic value to a city or state. The argument they use is  the money people spend on attending a game would be spent someone else on another form of entertainment. So according to their theories, the money just gets transferred around. I find a few flaws with that argument. About 40 percent of the people who attend a Twins game come from out-of-state. So if they did not attend a game here in Minnesota, would they still travel to Minnesota and spend money? probably not. And the same holds true with people who live in this state or better yet, those who live in this metro area. Take for instance myself.  There is no guarantee I would use the money that I would normally spend on sporting events on something else in this city or state. I might even spend it in another state.  Or save the money and not spend it.  There are so many positive things that a pro sports team can bring to a city.  Besides the tax revenue, there is the quality of life issue.  I personally believe that having many sports teams around here can help bring in many other businesses and is a good recruiting tool to help people move here.

There should be many ways to help solve these stadium issues. I believe the people who benefit the most from having a team in town should be taxed the most such as hotels, restaurants, bars and sports memorabilia. But in the end, everyone in  the state benefits from having a team in the state or city, even if you are not a sports fan.  Sure building a new stadium may require using public money, but it is a good investment that usually pays off  in the long term.

Is golf really a sport?

The other day, I happened to come across a rather interesting discussion on talk radio about golf. The topic of conversion was whether golf is an actually sport or some activity that is not a sport such as camping, gardening or do I dare say, bowling!!

The general consensus among the many rubes who called in, you know those people who cannot think outside the box, was that golf is such a limited game athletically, so it should not really be considered in the same breath as football, basketball, baseball or hockey. One caller even didn’t know how any sport, without any running involved, could be considered a sport.

With all due respect to those people, I beg to fully differ. My definition of a real sport is an athletic competition that people take part in and compete.  I can fully understand why people are skeptical about golf.  Sometimes, I even wonder, especially when some old senior citizen beats me in a round of golf.  But being an avid golfer who plays a few times a week,  I think golf can be an underrated sport in terms of athletic ability.  You have to have some athletic ability to produce a nice swing and maintain good balance and tempo. Having excellent hand, eye coordination is another important athletic trait that any good golfer must have. One of the greatest mysteries of golf is how can it be so difficult to hit a little white ball that is just lying there and not moving.  The average person walking on the street would have a very difficult time making a good shot, let alone making contact with the ball.  I always marvel at how those pros can make some of those shots.

Having played many competitive sports during my life, I still feel that golf ranks up there with the toughest sports to mentally play.  I have played competitive basketball all my life and it does not compare to playing in a golf tournament or league which I have done both.  Having to think about your next shot, such as the case in golf, is more difficult and nerve-racking for the most part than basketball,which is largely a reaction and instinct type of sport.  Imagine what those pro golfers have to go through ever week? One bad shot into the water and they can lose thousands of dollars. And outside of endorsements, there are no guaranteed contracts in professional golf.

I can’t argue that golfers have more physical athletic skills than other sports. That is just not true but just because they do not run or jump, does not mean that their sport is not really a sport. In fact, that is the beauty of the game. You do not have to run a 4.2 40 or have a 36 inch vertical to be a good golfer. That is why, yes the sport of golf is so great.  It gives those who are less athletically inclined, a greater chance for succeeding at a sport even giving those older ex athletes, who cannot run or jump anymore, a chance to be competitive in something for the rest of their lives.  Golf is and will always be a sport and a great one.

Misconceptions about Christianity

This coming weekend will mark a very special time for millions of  Christians around the world. It is the Easter holiday and many people of the Christian faith will observe the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, Christianity has been under increasing attack, especially in this country.

A few months ago, I read a blog from a gentleman who blamed Christianity for nearly all the problems in the world. He even called the bible, a book of lies and outdated.  While people like this gentleman are entitled to their opinion, I found it rather disturbing that this guy seemed to be very short on facts about the bible and the faith alone. Many people who blog and write nasty things about Christianity and Christians seem to know very little about the religion and have very limited facts to back up their claims.

I can understand why people can be skeptical about Christians. Several sexual abuse cases have risen in the past few years, along with acts of immoral behavior by pastors and church leaders.  These acts are in direct violation of the teachings of Jesus Christ and th0se people need to be held accountable for their actions.  They give Christianity a black eye.  But do not judge the faith by a few isolated incidents. There are millions of Christians around the world who do awesome things for mankind. Many help out the poor or those in need.  There are many who witness to people who are near rock bottom in their lives. Those little meetings have changed many people’s lives around for the better. Yet, it is very seldom mentioned in the press or newspapers. Only the negative stuff.

Real Christianity is about love, kindness, forgiveness, reaching out to others in need, honesty, humility and integrity. The bible teaches us many times about the importance of those traits. In this ever-increasing world of hate, selfishness, greed and violence, the bible is basically the blueprint of how to live your life.  Our world would be so much better if more people adopted some of these important principles of the Christian faith.

It is very sad to see how many people are trying to eliminate any mention of Christianity in our lives. Just last December, a school just south of Minneapolis banned the word Christmas from being mentioned in school. And of course, there are many cases of crosses being banned in public places. Or statues of the ten commandments being taken down. I find it very ironic that we can post a nasty billboard off the freeway or downtown area of some immoral advertisement and yet,  it is not politically correct to have a statue of  a symbol of the Christian religion in a public place. There is a huge double standard going on here!!

I strongly believe that each person’s faith is largely a private manner and nobody should be forced to follow any religion.  However, for those people like the blogger, who think it is organized religion, like Christianity that is the source of the many problems of this world, I challenged them to actually study what the Christian faith is really about. Or better yet, experience it! It may a life changing experience that you will never forget.