Phyllis Kahn, a Democratic member of the Minnesota House of
Representatives, has come up with a pioneering concept for
settling athletes' contract disputes. Kahn, a baseball fan whose
district includes the Metrodome, proposed last week that the
state make up some $2 million of the difference separating Twins
ace pitcher Brad Radke's contract demand from owner Carl
Pohlad's three-year offer. Kahn figures the state's investment
would keep Radke in Minnesota. "Brad is the only star the Twins
have at the moment," Kahn says. "When he's on the mound, you
know you're going to see some beautiful pitching, even if the
Twins don't win."
Kahn calculates that the income tax collected on Radke's
requested salary of $26 million over three years and the sales
tax on the increase in tickets sold when he pitches would help
offset the state's contribution. An added return would come in
the form of a community asset worth watching, says Kahn, who has
long advocated public ownership of the Twins.
The day after Kahn floated her idea, a flood of E-mails and
phone calls from Minnesotans opposed to public subsidies for pro
sports killed the Brad Radke bill before it could be introduced.
Should a similar bill ever make it to the floor of the
statehouse, critics say, opposition will be swift and severe.
Says Andy Kirn, executive director of Citizens for Fiscal
Responsibility, "It would make the public's revolt against
subsidized stadiums look like child's play."
Kahn might consider the state's intervention necessary to
bolster the Twins' bargain-basement payroll, but she doesn't
advocate indiscriminate subsidies. "Would I be doing this if it
were for John Rocker?" she says.
February 28, 2000