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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Roof of No Roof?

This weekend's Minnesota Twins-Hennepin County stadium proposal contains no provision for a retractable roof. Personally, I think one is necessary in the unpredictable Minnesota climate. The question, though, is who should pay for it? I sense, and maybe our economists could help us out here, that the retractable roof may actually be an example of a good that would not be provided by the market -- but should be provided anyway. What do you think?

Blogger Craig Westover said...


10:24 AM, April 25, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Economist here:

Most goods which are not provided by the market aren't provided because they shouldn't be provided. Government should step in only in those exceptions where the market doesn't provide a good which should be. The canonical case of this is where the good has a positive spillover - that is, where there is no way of capturing through market prices all the benefits of the good. I think there is a spillover to professional sports. I like having the Twins here even though I've never gone to a game. I like the idea that I could. So I am willing to go along with a small tax to partially subsidize a stadium. A retractable roof? Given that a normal stadium appears to be enough to keep the Twins in Minneapolis, I don't see the spillover associated with a retractable roof, and thus I don't see the rationale for government involvement.

10:33 AM, April 25, 2005  
Blogger MJNiemann said...

I suspect a review of average temperatures and rainfall (or snowfall) in the upper Midwest would reveal that a roof is unnecessary. A retractable roof on a baseball stadium is like a retractable roof on a car: that is, utterly superfluous and only a consideration if someone else is paying the bill. The uncovered ballparks in Chicago and (formerly) Milwaukee suffer no undue financial burdens from being open to imperfect weather. Furthermore, rainouts are a part of baseball. Players may dislike the doubleheaders caused by rainouts, but fans enjoy them. The owners don’t mind rainouts, but they shed tears to see a dreary or cold day, because they will lose at the gate. Attendance goes down with the temperature, typically. But recall that the baseball mausoleums in Seattle, Houston, here and elsewhere were demanded by professional team owners who claimed that no one would come to games when it was extremely hot, cold and/or wet. Now they are claiming that no one will come because the environment is too sterile.

The political process here has functioned admirably. Reviewing the political burlesques that have played out in Baltimore, Seattle and Milwaukee, no one can blame the Twins’ owner for bluffing that he would sell or move the team if he didn’t get a free Cadillac. The electorate simply called his bluff, sensing both that a baseball team is not something to cling to at any cost and that there aren’t a lot of markets out there to take a baseball team. Now, ownership will have to contribute, and what they will get is a nice Toyota. That strikes me as a good Minnesotan solution.

12:57 PM, April 29, 2005  

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