Paul is the last place on earth I would have expected a "structurally
deficient bridge" to collapse, but it happened. As sure as the
levees broke in New Orleans, the bridge is no more. Now the state
of Minnesota is living a nightmare where people I speak with are
alternately devastated and furious: two parts tears, one part
rage, with the ratio shifting by the hour.
I went to
college in the Twin Cities, a refugee from the scowling confines
of New Yawk. Minnesota was like another planet, a place I almost
bolted after the first day when I was carded for trying to buy
a lighter. But the people easily won me over.
you not love a place that gave us Prince, Hulk Hogan, and cheese
curds? The combination of fried dairy products, pro wrestling,
and funk was just too much to resist. It's the kind of place where
my buddy John would choose to relocate and raise a family despite
having roots in La Jolla, California. La Jolla is breathtaking:
an oil painting come to life.
But Minneapolis-St. Paul has something far more precious than
sand and surf. The people of the Twin Cities always seem to have
one eye on the greater good. It's a place where Democrats proudly
call themselves the 'Democratic Farmer Labor Party', where Republicans
go by the name 'Independent Republicans', and where a coffee shop
calls itself 'Dunne Brothers', in tribute to the leaders of the
1934 strike that shut down the city.
It was also
a place, with its social democratic traditions, that constantly
frustrated the ambitions of a man named Carl Pohlad. Pohlad is
the 92-year-old multi-billionaire owner of the Minnesota Twins.
He has spent the last two decades of his life trying to get the
taxpayers of his home state to give him 500 million dollars for
a state of the art mega dome. The people in numerous referendums
were polite and firm that the Pohlad way was not the Minnesota
way. But Pohlad would not be deterred.
Giuliani once said, the problem with stadium referendums is that
people won't vote for them. Pohlad took the Giuliani gospel to
heart. He slunk behind the scenes, giving hundreds of thousands
of dollars to politicians in both parties - eventually making
a mockery of the Labor label on the Democrats and the Independence
of the Republicans.
Pohlad's monument to
corporate greed and political graft
was supposed to be on Thursday,
August 2, but the plans were hastily
scuttled... To celebrate the fleecing
of the public to the tune of
half a billion dollars - over 300 dollars
out of the pockets of every
man, woman and child - while bodies
have still yet to be recovered from
the fallen bridge, would have
Pawlenty, who has vetoed every effort to raise taxes to refurbish
the state's infrastructure, became a born-again stadium supporter.
Others as well "got religion" and began to worship at the altar
of "revenue streams," "naming rights," and "luxury boxes."
As the Minnesota
City Pages put it, "After a long string of public relations disasters
that have entrenched his reputation as a miserly, something-for-nothing
businessman, Carl Pohlad - the richest owner in major league baseball
- has finally learned his political lesson. This time all the
hardball haggling occurred behind closed doors."
for the Pohlad's monument to corporate greed and political graft
was supposed to be on Thursday, August 2, but the plans were hastily
scuttled. The irony was simply too much for even these assorted
scoundrels to bear. To celebrate the fleecing of the public to
the tune of half a billion dollars - over 300 dollars out of the
pockets of every man, woman and child - while bodies have still
yet to be recovered from the fallen bridge, would have been monstrous.
monster is already long loose and rampaging the countryside. It's
difficult to not recall Hurricane Katrina and the way the Superdome
became the homeless shelter from hell for 30,000 of the city's
poorest residents. The Superdome, also funded by the public dime,
became completely unfit for humanity in a few short hours. At
the time, many - particularly in the Northern liberal media -
cluck clucked at New Orleans and their "priorities."
in Minnesota, the Pohlad Dome has been given more thought, planning,
and consideration than the very bridges families assume will remain
upright. Even in Minnesota, as Nick Coleman of the Star Tribune
wrote, "Both political parties have tried to govern on the cheap,
and both have dithered and dallied and spent public wealth on
stadiums while scrimping on the basics."
Even in Minnesota.
That might be the most frightening epitaph of all. Even in Minnesota
the Dome came first and the people last. Every community needs
to take this to heart and tell politicians we will no longer worship
false idols. It's time to tear down the Domes.
Dave Zirin is the author of Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain,
Politics and Promise of Sports (Haymarket Books, 2007). He is
also the author of "The Muhammad Ali Handbook" (MQ Publications)
and has also gotten himself a blog site, www.myspace.com/edgeofsports,
which he invites you to visit. His book, "What's My Name Fool?
Sports and Resistance in the United States," is also in stores.
You can receive his column, Edge of Sports, every week by emailing
says: "I love writing this column but can only
continue with this work if people buy the books. We have a lot
of mouths to feeds in this house (and about three of them are
you believe in progressive, iconoclastic sports writing please
pick up a copy of Welcome To The Terrordome. If you believe in
being part of a project to "tear down the Terrordome,"
pick up five and give them to the apolitical sports fans in your
life. The only way ideas like this spread are from the bottom
up. Any questions, feel free to hit me back at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other articles by Dave Zirin:
The Meaning Of The Sports Spectacle
Clown Prince Of Bizarro World
No Scapegoats: The Other Side Of Hip-Hop
(co-written with Jeff Chang)
The Greatest Anti-War Protestor
Pimping Mike Tyson
Pat Tillman's Brother Breaks His Silence
The Passing Of Peter Norman
When Fists Are Frozen
Why Today I Wear My Zidane Jersey
Hey Guys, It's Not A War
Using Soccer To Kick Iran
Why Did Pat Tillman Die?
Why Pat Tillman's Parents Are No Longer Silent