According to the Regents' agenda packet, two thirds of the construction costs are for enclosed seating, the fancy executive suites that will bring in the bulk of new ticket revenue and allow local royalty to enjoy the gridiron spectacle with comforting glass walls to separate them from the hoi polloi and brisk October breeze.
$63 million of the project will come from bond sales, private donations already pledged, and a guarantee from the SDSU Foundation. SDSU wants the Regents to let them take another $2 million out of students' hides via a $1.75 fee on each academic credit. SDSU justifies this charge by moving the University Police Department HQ to the stadium and adding retail space.
A student taking 15 credits (and why aren't you taking at least that many credits? Get 'er done!) would pay $26.25 per semester, or $210 for a standard four-year full-time load.
So the more classes you take, the less time you have to go watch other people play sports, but the more you will pay for an athletic spectation palace.
Conservatives are huffing and puffing about having to buy health insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act that cover procedures they'll never use (a complaint I never heard them lodging against pre-ACA insurance; when's the last time an insurer let you buy a policy that covers just the one broken arm that you plan to suffer from falling in the bathroom next summer?). Will they huff and puff similarly on behalf of SDSU students having to pay for a football stadium they'll never use?
Rep. Steve Hickey (R-9/Sioux Falls) is a bit more sensitive to the lure of bloodlust and money. He led a losing fight against the Legislative effort to legitimize our most violent sport last winter. Now he speaks truth to some of the biggest money power in South Dakota that's promoting that commercialized violence: Sanford Health. Terry Vandrovec reports in Monday's paper on the business relationship between South Dakota's largest health care business and MMA league Ultimate Fighting Championship:
The ever-expanding rural provider received approval from the UFC to work with its athletes and does so regularly in terms of training and treating injuries.
Brad Reeves, an orthopedic surgeon at Sanford, was at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas when Weidman stunned Anderson Silva to win the UFC middleweight title in July. Reeves consulted with the 29-year-old Weidman in the locker room before the bout and cheered him on just beyond ringside.
The Sanford-UFC relationship began with the local agent Martin bringing some of his 26 MMA clients there, but it has expanded [Terry Vandrovec, "MMA Fights for a Bright Future in South Dakota," that Sioux Falls paper, 2013.09.09].
Rep. Rev. Hickey follows with these blessedly impolitic words:
Not everyone is thrilled about the relationship. State representative and Sioux Falls pastor Steve Hickey is the most vocal elected opponent of MMA in South Dakota. “Sanford follows the money, so this is it,” he said. “(Three-billion) dollar industry, fastest growing sport in the world” [Vandrovec, 2013.09.09].
My friends tell me this kind of thing is political suicide - to smack one of our largest employers in the state, and most generous, one that does a ton of good, etc.. Here's why…
Non-profit Sanford Health is all about multi-million dollar sports venues and high dollar corporate sponsorships. Frankly, in light of that it would be odd for Sanford not to be right in the middle of the mix in bringing high dollar cage fights to town. The possibility of bringing some huge UFC matches here to their venues, televised nationally and via pay-per-view is, how shall I say, exactly what the doctor ordered [Rep. Rev. Steve Hickey, "Sanford and MMA Cage Fighting: Money or Medicine?" Voices Carry, 2013.09.10].
Senator Lederman throws his votes and his money at a sport that glorifies violence and treats women as decoration. Representative Hickey's voting record on gals and guns is shaky, but I praise him for having the guts to call out one of the strongest financial forces in the state for putting profit above its mission of health and healing.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson doesn't sound too pleased, either. She grilled Sanford execs yesterday about their plans to take over Fairview Health Services and the University of Minnesota Medical Center.
Like Fairview, Sanford is a nonprofit health care company, and Swanson questioned why a tax-exempt organization like Sanford Health is spending millions of dollars on naming rights and other support for a civic center in Sioux Falls and university sports programs in North and South Dakota.
Link and Nelson said the sports-related gifts were in conjunction with Sanford’s mission to support sports medicine and fitness.
But after listening to Link describe various spending by Sanford Health to boost university athletic programs and local athletic facilities, Swanson asked him: “Can you see how the focus here [in Minnesota] should be on patients, not sports and athletics?” [Tony Kennedy, "Swanson Grills Sanford Executives on Proposed Fairview Merger," Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2013.04.07]
E-mails obtained by the Star Tribune show that [University of Minnesota president Eric] Kaler was also scheduled to initiate preliminary talks this past week in Sioux Falls with Krabbenhoft. Kaler canceled the meeting in part because of Swanson’s sudden inquiry, but he intends to reschedule even though he has proposed the university’s own takeover of Fairview — a move that would exclude Sanford.
In a March 25 e-mail to Kaler, Krabbenhoft didn’t mince words about his own enthusiasm for U of M athletics and possible funding. The e-mail provided a “discussion agenda” for the scheduled April 1 meeting at Sanford headquarters, including an item called “Denny Sanford and the U of M.” Another item of discussion was: “President Kaler-Sanford Health Trustee (post-Merger).”
Krabbenhoft offered to fly Kaler to and from Sioux Falls in a private plane for the meeting, and he summed up his e-mail with accolades for the U’s decision to fire basketball coach Tubby Smith. In the email, Krabbenhoft called himself a “Gopher forever” and said he also intended to write to “Norwood” about the basketball situation.
The CEO closed the e-mail with this personal “hope”: “that Sanford and Fairview come to a reality and I can get as deeply invested and supportive as I/we should be in the Athletic future of the University of Minnesota” [Tony Kennedy, "It's a Delicate Dance as Kaler Courts Wealthy Alum Sanford," Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2013.04.08]
Sanford Health claims they can save the Fairview system $40 million to $60 million with a merger. But more than a few people in the room don't see a need to give up their health care system to outside ownership:
“This is very, very, very serious business for all of Minnesota,” said David Finewachs, a former Minnesota Hospital Association lawyer, who was called by Swanson to testify that Fairview is stable, successful and not facing a financial crisis that would call for a merger.
The crowd applauded when he said any merger that would give Sanford Health control of the U of M Medical Center and Fairview would be like “selling the public library to Wal-Mart.”
It's crazy enough to make me think I was being spoofed... but a reader's tip proves to be true. Apparently Easter festivities at the Brookings Swiftel Center include an Easter Egg hunt Saturday morning, followed by cage fighting in the evening:
Easter Eve cage fight, March 30, 2013, Swiftel Center, Brookings, SD
Yes, do, please "Bring the whole family to witness" twelve "kid friendly" matches, one for each disciple. Crack your eggs for lunch, then come watch these gladiators crack skulls, just like back in Roman times.
And for extra special family time together, you and your kids can all cheer for your favorite Fury Fights heroes (because Easter is all about fury) and get into the Easter spirit by shouting "Crucify him!"
Brookings city councilman John Kubal saw an ad like this in the Brookings Register (for which he works) and said No way! He got his fellow councilors to vote 6-to-1 to put discussion of banning cage fighting at all public facilities, including the Swiftel Center, on a future council agenda. Only councilwoman Jael Thorpe voted no, saying the issue has been discussed enough.
Every school and media outlet in South Dakota devotes too much time and resources to basketball. But a Watertown neighbor takes particular umbrage to find Pine Ridge spending money to send its girls to the state basketball tournament in comfort:
Hmm. Pine Ridge is the "poorest reservation in the country" (fact) " but yet it's girl's basketball team has a CHARTER BUS? Hmm.........I think their money could be going elsewhere [Hannah Schuster, Facebook post, March 2013].
Hannah, all I'm saying is, just consider how your post was hurtful. Imagine your own child on that bus, excitement and dreams in the air . . and here, thoughtless people try to take it away from them. Just have heart. And be grateful your children will most likely not have learned very hard and painful truths about life at only 15 years old that a lot of these kids have learned. And don't be that hard and painful truth to someone else's kid. That's all.
(Full disclosure: my wife and I bought our daughter a fancy Razor scooter instead putting that money into her college fund.)
Heidi's racism critique is wholly appropriate. The only way we might defend a critique of Pine Ridge's chosen mode of transportation is if we discuss funding priorities. But if we go there, we have to go there on every school district. As long as any child is failing algebra or coming to school hungry, should any school be spending money on traveling around the state to play games? Is that the discussion South Dakotans want to have with their school board members (after they get done filling out their NCAA brackets)?
Related: The Madison Central School District is talking about spending $29,000 to replace the transmission and work on the diesel engine of the fancy activity bus it acquired four years ago so Madison's basketball players could have a "really nice ride."
I got this article from a creative young South Dakotan who has moved to the Twin Cities to capitalize on her creative skills. An economic analysis of "creative vitality" finds that Minneapolis ranks sixth nationwide for the amount of economic activity generated by the creative arts industry. According to the report commissioned by Minneapolis city government, artists and their ilk generate over $700 million in economic activity for Minneapolis, including $430 million in retail sales. That $430 million is 70% of what sports generates for Minneapolis.
Rep. Rev. Steve Hickey (R-9/Sioux Falls) is picking a fight. Actually, he's picking some kinds of fighting over others and seeking a ban on cage fighting.
Last month the Senate passed Senate Bill 84, a measure to create a commission to regulate boxing, kickboxing, and mixed martial arts events in South Dakota. SB 84 would put the state's seal of approval on the violent entertainment that communities like Madison have already embraced as moneymakers.
Rep. Hickey says he can live with boxing, wrestling, and even "legitimate" martial arts contests. But, choosing some fighting words, he calls mixed martial arts "cage fighting' and says these "blood-soaked slugfests" are the "child porn of sports":
The psychological community will tell you that desensitization to violence works exactly like desensitization to porn. You know how porn progresses… a peek at topless isn’t enough, it all has to come off, then a pic is not enough… it goes to video then to virtual and then to the devaluation and mistreatment of women, human trafficking and sex crimes against women. Violence works the same way. Boxing wasn’t enough so they took the gloves off, then they allowed kicking, kneeing people in the head, then elbows to the face, then they put a cage around it. The point is to knock the other guy unconscious while pay per view crowds cheer it on. Why not nunchucks? In Rome they’d gather in colosseums and bring out prisoners and entertain themselves by making them fight to the death. That wasn’t enough so they brought out helpless and hated and brought in the hungry lions. Crowds cheered [Rep. Rev. Steve Hickey, "Ban MMA in South Dakota...," Gate Post, 2013.02.23].
Rep. Hickey hears the "economic development" and "everyone else is doing it so why can't we?" justifications and pops both bubbles:
If that’s all we can come up with for economic development we are in trouble. And our decisions on our tolerance for things violent shouldn’t be about money. If we want to attract dirty and bloody money why not legalize prostitution or bring back the gladiators?...
...Proponents say it’s going on here already so we need to regulate it to make it safe. Meth use is going on here too, should we regulate Meth labs? South Dakota has no business spending any time or money legitimizing cage fighting. I don’t care that “other states are doing it.” I’d like to think we are better. Other states run billion dollar deficits and we balance our budget. Maybe with our fiscal sense, we could also be known for our common sense and decency [Hickey, 2013.02.23].
Rep. Hickey does us the favor of showing us the full hoghouse amendment to SB 84 that he plans to offer Monday. (Wow: all legislators should be so courteous to the public!) Along with banning mixed martial arts statewide, Rep. Hickey's amendment restores the Governor's full authority over the boxing commission that the Legislature is trying to take away. Rep. Hickey is playing to Governor Daugaard because our exec seems to share the Rev's attitude toward mixed martial arts:
Daugaard opposes such a fight commission, believing it “legitimizes a violent and dangerous activity. He, following the decision of his predecessor Gov. Mike Rounds, declined to appoint members of a previous commission created in 2009. Daugaard cited concerns about legitimating the activity and about cost.
...“I’m offended that the state would legitimize cage-fighting and the bloody violence that those kinds of spectacles create,” he said. “I think it’s interesting that we declare that it is a crime for one human being to strike another, and yet the state now proceeds to legitimize, and label a sport, cage-fighting” [David Montgomery, "Daugaard, 'Angry' Legislators Clash over Fight Commission," Political Smokeout, 2013.01.25].
The Hickey amendment to SB 84 makes clear that municipal governments retain the right to impose further restrictions, like banning boxing. But it asserts the state's right to trump local control in the interest of protecting the public from dangerous activities that offend moral sensibilities... which sounds an awful lot like the argument I've given Rep. Hickey for rejecting local control as a justification for guns in schools.
I appreciate Rep. Rev. Hickey's willingness to stake out a position against the "economic development über alles" mindset that seems to excuse too much bad policy in Pierre. I even more deeply appreciate that Hickey makes his argument in completely secular terms. He leaves off the Rev and makes his argument entirely as the Rep, in a way that any citizen, Christian or otherwise, can access.
Senate Bill 119 is an example of a bill we shouldn't need. Various schools around the state have attempted to claim their sports events as some sort of private property to which they can sell exclusive broadcast rights to favored media outlets. The First Amendment, backed with civic pride and horse sense, should tell us that our students' performances in our public spaces are matters of public interest which any journalist ought to be able to record and broadcast for the benefit of the public.
Nonetheless, Senator Marc Johnston (R-12/Sioux Falls) and Rep. Bernie Hunhoff (D-18/Yankton) feel local school districts need a firm reminder of their obligation to the First Amendment. Their Senate Bill 119 makes clear that no school district or school board may "interfere with the right of news media to attend and engage in journalism concerning any interscholastic high school activity or event." Whether that means school boards could no longer empower their state activities association to restrict journalists at State Tournaments is an open and interesting question. Sen. Johnston got his Commerce and Energy committee colleagues to vote for this bill 7–0; it now awaits Senate action.
I note with mischievous glee that SB 119 includes the following definitions of "journalism" and "news media":
"Journalism," the gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, streaming, broadcasting, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing of news or information that concerns matters of public interest for dissemination to the public, including on the internet;
"News media," personnel of a newspaper or other periodical issued at regular intervals, a news service, a radio station, a television station, or a television network, regardless of whether the news media is in print, electronic, or digital format;....
Let's see... I gather, write, and publish information of public interest. I issue a periodical in digital format at regular intervals. SB 119 acknowledges the right of my humble blog to stand next to Kevin Woster, Jerry Oster, and Mike Henriksen, snapping and tweeting away at high school events and other newsworthy public happenings. And when someone asks what I think I'm doing, I can point to SB 119 and say, "Journalism."
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