ackers of a $12.9 million regional amateur sports facility in Marshall were dealt with yet another dose of reality Wednesday when the Minnesota Senate left the project off its bonding proposal, following the lead of their colleagues in the House and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.
The Southwest Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission lobbied plenty with the House and Senate, and from all accounts put forth a pretty good case. It presented to legislators a solid plan; it even has the land ready to go - 16 or so acres donated by the Schwan Food Co.
But as the SMASC has found out the hard way, the state is not in a spending mood when it comes to local projects. Legislators appear to be more focused on spending for roads and bridges, and we're on board with that. Whatever we think of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on Capitol restoration is a moot point, because they're going to move ahead with it. And you know bonding dollars will be set aside for state colleges and universities. What's left? Hundreds of cities looking to build but left walking away with nothing, that's what.
Locally, Marshall's proposed sports center horse was arguably trotting behind the cart.
As good of a presentation the SMASC presented to lawmakers, without that guaranteed source of income for construction and operating costs, it really didn't stand much of a chance for bonding dollars in 2012. The commission already faced an uphill climb in St. Paul; not having local funding in place took away its walking stick.
The Legislature likes, no demands, a true funding source for projects - you need look no further than the Vikings stadium issue for evidence of that - and the SMASC doesn't have it not yet anyway.
That time could come in November when Marshall residents will vote on local sales taxes to raise money for the sports complex and MERIT?Center expansion. If those sales taxes pass this fall, it will give the SMASC that much more ammunition the next time it goes in front of committee at the Capitol.
The SMASC isn't giving up on the sports complex project, and it shouldn't. If the commission learned anything this session it's that it needs a concrete, reliable local funding piece if it wants to get anywhere in St. Paul.