MARSHALL - A little weather wasn't about to stop Roger Madison from testifying at the state Capitol on behalf of Marshall's proposed regional amateur sports complex. Once he saw the weather forecast for Tuesday night, he booked a room in the Twin Cities and took off before the weather hit. He was joined at the Capitol on Wednesday morning by Alan Poff, and Cal Brink, who braved the elements Wednesday morning for a long drive to St. Paul.
But considering the purpose of the white-knuckle trip, the drive was worth it.
"I didn't have the frustration that Cal and Alan did," Madison said. "I went in from Willmar on Tuesday, so kudos to those guys for sticking it out and getting there."
Madison, the co-chairman of the Southwest Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission, Pfaff, representing the Schwan Food Co., which has donated the land near the intersection of Minnesota Highways 23 and 19 for the proposed complex, and Brink, executive director of the Marshall Chamber of Commerce, joined District 21A Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, in front of the Government Finance Committee to pitch the proposed regional amateur sports facility they want to see built in Marshall.
The group also presented in front of a Senate committee alongside District 21 Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls.
"They did a good job letting the committee know what Marshall brings to the table as a large employer, they talked about economic development and how we need to compete with South Dakota and Iowa for business," Swedzinski said.
Madison said the Marshall group got a positive response from the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission, which also presented its bonding priorities for 2012.
Like Marshall, the city of Moorhead is seeking $4 million for its Northwest Regional Sports Center and is listed as the MASC's No. 1 priority, just ahead of the Marshall project. Neither made Gov. Mark Dayton's list of recommendations in his $775 million bonding proposal.
"Dayton's list is Dayton's list; the Legislature will have their list as well," Swedzinski said. "We're working with the governor, he has asked for projects; there's a lot of give-and-take. We have our wants and needs. Roads and bridges are extremely high on that list - local bridges, rural roads, maintaining buildings. There's a lot of requests out there."
The city of Marshall is also seeking $2.5 million for expansion at the MERIT training center. The MERIT center has already received $1 million from the state for expansions, as well as grant funding, and would also be a benefactor of the .5 percent local sales tax.
"I feel good about what we were able to put on the table," said Madison. "We got a very positive response from the state amateur sports commission that has a goal of bringing dollars to the state coffers, bringing people in, recruitment into the state of Minnesota.
"From the amateur sports commission's standpoint, they positioned us as a strong project and would like to see us get approved," he added. "They indicated Marshall is doing a very good job at doing the work necessary to getting funding approved. He pointed out to the legislators that we're a well-organized, well-engaged community; that should serve us well."
The city is requesting $4 million in state bonding dollars to help build the sports center - the same request that was denied by the Legislature in 2010. The city is seeking a proposed .5 percent local sales tax to help cover capital construction costs for the projects. The Minnesota Legislature has already approved that sales tax. A 1.5 percent "hospitality tax" on sales of prepared food, beverages and lodging to offset operating costs of the sports center gained state approval in 2010.
A public vote on the two local sales taxes will be coming up in November.