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New Republic examines Mayo's deal with state, influence on Rochester

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Is there much difference between the Minnesota Vikings ploy to get public funding for a new stadium and that of the Mayo Clinic's similar deal for state money to expand its Rochester campus?

Not really, according to a new piece in the New Republic, called "Held Hostage by a Hospital."

That tells you about all you need to know about the angle of the story, but there are still points worth considering in view of the past Minnesota legislative session, in which lawmakers approved $585 million to go to Mayo.

For instance, the magazine notes that both the Vikings and Mayo implicitly threatened a move elsewhere, noting the quip of John Noseworthy, the president and CEO of Mayo, from last April that “there are 49 states that would like us to invest in them. That’s the truth.”

More troubling to writer Ilan Greenberg is the notion that Mayo wants to be the premiere medical destination in the nation, with the city outshining as Boulder, Colo., Madison, Wis., or even Bangkok or Singapore.

"In order to accomplish this, though, Mayo has decided that Rochester, population 108,000, needs to double in size," Greenberg argues.

“The Mayo Clinic as an entity is a five-star experience," says one Mayo director. "We want Rochester to be able to offer the same. We need more options.”

Whether this gambit is good for Mayo is unquestioned, but what about Rochester?

The market for medical destination is in the $60 billion range and growing at a 35 percent clip,, according to a 2009 study by DeLoitte and Touche. For Mayo to get a bigger slice of that market, the city of Rochester must step up, the clinic seems to be saying.

As Politics in Minnesota notes, Greenberg argues that it will take high-end bars and restaurants, theater, an expanded University of Minnesota campus and other cultural upgrade to attract the right patients and doctors to the facility - and the city.

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