BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- Alabama businessman Donald Watkins called the Minnesota
Twins on Monday, starting a process that could make him the first black
controlling owner of a major league baseball team.
Watkins and Twins president Jerry Bell talked about a procedure and a
schedule for his pursuit of the team.
"It was a very positive discussion," said Watkins, who met with the
head of baseball's ownership committee last week. "They were expecting my
Bell did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
Baseball owners voted Nov. 6 to eliminate two teams, and the Twins and Montreal
Expos are the likely targets. An injunction forces the Twins to play this
year at the Metrodome, but the team and baseball have appealed.
Watkins wants to meet soon with Twins owner Carl Pohlad, who is willing to
have his franchise folded. It will take Watkins at least 60 days to evaluate the
Watkins hopes to negotiate a deal and have major league approval within six
to eight months. Watkins said a change of ownership would save the team from
The team is estimated to be worth $99 million to $150 million.
"There are formulas for determining values, even for sports teams,"
Watkins said. "There are lots of factors that go in that are not public
Watkins, 53, plans to pay cash for the Twins and finance construction of a
ballpark through private investors in Europe and the South Pacific. He estimates
the cost of a new stadium at $350 million.
Watkins has refused to detail his finances publicly, providing only broad
outlines of his wealth.
Watkins, who also is an attorney, earned more than $10 million representing
the cities of Birmingham and Montgomery. But he said most of his money came from
Watkins said energy investments he negotiated in 1996 were valued at between
$500 million and $600 million. Watkins said Monday he actually put
"substantially less" than that into the deal, but he wouldn't say how