ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Twins and major league baseball asked
the Minnesota Supreme Court to hold a hearing by Feb. 11 -- just three days
before spring training starts -- on the injunction that forces the team to play
A day after the Court of Appeals voted 3-0 to uphold the injunction that
compels the Twins to honor their lease at the Metrodome, the team and baseball
filed papers Wednesday asking the Supreme Court to review the case and to set an
expedited schedule for an appeal to the high court.
"The critical timing issues present in this case make expedited
determination necessary if meaningful review is to occur," wrote Roger
Magnuson, a lawyer for the Twins and baseball commissioner Bud Selig.
Separately, Twins owner Carl Pohlad met with Alabama businessman Donald
Watkins to discuss Watkins' desire to purchase the team.
The appellate court upheld a Nov. 16 decision by a district judge, who said
any breach of the Twins' lease wouldn't be satisfied by money alone.
Baseball's lawyers argue the injunction runs contrary to 80 years of
Minnesota law and represents an "articulation of a peculiar and anomalous
legal principle" that demands review by the Supreme Court.
"The Court of Appeals decision is an unprecedented intrusion into a
private business' right to cease operations," Magnuson wrote.
Baseball owners voted Nov. 6 to eliminate two teams before this season.
Baseball hasn't officially selected the teams, but the Twins and Montreal Expos
are the likely targets because of their low revenue and inability to secure
government funding for new ballparks.
Magnuson asked for the speedy review because the Twins are due to start
spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., on Feb. 17, three days after teams are
allowed to start workouts.
"Baseball must know if it can proceed with contraction so that players
can be reallocated among the remaining teams, and schedules and rosters can be
finalized," he wrote.
The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which obtained the injunction
as the Twins' landlord, opposes quicker-than-usual consideration, lawyer Andy
"The calendar of contraction was established by commissioner Selig,"
Shea said. "He, obviously, did not allow sufficient time for any orderly
Minnesota's Supreme Court, which on Nov. 30 refused to hear a direct appeal
of the original ruling, typically takes five to seven months to decide cases
after hearing arguments, though it has moved more quickly in some cases where
time was an issue. For the high court to take the case, at least three of the
seven justices must agree to accept an appeal.
Watkins, who wants to examine the Twins' financial records before making a
formal offer, has said he could finance a new stadium without public help if he
buys the team. His lawyer, Kenneth Thomas, was also present at the two-hour
meeting, along with Twins president Jerry Bell and Pohlad's son, Jim, a minority
owner of the team.
Watkins did not immediately return a message left at his office. The Twins
said both parties signed confidentiality agreements to keep the discussion
Meanwhile, the grievance by the players' association to block contraction
resumes Thursday in New York with the 11th day of testimony before arbitrator
Shyam Das. Delegations from management and the union, including Yankees reliever
Mike Stanton, met for about three hours Wednesday at the commissioner's office,
discussing mostly procedural issues and scheduling.