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Twins fans voice support for stadium at open house
by Rochelle Olson

Catherine Minniear doesn't have a problem with helping to pay for a new stadium for the Minnesota Twins.

"Whatever it takes. I can help," said Minniear, who works in the bakery of Cub Foods in Stillwater.

In a satin Twins jacket, she, her daughter, Janice Brumlow of Maplewood, and her 12-year-old granddaughter Breanne Brumlow went to a three-hour open house sponsored by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission on Wednesday at Woodbury High School.

Officials from the commission and the Twins chatted with visitors, who saw a model of the Metrodome renovated for football and video highlights of Dome events over the years. The commission and the Twins laid out piles of literature.

Those who attended overwhelmingly supported the Twins, who want a new stadium and have a bill in the Legislature to help build one. "I firmly believe it's a function of government to build a ballpark," said James J. Kraus of St. Paul, who came with his father, James E. Kraus. Opponents are "saying it's a place for rich owners. No. It's a place for me, the fan, to go."

The bill before the Legislature would include a $150 million contribution from the Twins and other private sources, a $100 million interest-free state loan from a state workers' compensation plan, a $40 million grant and more than $10 million in tax breaks.

Scotty Thomson doesn't like the plan because she's fighting to receive money to help with a knee injury she said she suffered at work. Helping her "would be a lot cheaper than building a stadium," she said as she filled out a commission questionnaire.

But others, including Jim Lonetti and his 6-year-old daughter, Olivia, said the Twins remain some of the best family entertainment in town. On his form, Lonetti suggested team owner Carl Pohlad take a lead in the push for a ballpark. "He's the owner of the Twins, like it or not. He needs to take a role there," Lonetti said.

Nearly 100 visitors attended. The next open house is April 11-12 in Rochester.

The commission supports the Twins' push for a new ballpark and favors a renovated Metrodome for football only, but the Vikings want their own new stadium. Vikings officials chose not to participate in the forums.

Comments from the events will be forwarded in a report to Gov. Jesse Ventura and legislative leaders.