The reason I have been so adamant in advocating that the state legislature pass the
Twins stadium bill, which includes a very generous offer from owner Carl Pohlad, is this:
I am confident we will lose the Twins to contraction by 2003 if a new stadium isn't
I recall being involved with people such as Charlie Johnson, John Cowles, Gerald Moore,
Bill Boyer when we helped bring the Twins here from Washington D.C. for the 1961
season. That helped make this a major league area, and a new stadium is needed to keep it
a major league area.
There won't be any more expansion in baseball. In fact, baseball is likely to subtract
teams. The Twins might be one of the teams absorbed by Major League Baseball, and getting
another team would then be impossible.
I'm confident Pohlad would never move the Twins. But the stadium bill stalled in the
legislature was more than generous on his part. It includes a $150 million contribution
from the Twins and the business community, and a $100 million interest-free state loan
that Pohlad would guarantee. If that bill isn't revived, Pohlad would have no choice but
to go along with contraction.
Opponents of the bill point out the loan is interest-free, but the bill's sponsors --
Sen. Dean Johnson (DFL-Willmar) and Rep. Harry Mares (R-White Bear Lake) --
have calculated the state would lose an average of $6 million per year should the team
leave or fold. That doesn't include the cost of supporting the Metrodome, or the number of
Money picture Baseball has its financial problems. Teams
in Tampa Bay, Miami, Montreal and Oakland are also candidates for contraction. The revenue
sharing situation in baseball must improve. But baseball officials are convinced the
players' association will go along with contraction if they add two or three more players
to each team's 25-man major league roster.
As pointed out here before, the Twins will receive $20 million in revenue sharing and
another $20 million in national TV income this year. They have a payroll of about $25
million, and would need a payroll of around $50 million to compete year in and year out.
Baseball could subtract four teams, getting $20 million or so each from the remaining
26 teams to pay for the buyout. The remaining teams would easily make that money back.
What's really sad is that insiders at the capitol say the Twins stadium bill was very
reasonable but got tabled because of problems between the two political parties. The
senate, and Majority Leader Roger Moe (DFL-Erskine), are in favor of the bill, with
some minor changes. It's hard to believe the Democratic-controlled Senate can be in favor
and the Republican-controlled House can have such a different view.
Fan support In the past few days, I have received more
than 100 e-mails on the stadium issue. More than 90 percent favor the stadium, and many
come from senior citizens who listen to Twins broadcasts or watch them on television.
House speaker Steve Sviggum (R-Kenyon) admitted on WCCO Radio the other morning
that e-mails are 2-1 in favor of passing the stadium bill.
As I have said many times, the Twin Cities would be a cold Omaha without major league
baseball. The Minneapolis dateline that appears in daily newspapers all over the country
will be gone from baseball pages. And the city will suffer without the 81 homes games the
Members of the business community such as Wells Fargo executive Jim Campbell and
U.S. Bancorp chairman John Murphy and others have spent a lot of money and a lot of
time trying to convince legislators how critical this bill is to the future of baseball
Next year is an election year, and you know there's no chance the legislature will
consider a new Twins stadium and a new Vikings stadium. I don't believe the Vikings would
leave town, but rest assured owner Red McCombs will give it a try if there is no
new stadium in the picture.
It's hard to understand how 18 other cities can build successful new baseball stadiums
over the past decade, or how new football stadiums also are built, and this area still is
opposed to the idea.