The principal organizer of an effort to build a ballpark
funded primarily by private sources for the Minnesota Twins estimates they could
contribute about $50 million toward the stadium's cost.
Jim Campbell, chairman of Wells Fargo Bank Minnesota, and a leader of New Ballpark Inc., offered the estimate in a letter sent last
week to key state legislators, including Rep. Harry Mares, R-White Bear Lake, sponsor of a
bill to provide the Twins with a $140 million, interest-free loan to help them build a
$300 million stadium.
Campbell's group, which includes several local business leaders, hopes to build a
smaller, downtown ballpark, probably in Minneapolis.
The state effort appears stalled in this session of the Legislature, but city officials
said the private fund-raising drive will continue.
"We haven't proven yet that the private sector can't put the deal together,"
said Minneapolis Planning Director Chuck Ballentine, who has been heavily involved in
New Ballpark Inc. has been testing for months the
concept of raising private money for a ballpark,
possibly through a preferred stock offering.
Campbell said $50 million was his "best guess" of what New Ballpark could raise. "We did think it was important
for you to hear directly from us about the results of our work," he wrote to Mares.
Mark Oyaas, New Ballpark's public affairs
consultant, said the preferred stock plan could generate the $50 million contribution and
that the group planned to explore other options for the balance of the stadium's cost.
In fact, a $50 million contribution would actually require that New Ballpark raise $130 million from investors.
The remaining $80 million would be invested in corporate securities to generate enough
income to repay investors with interest,Oyaas said.
The group's working model assumed that the Twins would contribute $125 million toward a ballpark, and the city recently designated a site
behind the Target Center as the preferred site.
State aid for the Twins still awaits action in the Senate Taxes Committee, but appears
dead in the House, where a committee tabled discussion of the bill last week. In addition
to the loan, the Twins and private sources would put up an additional $150 million and get
$10 million in sales tax exemptions for the ballpark.
The Twins have continued working to build support for the loan plan and have passed out
cards at home games, summarizing the stadium-funding proposal and asking fans if they want
to get involved, according to Dave St. Peter, a Twins spokesman.
Fans who return the cards will be contacted and asked to call or write their
legislators to voice support, he said.
Some fans apparently are responding. A receptionist on the fourth floor of the State
Office Building, where House members have their offices, said Tuesday that she fielded
more than 200 telephone calls Monday and through mid-morning Tuesday, mostly supporting
the stadium bill.
Mares blamed House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, for not using his power to move the
bill to a vote on the House floor.
Sviggum said he does not oppose the bill, but repeated, "I'm not going to let it
dominate the session."
St. Paul's ballpark point man, RiverCentre director Erich
Mische, said his city's proposal remains viable. The plan advanced by St. Paul Mayor Norm
Coleman would build a stadium near the Xcel Energy Center. It would be funded with parking
revenues from city ramps and a downtown tax on sales in bars and restaurants. But Mische
said any St. Paul deal would only move forward if it's part of an overall partnership with
The team, he said Tuesday, must jointly develop a stadium plan along with city
officials, as the Minnesota Wild did before the $130 million Xcel Energy Center was built
with state help.
"We're prepared to sit down with somebody if they want to have a discussion about
a business deal," Mische said. "We're not interested at this point in being
brought into a political debate because this isn't about a pol itical solution."