MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota
Twins will play next season as part of a deal approved Thursday that settles
a lawsuit blocking baseball's contraction plan.
''This definitively removes the Twins from contraction for 2003,'' said Bill
Lester, executive director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission,
which agreed to drop its lawsuit against the team and baseball.
A signed settlement will be delivered Friday to Hennepin County District
Judge Harry Seymour Crump, said Andrew Shea, a commission attorney. Crump
mediated the settlement talks.
''Everybody who wants to keep major league baseball in Minnesota should be
happy with this deal,'' said Joe Anthony, a Minneapolis-based attorney for
In a statement accompanying the settlement, baseball commissioner Bud Selig
said the deal signals a commitment ''by all parties to seek to continue the long
tradition of the Twins' ballclub.''
''Major league baseball looks forward to working with the Twin Cities and all
of Minnesota and their efforts to build a new ballpark and create an operating
climate for the Twins that will ensure the continuation of baseball in
Minnesota,'' Selig's statement read.
All claims against the Twins will be dismissed, but the stadium commission
reserved the right to sue major league baseball if it tries again to eliminate
The commission sued immediately after baseball owners voted Nov. 6 to fold
two unidentified. It won a temporary restraining order and later an injunction
to force the Twins to play in the Metrodome in 2002.
Selig announced in February that contraction wouldn't occur this season, but
he wouldn't rule it out for future seasons. The Twins and Montreal
Expos were targeted because of their low revenue and inability to get new
stadiums built, management lawyers told the players' association.
The public board continued its lawsuit, claiming baseball interfered with its
ability to negotiate a new lease by raising the contraction threat.
Thursday's action buys the state another year to finalize a stadium finance
package. The Legislature and Gov. Jesse Ventura already approved a framework for
a $330 million ballpark, but it is contingent on the Twins and prospective host
cities taking steps to raise the needed funds.
For next season, the Twins will exercise the final one-year option on a 1998
lease agreement. There are no firm arrangements beyond then. Even under an
aggressive construction schedule, a new ballpark wouldn't be ready until the
Commission lawyers didn't know what would become of thousands of internal
baseball memos and financial documents gathered in preparation for trial. Four
media organizations filed court claims for access to those materials, and an
attorney said Thursday that the settlement doesn't end the pursuit.
John Borger, who represents The Associated Press, KARE-TV and the Star
Tribune of Minneapolis, said the commission shouldn't destroy or return the
documents to the Twins and the league until Crump decides their fate.
In New York on Thursday, lawyers for players and owners spent eight hours
making their final arguments in the union's case to block contraction.
Arbitrator Shyam Das has told the sides he will try to make a decision in the
case by July 15.
Players filed a grievance arguing the contraction vote violated their labor
contract, which expired Nov. 7 and remains in effect through this World Series.