If the Minnesota Twins want a better ballpark deal than St. Paul is offering,
they could get some help from any of the four major party candidates for
DFL candidate Roger Moe, Republican candidate Tim Pawlenty, Independence
Party candidate Tim Penny and Green Party candidate Ken Pentel all said Tuesday
they would favor allowing Hennepin County to assist Minneapolis in bidding for a
Hennepin County was prevented from helping Minneapolis by the 2002 state
ballpark law, which specified that only cities could use taxes to contribute to
Minneapolis is limited by its charter to spending a total of $10 million on a
ballpark, but wants a chance to convince the 2003 Legislature and a new governor
to let the counties in.
St. Paul has been the only city to actively try to build a ballpark in the
wake of 2002 state law, but sources close to the Twins told the Pioneer Press on
Monday that the team won't exclusively commit to a St. Paul ballpark, even if
St. Paul passes a required referendum on stadium taxes.
Mayor Randy Kelly, who in the past repeatedly said he won't call for a
referendum without a commitment, said Tuesday that reaching such a deal with the
team in time for a September referendum appears to be "extremely, extremely
If the St. Paul venture falls through, the Twins and Minneapolis are expected
to go back to the state Capitol seeking the addition of Hennepin County and
perhaps other changes to the law.
Twins President Jerry Bell has said it would be easier for owner Carl Pohlad
to sell the team if a Minneapolis site is an option.
Although passing a ballpark bill is very difficult at the Capitol, the four
major party candidates for governor said they will go at least as far as
supporting a law change to allow Hennepin County to participate in the stadium
"I'd be open to that if the Hennepin County Board asked to be part of
the process," Moe said.
"Tim agrees Hennepin County should have been included" in the 2002
ballpark bill, Penny spokesman David Ruth said. "He would be in favor of
bringing in Hennepin."
Republican candidate Tim Pawlenty voted against the ballpark bill as House
majority leader, but said he would be willing to allow counties to compete, as
long as the taxes they impose don't fall on a single city.
Green Party candidate Ken Pentel said a ballpark is very low on his priority
list, but he wouldn't stand in the way of Hennepin entering the bidding.
"Local units of government can do what they want," he said.
A governor's support of a bill does not automatically lead to passage, and in
the case of the controversial and very political ballpark issue, predicting an
outcome is almost impossible.
Hennepin County was prevented from helping Minneapolis in a close vote in
conference committee at the end of the 2002 session. The result could be
repeated in 2003, or not.