Return to Index Mission Statement Stadium Situation Articles about the Twins' quest for a new park Why the Twins need a new park Concerns about a new Twins park Thoughts about the Twins and the stadium issue Save the Twins poll Twins links Contact Webmaster Save the Minnesota Twins is dedicated to keeping baseball 
in Minnesota by helping the Twins build a new stadium.
home > articles > article

Metrodome operators threaten legal action if Twins eliminated
by Ray Richardson

If Major League Baseball owners vote today to eliminate the Twins, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission is ready to take its swings in a legal battle against the move.

The commission, which owns and operates the Metrodome, issued a resolution Monday denouncing Major League Baseball's possible contraction plans and revealed terms of a binding lease agreement with the Twins for the 2002 season that has no provisions for a buyout.

If the Twins are eliminated at today's owners meeting in Chicago, the team could be liable for its 2002 rental fee of $500,000 to $750,000 as well as possible other legal ramifications. The Twins signed a one-year lease extension for 2002 on Sept. 27.

"It is our expectation that the Twins will live up to their agreement," commission chairwoman Kathryn Roberts said Monday at a special meeting called to address the contraction issue. "Another way to put it is that there is no way to pay off the citizens for next year's season."

Twins officials are unable to comment on contraction issues because of the threat of a $1 million fine by Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. Roberts and the other eight commission members made it clear Monday that their discontent is not aimed at the Twins.

The panel strongly criticized Selig and team owners who appear ready to eliminate the Twins to increase profits in baseball's revenue-sharing plan. Commission executive director Bill Lester said the two-page resolution will be shipped overnight to the site of today's owners meetings at a Chicago-area hotel.

Among the key points of the resolution, the commission called on "Major League Baseball to cease any further consideration of contraction with respect to Minnesota or the Minnesota Twins."

"We want to let the owners know that this isn't a community that's going to roll over and let an asset as important as the Twins go away just because somebody thinks they can save a few bucks on us," Lester said. "We don't see how this is in the best interest of baseball."

Lester, however, stopped short of saying the commission would file a lawsuit against Major League Baseball or seek an injunction if the Twins are eliminated.

"That part of it I can't discuss, but we intend to exercise all opportunities available within our legal authority," he said.

Representatives of the commission's law firm of McGrann, Shea, Franzen, Carnival, Straughn and Lamb attended Monday's meeting and advised commission members to limit specific discussions of possible legal action against the Twins or Major League Baseball.

If the Twins are eliminated, attorney William R. McGrann said, the commission hopes to use findings in the Blue Ribbon Panel on Baseball Economics as part of its legal strategy. The Blue Ribbon Panel, a five-year study headed by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell of Maine, reported in July 2000 that Major League Baseball has an "outdated economics system" that fosters a lack of competitive balance.

"If the owners had taken steps to clean things up, there wouldn't be a need for contraction," McGrann said.

Roberts quoted recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Panel when making her opening remarks about the commission's action. She said the commission had studied the report, furthering negative views among commission members about Major League Baseball's financial system and claims by owners that the Twins generate too little revenue to remain a viable franchise.

"Before Major League Baseball becomes too critical of what we're doing, they need to examine their own role," Roberts said. "As we all know, Major League Baseball has not kept its commitment to reform."

The commission agreed to use Monday's resolution to draft legislation at the next meeting in December and present it to state lawmakers for another stadium bill pitch. Several commission members have been touring cities across the state to gauge the residents' interest in the Twins. Lester said the response has been more positive than expected.

"We've found that the Twins are a very key part of the quality of life in Minnesota," he said. "The people really want the team to stay. When they talk about a new stadium, it just has to be more private financing."

Lester said no commission members plan to attend today's owners meetings.