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Selig calls for new stadium in Twin Cities
by Jim Souhan

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig on Thursday pleaded for Minnesotans to have the "vision and courage" to build a new stadium for the Twins.

Selig, in town to speak at a banquet, met with Twins employees, then told local media that the franchise can't survive without a new stadium.

"For a team to exist here and be competitive you need a new stadium," Selig said.

Selig is the former owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, and he presided over that team's stadium quest, which led to the approval of funding for new Miller Park, which will open next season.

During his tenure as interim and newly elected commissioner, Selig has presided over successful stadium campaigns in cities as far-flung and divergent as Pittsburgh and San Francisco.

Sitting between Twins president Jerry Bell and team owner Carl Pohlad, Selig made these comments:

"It's important for baseball to succeed in middle America. And I don't just say that because I'm from here. I believe that. I believe this amazing renaissance baseball is undergoing will really be complete only when baseball is healthy in middle America."

On baseball's limited form of revenue sharing, and small-market teams' complaints that enough money isn't shared: "Revenue sharing alone ties teams together. Therefore every team has to try to increase its revenue. Teams can't just sit idly by.

"So, having said that, you can't ask a team who builds a new stadium and gets its revenues up and spends a lot of money to try to take care of people who haven't tried to help them. We want to succeed. This is a wonderful major league city, but it needs a new stadium."

On the argument that small-revenue teams with new stadiums still won't be able to compete with the game's richest teams: "I can't defend the economics of the game. That's why I took the job. But people who say that are wrong. They're incorrect.

"After all, I was part of a process before I took this job in a city [Milwaukee] smaller than this where they built a new stadium and a team signed a 30-year lease, and the team will do very well for the next 30 years. . . . Without a new stadium, you have no chance. That has now become an excuse. We'll change the system -- that's why I took this job. . . .

"I recognize what we have to do. But if you don't do anything [about building a stadium], I don't understand what the end game is. . . . New ballparks have been built everywhere else. What's the use of sitting around and waiting?"

On the responsibility of ownership to pay for a stadium: "The stadium deals today are remarkably different than they were years ago. There's much more participation than there used to be. I happen to believe in that. I believe in long-term leases, and I don't like threatening any more than anybody else.

"But fair is fair, and I want to say this because there's one thing that's bothered me around here: It's easy to blame the club and the owner; that's the great American sport. That's wrong. The bottom line in the whole thing is there are people trying to find a way to get this thing to work.

"I want to remind you that we're in a renaissance right now where the game is more popular than ever before and you will be shocked at what you see in the next 2-3 years. Why shouldn't the Twin Cities be a part of that?"