MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- No matter how it turns out, Tuesday's vote on whether
to finance a baseball stadium in North Carolina for the Minnesota Twins
figures to be a lot like other key dates in the potential sale of the team.
It probably won't mean much.
Increasing skepticism about North Carolina's Triad area as a legitimate
home for a major league team might make the highly anticipated referendum
"I'm still convinced [the Twins] are not going to move," Philadelphia
Phillies owner Bill Giles said.
Baseball owners would be hard pressed to justify the move of a franchise
from the nation's 14th-largest market to the 46th. That's where the Triad
ranks with its 1.1 million people, less than half the size of the Twin
If the tax is approved, the owners also would have to approve the Twins'
sale to North Carolina businessman Don Beaver before stadium construction
could begin. Beaver's agreement to buy the team from Carl Pohlad expired
Still, supporters in the Triad have waged an intensive campaign that
seems likely to make Tuesday's vote closer than once expected. Earlier
this year opposition was running at about 70 percent according to newspaper
polls. A poll taken last week showed the opposition had plummeted to 51
percent, with 43 percent supporting the stadium tax and 5 percent undecided.
"I see nothing to be pessimistic about," said Walt Klein,
director of the Triad's "Vote Yes for Major League Baseball"
The Vote Yes campaign raised about $716,000 and has circulated about
18,000 lawn signs. Compare that to about $26,000 in fund-raising and distribution
of about 5,000 lawn signs by the opposition group "Citizens Against
Even Beaver admits Tuesday's vote is only one step in what will be a
difficult process of convincing baseball's owners the Triad is a viable
major league area.
"We've got to make sure what's good for the ownership group and
what's best for baseball and what we think baseball will approve,"
Beaver said. "When the vote passes, we've got our work to do to get
baseball to look at the area."
Pohlad, who has been frustrated by his inability to secure public financing
for a new stadium in Minnesota, visited the Triad for the first time last
month. He reportedly came away unimpressed.
Roger Moe, DFL-Erskine and majority leader in the Minnesota Senate,
met last week with Pohlad and Pohlad's three sons, who have played key
roles in stadium negotiations.
"If there's hope for a new baseball stadium [in Minnesota], they're
willing to hang in there," Moe said. "I think there's hope."
Pohlad's flirtation with Beaver and North Carolina has been marked by
ominous deadlines that came and went with no action. Those dubious dates
included March 31 and November 30, the day the Minnesota Legislature had
to approve stadium funding or the sale to Beaver would go through.
The Legislature voted down a funding plan, and yet the sale now is closer
to falling apart than going through.
However, baseball's owners could end up in an awkward position if the
stadium tax is approved Tuesday. Even though the Triad seems unattractive
as a potential home for a major league team, the owners could risk sending
the wrong message by turning down the Triad after letting the process get
Such a move could unmask Pohlad's talks with Beaver as political blackmail,
something many in Minnesota have charged since the negotiations first became
"Baseball has a vested interest in making sure the momentum for
new stadiums doesn't stop," a major league executive who requested
anonymity told the Star Tribune. "They allowed them to go on with
the referendum. Now, if it passes, think of the political and public relations
consequences to baseball if we don't go there."