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St. Paul seeks to land Twins
Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- St. Paul will circulate a petition starting Tuesday in what Mayor Norm Coleman hopes will be the start of a successful campaign to build a new baseball stadium to lure the Minnesota Twins from Minneapolis.

If the city collects 5,000 signatures by July 2, voters will decide in November whether to approve a 0.5 percent city sales tax increase. That would raise an estimated $10 million per year, money that would be combined with state and team funds for a new ballpark on the banks of the Mississippi River.

"I believe that an open-air riverfront ballpark, nestled within a vital new urban village that creates new jobs ... is the kind of spark that will do great things for St. Paul," the mayor said.

If the tax hike is approved, it would be implemented only if the state and the Twins agree to a financing plan, and it would end after the city's share of the funding is reached.

Minneapolis and Hennepin County officials announced their own joint plan to build a stadium in Minneapolis. That proposal would increase the county sales tax by 0.5 percent to raise money for a Twins ballpark and, possibly, a stadium for the Vikings and Golden Gophers.

Coleman said earlier this week that Twins owner Carl Pohlad must decide whether to back the St. Paul plan before officials can proceed. On Friday, however, he said Pohlad will need to take a stand "by the time the voters go to the polls" during the November general election.

Coleman's plan would require a $100 million contribution from the state, but he refused to speculate on how that money would be raised until voters decide whether to proceed with the sales tax.

Under the plan offered by Minneapolis and Hennepin County officials, the state would not be asked to provide any direct funding. But since legislative approval is required for local governments to raise taxes, Coleman said his plan is the more palatable of the two because voters get to have a say.

The Minneapolis/Hennepin County plan suffered a setback Friday when the city council failed on a 6-6 vote to back a resolution supporting the effort. One council member was absent, and the resolution will be reconsidered at the council's next meeting in two weeks.

Gov. Jesse Ventura also reiterated his opposition to any public funding during his inaugural "Lunch with the Governor" radio show Friday on KFAN. But while he said he is "reluctant to build a new stadium," he added that he will listen to public sentiment.