Plan has Twins moving to St. Paul
ST. PAUL, Aug. 3 — The Pohlad family would relinquish control of the
Minnesota Twins and the team would move to St. Paul under a new plan to
build an open-air ballpark.
A MINNESOTA-BASED OWNERSHIP group would buy 100 percent of the team
by Oct. 1, under a deal reached between the Twins and city officials late
Monday. Mayor Norm Coleman announced the agreement, which also hinges on
state approval of public financing for part of a $325 million outdoor stadium.
“We’ve got a whole new ballgame in St. Paul,” Coleman said. Major League
Baseball reportedly has agreed to this deal, and the league has approved
a move from the Metrodome in Minneapolis if St. Paul can build a new stadium.
Plenty of hurdles remain. St. Paul residents must approve a measure in
the Nov. 2 election to double the city’s half-cent sales tax. State lawmakers,
who have rejected previous stadium finance plans, will play a key role
“The whole exercise is such a waste of time as to almost boggle the
mind,” said DFL Rep. Matt Entenza, who gives the plan little chance in
the Legislature. Under the agreement, St. Paul and the Twins would each
contribute $8.5 million a year to build the stadium along the Mississippi
River, Coleman said. The state would be asked to pay about one-third of
the total cost of the project. If taxes collected on players’ salaries
don’t equal the state’s share, the Twins have guaranteed the difference,
Coleman said. “The net effect of this provision is that the team is committed
to paying about one-third of the costs of construction, but is virtually
guaranteeing two-thirds of the costs of construction,” Coleman said. The
player payroll tax would be similar to that now existing in Pittsburgh.
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The Twins also have agreed to pay any cost overruns for the construction
of the ballpark. The Twins also would pay for operating costs of the team
and cover maintenance of the facility. “Finally, I firmly believe that
in addition to Twins ballplayers, major market teams and players like Chuck
Knoblauch and the New York Yankees should help build a new ballpark for
Minnesota,” Coleman said. “We have agreed that a player’s tax incorporating
these principles will be imposed.” Coleman thanked Twins owner Carl Pohlad
and his family for the deal. “Today because of their agreement to sell
100 percent in the Minnesota Twins, they have given us the opportunity
to save baseball in Minnesota for the new millennium,” he said. A statement
from the Twins said the Pohlad family has agreed to a letter of intent
with the city of St. Paul authorizing Coleman to seek buyers. The Twins’
statement also said one condition is that the team must remain in Minnesota
for the next 30 years. The Twins and the city anticipate the completion
of construction of a 38,000- to 40,000-seat ballpark in the spring of 2003.