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Griffith's Bid Remains a Mystery
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Carl Pohlad shook his head as a driver helped him into the front passenger seat of a sleek, black limousine outside the Metrodome on Tuesday morning.

``I haven't seen it,'' he said. ``I haven't had a chance to talk to Jerry Bell.''

Inside the dome during the Minnesota Twins' 12-7 loss to Seattle that afternoon, Bell shook his head, too.

``I have not seen the deal,'' the Twins president said.

Clark Griffith's $110 million offer to buy the Twins remained a bit mysterious one day after he was the only bidder to meet Monday's non-binding deadline for local buyers to submit offers.

The Twins confirmed in a letter to Griffith dated late Monday that the 13-page offer had been received by their accountant, Bob Starkey. But they avoided discussing the deal publicly.

``Bob Starkey said there were a lot of details that needed to be looked at,'' Bell said.

Griffith, whose grandfather owned the Washington Senators for 35 years and whose father moved the Senators to Minnesota in 1961, also had little to say Tuesday.

``It's totally in their hands and I look forward to discussing it with Carl in the very near future,'' Griffith said.

Griffith, a Minneapolis lawyer, is the leader of a group of eight investors. That includes five other Minnesotans and his 86-year-old father, Calvin, who sold the Twins to Pohlad for $38 million in 1984.

The biggest question about Griffith's offer is whether Pohlad would consider it seriously. Bogged down for two years in acrimonious _ and fruitless _ negotiations to finance a new stadium for his team, Pohlad's goals appear muddled.

He has flirted with the possibility of moving to North Carolina, but last month agreed to a new two-year lease agreement with the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission that included a 30-day window for local bidders to submit offers to buy all or part of the team.

That window closed Monday, but Bell balked at calling it a deadline.

``The stadium commission wanted to explore whether there were local buyers, so we did that,'' Bell said. ``It produced this one group with Clark Griffith. That's it. So I'm not surprised.''

Bell said other potential bidders probably were scared off by the team's uncertain financial outlook, which the team contends is dismal in the dome. Attendance this season is the second-worst in the majors as the Twins head to their sixth straight losing season, extending a franchise record.

Tuesday's announced crowd of 8,024 was closer to 3,000.

Pohlad wants a new stadium and the expected revenue windfall it would bring. But public sentiment is running firmly against taxpayer financing for a new stadium, and Pohlad's popularity has evaporated during the stadium debate.

Griffith upset the Twins with an $80 million offer last fall when the team was using a potential move to North Carolina as leverage in its attempt to get the Legislature to approve stadium funding. Both deals fell through, and now Griffith has come back with a bid that is believed to be about $20 million higher than the Twins expected.

Bell said the Twins might be ready to comment on Griffith's offer later this week, but he also said that selling the team locally doesn't change the problems facing the Twins in the Metrodome.

``You can change the faces,'' he said, ``but I don't think the other deals change.''