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Beaver Wary of Minnesota Efforts

FORT MILL, S.C. Posted 9:30 a.m. January 08, 1998 -- It's been nearly six weeks since Minnesota missed what was billed as its last chance to keep the Twins, but the man trying to move the team to North Carolina still won't call his effort a lock. "I am never confident of any deal until the deal is done and you've signed on the bottom line. That's just my nature," Don Beaver said Wednesday.

Several factors have fueled Beaver's hesitance since Nov. 30, the deadline for Minnesota legislators to approve a stadium financing plan that would keep the Twins from moving. Beaver thought the failure of legislators to act by that deadline meant he was free to finalize his efforts to move the Twins.

Instead, club owner Carl Pohlad has continued to indicate he would like the team to stay where it is, and former Twins star Kirby Puckett has said he would invest up to $10 million in a new ownership group that would keep the franchise from moving.

In addition, Minnesota Sen. Roy Terwilliger plans to offer a new stadium financing plan aimed at keeping the Twins where they are.

Beaver, speaking at Knights Castle, the minor-league stadium where he wants the Twins to play in 1999 and 2000 while a permanent stadium is built for them near Winston-Salem, N.C., said he didn't know what to make of the latest developments.

"There's been so many stadium financing plans up there, I don't know that another one makes much difference," he said. "According to our agreement and our letter of intent with them, those situations are over with.

"Of course, baseball has the final say-so. They can overrule or decide differently."

Beaver said the letter of intent that he and Pohlad signed dictated that once the Nov. 30 deadline passed, the Twins were to negotiate exclusively with Beaver's group.

"It's not a contract; it's a letter of intent," said Beaver, a nursing-home magnate who has holdings in five minor-league baseball teams. "But letters of intent are documents that business people live by to get contracts signed."

Beaver said the final sales contract is almost ready but will not be finalized by next week, when major league baseball's executive council is scheduled to meet in Phoenix.

"I couldn't even dare a guess when this process will be completed," he said.

Beaver's attempts to move the team also face hurdles in North Carolina.

A May 5 referendum has been scheduled for voters in the Winston-Salem area to consider two new taxes aimed at financing the majority of a $210 million stadium.

Polls have shown voters in the region are divided on the issue, and a recent poll in Charlotte, Beaver's second choice for a new home for the Twins, also showed less-than-overwhelming support for a publicly financed stadium.