MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A mediator agreed with the Minnesota Twins that the team can
exercise its escape clause to leave the Metrodome at the end of the 1998 baseball season.
The decision Tuesday by former Hennepin County District Judge Robert E. Bowen is
nonbinding. The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which owns and operates the
stadium, intends to pursue other avenues, including possibly a lawsuit, to keep the Twins
"We still view the Twins as an important asset, and we intend to try to keep them
in Minnesota for the long term, preferably in a new stadium," commission executive
director Bill Lester said.
Henry Savelkoul, commission chairman, said he would consult with Gov. Arne Carlson's
staff, legislative leaders and other members of the commission before taking any legal
"We're going to do what we can to protect that asset," Savelkoul said of the
Metrodome. "We have a fiduciary responsibility to protect it. We still want to do
everything we can to keep the Twins here in other ways. The court situation will be a
last, last, last resort."
Under terms of the escape clause, the Twins could terminate their lease before it
expires in 2012 if the team fell below 80 percent of the American League attendance
average over the course of the 1995, 1996 and 1997 seasons, or if the team suffered
cumulative net operating losses over those three seasons.
The Twins say they have met the requirements.
Commission lawyers contend the team is to blame for low attendance and operating
losses. The commission said unfair labor practices during the 1994 players' strike and
threats to leave town for North Carolina have eroded support for the team.
But Bowen accepted the Twins' arguments that the lease should be interpreted literally.
Twins' attorney Roger Magnuson said the decision was "a full victory."