MINNEAPOLIS, Posted 1:54 p.m. January 31, 1998 -- The Metropolitan Sports Facilities
Commission and the Minnesota Twins have agreed to let a five-person panel evaluate whether
the team can cancel it's lease and leave the Metrodome and Minnesota. Former Hennepin
District Judge Robert Bowen will head the panel, which will include two commission
officials and two team representatives. Bowen will cast the tie-breaking vote on the
validity of the lease.
The two commission representatives in the mediation will be commission Chairman Henry
Savelkoul and Bill Lester, the commission's executive director. The team's representatives
are supposed to be Twins President Jerry Bell and Terry Ryan, the general manager.
Bowen, who retired as a judge in 1988, said the mediation is tentatively scheduled to
begin March 3. Roger Magnuson, a lawyer for the Twins, predicted it will take only one
Last October, Twins officials announced the team had met two criteria for breaking the
lease -- sagging attendance that was less than 80 percent of the American League average,
and three years of financial losses.
In late November, the Sports Facilities Commission began asserting in a series of
letters to the Twins that the team had not yet the conditions of the escape clause and is
bound to keep playing in the Metrodome until the lease expires in 2012.
The key issue is whether the 1994-95 baseball strike is responsible for both the
attendance slump and the financial losses.
But results of the mediation, including Bowen's conclusions about what role the strike
played, will not be binding on either the commission or the Twins. Either side still will
have the option of taking the dispute to court.