ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The head of the group trying to buy the Minnesota Twins and
move the team to North Carolina for 1999 acknowledged Wednesday that owners won't make a
decision until after a ballpark is financed. "You can't approve relocation without a
place to play," Don Beaver said after arriving at the major league owners' quarterly
meetings. "I would think they want some funding plan in place."
Twins owner Carl Pohlad, angry that Minnesota's Legislature failed to approve funding
for a baseball-only ballpark, has been negotiating to sell the team to Beaver. The pair
have given themselves a March 31 deadline to complete an agreement, but acting
commissioner Bud Selig said Tuesday night he didn't regard the deadline as firm.
"We're moving ahead with the contract," Beaver said. "I have been saying
that for months."
Selig and other baseball officials have concluded a team can't be profitable in the
Metrodome. However, owners have said privately they won't make a decision until Beaver has
financing for a North Carolina ballpark.
A May 5 referendum is scheduled in the Winston-Salem area on two new taxes to provide
the majority of funding for a $210 million ballpark. Polls indicate that measure may fail,
but baseball officials hope Charlotte may then finance a stadium.
Pohlad and Twins president Jerry Bell haven't commented on the talks this week other
than to say discussions with Beaver are proceeding. The next step, according to baseball
officials, would be for Pohlad to ask Selig and the council for permission to sign a deal
After that, it would go to baseball's ownership committee, which wouldn't make a
decision until after the stadium situation sorts itself out.
Owners have said their preference is for Minnesota to fund a new ballpark and have the
Twins stay there. Three-quarters of the American League and a majority of the National
League would have to approve both a sale and a relocation.