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Stadium: 'Still Too Much of a Pariah'
Indications Creeping In That There Will Be No Bill This Year

ST. PAUL, Posted 5:50 a.m. January 28, 1998 -- An absence of stadium lobbyists and legislation to fund a new ballpark for the Minnesota Twins are strong indications that lawmakers won't take up the subject this year. "I still think this issue is too much of a pariah for legislators in an election year," said Joe Weber, the former director of Minnesota Wins, a stadium advocacy group.

After legislators failed to pass a stadium funding in November, Twins owner Carl Pohlad committed to selling the team to North Carolina businessman Don Beaver, pending baseball owners' approval.

But, said Twins president Jerry Bell, shown, "If someone introduces a bill, we would follow it. I'm not saying we would support it or not support it."

Sen. Roy Terwilliger, R-Edina, has said a new stadium bill will be introduced. But Terwilliger issued another revision Tuesday on when a bill will be introduced. "I would say (next) Monday or Tuesday," he said, "Tuesday at the latest."

Time is running short for shepherding bills through the legislative process. If one is introduced Monday, rules say it must pass out of a policy committee in either the House or Senate by Feb. 13. That's a tight schedule for a controversial bill.

"We are nervous," said Terwilliger, shown, but "we think we can meet the deadlines."

He said the bill, which still needs the blessing of the Minneapolis Downtown Council because it is expected to include a 25-cent surcharge on off-street downtown parking, will be for a roofless stadium costing about $250 million.

Rep. Loren Jennings, DFL-Harris, the probable House sponsor of the bill, said he will show it to colleagues who voted against the November bill.

"If they don't see any difference," said Jennings, "why should we go through the process?"

Lobbyists aren't banking on it.

The substantially financed stadium advocacy group, Minnesota Wins, is defunct, lacking even a paid employee. Minnesota Wins consists of a bank account and a post office box.

Fourteen lobbyists have notified the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board that they aren't registered to represent the Twins. Bell, the Twins president, said the team has "no lobbying presence at the Legislature. I'm not saying that won't change, but not right now."

Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, an ardent opponent of public subsidies for a stadium, said he is heartened by the departure of the lobbyists.

"If they've dropped their (lobbyists) registration with the Twins, it's a pretty good sign that they've given up on a new funding package," he said.