Twins might force U game change

Karlee Weinmann

As the regular season winds down for Minnesota Twins’ baseball, Gophers football fans wait to see whether the Oct. 7 home game against Penn State will be played as scheduled at the Metrodome or at a later date.

Official word will come from the University on Oct. 1, the conclusion of Major League Baseball’s regular season, on whether the game will be rescheduled for Nov. 25.

If the Twins earn a playoff berth as winners of the Central Division with one of the top two records in the American League, their game will be played elsewhere.

But if they enter the postseason as Wild Card winners or Central Division champions with the third-best overall record in the league, their game will be played at the Metrodome, with the University picking up the tab.

The Twins are one game behind Detroit for the central division title.

An MLB stipulation states the venue must be cleared for 24 hours prior to the playing of a Twins’ playoff game.

If the football game is postponed, the University is responsible for reimbursing Penn State for all travel and lodging expenses, as well as any direct loss of money incurred as a result of having to reschedule the event around the Twins’ playoff provision.

In addition, Penn State fans planning to attend the game Oct. 7 could seek compensation from the University of Minnesota for nonrefundable expenses associated with the game, such as travel or lodging costs.

For Penn State fans to gain compensation, they must apply to have their respective situations validated, with repayment contingent on the confirmation of otherwise irrevocable financial loss.

As of Monday, no one had contacted the University athletics department to express concerns with the potential rescheduling of the game, said Kyle Coughlin, senior associate director of University athletics communications.

Because the Minnesota Vikings, Twins and Gophers all call the Metrodome home, this type of scheduling conflict has occurred on multiple occasions.

Most recently, the Twins’ postseason schedule caused the rescheduling of a Gophers football game against Michigan in 2004.

Coughlin said that although rescheduling the game was an inconvenience, the financial ramifications for the University were minimal.

Coughlin estimated the total reimbursement amounted to no more than “a few thousand dollars,” a relatively small price.

Minnesota is the only team in the Big Ten to share a stadium with other teams, he said, but won’t be an issue at the soon-to-be constructed TCF Bank Stadium.

“We can’t keep rescheduling Saturday games in October,” he said.

Athletics Director Joel Maturi expressed similar dissatisfaction with the shared stadium in an e-mail.

“Obviously, this has been a source of frustration over the past few years, but thankfully this will be the last time we will have to move a Big Ten Conference game while playing in the Metrodome,” he said.

The Gophers have ensured a conflict-free schedule for the remainder of their stay in the Metrodome.

Until fall 2009, when the on-campus stadium will open, all home football games will be played on Saturdays differing from Major League Baseball playoffs, should the Twins make a bid for postseason play in the next three seasons.

University first-year student Carrie Laurence said she was excited for TCF Bank Stadium to bring football back to the campus and end scheduling conflicts. But at this point, she said there is not much that can be done.

“Right now, we have to share the Metrodome, so we have to deal with it,” she said.