Council ballpark plan still on hold

by Justin Ware

A Minneapolis City Council-initiated committee has developed a plan to build a new ballpark and keep the Twins in Minnesota. Now, it’s up to the team to accept the plan.

In spring 2000, the 17-member Citizens New Ballpark Committee, or C-17, began a study to keep Major League Baseball in the Twin Cities. Those affiliated with the study say the future of Minnesota professional baseball is bright.

The report was presented to the City Council in March, and the council overwhelmingly endorsed its findings, said Council Member Paul Ostrow.

“Everybody in the committee agreed baseball was important to the community,” Ostrow said.

The committee was composed of Minneapolis residents from a wide range of social and economic backgrounds.

“There were folks from the business community, folks from the neighborhoods, (a group) opposed to baseball,” Ostrow said.

He said the committee met with experts about 15 times to determine what the best stadium solution is, keeping issues such as location and funding at the forefront.

The result was a stadium plan that does not rely on any public funding.

“If it’s privately funded, you don’t have to bring it to the Legislature,” said C-17 Chairwoman Betsy Hodges.

Hodges said a plan to build the Twins a revenue-producing stadium was brought to the table, but that the Twins were unwilling to work with it.

“(Building a stadium) is completely possible,” Hodges said, “And how far away we are from doing that depends on Carl Pohlad and private investors.”

Dave St. Peter, Twins senior vice president of business affairs, said the team’s uncertain future is holding them back from making any decisions on a new stadium.

“The objective right now, is to see this potential contraction run its course,” St. Peter said. “If we get the green light to play baseball next year, we will pursue all avenues available Ö to preserve baseball in Minnesota.”

Hodges said with what the committee accomplished, she doesn’t understand why contraction is being discussed.

“I am mystified at all this talk about contraction and how we can’t get a stadium built,” she said.

Ostrow said it would be a tragedy if MLB eliminated professional baseball from the Twin Cities. But he did say he has a high degree of confidence a solution can be found to keep the Twins in the area.

“I don’t think the Twin Cities are very far from building a ballpark,” he said.

Justin Ware welcomes comments at [email protected]