Twins present their case for ballpark

Twins present their case for ballpark

Minnesota Twins officials pressed their ballpark case Monday before leading DFL and Republican lawmakers in St. Paul, who said they would poll rank-and-file legislators on the issue ahead of the 2006 session.

The 90-minute meeting at the governor's mansion focused exclusively on the Twins' pursuit of a new stadium, participants said. Proposals for the Minnesota Vikings and University of Minnesota football teams didn't come up.

"The homework assignment is for legislative leaders to go back to their caucuses and see what the level of support is," said Brian McClung, a spokesman for Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

After a decade of trying but failing to pass a workable stadium plan, the Twins are mulling whether to approach the 2006 Legislature with another proposal.

Last year the Twins teamed with Hennepin County on a $478 million proposal that didn't require state funding. The partners needed state approval to raise the county sales tax without a voter referendum.

The Legislature didn't vote on the proposal, and the year delay has added another $30 million to the project costs. The lawmakers said the state wouldn't cover that cost; Jerry Bell, president of the Twins parent company, said he didn't anticipate the team would foot the bill either.

House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, said the 2005 bill had the support of 69 House members, enough to guarantee passage if it came to a vote. The DFL-led Senate has been more receptive to stadium bills.

"From our point of view, education and health care are infinitely more important, but we're certainly willing to do some work on this issue as well," said House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, DFL-St. Paul.