MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins' new ballpark bill has been approved and signed, but the team is waiting for county action before beginning the rigorous design process. Twins president Dave St. Peter said Friday that the club will begin looking at design details over the next two-to-three months, but must wait for Hennepin County to form a new ballpark authority, which will be within the next couple of weeks. "We have a lot of things we need to get going on in terms of coordination of ballpark designs and our internal team," he said. "Really, for the most part, the biggest work is at the county level."
The ballpark authority will provide oversight from a county perspective on the construction process and eventually the facility itself, while the Twins will be responsible for the operations. The new ballpark authority is required to be formed within 30 days of the enactment of the legislation. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed the Twins-Hennepin County stadium bill during an on-field ceremony at the Metrodome on May 26. "It's a very pre-planning phase," St. Peter said. "And we're beginning to get a better understanding of timeframes and deadlines as it relates to forming a construction team, doing designs, breaking ground -- things of that nature." After the new ballpark authority is formed, the Twins can begin lease negotiations. Beyond that, Hennepin County will hold a series of public hearings on the proposed tax and the ballpark design. A final vote on the tax is expected later this summer, St. Peter said. Another critical step -- the environmental impact statement, which is required for any construction project of this nature -- is under way. "It's maybe not as glamorous or as interesting to fans, but nonetheless, absolutely critical to building a great ballpark," St. Peter said. "It's important that we maintain that attention to detail to ensure that we maintain the schedule." The "administrative phase" should be complete by early fall. The Twins will then begin a thorough planning of the facility, work to finalize the design, and prepare the construction site for groundbreaking in spring 2007. In addition to the county hearings, the Twins will provide an online forum for feedback where fans can add their input and suggestions on the new ballpark. "We feel very strong that this is a ballpark that is going to be built for our fans," St. Peter said. "Fans throughout the last 10 years have offered ideas and suggestions about how to get it built. Well, now that we're going to build it, I think it's only appropriate to ask fans to give us suggestions about what they've liked to see within baseball."
Jason Brummond is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.