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Twins focus on politics of new park

Twins focus on politics of new park

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins president Dave St. Peter is busy these days.

St. Peter and the Twins continue to work on multiple fronts during the early processes of forming club's new open-air ballpark. Team officials are working toward a final design while discussing and identifying issues with the recently formed Minnesota ballpark authority, the Hennepin County Board and Minneapolis' light-rail transit system.

"There are a lot of balls in the air," St. Peter said. "A lot of folks wondered why we can't open until 2010, and this is why. There are just a lot of things that need to be dealt with. And to do this in a responsible way, we have to be diligent on the front end and attending to these details."

Members of the Twins organization recently completed a six-city ballpark tour, with stops in St. Louis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, San Diego and San Francisco. St. Peter said that the discussions with officials from each club were the most valuable part of each trip. A final design for the Twins ballpark isn't expected until early 2007.

But the immediate issue on the mind of the Twins organization is the successful passing of the Hennepin County sales tax to help finance the downtown Minneapolis ballpark.

The sales tax will be discussed in public forums next week before the Hennepin County Board votes on imposing the tax. The 0.15 percent sales tax (three cents on a $20 purchase) would exclude clothing, food, medical supplies and automobiles.

The county's share of financing the ballpark is $350 million for construction and infrastructure costs, while the Twins will contribute $130 million. The club will also pay $1 million a year for ballpark improvements and $250,000 a year in contributions to amateur sports.

Three public hearings are scheduled for Aug. 22-24, and the board's final vote on the sales tax is slated for Aug. 29.

"Public input has been essential to this debate every step of the way," St. Peter said. "We take the hearings next week very seriously.

"We still remain very confident that the Hennepin County Board will continue to vote in favor of levying the tax and building the ballpark in conjunction with the Twins."

The following is a list of the public hearings scheduled for next week:

Aug. 22, 5-7 p.m. CT
Board Room, 24th Floor, Hennepin County Government Center, 300 S. 6th St., Minneapolis

Aug. 23, 6-8 p.m. CT
Council Chambers, Bloomington Civic Plaza, 1800 W. Old Shakopee Road

Aug. 24, 6-8 p.m. CT
Council Chambers, Maple Grove Government Center, 12800 Arbor Lakes Parkway

Residents interested in testifying at the hearings should call the County Board Clerk's Office at (612) 348-3081 or e-mail the clerk. Those who would like to testify but are unable to attend a hearing may also may their comments to the clerk.

Jason Brummond is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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