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Twins near final step on new ballpark

Twins near final step on new ballpark

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins are just days away from taking the final step toward their new ballpark.

The Hennepin County Board is scheduled to vote Tuesday on imposing a countywide sales tax to help finance the new Twins ballpark in downtown Minneapolis. The county hosted three public hearings earlier this week and residents were provided a final opportunity to express their viewpoints.

On Friday, Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat expects things to go through smoothly at next week's vote.

"They went fine," Opat said of the public hearings. "We probably had more than 150 people testify and we had both proponents and opponents and people had a chance to give their opinion.

"We appreciate the input that we got, but I don't think anyone's position has changed."

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.

The 0.15 percent sales tax (three cents on a $20 purchase) excludes clothing, food, medical supplies and automobiles. Plans for the 42,000-seat, open-air ballpark was signed into law by Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty in May.

If approved, the sales tax will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2007. The county plans to issue tax-exempt revenue bonds in 2007, payable with revenues from the sales tax increase.

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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