Selig sees significance of Twins' park

Selig sees significance of Twins' park

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins officially broke ground on their new ballpark Thursday, one that helped them remain in Minnesota.

That was a fact that Major League Commissioner Bud Selig acknowledged when he attended the groundbreaking ceremony at the site on the northern edge of downtown Minneapolis this afternoon.

"Yes, it did," Selig said when asked if the team's future in the state hinged on the new park. "They couldn't survive in the [Metrodome]. I know people don't like to hear that, but it isn't hard to figure out.

"In this division, Cleveland has a new ballpark, Detroit has a new ballpark, Chicago has a new ballpark and Kansas City is about to spend $200 million redoing their ballpark. The revenue streams [for the Twins] just weren't there. It's as simple as that."

The Twins' future in Minnesota is no longer a question, as the new ballpark, which is set to open at the start of the 2010 season, will keep the club there for at least the next 30 years.

Knowing that, Selig was more than happy to finally be able to focus on a more positive aspect of the club's future, and that's the return of outdoor baseball to a city who hasn't seen it since the team moved into the Metrodome in 1982.

"This is a day we have looked forward to for a long, long time," Selig said. "It's special. It's an emotional day for me."

Selig spoke at length about the time and effort that went into the Twins getting a new ballpark. The club had fought for nearly a decade to try to get a new stadium built before one was finally approved in May 2006.

And while Selig has been through his share of battles for new stadiums in other cities, as he's seen 23 ballparks built during this tenure as commissioner, he admitted that this one has been one of the toughest.

"I know it required a lot of patience, and we went through a certain amount of trauma to say the least," Selig said.

That "trauma" included talk a few years back about the possibility of the team getting contracted. While Selig didn't address the issue specifically, he credited the organization's fans for being patient over the last 12 years as the future of the franchise in Minnesota was very much in jeopardy.

"We wanted them to stay despite all the things that went on," Selig said. "To leave this market would have been crazy, but they needed a new ballpark and had to figure a way to do it. But patience paid off, and I want to thank the Twins fans for their remarkable amount of patience. I know they got frustrated from time to time, as fans want to do and should do, but they care a great deal.

"The controversy is over, and now the next two or three generations of Twins fans don't have to worry about anything, except how their club is doing on the field."

Selig was incredibly happy about this day for the Twins fan base, but he was equally happy for the team's owner, Carl Pohlad. The two men have developed a strong friendship over the years, that includes weekly phone conversations on Saturday mornings.

For years, those phone calls included talk about a new ballpark, but now the two can focus primarily on other topics. And that's why Thursday had a little extra meaning personally for Selig.

"I'm really happy for Carl Pohlad, who had his heart on staying here and was able to participate today," Selig said. "There are some days in my job where it isn't great being the commissioner of baseball. But this is one of those days where it is great."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.