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Twins kick in extra funds for ballpark

Twins kick in extra funds

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Twins ownership is putting up another $22 million for additional upgrades to the new ballpark, Jerry Bell, President of Twins Sports Inc., informed the Hennepin County Board on Tuesday afternoon.

"These are enhancements," Bell said. "We wanted to upgrade certain aspects such as the stone, the canopy and the scoreboard, as well as add more bathrooms and comfort areas."

Though the Twins weren't seeking more money from the county, as a procedural matter, the board is required to approve any change in the final cost of the project. The seven-member board heard the Twins' proposal and will vote on it in two weeks.

"I think this is the right decision on their part and I applaud the Twins for their commitment," Commissioner Mike Opat said. "I don't anticipate any problem [with the vote]. Since the total cost increased, the board has to approve it, but I really don't see a problem."

The additional financial commitment raises ownership's stake in the new ballpark to $152 million and pushes the total cost of the project to $412 million. The county obligation of $260 million remains unchanged.

The Twins are covering $15 million of the $105 million cost of the ballpark site and infrastructure costs.

"These aren't [cost] overruns or overages," said Kevin Smith, Twins executive director of public affairs. "These are fan enhancements we want to add, so ownership is putting in an additional $22 million to cover the costs."

The Twins plan to use more expensive stone in building the ballpark and covering the exposed framework of the canopies that adorn the outside of the facility.

The Twins also want a scoreboard with a larger video screen than originally planned. The $22 million also covers the cost of a high-definition screen measuring 103 feet by 57 feet.

The 40,000-seat ballpark will be an open-air facility. The additional comfort areas in the concourse will enable fans to get warm on cold days or enjoy a cool beverage when it is hot.

"Our feeling is we get one shot at this, let's do it right," Smith said. "It's enhancements to promote A) better fan amenities, and B) a ballpark that we can still be proud of years from now."

The ballpark is scheduled to open in 2010.

Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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