Twins might face date conflict with NFL

Twins might face date conflict with NFL

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have been making a strong push toward the Tigers in the American League Central race but face a possible scheduling conflict should they finish the regular season tied atop the division.

The National Football League's Vikings and Packers are scheduled to play each other at the Metrodome on Monday, Oct. 5. It's the day after baseball's regular season ends, and it would likely be the date of a one-game tiebreaker to decide a division winner.

Minnesota currently sit two games behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central but leads the season series with the Tigers, 9-4, with five games remaining between the two clubs. And unlike previous years where a coin flip was used to determine home-field advantage for a one-game playoff, this year, the winner of the season series would get to host the tiebreaker.

Twins president Dave St. Peter said that Major League Baseball and the NFL have been in discussions about the potential conflict, and it's up to the two leagues to decide any contingency plans for such an event.

"Frankly, that would be a good problem to have," St. Peter said on Saturday. "I'd take that right now, a one-game playoff. Certainly our focus is trying to get home-field advantage should there be one. We've seen these conflicts happen over the 28-year history of the dome. It's nothing new. They have a way of sorting themselves out."

Katy Feeney, Major League Baseball's senior vice president for scheduling and club relations, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Friday that the Twins would get precedence over the Vikings on that Monday should they need to host a tiebreaker.

"The NFL is fully aware of it," Feeney told the newspaper. "That's one of the reasons they schedule those as intradivision games, so they can flip [home sites] if they need to."

The Vikings are also scheduled to play the Packers on Nov. 1 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. But while the two teams could switch home dates, the issue is more complicated due to the Oct. 5 game being the first contest for Vikings quarterback Brett Favre against his former team. It's expected to be one of the biggest games in the Vikings' history, and plans are already in place to have it broadcast on ESPN.

An NFL source with knowledge of the Metrodome lease told the Star Tribune there is no chance the Vikings game would be moved. The source said the NFL team's lease states it has priority over the Twins for any game other than a World Series game.

St. Peter said that there have been games moved before, but he could not recall if any had been moved for something other than a World Series game.

"I know in 2006 there was a contingency put in place to move the time of a Vikings game but it wasn't needed," St. Peter said. "But those are discussions between Major League Baseball and the National Football League. I expect those discussions will escalate here in the next week or so."

The Twins are not unaccustomed to one-game tiebreakers. They finished the 2008 season tied with the White Sox atop the AL Central. It forced a game No. 163 to decide a division winner, and that was played in Chicago due to the White Sox winning the coin toss.

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