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Pawlenty requests park proposals
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11/04/2003 7:00 PM ET
Pawlenty requests park proposals
Minnesota Governor announces effort to seek options
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota took a first step towards getting back into the new stadium game when Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced Tuesday that he was leading efforts in finding ballpark options for the Twins, Vikings and University of Minnesota football.

Pawlenty is requesting proposals from the area leaders in government and business, along with ideas from citizens, developers and the teams' owners. The deadline for all suggestions is Jan 15, 2004 and will be reviewed by a special committee before recommendations reach the Governor's office.

"Although the economics of professional sports are a mess, the reality is that having professional sports teams makes our state more competitive and appealing," Pawlenty said. "The stadium issue cannot continue to be swept under the rug indefinitely.

"The Twins and Vikings are not going to remain in the Metrodome much longer. We need to take steps to make sure the teams remain viable -- and in Minnesota. The issue is difficult and brings out many emotions. However, the situation demands leadership."

Twins president Dave St. Peter said the club was encouraged by Tuesday's announcement.

"We're very appreciative of Gov. Pawlenty's desire to play a lead role in solving Minnesota's stadium dilemma," St. Peter said. "We're eager to work with the him and others in this process."

St. Peter said it's still not clear what defined role the Twins will have in the process.

Pawlenty's 19-person screening committee will hold public hearings this winter to review proposals and identify viable options for building ballparks.

State legislators and the Twins have made several attempts to secure funding for a new baseball-only facility to replace the Metrodome. The most recent push came in 2002 when former Gov. Jesse Ventura signed a $330 million financing plan into law.

The city of St. Paul sought to host the ballpark under the plan but talks between its leaders and the Twins broke off before there was ever a voter referendum.

"There have been task forces and panels in the past, but we believe this is different," St. Peter said of Pawlenty's plan. "There is real opportunity to carve out a solution in the best interest of Minnesota's taxpayers while keeping baseball in Minnesota."

Pawlenty said he remained opposed to using his state's general fund to finance stadiums.

"However, we need to explore other credible proposals that protect the State's interest and still solves the problem," Pawlenty said.

The Twins' are currently without a user agreement to play at the Metrodome in 2004. St. Peter said discussions to return would continue with the ballpark's landlords, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This report was not subject to the approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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