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Committee examines proposals
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01/20/2004 11:56 PM ET
Committee examines proposals
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Special section: Twins new ballpark

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's Stadium Screening Commission listened to detailed proposals from communities Tuesday for the construction of a new Twins ballpark.

After the committee trimmed the list from 26 proposals on Monday, a total of 10 proposals with different stadium solutions for the Twins, Vikings and University of Minnesota football were heard.

Representatives from both the city of St. Paul and Hennepin County/Minneapolis made presentations specifically designed to build a baseball park in their communities.

The St. Paul plan calls for the ballpark to be built on 17 acres in the Gateway of downtown across from the Xcel Energy Center. It boasts to have more than 26,000 parking spaces within a half-mile of the facility. The area is not yet served by light-rail transit but has bus line connections.

The Gateway area has already undergone a re-birth with four-year-old Xcel Energy Center, home to the Minnesota Wild of the NHL. Several restaurant and night spots have opened on nearby Seventh Street.

St. Paul's proposal delegation, which included former Twins pitcher and native son Jack Morris, played up its historic and family-friendly reputation. A video showed images of playing children, screaming fans and old-time baseball photos.

"Many people think of St. Paul as their second home," St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly said. "It feels like a hometown."

St. Paul's ballpark financing plan calls for spending $520 million. The city's contribution would be $214 million raised via a three-percent increase of the food and beverage tax and ballpark parking surcharges. It also calls for $44 million to be raised from car rentals in Hennepin and Ramsey counties. The Twins would pay $40 million in cash and $180 million in lease payments over 30 years, which would repay a loan from the state. The city would own the stadium but the Twins would be responsible for operation and maintenance costs.

Minneapolis and Hennepin County officials went simple with their proposal. They relied instead on being the largest city in the state, and the only one that has a single willing seller for a site large enough to accommodate a stadium.

"We're ready to go," said Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein.

The city and county joint proposal calls for the ballpark to be built on a 20-acre site downtown adjacent to the Target Center. The location features 23,000 parking spaces within walking distance and it would be close to a light-rail and bus connections. It would also be close to the Warehouse District and Hennepin Avenue entertainment districts.

And moving the Twins closer to the state's largest convention center could help lure more conventions to town, Minneapolis officials said.

Hennepin County would contribute $308 million to the project, generated from a combination of taxes on lodging, food and beverage and a 0.1 percent increase of the general sales tax. Minneapolis would offer $7 million, the Twins would give $120 million and the state an additional $100 million.

The proposal calls for the ballpark to be owned and operated by a new ballpark commission.

On Jan. 6, The Twins made their presentation to the screening committee with hopes to build a 42,000-seat ballpark with a retractable roof. Twins president Dave St. Peter said Tuesday that the club would remain neutral on a ballpark site.

"We were very impressed by the proposals by St. Paul and Hennepin County and Minneapolis," St. Peter said. "They were certainly well-thought out proposals. We applaud both communities for putting a together a complete and thorough plan to build a ballpark."

The Stadium Screening Committee will continue to discuss stadium proposals through the rest of January. Final recommendations will be submitted to Gov. Pawlenty on Feb. 2. The governor said repeatedly that he would not support any plan that calls for a contribution from the state's general fund.

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

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