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Friday, August 16
Officials: Strike would derail Twins' stadium bid

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Word that major league players had set an Aug. 30 strike date brought warnings in Minnesota that a strike could wipe out the Twins' chance to get public help for a new ballpark.

The Legislature approved a financing plan last session; it didn't pan out and the Twins may take another shot at the Capitol in 2003.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roger Moe was supportive of stadium bills as Senate majority leader. But in a letter to league and Twins officials as well as players Friday, he said that backing will disappear if there is a strike.

"If I am elected governor of Minnesota, I simply will not allow Minnesota to become partners with people whose greed is so uncontrollable and so far removed from the financial difficulties that most Minnesotans face,'' he wrote.

House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, said a strike would cast a "negative cloud'' over any debate.

"They're not only going to destroy the national pastime of baseball, but the chances of a stadium bill would be severely damaged,'' he said.

Twins President Jerry Bell downplayed those statements, saying the strike deadline is simply part of negotiations.

Bell said a strike, while regrettable, would probably have a positive result by curing baseball's problem of wide revenue disparity between teams. That's what the Legislature said it wanted before they could proceed with plans for a new stadium, Bell said.

"The people that say a strike would be disastrous for our stadium efforts are the same people that said baseball has to get its economic house in order before a stadium can be built,'' Bell said.

Bell said he couldn't comment on the specifics of the negotiations. He said he's optimistic a deal will be struck, but it might be awhile before that happens.

"It's not a happy day right now,'' said Denny Hocking, the Twins' player representative. "But it could get a lot worse come August 30.

"If the date comes around to August 30, we will walk,'' Hocking said. "You don't set a strike date to have someone call your bluff.''

That said, Twins' players made it clear that a strike is the last thing they want to see, especially after a winter filled with contraction talk.

"We don't want to strike,'' Torii Hunter said. "We're on the fans' side. We want to get to the playoffs for them. After all the stuff they went through in the offseason, they deserve to see us in the playoffs.

"We'll get that deal done,'' he said. "I know we will.''

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