ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Twins and major league baseball asked
the Minnesota Supreme Court to hold a hearing by Feb. 11 -- just
three days before spring training starts -- on the injunction that
forces the team to play this season.
A day after the Court of Appeals voted 3-0 to uphold the
injunction that compels the Twins to honor their lease at the
Metrodome, the team and baseball filed papers Wednesday asking the
Supreme Court to review the case and to set an expedited schedule
for an appeal to the high court.
"The critical timing issues present in this case make expedited
determination necessary if meaningful review is to occur," wrote
Roger Magnuson, a lawyer for the Twins and baseball commissioner
Separately, Twins owner Carl Pohlad met with Alabama businessman
Donald Watkins to discuss Watkins' desire to purchase the team.
The appellate court upheld a Nov. 16 decision by a district
judge, who said any breach of the Twins' lease wouldn't be
satisfied by money alone.
Baseball's lawyers argue the injunction runs contrary to 80
years of Minnesota law and represents an "articulation of a
peculiar and anomalous legal principle" that demands review by the
"The Court of Appeals decision is an unprecedented intrusion
into a private business' right to cease operations," Magnuson
Baseball owners voted Nov. 6 to eliminate two teams before this
season. Baseball hasn't officially selected the teams, but the
Twins and Montreal Expos are the likely targets because of their
low revenue and inability to secure government funding for new
Magnuson asked for the speedy review because the Twins are due
to start spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., on Feb. 17, three
days after teams are allowed to start workouts.
"Baseball must know if it can proceed with contraction so that
players can be reallocated among the remaining teams, and schedules
and rosters can be finalized," he wrote.
The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which obtained
the injunction as the Twins' landlord, opposes quicker-than-usual
consideration, lawyer Andy Shea said.
"The calendar of contraction was established by commissioner
Selig," Shea said. "He, obviously, did not allow sufficient time
for any orderly legal process."
Minnesota's Supreme Court, which on Nov. 30 refused to hear a
direct appeal of the original ruling, typically takes five to seven
months to decide cases after hearing arguments, though it has moved
more quickly in some cases where time was an issue. For the high
court to take the case, at least three of the seven justices must
agree to accept an appeal.
Watkins, who wants to examine the Twins' financial records
before making a formal offer, has said he could finance a new
stadium without public help if he buys the team. His lawyer,
Kenneth Thomas, was also present at the two-hour meeting, along
with Twins president Jerry Bell and Pohlad's son, Jim, a minority
owner of the team.
Watkins did not immediately return a message left at his office.
The Twins said both parties signed confidentiality agreements to
keep the discussion process private.
Meanwhile, the grievance by the players' association to block
contraction resumes Thursday in New York with the 11th day of
testimony before arbitrator Shyam Das. Delegations from management
and the union, including Yankees reliever Mike Stanton, met for
about three hours Wednesday at the commissioner's office,
discussing mostly procedural issues and scheduling.