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Stadium bill may speed up court case
By Brian Bakst
Associated Press
May 20, 2002

Lawyers for the Minnesota Twins and Major League Baseball hinted Monday that they will ramp up efforts to settle a contraction-related lawsuit, now that a stadium bill is on the verge of approval.

The Legislature passed a financing plan for a $330 million ballpark over the weekend. Gov. Jesse Ventura has 14 days to consider it.

The bill gives the sides an extra incentive to clear up the lawsuit, which was filed by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission in an attempt to keep the Twins in the Metrodome indefinitely.

A provision in the bill prevents any bonds from being sold until the case is settled, dismissed or the Twins and the league turn over financial records and documents related to contraction.

Hennepin County District Judge Harry Seymour Crump agreed to delay decisions related to the case for two weeks.

"This is a very, very special development that everyone is trying to understand and trying to figure out the implications of," said Roger Magnuson, the Twins' lawyer.

Joseph Anthony, a Minneapolis-based attorney representing Major League Baseball, urged the MSFC to drop its lawsuit.

"You can't have a stadium until this case is dismissed," Anthony said after the hearing. "The commission is interfering with the Twins staying here by not dismissing this case."

Bill Lester, MSFC executive director, called Anthony's comments "silly."

"This whole court case is an effort to ensure this team stays in Minnesota, and therefore we are not going to dismiss until we are guaranteed that this team is going to be here for the long term," he said.

Besides Ventura's consent, other stadium hurdles remain. The current Twins owner or a new one must come up with $120 million and a referendum to raise taxes in potential host cities must be approved.

MSFC attorney Corey Ayling said he will stay focused on the Aug. 19 trial date.

In court Monday, he asked Crump to force the Twins and the league to comply fully with an MSFC request for contraction-related documents. The Twins already have turned over more than 21,000 documents, almost all of them stamped confidential.

Attorneys for the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, The Associated Press, KARE-TV and the St. Paul Pioneer Press asked Crump to establish a log of documents that includes general descriptions and the reason for confidentiality. Without a log, the media can't challenge the handling of documents that could be considered public, said attorney John Borger.

Ayling said the MSFC was indifferent to the request; Magnuson said the Twins oppose it.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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