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Judge rules against Twins
By Tom Scheck
Minnesota Public Radio
November 16, 2001

Hennepin County District Court Judge Harry Crump ruled that the Minnesota Twins must play baseball in the Metrodome next season. In an order filed Friday, Crump ruled in favor of the injunction request filed by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission. The commission filed suit hours after Major League Baseball's owners announced that they plan to eliminate two teams before next season. The Twins are a top candidate for contraction, but the ruling may give the team another year in the big leagues.

Gov. Ventura and Rep. Sviggum
House Minority Leader Steve Sviggum and Gov. Ventura talk with reporters after a Capitol meeting Friday aimed at developing a strategy to keep the Minnesota Twins. Read more.
(MPR Photo/Laura McCallum)

In his written order, Judge Crump plainly stated that the Twins exercised their option to play baseball in the Metrodome and he's holding the team to its lease. Though the order he filed is a temporary injunction until the complaint can go to trial, he said there's a substantial likelihood the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission will prevail on the merits of its case.

Crump called baseball "as American as turkey and apple pie." He said the Twins have been a part of Minnesota history for 40 years and brought the community together through homer hankies and bobblehead dolls. He said that the relationship between the Twins and the commission is not a typical tenant-landlord relationship and that "clearly there is more than money at stake."

Bill Lester with the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which operates the Metrodome, praised the ruling. "He followed 30 years of judicial precedence by ruling in favor of the commission and, really, in favor of the fans of Minnesota Twins baseball throughout the state and region," Lester said.

Attorney Roger Magnuson, who represents the Twins and Major League Baseball on the matter, issued a written statement which said he was disappointed in the decision. "Both sides in this controversy have known from the outset that this case would ultimately be decided by Minnesota Appellate Courts and we're confident that we'll prevail at the end of the day," Magnuson said.

However, Minneapolis Sports Attorney Marshall Tanick, who's not directly involved in the case, says it will be difficult for the Twins to win on appeal. He says the Twins signed a lease which says they'll play in the Metrodome next year. "From a legal standpoint, I think this outcome will stand up. In terms of the ultimate outcome on whether the Twins will be playing here or not, that's going to depend a great deal on things that go on outside the court room such as what the Legislature will do in terms of providing for a stadium," he said.

Gov. Jesse Ventura said he'll attempt to contact Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. Ventura met with Twins owner Carl Pohlad late Friday afternoon. In a statement, Ventura said he asked if Major League Baseball would delay contraction and give the state more time to work toward a solution to save the Twins. Ventura's statement said Pohlad assured Ventura that he'd call Selig and discuss the request. Pohlad gave no assurances that anything could be done to delay the decision.

More from MPR
  • Ventura agrees to boost Twins rescue effort
  • Read Judge Crump's order
  • Audio: Marshall Tanick Tanick is a Twin Cities sports and entertainment lawyer. He says the ruling is both predictable and correct. (All Things Considered, 11/16/01)