Originally created 12/19/97

Sports Commission not ready to let go of Twins



MINNEAPOLIS -- The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission could try to stop the Minnesota Twins from moving to North Carolina by holding the team to its Metrodome lease.

Chairman Henry Savelkoul said the commission has instructed its attorneys to research possibilities for keeping the team in the state.

"We have a fiduciary duty to protect all the public's rights," he said.

The Twins served notice this year that they will terminate their lease after next season, using an escape clause triggered when the team failed to reach the American League's attendance average over the past three seasons and when it reported net operating losses for the 1995, 1996 and 1997 seasons.

But Savelkoul and executive director Bill Lester told Twins president Jerry Bell that the commission "cannot, and has not, unilaterally waived its rights and obligations to challenge the Twins' view" that their operating losses have been sufficient to trigger the escape clause.

Bell did not immediately return a phone call Thursday.

One of the potential challenges is that the Twins' losses were made worse by the 1994 baseball strike. Lost games during the strike, and related losses, were "initiated by certain labor practices of management," Savelkoul and Lester wrote.