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AL OKs sales talks for Twins

November 18, 1997 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) _ The American League today gave permission to Minnesota Twins owner Carl Pohlad to proceed with sale talks.

The Minnesota Legislature last week defeated a proposal to finance a new ballpark, and Pohlad has an agreement with North Carolina businessman Don Beaver to negotiate a sale unless stadium financing was approved by Nov. 30.

If he buys the Twins, Beaver would want to move the team to North Carolina following the 1998 season.

``The American League has no choice but to direct the Twins to move forward with the sale of the club,″ AL president Gene Budig said today.

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The Twins’ situation was discussed Monday night by baseball’s ruling executive council, but no action was taken. Under baseball’s regulations, the next step would be for Pohlad and Beaver to reach a sale agreement and submit it to the sport’s ownership committee.

Any sale must be approved by 11 of 14 AL owners and 12 of 16 NL owners. In recent years owners have taken six to 12 months to approve sales.

``I believe the people of Minnesota want the Twins,″ Budig said, an indication that additional maneuvering may take place to keep the team from moving. ```Without question, they have proven their commitment to major league baseball over the years. I do not believe that the Legislature is reflecting that view of the fans.″

However, acting commissioner Bud Selig and the council have made clear they would favor a move if a new stadium isn’t built to replace the Metrodome.

``Major league baseball continues to believe that the Twins cannot remain in Minnesota without a new ballpark,″ Budig said. ``One can cannot expect any owner of a major league baseball franchise to lose money indefinitely.″

Pohlad, claiming the Twins have lost millions, told the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune he thinks ``it’s highly unlikely″ that other owners would not approve the sale and relocation.

He said he expects Beaver to submit an application to buy the team, saying it’s ``just a formality now.″

Tim Newman, a spokesman for Beaver’s organization, said today he expects sale talks to move forward.

``We’re going to talk to the Pohlads this afternoon,″ Newman said, ``I really wouldn’t want to speculate on a timetable, because it depends on what they lay out to us.″

No baseball team has moved since the second Washington Senators became the Texas Rangers after the 1971 season. However, it’s unclear if North Carolina would finance a stadium.

Voters in the area of Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem will decide May 5 whether to approve a 1-cent restaurant tax to finance a $210 million stadium built.

Minnesota’s House voted 84-47 last Thursday to defeat stadium-financing legislation, Pohlad offered to donate the Twins to a charitable foundation if a new stadium were constructed. The foundation would sell the team in several years and then repay Pohlad money he would lend to cover losses in the interim.

Meanwhile, two Twins fans began a round-the-clock vigil Monday at the Capitol in St. Paul, even as stadium backers said time has run out.

``Save our Twins. Call your legislator,″ read a sign posted on the Capitol steps by Joe Marble and David Hoch.

The two, friends since grade school who once worked at the Met Stadium in Bloomington, hope others join them in the vigil, which includes nights outdoors in a tent.

``If we sit here long enough, people will come,″ Marble said.