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TB Fans, Minnesota Twins deserve new baseball stadium

Every year, one of the definitive signs of spring's approach is the start of Major League Baseball spring training. The emergence of our national pastime from winter's icy grasp is a breath of fresh air for baseball lovers nationwide, especially in Minnesota, where the thought of warm baseball weather makes many a Twins fan jump for joy. This season, though, spring training preparations have been interrupted by discussion of new Twins stadium options. It has become apparent that without action on a new Twins stadium package, the Twins are more likely than ever to move out of Minnesota.

Early in February, a Hennepin County Judge ruled that the Twins need not play in the Metrodome past the 2006 season. This ruling clears the way for Twins owner Carl Pohlad to move the Twins to another city. While no cities currently appear to be a good fit for the Twins, the key is that Pohlad has the green light to move after this season -- a definite possibility if the Twins must continue to play in the unprofitable dilapidated marshmallow that is the Metrodome.

The Metrodome is an equally awful place to watch and play baseball. It's an all-purpose building created without baseball in mind. This creates features like horrendous seat placement, rock-hard seating, and the uniquely ugly and ill-fitting monstrosity called the "baggie." Fans must endure cavernous echoes and the dingy sheen of bright blue seats and plastic green turf, all while they could be enjoying a bright, beautiful day outside. The aesthetics of a ballpark should be a major factor in drawing fans to a baseball game. With the Metrodome, fans attend games in spite of the ballpark. It's easy to see why the Twins would want to leave such a low-income, ill-fitting arena.

If any Minnesota team were to get a new stadium, why not the Twins? The Twins are the classiest and most fan-friendly major sports team in Minnesota. Management of the team is top notch, with an excellent staff and well organized farm system. Plus, the team has one of the lowest payrolls in the MLB, which limits player egos to a fairly reasonable size. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings, the other state sports team seeking a new stadium, are the anti-Twins, with player scandals, bad management, egotistical players, and poor on-the-field performance.

Overall, the Twins are an extremely valuable asset to everyone in the state. It would be a shame to see Pohlad ship them out of town for a state that shows its appreciation (read: money) better. During last year's legislative session, the best possible combination of public funding (through a small single county .15 percent general sales tax) and private funding (from Pohlad's wallet) was combined to make a $478 million dollar proposal. Then, lawmakers couldn't settle their budget differences and quibbled all the way through a special session, dropping the stadium bill. The extra year has added $30 million to the proposal, and this time, the proposal must pass if the Twins are to stay in Minnesota. For the sake of baseball lovers across the state, let's hope lawmakers can see the economic and cultural benefits Twins baseball brings to Minnesota, and can finally end the Twins stadium debate.

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Kevin Pollock is a senior at Century High School. To respond to an opinion column, send an e-mail to teenbeat@postbulletin.com.

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