SBD/Issue 56/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Twins Fans Get More Time, Supreme Court Rejects Fast Appeal

In "another legal setback" to MLB's contraction plans, the MN Supreme Court Friday rejected MLB's request for an accelerated appeal of a district court ruling that requires the Twins to play the final year of their lease at the Metrodome in '02, according to Ross Newhan of the L.A. TIMES. The MN Supreme Court sent the case back to the Court of Appeals for expedited review, but the Court of Appeals announced it will not hear oral arguments until December 27, "meaning a decision, which the losing side is almost certain to appeal again to the Supreme Court, is unlikely to be made until January, at the earliest." Bill Lester, Exec Dir of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which is suing to keep the Twins in the Metrodome in '02, said, "I don't think it's the definitive bullet in the temple of contraction for 2002, but every day is a bonus." MLB Exec VP Sandy Alderson said, "(Now that) we have something more definite (regarding an appeal date), we'll step back and take another look at it next week." MLB Exec VP & CLO Robert DuPuy added, "The deeper we get into December, the more problematic (contraction) becomes. It's disappointing we didn't get an expedited hearing because we're still convinced we'll prevail on the merits" (L.A. TIMES, 12/1).

HOW BIG A SETBACK? In DC, Mark Asher wrote that "most industry observers believe" the deadline for contraction is December 20, the final day for teams to offer 2002 contracts to their own free agents. Former Padres President Larry Lucchino, on the refusal of the MN Supreme Court to expedite the appeal: "It sounds like they didn't hit a home run in terms of timing, but perhaps a double. This is a pretty fast schedule in my light as a former litigator" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/1). MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr, on the decision's impact on contraction: "It just gets more and more troublesome with each passing day. You don't have schedules, you can't sell tickets, there's uncertainty in the market" (AP, 12/1). Former U.S. Attorney David Lillehaug: "The odds have gone up greatly that this will be resolved before the first pitch of spring training" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/1). In N.Y., Murray Chass called the decision a "severe setback" for MLB's contraction plans (N.Y. TIMES, 12/1). In MN, Patrick Sweeney wrote that the decision "was a significant victory for Twins fans" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 12/1). CNNSI.com's Lester Munson wrote that it is "unlikely" contraction will ever happen. Munson: "If [MLB] and its lawyers take the case to the Supreme Court of [MN], they will find themselves arguing before Justice Alan Page, the Hall of Fame defensive tackle and a stalwart of the NFL Players Association. Will Page be sympathetic to owners or to players? Will other justices defer to Page on a sports issue?" (CNNSI.com, 11/30). Twins BOD member and son of Twins Owner Carl Pohlad, Jim Pohlad, on the chances the Twins will play in '02: "I really don't know. Honestly, the commissioner has been pretty tight-lipped about it" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 12/2). Baseball agent Greg Clifton said, "I will tell my players on the Twins that there will not realistically be contraction that would happen for the 2002 season" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/1).

TWIN NOTES: In MN, Terry Collins reported that more than 151,000 people have signed petitions urging [MLB] to not disband the Twins." The number exceeded the 100,000 signatures by Saturday goal of the Keep the Twins at Home campaign (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/2)....On his radio program Friday, MN Gov. Jesse Ventura said that news media "should be taxed for a stadium because they profit from professional sports." Ventura: "Let's put a nickel or a dime on every newspaper, and that will raise revenue for a stadium" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 12/1).

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