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MLPBA Associate General Counsel Michael Weiner said that Shyam Das, the independent arbitrator hearing the MLBPA's grievance over management's plan to eliminate two teams before next season, has scheduled grievance hearings for January 3, 4, 10 and 11. Weiner: "If we need more time, we'll see where we go after that" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 12/27).
During oral arguments yesterday in MLB's and the Twins' appeal to overturn a temporary injunction requiring the Twins to fulfill the final year of their Metrodome lease in '02, the MN Court of Appeals "offered what could be some inkling of its concerns" by "peppering attorneys with more that 30 questions," according to Furst & Souhan of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. It is speculated that if the injunction is overturned, MLB would then proceed with its plans to contract the Twins. Furst & Souhan report that two of the judges on the three-judge panel "seemed to have major questions about the owners' central thesis" that the Twins are "merely a tenant that wants to break a typical lease agreement and should not be subject to an injunction." But the judges also "raised concerns" about whether the injunction "spelled out the reasons why" the lower court prevented baseball owners from contracting the Twins. Furst & Souhan also report that the Court of Appeals "opened another maze of possibilities" when it "floated the idea" of possibly sending the case back to the lower court so Hennepin Co. (MN) District Judge Harry Crump "could elaborate further" on the specific reasons why he issued the injunction. Any "decision by the Appeals Court that delays an ultimate decision on the Twins' fate could keep the team in business" for '02 (Minn. STAR TRIBUNE, 12/28). In MN, Phillip Pina reports that the Court of Appeals panel Judges Edward Toussaint, Jr., Robert Schumacher and Roger Klaphake has 90 days to rule on the case, "although an opinion is expected within days" (PIONEER PRESS, 12/28).
BIG BILLS: In MN, Charley Walters writes if AL business exec Donald Watkins can purchase the Twins and privately finance a new ballpark, he will "impress some of sport's top operators, who say it still won't work." Walters notes that after buying the team, building a ballpark and adding in $30M in losses over the first three years, the cost to Watkins would be $580M. Walters: "Figure in annual debt service of $60 million for a team with annual revenues of less than $50 million" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 12/28).