The Hennepin County Board yesterday approved 4-2 a resolution amending its principles of agreement with the Minnesota Twins organization, laying the groundwork for acquisition of land and ultimately, the construction of the new Twins ballpark in downtown Minneapolis.
The vote was four to two with Commissioners Mike Opat, Mark Stenglein, Gail Dorfman and Randy Johnson voting in favor, and Commissioners Linda Koblick and Penny Steele voting no. Commissioner Peter McLaughlin was absent.
The agreement breaks the impasse with landowners, although the method for land acquisition may not have been the preferred method.
The process of land acquisition will be through eminent domain, or “quick take” condemnation once agreements with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad have been finalized.
The authorization allows the county to deposit $13.35 million -- the amount the county offered to pay the landowners for the property -- with the court and get title to the land through the “quick take” process. A special three member, court-appointed panel will ultimately determine the fair market price of the land and is expected to completed by June 22.
“This sets the stage for initial construction work to begin,” said Commissioner Opat, the board’s lead ballpark negotiator. “The county could start clearing the asphalt on the property within the next few weeks. We’re anxious to begin working with the Twins on building one of the great urban ballparks in America. This ballpark will not only be a great baseball venue. It will be a great public asset for Minnesota.”
As reported by the St. Paul Pioneer Press:
"It's not a cookie-cutter from some of the other ones," [Twins president Jerry] Bell said. "This will not be (Baltimore's) Camden Yards - this will be Minnesota's ballpark."
He declined to say how much more money the Twins had committed toward the ballpark, which was approved by the Legislature last year after a decade-long effort by the team to leave the Metrodome for new quarters.
With the announcement, the Twins will officially present the final design of the ballpark to the County Board at 11 a.m. Thursday, April 12, in the County Board Room on the 24th Floor of the Hennepin County Government Center.
Members of the new Minnesota Ballpark Authority, which ultimately will own the ballpark, and the Minneapolis City Council also have been invited.
The briefing will be followed by a 12 p.m. news conference, featuring officials from the county, Twins, Ballpark Authority and project architects, on the skyway level (Public Service Level) of the Government Center.
The public is invited to view the ballpark design at an open house on the Government Center skyway level from 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday.
Any renderings that are made available to the media by the Twins and HOK will be provided here on The Biz of Baseball.
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