Sports Briefs

Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2002

2001 winner leads 2002 Homer derby

Tom Barkman of Homer, the winner of last year's Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby, took over the lead of this year's derby with a 214-pound catch hauled in on Kachemak Bay Tuesday.

Second place for the month of May is Monte Boston of Eagle River with a 125-pound fish caught on May 4. Fred Smith of Evart, Mich., is in third with a 116.8-pound fish landed Monday, and Nathan Green of Wasilla is fourth for the month with a 106.4-pound fish caught on May 4.

Texas angler wins Week 2 Seward tourney prize

Troy Parish of Trinity, Texas, caught a 109-pound, 4-ounce halibut, coming closest to the target weight of 109 pounds to win the $500 prize for Week 2 of the Seward Jackpot Halibut Tournament.

Second place went to Ed Anders of Republic, Mo., with a 101-pound, 2-ounce catch, and third place was captured by Ken Russnel of Southweber, Utah, with a 133-pound, 8-ounce fish.

Legislature approves Twins stadium bill

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Legislature sent Gov. Jesse Ventura a Twins stadium financing plan Saturday night, although leaders of the endangered franchise said they're not sure it will work.

The bill cleared the House 72-61 and the Senate followed shortly after with a 49-18 vote. Ventura hasn't said how he'd treat the bill, although Finance Commissioner Pam Wheelock said it generally conforms to the governor's wishes.

It's the furthest the Twins have gotten in a stadium quest that began seven years ago. And, if successfully carried out, the proposal might stave off a plan by baseball to eliminate the low-revenue franchise.

But the Twins spent Saturday highlighting their concerns and questioning whether it will result in a new ballpark.

''It's a long way to go. There's a referendum to deal with, there's ownership issues to deal with, there's league issues to deal with,'' Twins president Jerry Bell said. ''There's no promises, but we'll do the best we can.''

Ralph Strangis, an attorney hired by Twins owner Carl Pohlad to find a new owner, issued a statement before the House vote asking negotiators to return to the bargaining table. He urged them to produce a bill that allows Hennepin County to join Minneapolis in its bid to keep the Twins in that city.

''It has become increasingly clear -- as we review future ownership options -- that unless the stadium bill allows for multiple site and local government funding options, it dramatically reduces the likelihood that the Minnesota Twins can stay in Minnesota,'' Strangis said.

Bell testified that two potential buyers, whom he didn't identify, wanted Hennepin County in the mix.

The House defeated an attempt by Minneapolis-area lawmakers to send the bill back to conference committee.

''This is the best bill you're going to get,'' admonished Rep. Kevin Goodno. ''It's not going to get any better.''

Debate was far shorter in the Senate, where longtime opponents conceded defeat. ''I urge people to vote no, but I can read the writing on the wall,'' said Sen. John Marty.

The deal for a $330 million ballpark, which came together early Saturday, requires a $120 million private contribution -- facilitated by the Twins -- prior to any bond sale. In addition, the team would pay $10 million a year in rent.

In recent days, however, the siting conflict has overshadowed other concerns about the bill.

The bill requires interested cities to hold a referendum asking voters to authorize higher restaurant and lodging taxes for debt repayment. Two or more cities can join together, but county participation is prohibited.

Minneapolis taxpayers previously voted to limit city involvement in a new stadium. A successful referendum would lift the restriction, but Minneapolis officials believed their chance of keeping the team would improve if Hennepin County was involved.

Mayor R.T. Rybak said Saturday that his city is out of the running for the stadium without help from the county.

''We're partners with the county,'' Rybak said. ''And we intend to do this with the county or we're not going to do this.''

He added, ''The entire hope of saving the Twins rests on the folks in St. Paul.''

St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly called the bill fair.

''We're going to go out and be as aggressive as we can to get a ballpark in St. Paul,'' Kelly said.

Bell found other problems with the bill, including the size of the upfront contribution and a guarantee from major league baseball to keep a team in the state for 30 years.

The Twins' reservations didn't faze Sen. Dean Johnson, who helped craft it.

''We reached into their back pockets a little bit and that's OK,'' Johnson said. ''The Minnesota Twins are going to have to make a business decision.''

The bill is built on the premise that a new account -- fed by the team and local taxes -- will yield higher investment returns over 30 years than the interest due on the bonds.

The financing model made some legislators uneasy.

''By the time this decade is over the Twins are going to be back here again asking for more help,'' said Rep. Carl Jacobson.

The bill is for an open-air stadium, although it must be designed so a roof can be added later.

The Vikings also got a nod in their stadium search. The bill appropriates $500,000 for design work on a joint football stadium the Vikings would share with the University of Minnesota.

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