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Twins Mull Future of Franchise

November 24, 1997

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ How do you sell the Minnesota Twins if they’re sold?

The team’s sales and marketing consultant has one word to describe what it would be like next season to sell tickets for a lame-duck team.

``Hell,″ said Pat Forciea. ``I’ve lived through it once.″

Forciea was the senior vice president for the final 2 1/2 years of the NHL North Stars’ stay in Minnesota. The club had announced in January 1993 that it would be moving to Dallas at the end of the season, and the final three months produced some wrenching moments.

The pain would last from spring training to the fall for the Twins, who, under terms of their sale, would play a final summer at the Metrodome even after North Carolina businessman Don Beaver buys the team.

Twins owner Carl Pohlad has a letter of intent and has said he will sell the team to Beaver if the Legislature does not come up with a plan for a publicly subsidized ballpark by Nov. 30. The Legislature adjourned a special session recently after the Minnesota House rejected a stadium proposal.

For a hint of what the Twins might face, look at the Houston Oilers. Owner Bud Adams entered the 1996 season with a signed deal to move the team to Tennessee.

Attendance at the Astrodome, despite the team winning five of its first seven games, plummeted. The Oilers, who had averaged a record 60,341 attendance in 1991, dropped to a league-low 31,825 in 1996.

``It was a challenge,″ said Don MacLachlan, Oilers’ executive vice president for marketing and broadcasting. ``You’re really cutting a lot of ties. A lot of emotions are involved.″

The Twins have not met to discuss marketing yet, and local marketing professionals had few suggestions.

``That’s pretty tough,″ said Bill Hillsman of Northwoods Advertising. ``Your best chance is to appeal to people who want to keep the memories alive.″

Paul Maccabee, president of the Maccabee Group Inc., had two solutions.

``My lighthearted instinct is to say you’re having a going out of business sale next year and play `Leaving on a Jet Plane’ and `Hit the Road Jack’ on the stadium sound system,″ he said. ``But seriously, if I’m marketing the Twins, I’d say how many more games there are to go _ `You only have 45 more opportunities to take your kids to see the Minnesota Twins.′ And give away souvenirs. Anything that says `Minnesota Twins’ will be history.″

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