May. 16, 1995
ST. PAUL (AP) _ Prospective Jets buyer Richard Burke met this morning with legislative leaders to describe his bid for the NHL team and the timetable for legislative approval of a state-aid package.
``I view my role at this point as just making sure they understand the situation, the facts, and that everybody's working from the same set of facts,'' Burke said in an interview.
The former insurance executive said he during meetings with House Speaker Irv Anderson and Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe he did not press for quick action on a package or for a specific amount of state financial help to bring the Winnipeg team to Minnesota.
``I don't think it's my role, nor is it appropriate, at this point for me to lobby them or talk to them about timeframes,'' Burke said. ``I told them what the dates are we have to deal with. ... How that translates into policy or lack of it is something other people have to decide.''
Gov. Arne Carlson has told lawmakers that they must act quickly on an aid package if the Winnipeg Jets are to come to Minnesota. He has limited state aid to $15 million and ruled out calling a special session after meeting with Burke on Monday.
``It would appear from the time frame that ... this must be dealt with in the legislative session,'' Cyndy Brucato, a spokeswoman Carlson, said Monday.
Jets owner Barry Shenkarow has said the Winnipeg team is Burke's unless a Winnipeg group can come up with enough money by Thursday to purchase the team and cover future operating losses.
The governor is pushing a bill that would give the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission authority to negotiate a deal with Burke after the session adjourns next Monday.
Anderson said Burke mentioned a $20 million figure during their meeting today.
``Just in a sentence, he mentioned 20 million,'' Anderson said. ``He didn't come out and say that he had to have 20 million, but he mentioned 20 in a sentence, and I caught it.''
Anderson said he was impressed with Burke, who he called an intelligent person and a ``very good businessman.'' However, Anderson said he is undecided on the Jets proposal.
Anderson said he told Burke that there may not be time to act on a Jets package before the 1995 regular session adjourns but that it might be possible to hold a special session later if agreement could be reached on a plan.
Lawmakers got their first chance to debate the Jets legislation Monday night at a joint hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Local Government and Metropolitan Affairs Committee. The panels took no action on the bill.
Burke did not attend the hearing.
In Winnipeg, there was renewed hope the Jets will stay as a fund raising drive picked up steam.
``We've had virtually hundreds of people coming in with everthing from bringing in (dollars) to bringing in checks for $2,500,'' said Lorne Edwards, news director of radio station CJOB, which suspended its broadcasting for three days to help raise money to save the Jets for Winnipeg.
Banks, credit unions, trust companies and radio stations put up signs saying they were accepting donations in a last-minute drive to raise $110 million to buy the team and keep it in Winnipeg. The renewed fund-raising effort also involves a community rally and a $100-a-ticket social.
Things looked grim for keeping the Jets in Winnipeg until Friday, when a local business group made a surprise pitch to save the team.