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Minnesotans unsure whether to take Twins threat to leave seriously

November 14, 1997

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Gail Kochie admits it: She’s a fair-weather fan.

When the Minnesota Twins were hot, she and her husband would make the drive from Rochester to take in a game. They even made a few of the playoff games in 1987. Once the Twins went flat, their trips stopped.

Following Thursday’s decision by the Legislature not to fund a new ballpark, major league baseball might disappear from Minnesota come 1999.

``I just can’t see that they would leave. I just can’t believe it. That would make them fair-weather fans, too, wouldn’t it?″ said Kochie, an administrator at a dental health clinic in Rochester.

Though reactions ranged from disbelief to anger, Minnesotans weren’t surprised Friday at the Legislature’s rejection of yet another plan for a publicly financed stadium. After all, for two years the Twins have been warning that they would leave if a new stadium weren’t built.

Twins owner Carl Pohlad has a deal to sell the Twins to North Carolina businessman Don Beaver if the Legislature does not approve a stadium funding package by Nov. 30. Beaver has said he would move the Twins south if major league owners give their approval.

Jason Tinquist, an assistant manager at the Minnesota Twins Pro Shop in suburban Roseville, said he’s been following the stadium debate every step of the way.

``I wasn’t surprised that it didn’t work out, just disappointed,″ he said as the first customer of the day strolled into the sports memorabilia shop.

``The first time they’re not here, people will probably realize it was a mistake,″ Tinquist said.

Not Eleanor Polla, a secretary at an auto body shop in Duluth.

``I was glad to see that it was defeated. I think they ought to use their own money to build the stadium,″ she said. ``A lot of these teams just threaten to leave if they don’t get what they want.″

Strolling through Minneapolis’ IDS Tower on his way to lunch, Minneapolis lawyer David Ezrilov was still reeling from the news.

``I’m disgusted,″ he said. ``I thought they would reach an agreement and that they would stay. I still have hope.″

If the Twins leave, maybe the Minnesota Vikings would be more likely to stay, he said. Like many others, Ezrilov has begun worrying about the Vikings’ complaints about the Metrodome.

It was announced last month that the team was for sale.

``I would sacrifice the Twins if it meant the Vikings would stay,″ he said.

It could be possible that Minnesotans just don’t have the time or money to support three professional sports teams in one town, said Charlie Dahl, general manager at Nick’s Sports World in downtown Minneapolis. The Twin Cities also have the NBA Timberwolves although the NHL’s North Stars moved to Dallas.

Early Friday morning, a few out-of-state customers had already called the shop, Dahl said.

``They want to know, `What’s wrong with you guys? Don’t you like sports in Minnesota?′ ″

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