Last reviewed September 2014
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This guide is compiled by staff at the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library on a topic of interest to Minnesota legislators. It is designed to provide an introduction to the topic, directing the user to a variety of sources, and is not intended to be exhaustive.
The issues surrounding financing and constructing baseball stadiums have fueled political debates in Minnesota for many years. With the construction of Target Field, the Twins are playing outdoor baseball for the first time since 1982, when they left Met Stadium to play in the Metrodome. In 2015, the St. Paul Saints will be playing their first season at CHS Field in the Lowertown neighborhood.
This timeline is intended to be a starting point for researching the history of baseball and baseball stadiums in Minnesota.
1884: Professional baseball begins in Minnesota with minor league teams in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Stillwater joining the Northwestern League. Rules are changed to allow overhanded pitching. The Minneapolis Browns' ball park is at the corner of Nicollet Avenue and Lake Street.
1889-early 1896: Minneapolis plays their games at Athletic Park, a tiny facility in downtown Minneapolis, behind the West Hotel.
1896: The Minneapolis team (now called the Millers to honor the city's flour milling industry) move to Nicollet Park.
1897: The St. Paul Apostles (later the Saints) play their weekday games at a ball park just to the southwest of Dale Street and University Avenue. To placate resident complaints, their Sunday games are played at Lexington Park, a mile west off the corner of Lexington and University avenues.
1954: 164 acres of farm land in Bloomington is chosen as the site for a major league stadium in the Twin Cities. It appears the Metropolitan Sports Area Commission is officially established by an ownership and operations agreement between Minneapolis and Bloomington entered into on August 13th.
1955: Ground breaking ceremonies are held June 20th at the Metropolitan Stadium. The Millers play their last game at Nicollet Park on September 28th, beating the Rochester Red Wings in game 7 to win their first Junior World Series championship.
1956: The Minneapolis Millers open Metropolitan Stadium on April 24th against the Wichita Braves. The seating capacity is about 18,200.
1957: The St. Paul Saints (of the American Association, not the Northern League) open Midway Stadium on April 25 with a day-night doubleheader against the Wichita braves.
1958: In September, Minneapolis approves $9 million in general obligation bonds to expand the seating capacity to 41,000, if a major league team is signed by January 1, 1959.
1960: Minneapolis approves $8.5 million in bonds to expand Metropolitan Stadium.
1961: The Twins (formerly the Washington Senators) arrive in Minnesota.
1973: The Greater Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce Stadium Task Force is created in October. The St. Paul Chamber of Commerce Stadium Study Task Force is also created.
1976-1977: Stadium politics dominate the State Legislature. Governor Wendell Anderson instructs the State Planning Agency to examine stadium proposals. They issue A Report on Sport Stadium Proposals in 1976. Stadium proposals include remodeling Metropolitan Stadium, expansion of the University of Minnesota's Memorial Stadium, building a recessed stadium in Lakeville, building a $28 million open air stadium, or construction of a $126 million multi-purpose domed stadium.
1977: Governor Rudy Perpich announces support for a covered stadium. The Minnesota Legislature passes and Governor Rudy Perpich signs Laws of Minnesota 1977, chapter 89. It creates the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (MSFC, now called Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority) and includes financing provisions for sports facilities in the metropolitan area. The legislation doesn't specify a site but it does state that no public money may be used to purchase the land that the stadium will be built on. Employees of the Metropolitan Sports Area Commission are transferred to the MSFC. A seven county Twin Cities Metropolitan Area liquor tax is collected from 1977-1979.
1978: A district judge finds the public debt portion of the bill passed in 1977 unconstitutional since it was not passed by the House and Senate with at least 60% of the votes. Land on the eastern edge of downtown Minneapolis is purchased, late in the year, for approximately $14.5 million which is raised by Twin Cities businesses. In December, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (MSFC) votes 4-3 for a domed multipurpose facility on this site.
1979: The Minnesota Legislature passes and Governor Al Quie signs Laws of Minnesota 1979, chapter 203 which modifies the 1977 law. They also repeal the seven county Twin Cities Metropolitan Area liquor tax with the passage of Laws of Minnesota 1979, chapter 26. The Metropolitan Council issues public revenue bonds backed by the City of Minneapolis. In addition Minneapolis adopts a 3% liquor sales tax and hotel/motel accomodations tax to assist with stadium operations. Ground is broken for the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in December. The stadium will be shared by the Minnesota Twins baseball team, Minnesota Vikings football team, and the University of Minnesota college football team.
1981: The Twins play their last game at Met Stadium September 30, losing 5-2 to the Kansas City Royals.
1982: The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome is completed in April at an approximate cost of $55 million for construction costs. The full cost of the stadium is almost $124 million with the inclusion of nonconstruction costs. The Twins play their first regular season game in the Metrodome on April 6, losing to the Seattle Mariners 11-7.
1984: Minneapolis lowers its 3% liquor sales tax and hotel/motel accomodations tax to 2%. This is the last year the tax is utilized.
1985: Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington is demolished.
1987: The Twins win their first world championship, beating the St. Louis Cardinals.
1989: The H.H.H. Metrodome Retractable Roof Study is completed.
1991: The Twins win their second World Series against the Atlanta Braves.
1993: The current incarnation of the St. Paul Saints is formed in the Northern League, one of several independent minor leagues not affiliated with Major League Baseball.
1996: The Advisory Task Force on Professional Sports in Minnesota releases its Final Report on January 31. A nonbinding professional sport stadium construction referendum is discussed by the Minnesota Legislature in HF 2974/SF 2464.
1997: Eleven bills are introduced in the Minnesota Legislature regarding a new professional baseball stadium and a special session is called to debate the issue. None are passed. A joint bipartisan stadium task force is formed. Baseball stadium bills introduced in the 1997-1998 session include the following House files and Senate files.
The Minnesota Legislature also introduce HF 107/SF 111. The bills transfer the ownership of the Metrodome to the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Twins. Neither pass. The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (MSFC) releases Analysis of Stadium Options.
1998: Twins owner Carl Pohlad attempts to sell team to North Carolina businessman Don Beaver. Charlotte voters reject a new stadium. Stadium bills that are introduced in Minnesota fail to pass.
1999: The legislature proposes SF 801/HF 87 to create public ownership of the Twins, but nothing passes. Minneapolis and St. Paul generate competing proposals to build a professional baseball stadium. A St. Paul referendum on the issue fails on November 2, 1999.
2000: New Ball Park Inc., a group of downtown Minneapolis business leaders, works to find private money to finance a ballpark. The Twins announce the creation of Minnesotans for Major League Baseball, a citizen committee to address keeping the franchise permanently in Minnesota.
2001: The Minnesota Legislature and Governor Jesse Ventura create an 18-member Stadium Task Force (report and minutes) that prepares recommendations for the 2002 Legislature to address stadium concerns of the Minnesota Twins, Vikings, and the University of Minnesota. Baseball stadium bills introduced in the 2001-2002 session include the following House files and Senate files.
2002: The existence of the Twins is threatened by Major League Baseball contraction plans. The legislature passes HF 2214, providing state financing for a $330 million stadium in St. Paul. The Twins turn down St. Paul's plan.
2003: Governor Pawlenty sets up a Stadium Screening Committee to provide information, analysis and advice in making a professional stadium proposal for the legislative session in 2004. Baseball stadium bills introduced in the 2003-2004 session include the following Senate Files.
2004: The Stadium Screening Committee (television archives) issues a final report to Governor Tim Pawlenty recommending action be taken in 2004 for a ballpark and football stadium. Stadium bills that are introduced (SF 3062 and SF 2536) do not pass.
2005: Stadium bills are introduced but fail to pass. Debate focuses on a stadium in Hennepin County and if the proposed sales tax should be exempted from the referendum requirement. Baseball stadium bills introduced in the 2005-2006 session include the following House files and Senate files.
2006: Funding is established for a new Twins stadium, with HF 2480/SF 2297 receiving numerous hearings. Whether to include a Hennepin County sales tax without a referendum continues to be a focus of the stadium discussions. The final version of the bill includes a 0.15 percent sales tax in Hennepin County that will generate the county's $392 million contribution to the $522 million, 42,000 seat stadium located in Minneapolis' Warehouse District. HF 2480 passes and becomes Laws of Minnesota 2006, Chapter 257. The law diverts a portion of the money raised by the Hennepin County sales tax to county youth activities and libraries. Also included is a provision that the Twins' nickname, logo, colors, records and trophies would become property of the state of Minnesota should the team ever move to another city.
2007: The groundbreaking for the new ballpark takes place on August 30, 2007, which will forever be remembered as the day outdoor Major League Baseball returned to Minnesota.
2008-2009: Construction proceeds on Target Field.
2009: The St. Paul Saints begin a push to build a new stadium in downtown Saint Paul. The proposed 7,500 seat stadium would be located in the Lowertown neighborhood. The city of Saint Paul requests $25 million dollars in its 2010 bonding wish list to the Minnesota Legislature.
2010: The new Target Field opens with a two-game exhibition series against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 2 and April 3. Forbes magazine reports that the value of the Twins has increased 14% to $405 million since their move to Target Field.
2012: St. Paul receives a $25 million economic development grant to help finance a ballpark for the St. Paul Saints on September 13. The following day Ryan Construction is named contractor for the project. In October, the Minnesota Taxpayer's League files a lawsuit to stop the plans, alleging the contract was improperly awarded.
2013: SF 633/HF 749 are introduced to establish a property tax exemption for the St. Paul Ballpark. Similar language is later passed in an omnibus bill, HF 677. As part of 2013 omnibus liquor bill SF 541, an on-sale liquor license for the ballpark is authorized by the Legislature, subject to the approval of the St. Paul City Council. In December, cleanup of contaminated soil on the site begins.
2014: The Major League Baseball All-Star Game is played at Target Field on July 15, 2014.
Construction begins on the new St. Paul Saints stadium in Lowertown, St. Paul in April, 2014. In August, Hamiline University signs a 25-year lease for its baseball team, the Pipers, to play ball in the stadium. In September, the Saints announce naming rights for the new stadium were sold to CHS Inc., the nation's largest farmer-owned cooperative. The terms of the deal are not disclosed.
Significant Books and Reports
Advancing Arts and Athletics: Planning and Funding Arts and Sports in Minnesota. St. Paul: Minnesota Planning, 1998. (GV430.M6 M566 1998) (This is the report of Governor Carlson's Task Force on Sports Facilities.)
Berg, Steve. Target Field: The New Home of the Minnesota Twins. Minneapolis: MBI Publishing, 2010. (GV416.T37 B47 2010)
Caught Stealing: Debunking the Economic Case for D.C. Baseball. CATO Institute. 2004. (Vertical File S 148.2)
Final Report of the Minnesota Stadiums Task Force. St. Paul: Minnesota Stadiums Task Force, January 25, 2002.
Hennepin County and Twins Baseball Club Ballpark Proposal and Principles of Agreement, 2006.
Keiser, Richard. "Ya Don't Have to Get Snippy About it: Sports Stadium Politics in Minnesota." Perspectives on Minnesota Government and Politics. Eds. Steven M. Hoffman, Homer Williamson, and Kay Wolsborn. 5th ed. Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2003. 197-207.
Levin, Richard C., George J. Mitchell, Paul A. Volcker, and George F. Will. Report of the Independent Members of the Commissioner's Blue Ribbon Panel on Baseball Economics. New York: Major League Baseball, 2000. (GV875.A1 R37 2000)
Minnesota Ballpark Authority. Annual Report. Minneapolis: Minnesota Ballpark Authority, 2009. (GV417.T37 M564)
Minnesota Ballpark Authority. Annual Financial Report. Minneapolis: Minnesota Ballpark Authority, 2009. (GV416.M6 M565)
Minnesota Ballpark Authority. Ballpark Budget Project Overview. Minneapolis: Minnesota Ballpark Authority, April 2010.
Minnesota Stadium and Arena History. St. Paul: Minnesota House of Representatives, House Research Department, 2010.
Minnesota Twins/Hennepin County New Ballpark Summary 2005 . (GV413 .M56 2005)
The Minnesota Urban Ballpark Final Environmental Impact Statement: Hennepin County, 2007. (GV416 .M564 2007)
Poitras, Marc and Lawrence Hadley. Do New Major League Baseball Parks Pay for Themselves? Dayton, OH: University of Dayton, 2003. (GV716 .D63 2003)
Rippel, Joel A. (with forewords by Harmon Killebrew and Sid Hartman) 75 Memorable Moments in Minnesota Sports. Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2003. (GV584.M65 R56 2003)
Thornley, Stew. Baseball in Minnesota: the definitive history. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2006. (GV863 .M6 T46 2006)
Thornley, Stew. Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie. The History Press. 2014. (GV875.M55 T57 2014)
Weiner, Jay. Stadium Games: Fifty Years of Big League Greed and Bush League Boondoggles. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000. (GV716.W43 2000)
Zimbalist, Andrew S. May the Best Team Win: Baseball Economics and Public Policy. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2004. (GV880 .Z58 2004)
Anderson Jr., G.R. "The New Twins Park: A Big Roadblock at Home Plate." City Pages, February 7, 2007.
Gee, David. "The Business of Baseball." Minnesota Business, April 2010, p. 24-28.
Goldstein, Tom. "Ballpark Frankness." City Pages, September 8, 1999, p. 14-20.
Gordon, Jack. "The Coolest Ballpark in America." Twin Cities Business, March 2010, p.32-7.
Grow, Doug. "A Change of Heart: After All My Pohlad-bashing Days, It's Time to Praise Them for the Twins Stadium 'Extras'." MinnPost, September 8, 2009.
Jacobson, Don. "The Starting 9: The Nine People that Made Target Field Possible." Twin Cities Business, March 2010, p. 38-43.
Johnson, Charles. How Major League Baseball Came to Minnesota, 1982. (Vertical File S 148.2)
Langdon, Philip. "Minnesota's Ballpark: Urban Yet Not Retro." New Urban News, October/November 2010, p. 1, 6-7.
Mador, Jessica and Brandt Williams. "Twins Get the Keys to Target Field." MPR News, January 4, 2010.
Meland, Christa. "Is Target Field on Target?" Twin Cities Business, October 2010.
Nelson, Tim. "For Fans with Special Needs, New Stadiums will be Game Changers." MPR News, February 18, 2014.
Platt, Adam. "Every Night is Opening Night." Twin Cities Business, July 2012, p. 38-43. This article discusses the history of the St. Paul Saints and recent efforts to secure a new stadium.
"Stadium Wars: Back from the Dead." City Pages, May 11, 2005.
Tanick, Marshall H. "Play Ball: 50 Years of Twins Litigation Lore." Bench&Bar of Minnesota, April 2010, p. 16-19.
"Value of Twins Takes Healthy Leap". Star Tribune, April 8, 2010.
Weiner, Jay. "Why Do Vikings Want a Stadium? Twins Know." MinnPost, March 24, 2011.
Weiner, Jay. "Target Field: Economic Impact is Years — and Dreams — Away." MinnPost, April 9, 2010.
Weiner, Jay. "Target Field: The House That Jerry Bell Willed to Completion." MinnPost, April 1, 2010.
Significant Internet Resources
Minnesota Ballpark Authority - A public body that was created by the 2006 Legislature to oversee the construction and operation of Target Field.
Target Field information and Minnesota Twins history, including a history of the Metrodome.
Additional Library Resources
For historical information, check the following codes in the Newspaper Clipping File and the Vertical File:
S148.2 (Sports - Baseball), S150 (Stadiums)
For additional reports at the Legislative Reference Library, use this Library catalog search: Baseball Stadiums (Minnesota).
For further information on sports facilities, see Financing Professional Sports Facilities.
Groups Involved with this Issue