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Twins owner mulls deal to keep team in Minnesota

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The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has reported in a copyrighted story that Minnesota Twins owner Carl Pohlad is working on a new lease agreement that will keep the American League team in the Metrodome for at least the next two years. During that time, he hopes to find a way to build a new stadium and keep the Twins in Minnesota.

If a deal is reached, it effectively puts an end to speculation that the major league affiliate of the Salt Lake Buzz would move at season's end. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported earlier this week that prospective buyers from North Carolina were interested in moving the franchise to Salt Lake City for up to two seasons while a new stadium is constructed in Charlotte.Buzz owner Joe Buzas said it was news to him Friday.

"That is so asinine as far as I'm concerned," he told the Deseret News. "It's ridiculous. It's laughable. It's just a rumor, somebody's pipe dream."

Pohlad and Twins president Jerry Bell met with members of the Metropolitan Sports Facility Commission Friday and were confident an agreement could be reached to keep the team in Minnesota.

"(The commission is) working very hard," Pohlad said. "We are working very hard, too, and are hopeful that something can happen. But they can only go so far."

The commission has reportedly offered the Twins a two-year lease with an option of two more years in return for about $1 million per year in ticket-tax revenue. The group also wants Pohlad to seek a local buyer if he chooses to sell the team. The commission would then agree to drop its lawsuit that contends the Twins don't have the right to break the lease after this season. A judge is scheduled to hear the case Monday with both sides expecting the court to encourage them to settle their differences.

"I hate to characterize what Pohlad might do because he has to decide that himself," commission chairman Henry Savelkoul told the newspaper. "But I'm optimistic. I'm hopeful. We have done everything I think we can do."

Savelkoul believes Pohlad wants to keep the Twins in Minnesota and would sell the club to a local buyer if one came forward. On Friday, Clark Griffith, the son of former Twins owner Calvin Griffith, announced plans to submit a purchase offer soon. The Twin Cities attorney has been working with St. Paul Saints co-owner Mike Veeck and others to put a proposal together.

Meanwhile, Hugh McColl of NationsBank in Charlotte continues to pressure Pohlad to sell the club to his group.