City, Twins operating under MOU for Joe O’Brien improvements

Published 10:07 pm Thursday, September 14, 2017

A good-faith contract in place by the City of Elizabethton and Minnesota Twins is looking to see a 40-plus year partnership continue for the future.
City Councilmen voted Thursday unanimously to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Major League Baseball organization in regards to renovations that will soon take place at Joe O’Brien Field, home of the Elizabethton Twins.
Considered a contract in “in good-faith,” both parties have reportedly signed the document, which signifies a “mutual understanding terms and conditions of the design, development, and construction of renovation.” Officials recently voted to move $1.5 million worth of bond funding to cover the costs of a new home clubhouse, new batting cage, and improvements to the current home clubhouse.
Speculation about the Elizabethton Twins longevity intensified over the past week following the news that the Houston Astros pulled their Minor League Baseball team from Greeneville.
Mayor Curt Alexander, in response to the recent news, indicated talks with Minnesota earlier Thursday were positive.
Alexander added that while talking with Brad Steil, Minnesota Twins’ director of minor league operations, it was mentioned that the organization has no interest in moving to Greeneville and the organization is doing its part to see another team end up at Pioneer Park.
“The talks have been good,” Alexander said. “They have shown their interest in wanting to stay in Elizabethton.”
Even with the recent renovations to Pioneer Park, a key reason for wanting to stay, according to the mayor, was the support from the community. The E-Twins, 2017 Appalachian League champions, were the recent recipients of the Appalachian League’s Community Service Award.
Funding is designated primarily for clubhouse improvements to have Joe O’Brien in compliance with MiLB regulations. The biggest portion of the project includes a new home clubhouse, estimated at 5,500 square foot and based off designs from Pulaski Mariners’ MiLB team’s facilities. Renovations would include:
• Locker room with 38 lockers
• Player bathroom and showers
• Player lounge/classroom with a kitchen area
• Training room
• Video room
• Manager Office
• Coaches Locker Room
• Laundry Room
• Storage
• Auxiliary Office for visiting Twins staff
Others parts of the project include an additional batting cage near the home clubhouse and the renovation of the existing home clubhouse, which would be used for visiting teams.
According to the MOU, the City of Elizabethton will cover the project costs. Once the project costs are agreed upon by both parties, the Twins will be responsible for “club-directed change orders.”
While the city will handle construction costs, the Twins would furnish equipment for the player development areas of the ball park, i.e., balls, bats, uniforms, training supplies, weight equipment and other materials.
“That is their contribution to the project,” Mike Mains, E-Twins GM said during the meeting.
The design of the renovations is being handled by architect Thomas Weems, following a $28,000 donation by E-Twins Task Force member Richard Barker.
Once the project plans are agreed upon by both parties, construction would be looked at to start potentially early November but no later than the first week of 2018.
As far as longevity goes, a portion of the MOU read, “subject to achievement of the milestone date for substantial completion, the Club will commit to having the Elizabethton Twins play all of its home games at the ballpark by entering into a management agreement with provisions consistent with the Club’s existing arrangement with the City”.
The initial term would be five years following the completion of the project with two options to renew for an additional five-year period. If the Appalachian League is eliminated by the National Association, the management agreement will cease to exist.

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