Management, renovation talks continue between City, Twins

Published 8:19 am Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Another type of baseball season is underway in the City of Elizabethton.

City representatives recently met with Tim Brunswick, Vice President for Baseball & Business Operations with Minor League Baseball, and Brian Maloney with the Minnesota Twins to discuss minor league stands and how the relate to stadium renovation plans at Joe O’Brien Field for the Elizabethton Twins.

According to City Manager Jerome Kitchens, the meeting was set up to discuss what’s ahead for the facility while working with a $1.5 million budget that was recently approved by City Council.

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“Keeping within the budget, while providing a facility that meets the needs of the Twins has resulted in the discussion of a number of plans that moves us toward that mutual goal,” Kitchens said in an email to the Elizabethton Star. “The input from Minor League helped narrow the discussion. Somewhere between plan 7 and plan 8, there is a solution.”

City Council approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Elizabethton and Minnesota to signify their continued partnership of keeping minor league baseball within Joe O’Brien, just days after the Twins won the 2017 Appalachian League title.

The MOU goes into detail following the city’s decision to contribute $1.5 million worth of bond funding to go toward the park – designated as a recreation service.

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. 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

As talks continue for a finalized plan. New management could be on the horizon for the team’s operation.

Kitchens confirmed with the Elizabethton Star that talks with Boyd Sports, a management firm that currently owns the Johnson City Cardinals and Tennessee Smokies, have occurred over the months and interest has been mutual.

Any decisions of a potential management firm taking over operations will occur once Elizabethton and the Twins complete the planning process for renovations, according to Kitchens.

The Twins could potentially be Boyd Sports’ third-owned team in the Appalachian League, with the firm reportedly also expressing interest in the new Cincinnati Reds affiliate in Greeneville.