Minnesota Twins reps visit Joe O’Brien Field

Published 4:21 pm Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A partnership between the City of Elizabethton and the Minnesota Twins Major League Baseball organization is reaching extra innings.

Representatives from Minnesota and Populous, Inc. — an architectural firm — toured Joe O’Brien Field Tuesday afternoon with city leaders as talks continue about keeping the Elizabethton Twins nestled within the city.

“(Minnesota Twins President) Dave St. Peter has reassured us that the Twins are wanting to stay in Elizabethton,” City Mayor Curt Alexander told the Elizabethton Star. “Today’s meeting is to go over work needed at the stadium and what steps there are to fund improvements.”

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Alexander was joined by Parks & Rec Director Mike Mains, Rob Toney with Elizabethton Electric and Waters Resources Department head Johann Coetzee as they welcomed Dan Starkey and Jeremy Zoll — with Minnesota — and Populous officials to go over plans for the facility.

Talks on the future of the Elizabethton Twins revamped during last month’s budget workshop when City Council unanimously agreed to move $1.5 million of bond proceeds — originally slated for work at Joe O’Brien’s clubhouse and other amenities — to various community-based projects in Elizabethton, including work at the Bonnie Kate, Elizabethton Police Department, Elizabethton Fire Department, Covered Bridge Park, the Elizabethton Golf Course and the possibility of a new sports complex. Without a firm stance from the organization, Alexander noted Council wanted to fund projects that served an immediate need to the community.

“The money that was reallocated during the meetings will not move,” Alexander said. “When we had our retreat in Gatlinburg, we worked together with MTAS to develop a strategic plan for the city, which included the Bonnie Kate, Covered Bridge Park, Police Department and the Twins. We know the Twins are an important asset to the community, but we also know that we have pressing needs at this time that can directly benefit from the bond money.”

Alexander added that if an agreement can be made with Minnesota, options of funding improvements could come through either a new capital outlay note or reworking debt services — to go along with potential contributions from the organization.”

Alexander added that after Tuesday’s meeting, the goal is to have reps individually meet with city representatives to finalize a potential plan that would benefit all parties.

“We’re going to sit down and see what we can do about coming together on an agreement. Having Minnesota in town is a great sign,” Alexander said. “We’re going to work with the Twins, look at a hard cost for the project and see what’s feasible.”