Minnesota Twins president to visit city this month

Published 10:14 pm Thursday, July 5, 2018

City of Elizabethton officials and Minnesota Twins executives are coming together for a mound meeting at the end of July to discuss the future of the Elizabethton Twins.

Following Thursday’s E-Twins game against Kingsport, City Mayor Curt Alexander confirmed to the Elizabethton Star that Minnesota Twins President Dave St. Peter and Twins Senior Director of Ballpark Development and Planning Dan Starkey will visit the city during the week of July 23 to go over construction designs, finances and other necessary pieces for the continuation of Minor League Baseball in Elizabethton.

Alexander mentioned that the support for Minor League Baseball has been well noted over the years and that both parties are working diligently to keep the E-Twins at Joe O’Brien Field.

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Talks started to intensify in May when Starkey, Twins executive Jeremy Zoll and staff with Populous, Inc., visited the stadium to go over necessary improvements needed to keep the area within standards of MiLB. Populous is the firm Minnesota is using to assist with the project, which includes the construction of a new clubhouse. Various representatives from the city, including Elizabethton Electric and Parks and Recreation, were also on hand for the May meeting as Minnesota reps toured the area.

During April’s budget work, Council unanimously agreed to move $1.5 million of bond proceeds — originally slated for work at Joe O’Brien — 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. Since that time, both parties have come back to the table.

Council has alluded to the fact that if an agreement can be made with Minnesota, options for funding from the city could come from a new capital outlay note or reworking of debt services, along with a contribution from the organization.

It was a key announcement during a roughly two-plus-year process that has been shadowed in uncertainty for the Twins’ future in the city. Currently, the club has a one-year contract in plans that runs out at the season’s end.

Thursday’s news came off the heels of the Twins’ contest where Appalachian League president Lee Landers was honored for his work over the years. Alexander presented a key to the city in-between innings during Thursday’s game.

“Mr. Landers has been there for so many years and has done such a great job,” Alexander said. “When you look at where the Appalachian League was before he came to where it is at now, he’s done such a tremendous job. We’ve had so many conversations over the years with Mr. Landers about the Twins, especially here recently to keep them in Elizabethton.”