Mayor calls for Minnesota Twins to help with stadium construction costs

John Thompson • Jan 11, 2018 at 9:08 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Elizabethton Mayor Curt Alexander said it was “time for the Minnesota Twins to put a little skin in the game.”

Alexander was referring to the project to upgrade Joe O’Brien Field, the home of the Elizabethton Twins Appalachian League baseball team.

The comments came during Thursday night’s meeting of the Elizabethton City Council, when a professional contract was being considered for architect Tom Weems, who has been working on the plans for the upgrades to the stadium for several months and is now ready to begin work on the new home and visitors clubhouse building.

It is estimated Weems’ work will cost $113,452. That number will be reduced by the $28,999 that Twins task force member Richard Barker has pledged.

Alexander said the motion to pay for the architectural work was a major point in the process. He said the plans include several high-dollar items that are not required for minor league ballparks, but were put in the plans at the request of the Minnesota Twins, such as a weight room.

Alexander said the estimated total cost of the project is $1.7 million. The city has committed to pay $1.5 million for the upgrade, but that includes more than just clubhouses. He said some of the money should go to improvements to stadium seating and other fan amenities.

Alexander said the motion to pay Weems for drawing the plans should include a proviso that the Minnesota Twins fund part of the costs.

“I have tried to get the Twins to agree to some amount ever since we started,” Alexander said. “Dave St. Peter (president of the Minnesota Twins) has always said ‘we are not at that point yet.’ Well, now I think we are at that point,” Alexander said.

Alexander proposed the city commit to paying only $1 million of the estimated $1.7 million of the clubhouse upgrades. Alexander said the remaining $500,000 of the city’s money should be divided, with $250,000 going to pay for stadium seating and other fan amenities; $100,000 for the architect fees; $50,000 for stadium safety upgrades, such as netting; and $100,000 for contingencies.

Barker said he would like to see the Minnesota Twins agree. He said there has been a great relationship between the city and the Minnesota Twins for 44 years, but there are other Major League teams that would like to field a rookie team in Elizabethton.

The council voted unanimously to approve Weems’ contract with the provision that there must be an agreement reached with the Minnesota Twins.

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