Minnesota Twins President Dave St. Peter offered the observation to Elizabethton City Council members after they approved an agreement with the American League club for a new home-team clubhouse at Joe O’Brien Field, the home of the Elizabethton Twins.
City Council approved the Principles of Agreement for Joe O’Brien Field Renovation Project by a unanimous 6-0 vote. Councilman Jeff Treadway was absent because he is recovering from surgery.
St. Peter said he wanted “to offer my personal congratulations,” for winning the Appalachian League pennant for 2018. He complimented Manager Ray Smith, Coach Jeff Reed and General Manager Mike Mains.
He said the decision to invest money in the Elizabethton Twins was an unprecedented financial commitment by a Major League operation and that it will be noticed.
St. Peter said when the Twins moved to Minnesota in 1961, the team became the first professional team named for a whole state. He said the term “Twins Territory” is used to promote the several-state region that is the team’s base. “We consider Elizabethton to be a part of Twins Territory,” he said.
The total cost of the construction is estimated at $2,322,110: Elizabethton’s share of the cost would be $1,521,310, and the Twins’ total would be $800,800.
The Twins’ share includes $300,000 for the training equipment for player development. This would include training tables, training supplies, weight room equipment, hydro therapy tubs, laundry equipment and food service equipment.
The remaining $500,000 of the Twins’ payment would be divided into 10 installments of $50,800 to be paid at the start of each season for the next 10 years.
Because the Twins’ payments will be delayed, the city would place its total share plus the total delayed amount, for a total of $1,972,110, in an escrow account.
The agreement calls for efforts to be made to have the work substantially completed by May 15, 2019. Burleson Construction Company would enter into a contract with the Minnesota Twins to do the work. A spokesman for the company said work should start in weeks.
The agreement also calls for the Twins to assist in bringing in a third-party operator to assist the city in ballpark operations.
The new Twins clubhouse would also be used as the clubhouse for Elizabethton High School’s baseball team.
The city’s funding for the agreement comes from a 2017 bond issue of $2,628,539.63
The split of the bond proceeds changed in the past year, with the plan to upgrade the Elizabethton Police Department taking a share of $1,016,026. That money was redirected back to the Joe O’Brien Field Renovation Project during a separate unanimous vote on Thursday
A large crowd was on hand for the vote, but many had come about another matter, an ordinance change which would have allowed tap rooms for the sale of craft beer in the downtown area.
Members representing Lynn Valley Baptist Church and Pleasant Beach Baptist Church spoke out against changing the ordinance to make it easier to sell alcohol. They spoke about the dangers of alcohol to society and individuals and quoted Bible verses against strong drink.
A couple who propose to open the first tap room said they are interested in building up Elizabethton and said their establishment would only sell craft beer and wine at premium prices that would not encourage someone to go to their establishment to get drunk.
That ordinance amendment vote has been deferred by Council.