State high court refuses to immediately hear appeal in fight over future of Minnesota Twins

Friday, November 30th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ The state Supreme Court refused Friday to hear a speedy appeal sought by the Minnesota Twins and major league baseball to lift an injunction that forces the team to play next season.

But the state's highest court did order the Court of Appeals to speed up its hearing of the case, which has tied up baseball's plan to eliminate two teams before next season.

The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, the Twins' landlord at the Metrodome, obtained the injunction Nov. 16 from Hennepin County District Judge Harry Seymour Crump.

Crump's ruling came 10 days after owners voted to fold two franchises. Although baseball hasn't announced which two teams will go, the Twins and the Montreal Expos are the likely targets.

In its ruling Friday, the Supreme Court said baseball's lawyers ``have not demonstrated that this case requires the extraordinary procedure of immediate determination in the Supreme Court.''

Attorneys for the Twins and baseball were not available immediately for comment. They asked for the speedy review because the Court of Appeals usually takes up to eight months to decide cases, meaning next season already would be under way.

``It's positive and we think it gives us one more victory in the effort to keep the Minnesota Twins in the Metrodome in 2002 and hopefully in Minnesota forever,'' said Bill Lester, executive director of the MSFC.

The MSFC argued that the Twins are bound by the lease to play their home games next year, and simply allowing a buyout wouldn't compensate for the lost Metrodome activity. The Twins' lease expires after next season.

Meanwhile, Congress has been examining baseball's efforts to fold teams for the first time since the National League cut from 12 to eight after the 1899 season. The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Dec. 6 on baseball's antitrust exemption with commissioner Bud Selig and Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura among witnesses.