MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings aren't happy about being dragged into the debate over whether the Twins should be allowed to play some games outside next month.
"We absolutely support the Twins' efforts to do that and think it's appropriate," Vikings president Gary Woods said from San Antonio. "But we think it's an issue between the commission and the Twins that doesn't involve us."
Metrodome attorneys believe otherwise.
They're leery of granting the Twins' request to play a series against Texas in a makeshift, 25,000-seat stadium near the Mall of America because they fear the Vikings might use it as a basis to break their lease.
So, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which owns and operates the 18-year-old Dome, wants the Twins to get a promise in writing from the Vikings that they wouldn't use such a waiver as precedent to break their own lease, which runs through 2011.
No way, said the Vikings.
"I don't think that's appropriate because these are two different, stand-alone, independent contracts," Woods said. "It's not appropriate for us to intervene in the Twins' operation, so we would not sign such a waiver."
That refusal apparently will spell defeat for the Twins' proposal.
The Twins, trying to drum up support for a new outdoor ball park, have asked to play their three-game series against Texas on Sept. 18-20 at a $1 million temporary ballpark in Bloomington near the site of old Metropolitan Stadium.
Bill Lester, executive director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, outlined his concerns over the Twins' proposal in a letter to the club's general counsel, Ben Hirst, on Wednesday.
"While we support the idea of the Twins showcasing outdoor baseball, we have to be cognizant of the ramifications," Lester said in an interview.
In addition to fears that the Vikings would seize the opportunity to try to buy out their own lease, Lester said the Twins would have to reimburse the Metrodome for lost revenue and also would need to address concerns over concession and signage contracts.
If the Twins could alleviate all of those worries, Lester said he would convene a special meeting of the commission by Aug. 29, at the earliest, to vote on the proposal.
The Twins had wanted an answer by this week.
"They're certainly making it very difficult," said Hirst, who forwarded Lester's letter to the Vikings. "It seems like a fairly bureaucratic response."
The Twins' proposal also would require the approval of major league baseball, the players union and the Rangers.
Hirst said he hasn't heard back from major league baseball but that the deal would die if the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission said no.
The commission's long-term goal is to seek a new outdoor ballpark for the Twins while remodeling the Metrodome into a football-only facility.
Numerous efforts by the Twins to get public financing for a new ballpark have failed in recent years, however, and the Vikings want a new stadium altogether, contending a remodeled Metrodome won't boost revenue adequately.
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