MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Jim Pohlad wants to be a Major League Baseball owner, and is surprised that people would think otherwise.
The son of Minnesota Twins owner Carl Pohlad admits that he is well aware of the public perception that he and his two siblings, Bob and Bill, have no interest in baseball when their 86-year-old father calls it quits.
"I've read in the newspaper that we're not interested," said Jim Pohlad, who for several years has been the sibling most involved with the Twins. "I've never felt that way. I've never said that. That could be the perception, but that's not the way it is."
Jim Pohlad said he is willing to carry on as Twins owner for the foreseeable future. He added that his personal goal remains the same as it has been for several years: to make certain the Twins remain part of the Minnesota community.
To be sure, he said the family's position is unchanged: it will sell to a buyer who meets their price tag and pledges to keep the club in the Twin Cities. But a sale at this time appears unlikely because of the massive economic problems facing baseball in general, and the Twins in particular.
MLB's contract with the players' union expires after the World Series. The Twins, still with one of baseball's smallest payrolls, continue to hope to find public support to build a new stadium.
"If we could solve all the problems, we would prefer to retain the team," Jim Pohlad said.
Twins officials have numerous off-season issues, beginning with the current search for a new manager to replace Tom Kelly, who retired after 15-plus seasons. The club also has to set its payroll after a season in which team officials claim it lost money. And those decisions have to be made despite the uncertainty of the labor and stadium situations.
Team officials are taking it slowly in their quest for legislative support for a new stadium.
Baseball officials have been ordered by the commissioner's office not to discuss the labor situation. What happens after the players' contract expires is anybody's guess.
The uncertain labor situation makes it difficult for Twins officials to set a payroll budget for the 2002 season. The club drew more than 1.7 million fans last season -- an increase of 723,211 -- but the increased revenue translated to smaller revenue-sharing returns from the league.
The 2001 payroll of $27 million was significantly increased late in the season when the club picked up the remainder of Todd Jones' $3.975 million deal and Rick Reed's $7 million contract. Team officials say they want to retain Reed; Jones is a free agent.
Ten players, including Reed, are under contract for about $30 million next season, and Joe Mays and David Ortiz and perhaps Torii Hunter are eligible for arbitration. That means the Twins are looking at a 2002 payroll of at least $40 million to keep the current roster intact.
Still, Jim Pohlad said he is not ruling out giving the OK to Twins general manager Terry Ryan to pursue a high-level free agent, if that player would push the Twins to the next level.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.