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MINNEAPOLIS-The Metrodome’s owner, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, has dropped its lawsuit against Major League Baseball and the Minnesota Twins in return for a pledge from baseball to keep the Twins playing in Minnesota through the 2003 season. Attorneys anticipate the Twins and Major League Baseball will soon approve the settlement as well, bringing to a close the legal action begun by theMetropolitan Sports Facilities Commission in December.

Under the settlement, the commission won’t sue the Twins and baseball during the 2002 and 2003 seasons unless the league tries to contract the team during that time.

“This agreement keeps the Minnesota Twins playing in Minnesota another year, provides the time to finalize a long-term solution and underscores Minnesota’s place as a great market for baseball,” says Kathryn Roberts, chairperson of the MSFC.

The Twins had mentioned the lawsuit as an impediment to building a new ballpark even after the Minnesota legislature passed a $330-million ballpark funding bill last month. In fact, the ballpark bill required the Twins and Major League Baseball produce the documents required by the MSFC in the lawsuit or the settlement of the MSFC’s lawsuit before the state go ahead with any stadium financing. The settlement also removes an obstacle in the way of owner Carl Pohlad finding a buyer for the Twins.

The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission has the right to refile its lawsuit against Major League Baseball if Major League Baseball tries to fold or move the team following the 2003 season. Also, Major League Baseball agrees to declare in writing that it will work with local participants to build a new ballpark and that Minnesota historically has been a strong baseball market.

After the Twins were targeted for contraction in November, the commission sued the team and the league, accusing the Twins of breach of contract and baseball of poisoning future lease negotiations by inducing the team to take an industry buyout. The 1998 Metrodome use agreement between the commission and the Twins was a two-year deal with an option for three one-year renewals, which the Twins exercised for 2002 beforecontraction plans were unveiled. Hennepin County District Judge Harry Crump issued an injunction that killed contraction for 2002, but the commission sought a permanent order.

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