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Are Twins Eyeing Minor League Deal with St. Paul?

For some Major League Baseball teams, their closest minor league affiliate team is a time zone, or two, away.  For the Minnesota Twins, it’s just a four hour drive to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 277 miles away, to see the Class A Kernels in action.

A new report now says that distance may be slashed to just 15 miles.

The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal says the Twins are in talks with officials in St. Paul to move their Class A team to Minnesota’s capitol city, when the current agreement with Cedar Rapids expires after the 2016 season.

St. Paul is in the process of replacing Midway Stadium with a 7,000-seat ballpark in Lowertown - enough seating to meet the standard for an AA affiliate team and below. The new stadium opens next year.

Twins President Dave St. Peter:

Long-term, there are aspects that make a lot of sense. Short-term, it’s more challenging. We have a tremendous partnership with Cedar Rapids and the Kernels. It’s been a home run for the Twins. It’s been strategic for the Twins relative to marketing in the state of Iowa. I think it’s something that will require some additional discussions and I’m guessing that dialogue will take place.

The Midwest League doesn’t currently have any plans to expand, meaning St. Paul would more than likely try to get a current ML team to move.  It’s unlikely that team would be the Kernels, who are currently owned by the community of Cedar Rapids.

The Twins blog Knuckleballs outlines some of the logistical problems St. Paul would have in the current Midwest League setup:

St. Paul is well outside the current MWL footprint. Cedar Rapids is the closest current league city and it’s a good 250 miles from the Twin Cities. Every other MWL community, except Appleton (270 miles) is at least 300 miles from St. Paul.

South Bend IN, at 495 miles, would be the only MWL Eastern Division location less than 500 miles away.

That’s an important consideration for the league, too, because under the terms of the Professional Baseball Agreement rules, players must be given an off day any time they are bused 500 miles or more. Having a team that far outside the league’s current footprint could present a nightmare for MWL schedule-makers.

It also would increase travel costs, not only for the team that relocates, but for every other team in the league that would have to send teams to St. Paul on road trips. Those travel costs are primarily the responsibility of the local team, not their Big League affiliate.

One of the key issues to be discussed would be the state of the American Association’s St. Paul Saints.  The Saints currently play alongside the Sioux Falls Canaries, and 11 other teams in the independent league.

If another team does move to Minnesota, would St. Paul be able to support two minor league teams?

TWINS LOSE IN BOSTON

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