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Elizabethton Twins City Council set to approve one-year extension

John Thompson • Updated Feb 6, 2018 at 8:17 PM

ELIZABETHTON — In the short term, it appears certain the Elizabethton Twins will be playing at Joe O’Brien Field this season. Beyond this season, the future of the long-standing Appalachian League team is still very uncertain.

One of the items on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting of the Elizabethton City Council is the approval of another one-year extension of the management agreement between the city and the Minnesota Twins.

The extension will mean the Minnesota Twins will field a team in Elizabethton for the 44th straight year. The team won the Appalachian League championship last year.

The agreement being considered Thursday would be the second one-year extension of a 2014 agreement between the city and the Major League team. The short-term agreements have been executed while the city and the Minnesota Twins have negotiated on major renovations to Joe O’Brien Field to bring the facility up to Minor League standards.

The City Council has committed to a $1.5 million upgrade to the ball park, which includes new clubhouses for the home and visiting teams, as well as improvements to stadium seating. During the council’s January meeting, Mayor Curt Alexander said it was “time for the Minnesota Twins to put a little skin in the game.” He said some of the improvements were being made at the request of the Major League team and were above the minimum standards for Minor League teams.

The one-year extension comes at the request of Jeremy Zoll, director of Minor League operations for the Minnesota Twins. Zoll said the extension to the management agreement would allow the Twins to return to Joe O’Brien Field “under the same terms and conditions set forth in the Management Agreement dated May 8, 2015.”

Zoll made it clear that the one-year agreement would be “independent of the Minnesota Twins commitment to remain in Elizabethton for the future, which is subject to the achievement of the milestone date for substantial completion of the renovations to Joe O’Brien Field in terms of the Memorandum of Understanding entered into by the parties on Sept. 4, 2017,”

City Manager Jerome Kitchens said “both the city of Elizabethton and the Minnesota Twins will continue their efforts to work towards a long-term solution to keep Minor League Baseball in Elizabethton.”

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