When asked if he thought action by the board meant the Twins stadium was definitely going to be built, Hennepin County commissioner Mike Opat sounded optimistic, sort of.
"Yeah, I hope so. Yeah, I think so. I hope so and maybe so," he said.
Opat is regarded by some of his colleagues as a stubborn negotiator who's not prone to emotional overexuberance. But Opat says the action taken by the board is significant. That's because of the Twins more active role in helping the county's efforts to acquire the eight acre ballpark site through eminent domain.
"One of the new things with that we refreshed with the Twins is that they will be our partners in that litigation...We feel strongly about our case. And we'll make it to the condemnation commission to a jury if we need to. But it's time to get going with this project. It's time to break ground. It's time to put people to work," Opat said.
Besides paying for their own legal team in the condemnation proceedings, the Twins will also contribute an additional, unspecified amount of money to the project. That money will give the county some flexibility in it's negotiations for the acquisition of other parcels of land adjacent to the site.
The Twins will also be responsible for reaching an agreement with Burlington Northern railroad that covers liability and insurance issues. And they must do so before the county acquires the land.
The Twins have also agreed to pay for upkeep of the 6th Street bridge and a plaza and walkway which allow pedestrian access to the ballpark.
Jerry Bell, of the Twins has been Opat's counter-part in the negotiations. The team had already agreed to pay $130 million of the $500 million ballpark. And when the idea of the team contributing more money to the project was first raised, Bell had initially said he felt the county didn't need more help. But he says the Pohlad family agreed to kick in more money.
"They were readily agreeable to help this out. It's in everyone's best interest to have first quality infrastructure. So we're all interested in that."
Bell, like Opat is tempering his optimism about moving forward. That's because more agreements must be signed. However, Bell says so far talks with the railroad have gone well, partially because some of the BN lawyers are baseball fans.
"You can never be confident until everything is done. But this was a huge step and Burlington Northern and MnDOT both want to be cooperative. So normally in negotiation when two parties want to reach an agreement, you find a way to accommodate each other. I think it's going to happen."
The railroad part of the deal is important because a portion of the stadium will hang over Burlington Northern's train tracks. The county will also need to acquire easements from railroad because they will need to install some supports for the stadium in land owned by BN.
Once those agreements are reached, the county will begin what's known as a quick-take procedure to assume possession of the land.
In the meantime, the Twins can start promoting their new home. The team will display the design of the new stadium on the skyway level of the Government Center later this week.