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MLB:  Alabama Businessman May Buy Minnesota Twins - 2001-12-26

Major League Baseball's besieged Minnesota Twins may find themselves rescued from extinction if Alabama businessman Donald Watkins is able to buy the franchise.

Watkins has made official his intentions to purchase the 41-year-old Twins, which is considered one of the teams targeted by baseball for contraction. Watkins, who could become baseball's first black owner, visited Twins fans at the Mall of America in Minneapolis on Saturday. He told the Pioneer Press newspaper on Monday that he will meet with baseball's ownership committee on January 10.

The Twins and Montreal Expos are widely believed to be the two teams baseball wants to get rid of before 2002. But a court injunction compelling the Twins to fulfill the team lease in the Metrodome and play ball next year remains a major roadblock to the plan. A court hearing on that issue is scheduled for Thursday morning.

Watkins was also interested in buying the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. But an overwhelming response from Twins fans swayed him to seek that team. He said he has received more than 4,000 emails since Thanksgiving from supportive fans.