A state court judge in Minnesota has ruled that the Minnesota Twins were not subject to the terms of an expired contract the team had with the owner of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
The defendant Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission unsuccessfully argued that the old contract was enforceable merely because the team continued to play there after the contract had expired on October 31, 2003.
The court based its decision on the fact that the parties, after the contract had expired, had continued to negotiate proposed terms of an extension or renewal of the contract
The court began its analysis by reviewing the agreement in question, which gave the Twins free rent of the Metrodome, but required the team to deliver a percentage of some revenues. However, even payment of those fees was only required if the total exceeded what the Commission had collected through an admission tax that was levied on attendees of home games and other Twins-sponsored events.
It then noted that the parties began negotiating a new contract on November 8, 2002, exchanging a series or proposals and letters. The parties turned to the courts three years later when the Twins sought a declaratory judgment from the court that the original contract had expired in October of 2003.
In its analysis, the court wrote that “the documentary evidence in this case shows the parties engaged in thoughtful negotiations, but failed to reduce any agreement to writing.” It also noted that “the terms under which the Twins played in the Metrodome after 2003 where not identical to the terms of the 1998 agreement. For example, the Twins now pay annually to use the LED advertising system, (which) did not exist in the Metrodome while the 1998 agreement was, on its face, still in effect.”
The court next examined the defendant’s argument that the Twins became a “holdover tenant” of the Metrodome after the original contract expired. However, the court squelched that argument with help from the Nebraska Supreme Court, which wrote that “when a tenant remains in possession of leased property after the expiration of his lease, but at the same time negotiates with the landlord for a new lease, such negotiations negate the possibility of any acquiescence or election by the landlord to create a holdover tenancy.” Suthman v. Suthman, 515 N.W.2d 781, 787 (Neb. 1994)
Minnesota Twins Partnership v. Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission; Minn. Dist. Ct. 4th Jud. Dist.; CT 05-15699; 2/6/06