"How much shall I pay for a legacy? Shall I pay a couple of hundred million dollars just for the privilege of showing baseball in the state of Minnesota? No. You wouldn't do it and neither would anybody else."
One of the more evil figures in sports, billionaire Minnesota Twins owner Carl Pohlad has truly mastered the skill of moneygrubbing.
Born to a poor Iowa immigrant family in 1915 Pohlad dropped out of college to become a used car salesman (which in hindsight should have indicated something about his future career). In 1949, Pohlad went to work for his brother-in-law at Marquette National Bank in Minneapolis.
Five years later Pohlad was in charge, proceeding to build up the business into one of the largest privately held banks in the world. Pohlad built his banking empire through loan sharking, giving massive loans up front to corporations to be paid off at very high interest rates. Recent estimates put Pohlad's personal net worth at $3 billion.
Despite his great wealth, few Minnesotans had heard of Pohlad until he bought the Twins for $36 million in 1984. At first Pohlad seemed like a hero, as the Twins proceeded to win the World Series in 1987, less than three years after he purchased the team, and again in 1991. The reality was, however, that the foundations of this excellent Twins team had been laid well before Pohlad's arrival on the scene.
Pohlad soon showed his true colors, proceeding to gut the proud Twins franchise, slashing payroll repeatedly as part of a shameless ongoing attempt to extort a new stadium from the people of Minnesota. Pohlad claims that Minnesota is a "small market" with a "poor fan base" and thus he simply cannot afford to pay any more that what amounts to the lowest payroll in the MLB. The truth is that Minnesota is a great market that as recently as ten years ago was leading the major leagues in attendance. Furthermore, Pohlad is one of the richest owners in the game, so rich that it was recently revealed that he has been giving other owners massive interest free loans in exchange for backroom favors. Worst of all, for years Pohlad has been one of the few owners making a profit, by keeping his payroll so low that it is below the amount of money baseball's luxury tax system gives to the teams with the lowest payrolls - a corrupt system Pohlad helped instigate.
Two Evil Schemes
Even though everyone agrees that the Metrodome is a terrible baseball venue, Minnesotans have come to hate Pohlad so much that they would pay any price rather than give the Twins a new stadium as long as Pohlad remains the owner. Thus, in recent years Pohlad has tried increasingly evil schemes to force a new stadium through. In 1997 he almost succeeded by leading the Minnesota public to believe he would contribute $80 million of his own money. Just as the stadium measure looked sure to pass, at the eleventh hour it was revealed that Pohlad had made a secret deal and that the $80 million "grant" was actually a high interest loan!
Now Pohlad is at it again - his latest scheme was a November, 2001 deal with baseball commisioner Bud Selig to contract the Twins and have baseball buy him out at a ridiculously outrageous price way above market value. Although this latest plan was blocked (at least temporarily) by a Minnesota judge who insisted the Twins honor there 2002 lease agreement on the Metrodome, Pohlad is certain not to give up easily.
Pohlad continues to insist that the Twins are a worthless franchise that cannot compete, even though anyone can see that he personally destroyed a perfectly good franchise that in 1991 was coming off two World Series victories in five years, had a rabid fan base, and was leading the American League in attendance year after year.