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Minnesota North Stars owners George and Gordon Gund, 'disappointed'...

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota North Stars owners George and Gordon Gund, 'disappointed' by the response from local officials, said Wednesday they are exploring three options regarding the future of the NHL club.

1. Move the team to the Bay Area of California.

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2. Pursue offers of at least $50 million to buy the club to keep it in Minnesota.

3. Bring an expansion franchise to Minnesota for the 1990-91 season in conjunction with the move of the North Stars to California.

The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Wednesday rejected the owners' inflexible demands that $15 million in improvements be made to Met Center and that commitments be rounded up for 10,000 season tickets.

The commission, which owns the Met Center, made a counter-proposal that included a requirement that the team stay until the debt on any improvements is paid off.

Gordon Gund, speaking at a news conference, said while he and his brother appreciate the commission's efforts they were 'disappointed with the results.'

'We just can't stay under the current circumstances,' he said.

'I love hockey and I love hockey in Minnesota. But George and I are not in the charitable business of supporting that. We're philanthropists but not in the matter of running the hockey business.'

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The Gunds had said they needed a firm commitment by Wednesday for the Met Center renovations and by early March for the season tickets or they would move the team to California.

The Gunds, who also own the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA, have lost several million dollars on the North Stars each of the past few years. Season-ticket sales have fallen under 4,000 as the team has struggled on the ice.

The commission responded to the Gunds demandsby suggesting that Bloomington sell the bonds required for the improvements to the arena. It suggested the bonds be paid off through a hospitality tax in the city of Bloomington. The commission said the tax would be a combination of a food and beverage tax and a separate lodging tax.

In addition, it proposed a 'nominal' admissions tax on events at the Met Center be explored to make up any short fall from the other taxes. The commission also said the rent paid to the commission under the current lease should be considered a potential source of funds to service the debt on the new bonds.

While the commission wants the North Stars to commit to staying until the debt is retired, the Gunds have been willing only to commit to five years.

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The commission said Bloomington might be given authority over the Met Center as long as professional hockey is played there, but the property would otherwise revert to the commission.

Commission officials said they were open to further negotiations.

'If their mind is made up to go, there is nothing we can do to change it,' commission official Ron Gornick said. 'In event that they leave, there would be a move immediately to bring an expansion team in here.'

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