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Twins to play Indians as planned

Twins to play Indians as planned

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins announced Thursday that their series against the Indians will go on as scheduled this weekend.

The news comes after the club had postponed Thursday's afternoon game against the Royals in light of the tragic I-35W bridge collapse that took place in Minneapolis on Wednesday night.

The team also postponed Thursday evening's groundbreaking ceremony for the new ballpark.

At about 6:05 p.m. CT on Wednesday, the eight-lane I-35W bridge near the Metrodome collapsed into the Mississippi River. The collapse sent an estimated 50 vehicles into the water and onto land below, in what became a sea of destruction that included fire, smoke, injured citizens and rescuers.

The death toll was reported at four early Thursday morning with 79 more people injured and as many as 30 still missing.

"The Minnesota Twins and all of Major League Baseball are shocked and saddened by the tragic events, which took place on the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis last night," Twins president Dave St. Peter said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and families who are impacted by this horrific situation."

The Twins' decision to continue as scheduled with the four-game series against the Indians was made after consulting with the Department of Public Safety and the Minneapolis Police Department. The games are scheduled as follows: Friday at 7:10 p.m., Saturday at 2:55 p.m., Sunday at 1:10 p.m. and Monday at 7:10 p.m.

In order to help alleviate traffic concerns due to the proximity of the bridge collapse to the Metrodome, fans are being encouraged to use public transportation to get to the games, especially if they are coming from north of town. Traffic will be diverted around the area and delays are expected. The Minnesota Department of Transportation continues to update its website with traffic and road information.

A make-up date for the game against the Royals has been rescheduled as part of a split doubleheader on Friday, Aug. 31 at the Metrodome. The rescheduled game will take place at 1:10 p.m., with the regularly scheduled contest taking place at 7:10 p.m.

A new date for the groundbreaking ceremony still has not been determined.

The news of the bridge collapse has captured the attention of the entire nation.

"It's a horrific incident that takes your breath away and sinks your heart," Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Thursday morning. "But in the horror of the incident, there is a silver lining that shines through and that's the goodness of Minnesotans."

The effort at the scene has shifted from rescue into recovery. Officials said that the recovery process will be a long one and that the area of the collapse is still very dangerous.

Workers had been repairing the 40-year-old bridge's surface as part of improvements along that stretch of the interstate. A federal report also surfaced that in 2005 the 40-year-old bridge had been deemed "structurally deficient."

President George W. Bush offered his condolences to victims Thursday morning and said the federal government would do everything in its power to ensure that the stretch of road is rebuilt as quickly as possible. A $5 million grant from the federal government was released Thursday to help with the cleanup effort and recovery.

"We in the federal government must respond, and respond robustly, to help the people there not only recover, but to make sure that lifeline of activity -- that bridge -- gets rebuilt as quickly as possible," President Bush said from the White House Rose Garden following a Cabinet meeting.

Twins officials contemplated canceling Wednesday's game, but were concerned that an influx of traffic into the area could impede rescue vehicles.

"We felt as though the responsible thing to do was to play the game for the simple reason that not playing the game would have put 20-25,000 people back on the streets," St. Peter said. "And we didn't want to do that, in order to allow those first responders to do their job with hopes of rescuing survivors. We felt as though as difficult as it might be, the right thing to do was to play tonight."

There was a moment of prayer held before the game Wednesday and fans were encouraged to stay off of their cell phones and exit calmly if they were going to leave.

And while traffic was the reason the club decided to play Wednesday night, it was also the reason for the postponement of Thursday's game. The organization did not want fans coming to the game to get in the way of rescue efforts.

"We want to be respectful to the people who are trying to work on the situation and out of respect for those lives that have been lost and those people it's impacted," St. Peter said. "We didn't think playing baseball [Thursday] would be the right thing."

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig was scheduled to be in town for Thursday's groundbreaking. St. Peter said Major League Baseball is aware of the situation and the postponements.

St. Peter said that the organization had been trying to get in touch with all of its staff to make sure that everyone was OK. He said that they felt nearly everyone in the front office had been accounted for, but that it wouldn't be fully known until a little longer after the tragedy.

It wasn't just the organization's families that were on the minds of the Twins but those of their fans and others touched by the tragedy.

"We know we have a lot of folks -- employees, fans, season-ticket holders -- impacted by this event," St. Peter said. "It's a tough thing for all of us."

More information on the re-scheduled events will be announced as details become available. Fans holding tickets for Thursday's postponed game may use them for the re-scheduled game on Aug. 31. Fans can also exchange their tickets for any remaining home game during the 2007 season, or they call 800-33-TWINS or visit the official Web site to get refund information.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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