The last time the sun splashed down on the Minnesota Twins’ home field, the average annual salary for a baseball player was $200,000, Ronald Reagan was president, and Joe Mauer . . . well, let’s just say it was inconceivable to think he’d become an MVP. The Twins traded the erector-set of a ballpark in Bloomington called Metropolitan Stadium for the covered and cavernous Metrodome in 1982, and for some fans, things haven’t been the same since. ¶ But in the 1990s, the economics of the game changed and downtown ballparks began sprouting like crocuses from Baltimore to Denver. Twins owner Carl Pohlad decided he wanted one of them, too, and stadium deal after deal was imagined—only to fall apart just as quickly. Finally, Pohlad’s family, Hennepin County commissioners, and the Legislature figured out a way to let the sun shine in. This season, as Twins slugger Justin Morneau pockets $250,000 for every three games he plays, the globe’s warmth and chill will return to Minnesota baseball. Times change and venues come and go, but a sky-high fly ball, a grass stain on a diving outfielder’s uniform, and a wind-blown home run only happen outdoors, where the game was meant to be played. Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll see after April 12, when the first nine Twins players race onto the field for the team’s inaugural game in Target Field, the team’s new home under the sun.
9 Things You’ll Love About Target Field
1. They found the sweet spot: They deep-sixed a parking lot and put up a paradise. Target Field was shoe-horned into a cozy 8.5-acre spot, tighter than even Boston’s cozy Fenway Park. But it’s within walking distance of the Minneapolis Warehouse District, and it’s at the confluence of freeways, light rail, the Northstar Commuter line and the Cedar Lake bike trail. It’s urban, and that’s cool.
2. You can still get cheap seats: Don’t let the new ballpark intimidate you. While tickets may be hard to come by, you’ll still be able to buy a ticket without breaking the bank. If you’re a basic fan with a basic kid, about 14,000 seats per game will cost you $20 or less (some as low as $11). If you’ve got some dough to spend, though, this is the place: A luxury suite—with a Minnesota Scando woodsy feel—runs between $100,000 and $200,000 annual. (Ready to write a check? Sorry, they’re all sold out.)
3. It feels like home: The face of Target Field is totally Minnesotan, if you look past that Colorado-grown grass turf. All that yellow limestone that puts a shine to the ballpark’s exterior comes from Mankato’s Vetter Stone Company. That’s 100,000 square feet, if you’re keeping score at home, or 100 truckloads of stone.
4. It’s fun: While the enormous video scoreboard in left center field, at 57-feet high by 101-feet wide, may catch your eye, it’s the team’s throwback mascots on the Celebration Sign who are destined to steal the show. Every time one of the Twins hits a home run, Minnie and Paul—who graced original team logos—will happily shake hands, as an illuminated Mississippi River flows between them, on a giant sign in center field.
5. It’s green: And we’re not talking about just the grass or all the seats. With Minneapolis-based Pentair, the Twins and Target Field have installed a rainwater recycling system—yes, there’s rain at this ballpark—that will capture and reuse more than two-million gallons of water annually. Call it the dawning of environmentalism and sports business. Pentair is “The Official Sustainable Water Provider” for the facility, which is working toward LEED certification. Whodathunk.
6. It’s worth bringing your glove: No matter where you’re sitting, if you get to the ballpark early you can wander into right field and stand in Target Plaza during batting practice. There, in an open space—without seats—fans can bring their gloves and wait for Mauer, Morneau, Kubel, and Thome pre-game rockets. The prevailing winds will be blowing out to right. Plus, with one of the closest seating bowls in Major League Baseball, you’ll be close to the action all game long, especially in right field, where an eight-and-a-half foot overhang juts out onto the field of play. A right fielder can move backbackback and look up and—boink!—the ball will be in the seats. He’ll be staring at a slab of Mankato stone above him and you’ll have a nice memento.
7. There’s a whole new menu: Dome food was standard fare. Target Field food will be identifiably downtown. Bite into a Murray’s steak sandwich, from the famous nearby establishment, or try State Fair-ish walleye—and pork chop—on a stick. New concessions include three named after Twins greats. There’s a stand for pitcher Frank Viola (Frankie V’s Italian), for long-ago broadcaster Halsey Hall (Halsey’s Sausage Haus) and for excitable relief pitcher Juan Berenguer (Señor Smoke’s). Kent Hrbek has a restaurant on site, too.
8. You won’t hate the third base line: From the third-base line, you now get a view of the Minneapolis skyline, a perfect look at the scoreboard, and a peek inside the Twins dugout, which moved back to the first baseline, just as it was at Met Stadium—all without craning your neck.
9. It’s not the Dome: Wide concourses (almost twice the width of the Dome’s), 56 percent more ladies restrooms (plus no troughs for the guys), and no 50-yard line (bye, bye Baggie)—all signs that we are in new Twins Territory.
What You’ll Miss About the Dome
You may be sick of it and happy to leave the Vikes with the house keys, but the Dome wasn’t all bad. Here’s what we know you’ll miss….
» Protection from the elements
» Dome-field advantage
» The Dome dog. Nuff said.
» Say it with me: “No smoking in the Metrodome”
» The wind that blew you and your cap out the exit door » Needing ear plugs at postseason games
» ’87, ’91, and all those other memories
The Twins have really made Target Field home. You’ll find images of baseballs and Twins logos in the most ingenious places (look up when you are in Hrbek’s restaurant). Plus homages to the team’s history and beloved players, too, if you know where to look (and have the right tickets).
The Champion’s Club
This VIP mecca has the 400 best lower-level seats in the house—no kidding, guests here could be closer to the batter than the pitcher’s mound. Here, besides a private entrance and a swank bar, you get the benefit of a view of the team’s two World Series trophies as well as their series champ rings.
The Press Box
No, you probably can’t go in and chat up the Dazzle Man or put in a request for Bert to circle you, but here on the Legend’s Club level you can see a wall singling out the best calls in Twins radio and broadcast history, including “Touch ‘em all Kirby Puckett ” and “We’ll see you tomorrow night. ”
The Legend’s Club
Hall of Famers such as Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett are front and center in two enclosed club floor lounges. Two-story ash wood panels featuring laser burned images of Carew and Puckett grace the main walls in these drink-and-dine spaces open to season ticket holders.
through the gates of Target Field, you might be confused until you’ll notice that all five bear the retired numbers of Twins players. Instead of Gates A-H, you’ll find Gates 34 (Kirby Puckett), 4 (Kent Hrbek), 6 (Tony Oliva), 29 (Rod Carew) and 3 (Harmon Killebrew). Another Killebrew number, his career home-run record, gives the 573 restaurant and bar its name on the club level, where you can also find one of his historic bats.
The Locker Room
We’re giving our guys the royal treatment in their new locker room, which certainly doesn’t look like one. The open oval-shaped locker room features black walnut lockers (with Internet access) and a decorative home plate pattern on the carpet.
GRAB A SEAT
Eight single-game suites along the right-field line offer a chance to feel like a VIP. Each suite features HDTV, a climate-controlled entertaining area, and private outdoor seating. And these suites are available for average Joe’s, not just corporate big wigs. Rent one or combine a few to fit your party’s size.
Looking for the best seats in the house? If you can get ’em, look for seats in sections 221, 222, or 223 on the third-base line. Here you should have equally good views of the dugout, scoreboard and the Minneapolis skyline.
Party with a view of the skyline from the Budweiser Roof Deck in left field. Seating 150, with room for 130 more standing, it’s the place to go to celebrate. Enjoy the private bar and large fire pits with a group of your best friends. The space is reserved for groups most nights, but public tickets are available on Thursdays and Saturdays.
A New View:
Out in right center field, the Pavillion section overlooks both bullpens with tickets in the $20 range. These seats provide great field sightlines and feature ash wood-backed seats.
Bleachers here, both in right and left field, put ticket holders on top of the action. Plus, they actually have backs.
WHAT WE’RE DYING TO TRY AT THE CONCESSION STANDS AND RESTAURANTS
Grand Slam Pizza
Frankie V’s Italian
Halsey’s Sausage Haus
Fruit Kabob(with chocolate)
State Fair Classics
Murray’s Steak Sandwich
Mill City Grill
Homemade Apple Crisp
The Town Ball Tavern
The Rex Burger
Fresh Kramarczuk Sausage
Kramarczuk’s concession carts
The New Dome Dog
Unannounced at press time but we’ll have ours with onions.