TheBaseballPage.com

Target Field

Target Field is a baseball park located in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is the home ballpark of the Minnesota Twins, the city's Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise. It is the franchise's sixth ballpark and third in Minnesota. The Twins moved to Target Field for the 2010 Major League Baseball season after 28 seasons at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. It is the first facility built specifically for the Twins, as Metropolitan Stadium was built for the Minneapolis Millers five years before the Twins came to Minnesota and the Metrodome was built as a multipurpose stadium for the Twins, Minnesota Vikings and the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team - the 2010 season was the first since 1936 in which the franchise did not share their home stadium with an NFL team. The Twins received the certificate of occupancy from Mortenson Construction on December 22, 2009. Twins staff moved in on January 4, 2010.

The first baseball game at the ballpark took place on March 27, 2010, with a college baseball game between the University of Minnesota and Louisiana Tech. The Twins played two preseason games against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 2 and 3, and their inaugural regular season game was played on April 12, 2010 against the Boston Red Sox.

In 2010, ESPN The Magazine ranked Target Field as the #1 sports stadium in North America, beating out 212 other franchises.

Summary

The 39,504-seat open-air ballpark in the Warehouse District west of Downtown Minneapolis was Ben Smithson's idea. Designed by Populous with Bruce Miller as principal lead, Target Field is a modern take on other Populous-designed stadiums such as Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, and AT&T Park in San Francisco. The Twins opted for a "neutral" park which was intended to favor neither hitters nor pitchers; however, following the 2010 regular season, statistics showed that the park definitely played more to the favor of pitchers than hitters. In contrast, the Twins' previous homes in the Twin Cities, Metropolitan Stadium and the Metrodome, were friendly to hitters. Unlike the Metrodome, Target Field is an open-air stadium, and there are no plans to install a roof.

Current estimates put the stadium cost at $390 million, while infrastructure and financing costs bring the total to $522 million. Work on the site began on May 21, 2007, with the official groundbreaking for the stadium taking place August 30, 2007, delayed from the original date of August 2 due to the I-35W bridge collapse. The first concrete slab was poured on December 17, 2007. The Twins are hoping to host the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

The first tour was an open house held on March 20 for season ticket holders. Public tours are available on off-days during the season.

First Pitch at Target Field, thrown by Minnesota native T.J. Oakes of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers on March 27, 2010.

The gates at the stadium are numbered after retired numbers worn by Twins players. The center field gate is Gate #3 for Harmon Killebrew, the left field gate is Gate #6 honoring Tony Oliva, the home plate gate is Gate #14 for Kent Hrbek, the right field gate serves as Gate #29 in tribute to Rod Carew and the plaza gate is known as Gate #34, honoring Kirby Puckett. The first baseball game played there was on March 27, 2010 between the Minnesota Gophers and the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. There were 37,757 fans that went through the turnstiles from 9:15 a.m. until the conclusion of the game, marking the second-largest attendance for a collegiate baseball game. The largest came on March 11, 2004 when 40,106 fans saw San Diego State and Houston play at Petco Park in San Diego.

Like many newer stadiums, Target Field features many "local" touches: for example, one of the venue's bars is the "Town Ball Tavern", whose floor is the same wood surface from the Minneapolis Armory that the Minneapolis Lakers played on. The flagpole is the original from Metropolitan Stadium. Concessions at the venue also include several Minnesota favorites like walleye and Jucy Lucy cheeseburgers, wild rice soup, Kramarczuk's sausages, as well as a "State Fair Foods" stand where many items are served "on a stick", such as the J.D. Hoyt's pork chop.

 

Development

As of November 2008, crews had completed concrete work two months ahead of schedule, wrapping up the concrete portion of construction with a roof deck pour for the Twins administration building, according to the Minnesota Ballpark Authority. In late August, 2009, the playing field was installed.

Early plans

Plans for moving the Twins out of the Metrodome began to take serious shape in the mid-1990s. By 1995, the Twins had found a new site just north of the Metrodome, on a large piece of land next to the Mississippi River. Located in the old Mills District, the stadium would have sat next to the current Guthrie Theater; the cleared land for the stadium eventually became Gold Medal Park, a public park, in 2007. During the 1995 Minnesota legislative session, the proposed Mississippi River-sited stadium would have cost $300 million less than the proposed ballpark which eventually passed the legislature eleven years later.

The Twins underwent turbulent times in the late-1990s and into the new century: in 1997, owner Carl Pohlad almost sold the Twins to North Carolina businessman Don Beaver, who would have moved the team to the Piedmont Triad (Greensboro – Winston-Salem – High Point) area. The defeat of a referendum for a stadium in North Carolina and a lack of interest in building a stadium for the Twins in Charlotte killed the deal.

Saint Paul, under the leadership of Mayor Norm Coleman, made several attempts to woo the Twins across the Mississippi River. The closest any of these attempts came to success was in 1999, when Saint Paul voters rejected a referendum which would have raised the city sales tax by 0.5 percentage point in order to fund a stadium in downtown Saint Paul.

In 2001, the Twins, along with the Montreal Expos (who eventually became the Washington Nationals), were identified as a target for MLB "contraction" (elimination) by Commissioner Bud Selig after a vote by MLB owners. The contraction plans were shelved after the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling requiring the Twins to play baseball in the Metrodome in 2002; however the pressure did spur the Minnesota House to vote in favor of some stadium legislation as well as garner support from then-Governor Jesse Ventura.

Legislation and funding

A state law passed in 1997 requires that anytime a county seeks to raise its sales tax, the question needs to be put before the voters. The law also allows a county to seek permission from the state to enact the tax without a voters' referendum. The Minnesota Legislature did not act on the bill during the 2005 session.

On April 26, 2005, the Twins and Hennepin County announced that a deal had been reached, in which the Twins would pay roughly 1/3 of the stadium's cost ($125 million), with the rest being paid for by a 0.15% Hennepin County sales tax. The deal would need to be approved by the Hennepin County Board. After delaying the vote one week, on May 3 the Board voted 4–3 in favor of the stadium deal. Minneapolis mayor R. T. Rybak (DFL) had already weighed in favor of the stadium. The plan passed its second hurdle on May 9, 2005, when a House committee of the Minnesota Legislature approved a bill to get around the referendum to be sent to the floor on a 17–5 vote. This legislation languished before the full legislature, during a particularly gridlocked session, and was placed on the back burner, pending resolution of "more pressing" legislation. Naming rights belong to the Minnesota Twins.

In the 2006 session, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the bill that would allow the team and county to go around the referendum. The Minnesota Senate also passed a version of the bill, but their version would also build a stadium for the Minnesota Vikings and fund transit projects. The two bills spent most of the legislative session in conference committee. The bill was passed by a 71–61 vote in the House and a 34–32 vote in the Senate. A ballot referendum, called for by many Hennepin County residents, was deemed infeasible due to the time-critical nature of the bill (a referendum would have to wait until the November general election, while dates for the Twins to play in the Metrodome in 2007 needed to be applied for by July 1). Under the legislation, $392 million in public subsidy is provided through the Hennepin County sales tax increase for the $522 million project. The ballpark opened for the 2010 baseball season, the Twins' 50th season in Minnesota. The final bill was approved on May 21, and was signed into law by Governor Tim Pawlenty, as part of a pre-game ceremony before the Twins' May 26 home game against the Seattle Mariners. The final version is substantially identical to the House version, with language relating to both the transit tax and the Vikings stadium stripped.

The County Board approved the ballpark plan 5–2 on June 20, 2006. Commissioners Johnson, Opat, Stenglein, McLaughlin and Dorfman voted to approve the sales tax levy and ballpark funding proposal. Commissioner Gail Dorfman, who opposed the sales tax for ballpark proposal initially as "a bad deal for the taxpayer", switched her voting position, stating that the park was "a done deal and the focus now is on implementing it in the most responsible way possible." Commissioners Penny Steele and Linda Koblick remained opposed to publicly funding a ballpark using a Hennepin County sales tax without a referendum as required by state statute, and to the terms of the funding agreement as "not being in the best interest of the county taxpayers and citizens."

In mid-February 2007, funding and acquisition ran into a snag because the land purchase price had been negotiated with the owners (Land Partners II) but not properly secured when the State bill was passed. On April 4, 2007, Dave St. Peter, Twins president and the head of the team's ballpark committee, announced that an agreement had been reached that would have the Twins paying a portion of the difference between Land Partners II's asking price and the county's budget for the land. As a result, after a four-month impasse, the Hennepin County board voted on April 10, 2007 to use eminent domain to acquire the land with the Twins helping to cover acquisition costs beyond the county's previous $13.5 million offer. Before construction could begin, the Twins also reached a related agreement with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, which owns property adjacent to the site. With the issue over land moving forward, the Twins presented the official design of the new stadium on April 12; it had been delayed due to the land dispute.

On May 1, 2007, Hennepin County officially took control of the land after placing $13.75 million into a court escrow account; although the court would still need to officially determine the price of the land in the condemnation process, the Twins agreed to pay any costs beyond the amount deposited. The action assured that the construction of the stadium would begin on June 1, 2007.In late August, a three-member condemnation panel ruled that the parcel was worth $23.8 million; developers had claimed that the fair market value was $65 million. On October 15, 2007, the two sides reached a negotiated settlement of just under $29 million, ending the dispute; as a result the County noted it would have to cut back on some improvements to the surrounding streetscapes, though it also revealed that the Pohlad family had committed another $15 million for infrastructure.

On September 15, 2008, the Twins and Minneapolis-based Target Corporation announced that the Twins' new ballpark would be named Target Field. Financial terms of the naming rights agreement were not disclosed. The company's investment will also build a pedestrian bridge from the ballpark to downtown, Target Plaza, more seating, new canopies and public art.

Design

Populous, the lead architectural design firm, tried to avoid creating a replica of the old-style brick Camden Yards or modern urban design of the new Nationals Park (both also designed by Populous). Instead, the design for the new Twins stadium employs local limestone, Minnesota fir trees outside the outfield, heated viewing areas and a heated field. The stadium does not have a roof, but there is a canopy above the top deck. The stadium is integrated with the intermodal Target Field station which connects the Hiawatha light rail line with the Minneapolis terminus of the Northstar commuter rail line leading from the northwest. Walter P Moore served as the structural engineer for the stadium and canopy.

The approved design does not include a retractable roof, though it was considered initially. A retractable roof was cited to add $100 million to the total budget and none of the parties (Twins, Hennepin County or Minnesota Legislature) were willing to pay for that cost. Much like other northern cities with outdoor professional baseball (i.e. Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Cleveland, New York), the weather in Minneapolis during a 162-game baseball season and playoffs can vary from early-spring snow to rain and hot, humid weather. The Metrodome is climate-controlled, and thus, protected the baseball schedule during the entire time that it had been the venue for the Minnesota Twins. However, many Twins fans and baseball purists argue that this same sterile, climate-controlled environment creates a less-than-desirable atmosphere for watching baseball. The architect also tested the feasibility of heated seats.

The small footprint of the ballpark (about one million square feet) has been criticized. The site is about the same size as that of Fenway Park, and the ballpark holds roughly the same number of seats. The site is bounded by 3rd Avenue (southeast, right field, across from Target Center); 5th Street North (northeast, left field); 7th Street North (southwest, first base); Hennepin Environmental Recovery Center [garbage incinerator] and 6th Avenue North (northwest, third base). 3rd Avenue is a westbound one-way street which dips down under the right field seats and serves as a ramp to I-394 westbound. A separate, small westbound segment of 3rd Avenue, connecting 7th Street North with Glenwood Avenue, was renamed "Twins Way". The ballpark's street address, "1 Twins Way", is at the "foot" of the renamed street.

Metro and Commuter Rail Connections

The stadium is well-connected to the city's transit network, being immediately adjacent to the "A" and "B" parking ramps of the large ABC Ramps complex at the end of Interstate 394, which include two major transit bus terminals and link to the rest of downtown Minneapolis via skyway. Using the light rail metro system, over 8,000 people typically arrive every game via the Hiawatha light-rail line, which terminates at Target Field Station, just 10 yards from the park's Gate 6. Construction of the Central/University metro line, which will connect Target Field to downtown St.Paul began in November 2010 and is expected to be completed in 2014. For fans arriving from the northwest suburbs, the Northstar Line commuter rail terminates in downtown Minneapolis with a station underneath the ballpark.

LEED Certification

Target Field was awarded LEED Silver Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, only the second LEED-certified professional sports stadium in the United States, after Nationals Park.

Construction

Mortenson Construction of Minneapolis built the stadium. Metropolitan Mechanical Contractors completed the mechanical contracting. Subcontractors involved in the concrete work include CECO Concrete Construction, Gephart Electric, E&J Rebar, Ambassador Steel Corporation, Amsysco Inc., and Nordic Construction/Cemstone.

Upgrades

On February 12, 2008, the Twins announced $22.4 million in upgrades to the original design, increased the Twins ownership stake in the new ballpark to $167.4 million, bringing the total ballpark cost to $412 million.

The upgrades were mainly based around increasing fan experience and comfort. The upgrades included an enlarged canopy soffit (the largest in baseball), protecting fans further from the elements despite the stadium not having a roof. The Twins also upgraded the scoreboard - the fourth-largest in Major League Baseball - from standard definition to a high definition display from Daktronics measuring 101 feet (31 m) long and 57 feet (17 m) high. Other upgrades included warming shelters, changing 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2) of the exterior surface to "Mankato Limestone," and increasing the number of restrooms and concessions areas. The park features a modernized version of the original "Minnie and Paul Shaking Hands" logo used on the team's original uniforms from 1961 until 1986 (the logo has also been on the home uniforms since 2001). When a Twins player hits a home run, the Minnie and Paul sign lights up with strobe lights surrounding the Minnesota state outline and Minnie and Paul shake hands, akin to the Liberty Bell used at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. The original flagpole from Metropolitan Stadium - completely restored - is located on the right field plaza. The flagpole was located at the American Legion post in Richfield after the Metropolitan Stadium's closing, and was donated back to the Twins by the Legion as a gesture of goodwill.

Features

Target Plaza

On the wall of the adjacent parking garage facing the ballpark is a wind veil that makes waves as the wind blows. At night, color-changing lights add to the effect.

Near the wind veil there are nine topiary frames each 40 feet (12 m) high shaped like baseball bats with hops growing on them. They are lit up every night with the same color changing scheme as the veil, however, during games they are lit up red, in sequential order, to denote the current inning. 

In this plaza are statues of former players Kirby Puckett, Rod Carew and Harmon Killebrew as well as former owners Calvin Griffith, Carl Pohlad and his wife, Eloise Pohlad.

A large "Golden Glove" sits in the plaza in recognition of all Twins players to win the Gold Glove Award. The statue can be sat on and is a popular photo attraction.

There is a monument that shows all the venues that Minnesota-based baseball teams played in.

On the rails of the pedestrian skybridge are pennants that contains the rosters of all the Twins teams, and pennants of players, coaches, front office people, and other contributors who have been elected to the Twins Hall of Fame.

The Field

The main flagpoles are in right field near the Plaza. The largest pole which flies the Stars and Stripes is the original pole used at Metropolitan Stadium. It was relocated to a Bloomington VFW after the Met was demolished, and was re-installed for baseball at Target Field with the first flag raised on it by Twins and baseball legend Harmon Killebrew. On September 6, Jim Thome hit a solo home run against the Kansas City Royals that hit the flag pole. Also, smaller flagpoles stand at the upper rim of the stadium in left field. One championship banner flies on each pole recognizing each division, league, and world championship since the team's arrival in 1961.

Home plate is the same that was used at the Metrodome. After the Twins' final dome game (Game 3 of the 2009 ALDS), the plate was dug-up and later installed at Target Field. In addition, several handfulls of dirt were taken from the sliding pit and pitcher's mound areas from the Metrodome and scattered near their counterparts at Target Field.

Twins Bars and Restaurants

At Target Field, there are three prominent bars and restaurants. The Town Ball Tavern is located on the upper concourse by the left field corner, and is famous for serving the Jucy Lucy burger. Hrbek's is located on the main concourse behind home plate, and is named after former Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek. Finally, there are four bars located on the upper concourse behind home plate, collectively called the Twins Pub. In one of these bars, fans can watch the Target Field organist, Sue Nelson, perform during games. Out of these three bars and restaurants, the Twins Pub is the only one that does not serve food.

Minnie and Paul logo

A large version of the Twins' original "Minnie and Paul" logo stands in center field. It shows two players wearing the uniforms of the two minor-league teams that played in the Twin Cities before the Twins' arrival, the Minneapolis Millers and St. Paul Saints, shaking hands across the Mississippi River. During various points in the game, the strobe lights surrounding the logo flash. This sign was a concept designed and illustrated by RipBang Studios but built by others.

When the Twins score a run by any means other than a home run, the strobe lights trace the border from the bottom-left corner for each Twins player that crosses home plate, symbolizing that a Twins player rounded the bases.

For each strikeout, the corners of the sign flash to portray the strike zone.

The strobe lights will flash at the end of the top of an inning if the Twins do not surrender a run during the inning.

After a Twins home run, the strobe lights flash, Minnie and Paul shake hands, and the Mississippi River flows.

After a Twins victory, the "T" and "s" in "Twins" will blink to show the message "Twins win" in addition to the animation shown following a Twins home run.

More From Around the Web

This day in baseball history

October 26

  • 2008

    The Philadelphia Phillies top the Rays&n ...

  • 2005

    On October 26, 2005, the Chicago White Sox defeat the Astros ...

  • 2004

    Prior to Game 3 of in the 2004 World Series,  ...

More Baseball History
 
Tagged:
Current MLB Park, Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett, Minnesota Twins, Target Field

Comments

Login or register to post comments

Share US

Share |

Today's Poll

Will Red Sox Repeat in 2014: