MINNEAPOLIS - ST. PAUL -- Thursday, Aug. 30, 2007, will forever be remembered as the day outdoor Major League Baseball returned to Minnesota and Twins Territory. Today the Minnesota Twins, in partnership with Hennepin County, the M. A. Mortenson Company, the Minnesota Ballpark Authority, HOK Sport and HGA Architects and fans of Minnesota Twins baseball, will officially break ground at the new ballpark site in Minneapolis. The original groundbreaking date was scheduled for Aug. 2, but was postponed because of the tragic collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis.
Twins fans along with civic leaders, government officials and Minnesota Twins and Major League Baseball officials will be at the new ballpark site to celebrate today's groundbreaking ceremony. They include Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, Twins players Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer, Nick Punto and Mike Redmond and Twins alumni Harmon Killebrew, Kent Hrbek, Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, Bert Blyleven, Dan Gladden and Jack Morris.
"This is a historic and long-awaited day for Minnesota Twins fans and the state of Minnesota," said Jerry Bell, president and CEO of Twins Inc. "It is a monumental step toward bringing outdoor Major League Baseball back to the state of Minnesota, the team and most importantly, to Twins fans. "This is a very special day - a once-in-a-generation milestone for Twins fans and the people of Minnesota - as we start construction of what will be one of the great urban ballparks in America," said Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat, who led the county's ballpark effort. "When the new ballpark opens in less than three years, it will be a public asset and a great venue for the return of outdoor baseball to Hennepin County and the state of Minnesota."
"It is an honor and privilege to be the builder of the new Twins ballpark where fans will come together, once again, to celebrate outdoor baseball," said Ken Sorensen, vice president of the Minnesota office of M. A. Mortenson Company. "Today's groundbreaking signifies that construction is underway. We are thrilled to be building this world-class ballpark that will provide a fantastic baseball experience for current and future generations of Twins fans."
"The Minnesota Ballpark Authority is excited about working with the Twins to create a fantastic new landmark," said Steve Cramer, Minnesota Ballpark Authority chair. "This facility will be a baseball fan's dream and we believe it will reshape the western edge of downtown for decades to come."
The new ballpark became a reality on May 26, 2006, when Governor Tim Pawlenty signed the ballpark legislation into law during a pre-game ceremony at the Metrodome. In the weeks and months to follow, a project team was formed while logistics and details of land ownership and finances continued to be discussed and finalized.
Schematic designs of the ballpark were publicly unveiled on April 12. The process of site clearing at the new ballpark site began May 15, with actual construction of the new ballpark beginning later this month. The ballpark is slated for completion prior to Opening Day 2010.
Golden Shovel sponsors of the ballpark groundbreaking are Macy's, Insight, Metro Transit, Waste Management, Majors, US Bank, Target, Briggs & Morgan, HOK, Qwest and M.A. Mortenson Company.
About the Twins New Ballpark
The one-million-square-foot ballpark will have approximately 40,000 seats. Similar in size to PNC Park in Pittsburgh and AT&T Park in San Francisco, the new Twins ballpark will provide fans with fantastic, baseball-focused sightlines in an intimate setting.
Nestled on an eight-acre site in Minneapolis' North Loop Neighborhood, the ballpark will be an urban architectural icon. The site dictates the ballpark's lean physique, and the design's form follows the function of the events on the field. The seating bowl hugs the field; the exterior walls are shaped by the seating bowl; and a roof canopy spanning nearly the entire seating bowl crowns the ballpark.
The ballpark's exterior is a modern interpretation of the state's natural creations. Hearty, weather resistant, native Minnesota limestone forms the mass of the ballpark's façade. Glass and metal details punctuate the limestone surface, creating a sophisticated composition.
Gaps in the stone enclosure of the ballpark will create unique viewing opportunities for fans both inside and outside the ballpark.
Unique aspects of the ballpark are the public plazas, overlooks, and pedestrian pathways that connect the rail stations to the ballpark and then to downtown.
HGA is serving as local architect and engineer on the project. They are helping the ballpark reflect Minnesota traditions in the design. They are joined by lead design firm HOK Sport, a Kansas City-based architectural firm which has designed 14 new professional ballparks (add comma), and M. A. Mortenson Company, a local construction firm which is one of the top three national builders of sports venues. Working with Mortenson is Thor Construction Company, the state's largest African American-owned construction company and Mortenson's long-time business associate.
Under the State of Minnesota's authorizing legislation, Hennepin County's share of financing the ballpark is $350 million for construction and infrastructure costs, while the Twins organization is contributing $130 million. Hennepin County is the largest unit of local government in Minnesota, with 1.1 million residents - about one-fourth of the state's population.
The Twins Ballpark Webcam provides fans the opportunity to view progress on the construction of the new downtown Minneapolis ballpark through completion in the spring of 2010. For more information on the ballpark and to view the Webcam, visit www.twinsbaseball.com/newballpark.
Outdoor Baseball's Journey Back to Minnesota
Spring 2006: Hennepin County and the Minnesota Twins succeed in enacting legislation authorizing financing for new Twins ballpark
May 20, 2006: Minnesota State Legislature approves Twins new ballpark bill
May 26, 2006: Governor Pawlenty signs the Twins ballpark bill on the field prior to the Twins game
April 12, 2007: New ballpark schematic designs unveiled
May 15, 2007: Site clearing begins
Aug. 30, 2007: Official groundbreaking ceremony
The new ballpark is scheduled to open for the 2010 season, the Twins' 50th year in Minnesota.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.