Fans react to groundbreaking
Many Minnesotans excited that Twins will finally be outside
MINNEAPOLIS -- If the large showing of fans at Thursday's groundbreaking for the Twins' new ballpark was any indication, Minnesotans are ready to be taken "out" to the ballgame.
The seemingly perfect weather -- 75 degrees and not a cloud in the sky -- had fans imagining what outdoor baseball in Minnesota would be like when the new stadium opens in 2010.
"Night games, coming from day into night and playing into twilight and seeing the whole city change into night mode, it's just going to be amazing," said John Braun of Shoreville, Minn.
John's father, Joe, is most looking forward to not having to travel to enjoy one of his favorite traditions.
"We've been traveling to other cities to see outdoor baseball," Joe Braun said. "It's just so exciting that it's going to be coming here. It's our family's summer tradition to see outdoor baseball."
With fresh grass laid where the infield would be and a mock mound set up, fans got a feel for what the current construction site will look like in less than three years. Fans picnicked on the grass, watched fireworks and were able to hear the horn of a passing train -- all things they can't do in the current Metrodome.
Teresa Fleischhacker remembers the days of outdoor baseball in Minnesota, watching games at the old Metropolitan Stadium, and promised that she would be around to see it again.
"When I saw the Dome in 1982, I cried. And when they tore down the Met in 1985, I cried," Fleischhacker said. "I grew up there, and my best memories are of going there back with my dad in the early '60s."
While no one could offer a concrete answer as to why, the overwhelming sentiment was that baseball belongs outside. Some said it was because of the sounds and smells, while others attributed it to history.
"They didn't have indoor stadiums back when the game was invented, and it's our national pastime," Patrick Lahouze said. "It's supposed to be outdoors."
The other aspect of the new ballpark Twins fans are excited about is that it will only be the Twins' ballpark. They currently share the Metrodome with the NFL's Vikings and the University of Minnesota Gophers.
"The Dome was never meant for baseball," Don Demars said. "This is going to be a baseball stadium. I'm tired of playing in a football stadium."
"It's just going to be our stadium," Fleischhacker said. "No sharing it with anyone, and it's going to be a real baseball stadium, not a football stadium."
The loudest cheers of the night came when a group of Twins executives, government officials and Twins players finally broke ground on the new stadium.
"I think there's a lot of huge Twins fans here," Carol Everhart said. "We love the team and we love the game, and we're very excited for the outdoor stadium. I think that Twins fans are very excited and very, very ready."
Leslie Parker is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.