© 2006 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

11/17/06 6:50 PM ET

Twins unveil ballpark design team

HOK Sport, HGA Architects and M.A. Mortenson Co. team up

MINNEAPOLIS -- Ever since the Twins finally got the plans for a new ballpark approved this past spring, there has been plenty of interest as to whom would be the design team for the endeavor.

But when it came time Friday afternoon to officially announce the project team that has been chosen to lead the construction of the new ballpark, there wasn't much suspense. But that didn't seem to catch Jerry Bell, president of Twins Sports Inc., by surprise.

"It's one of the worst kept secrets around," Bell joked.

Bell confirmed what many had thought, that the three firms will be design architect HOK Sport, local architect HGA Architects and construction manager M.A. Mortenson Company. The news came at the Minnesota Ballpark Authority's monthly meeting at the Metrodome.

The lack of surprise certainly didn't seem to bother Bell. The news marked a significant day for the project as it has taken over a decade to reach this point in the process. And having such a strong group leading the effort made it even harder for Bell to contain his joy.

"We interviewed a number of others for this team but we were very happy with this group," Bell said. "These are people who are experienced in their field, they've had major accomplishments and they are dedicated to this project. Those are the three things we were looking for. We only get to do this once so we're looking to do it right."

HOK Sport has a long history in designing sports venues, including 14 professional ballparks such as Jacobs Field in Cleveland, AT&T Park in San Francisco and PNC Park in Pittsburgh. The firm is also currently designing new ballparks for the Mets, Yankees and Nationals.

HGA Architects will help to keep a local flair to the project. The firm has designed important buildings in both St. Paul and Minneapolis, including the Minnesota Historical Society, Minnesota Public Radio and the Orpheum and Pantages theatres.

Mortenson began building sports facilities in 1987 and has since risen to become one of the top three builders of sports centers. The company was the general contractor on the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul and worked on that project with HOK Sport, which was the lead architect firm designing the venue.

Very little about the actual design of the ballpark has been released, but that's because the planning is really just now getting under way. And while the design is still in the formative stages, there are specific goals the design team has in mind.

"We want to make this building about the community," said Bruce Miller, AIA, HOK Sport principal. "It's one of the most urban sites that we've dealt with, considering all the transit and the integrated use aspects of the facility. It's a very complicated site, but we think that the results at the end will be extraordinary."

Twins president Dave St. Peter spoke at the meeting to discuss how involved the organization plans to be in the process. He said the club has already received over 5,000 suggestions from fans and that those have been handed over to the design team for consideration.

St. Peter and Bell have visited five ballparks in St. Louis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and San Diego to get some ideas about what they are looking for in the design of the new park.

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