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10/29/08 5:59 PM ET
Target Field beginning to take shape
MLB.com's Kelly Thesier gets a firsthand look at construction
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
MLB.com Twins beat reporter Kelly Thesier, who recently got an inside tour of the construction taking place at the new Target Field, shares a firsthand account of what she saw. For people like me who drive down Interstate 394 heading into downtown Minneapolis on a fairly regular basis, the construction of Target Field has unfolded before our very eyes. I've watched a former parking lot slowly transform into what is now beginning to look like a ballpark. Nearly a year and a half has gone by since the Twins began clearing the site for construction, and after watching much of the progress from afar or in pictures, I got my first official tour of Target Field on Tuesday. Twins executive director of public affairs Kevin Smith took a total of seven media members on the tour of the construction site. It began with us entering through the loading dock area of the ballpark. We then walked through what will be the Twins' clubhouse before stepping out onto the field. Once I got inside and stood on the ground where the playing surface will eventually be, I was astounded by the massive project that was in front of me. Three separate cranes are currently on the site, with 400-450 construction workers taking part in the project every day. And even that number will rise to 850 by this summer. The concrete work for the new ballpark is nearly complete. After pouring the first of the concrete in January, the last sections of concrete are expected to be finished in mid-November. So with the shell of the ballpark mostly in place, our tour group was able to visit three of the four levels. It allowed us to get some views of what the playing field -- and downtown Minneapolis -- will look like from the different areas of the park. Perhaps the most stunning view came from the terrace level on the third-base side, where you look right at the downtown skyline. While there was a lot to take in on the nearly hour-and-a-half tour, here are some things that stood out to me: The steel beams for the terrace-level (upper-deck) seating and roof canopy have just started to be put into place. It's the beginning of the next big phase, which will be the installation of the seats. The first seats should be installed around the first of the year. Even with all of the construction materials scattered throughout the main concourse, the space still didn't feel crowded at all. The concourses will be much larger than those in the Metrodome and should provide fans with a much more comfortable experience. During the tour, we could hear the sound of a train running underneath one side of the ballpark. It will be a common part of the experience for fans, as a total of 14-16 trains per day will run by Target Field. Due to the location of the ballpark, nestled in between bridges and a highway, the construction has to take place from the inside out. That means all of the limestone that is being installed on the outside of the park must be moved to its location by a crane inside Target Field. It was pretty impressive to watch as some of the materials were moved above us. The Twins are brainstorming ways to jazz up the parking ramp that runs alongside the plaza heading onto Sixth Street. Ideas include adding images of the players to the side of the ramp or finding other ways to give it a Twins feel. There has been some concern expressed about the size of the lot that the ballpark is being put on. But once inside Target Field, there is no feeling at all that it had to be squeezed in. It's an expansive area, and although it's early in the construction, it looks like it will be quite a place to see a ballgame. That gives you a little taste, but words can't exactly give the tour justice. So I've included a photo gallery of pictures taken recently of the construction. Hopefully this will give all of you a better feel for what is going on at Target Field.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.