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08/27/09 3:09 PM ET
Target Field getting finishing touches
Twins could take batting practice at new park in September
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- By Friday morning, all of the grass is expected to be in place at Target Field, giving it the feel of truly being a ballpark. And while the Twins' new stadium isn't set to open until next April, the first real glimpse of baseball on that field might not have to wait that long. Instead, it might come next month, when the players take batting practice on the field for the first time. Twins president Dave St. Peter said that the club is talking about bringing the team to Target Field sometime in the middle of September for a workout to get familiar with its new home. "I think there is no shortage of ah-ha moments that will come here over the next 3-4 months," St. Peter said. "Every week that goes by until the end of the year, there should be a major Target Field announcement." The installation of the grass at Target Field was considered to be a major milestone in the completion of the project, but there are plenty of other things that will take place in the coming months before the ballpark is ready for Opening Day. As for the field itself, head groundskeeper Larry DiVito said that there are a few projects that have to be completed before they are ready for the players to get their first action on the field. The backstop is expected to be finished by Sept. 12, and the wall pads will be in place by the end of September. DiVito said the dugout rails will also be installed, as well as the nets behind home plate. The turf has been installed in the bullpens, and the pitching mounds in the 'pens are soon to be finished as well. "So by the end of September it will start to feel finished, look-wise at least," DiVito said. "Even though it won't quite be 100 percent game-ready at that time." Over the next two months, the club will test both the stadium lights and the scoreboard. Target Plaza, the public space outside the park that's considered the gateway to downtown Minneapolis, is expected to be completed by the end of the calendar year. The wind veil sculpture will be added to the wall of the "B" parking garage, and the pedestrian bridge to 1st Avenue will be finished as well. Seat installation has been ongoing at the park, with seats on the main concourse in left field and on the terrace level in right field currently being put in place. All of the seats should be fully installed by the end of the fall. Although the deadline for the ballpark to be fully enclosed and to have nearly all of the external work completed is Nov. 1, there is still work that needs to be done in the interior spaces. In addition to finishing off the club and suite levels, the concession areas have to be finished. The Twins have also made sure to add unique elements to each interior space by incorporating the team's history and its legendary players. Although there is still work to be done at Target Field, seeing the grass go into place this week started to increase the reality that the Twins will be back to playing outdoors in Minnesota in 2010 -- the first time that's happened since the final season in Metropolitan Stadium back in 1981. So over the next few months, as the construction finishes up and Target Field is prepped for its first season, the Twins will begin to move their offices into their new home and get ready for the next chapter in the franchise's history. "It's getting very real," St. Peter said. "On one level it's daunting, but on another important level it's incredibly exhilarating. Every day we get closer to Opening Day you can feel the momentum. It's good. It's been a long time coming for this fan base."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.