© 2009 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
11/11/09 5:58 PM EST
Target Field nearly complete
Twins' home highlights history, offers modern amenities
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Five months remain until the Twins officially unveil Target Field to the public for the ballpark's regular-season opener against the Red Sox on April 12. But while there is plenty of time left for the club to get its new home ready, the project is already nearing completion. On a tour given to the media on Wednesday, Mortensen Construction executive Dan Mehls said that Target Field is now 94-95 percent complete. And fans who haven't enjoyed outdoor baseball in nearly 30 years, there will be quite a treat awaiting them when they make that first trip to Target Field. Having spent the past 28 seasons sharing their home with the Vikings and University of Minnesota Gophers, the Twins never really had an opportunity to put permanent touches of the franchise into the Metrodome. Instead, they used temporary banners and signage during games to make the place feel like home. But now that Target Field is near completion, it's clear that this is the Twins' ballpark, highlighted by the many design elements that incorporate Twins history. All of the handles on the gates leading into Target Field are in the shape of the state of Minnesota. Pictures of players adorn the signage throughout the concourse level. Hardwood murals of Kirby Puckett and Rod Carew are featured in atriums on the club level while a club known as "573" is dedicated to the accomplishments of Harmon Killebrew. And a collection of all-time great lines from Twins broadcasts are etched in wood planks on the wall outside the radio and TV press box. There is a restaurant called Hrbek's on the concourse level, which not only will carry food items to the liking of the Twins great but also features a tin ceiling made up of all the logos the Twins have used since moving to Minnesota in 1961. The club also recently had the original flagpole from the old Metropolitan Stadium installed in the right-field plaza. "The significance of bringing in the flag pole is that it reaches back into Twins history and allows us to bring some of that into the future," said Kevin Smith, the Twins executive director of public affairs. "It gives us a piece from the last time the club played outdoors." What the club feels will be the iconic piece of Target Field is also now in place. It's the Celebration sign in center field which features the original Twins logo from 1961. The logo is two characters dressed in old-time uniforms -- one from Minneapolis and one from St. Paul -- and whenever a Twins player hits a home run, the sign will light up, making it look like "Minnie and Paul" are shaking hands across the Mississippi River. Other unique features of Target Field that were showcased on Wednesday were the Budweiser Roof Deck in left field, which can hold up to 250 fans, and the wood-back seats that are located in sections of the outfield which are available for single-game purchases. Those types of seats have not been placed in any new ballpark since World War II. And while it was a perfect fall day in Minneapolis as the tour was taking place, Smith made sure to point out what the Twins have done to make sure that fans at the new ballpark are comfortable no matter what type of weather may come. There are radiant heaters that hover above the main concourse level where fans can warm up on the cold April days. On the terrace level, there are also indoor concession stands that are glassed in so fans can either warm up or cool down depending on the time of year. "Every level of the building has space to get people out of the elements," Smith said. But while Target Field is nearing the end of its construction phase, there are still some key events that are scheduled to take place before the end of the calendar year. This weekend will feature a public open house for the Target Center transit station. The first trains on the Hiawatha light-rail will begin pulling into the center on Saturday, and the Northstar Commuter Rail line will begin its service on Monday. The signs for the concession stands are now up at Target Field, but in the coming weeks, the Twins will announce what food choices fans will have at the new park. That includes selections from both Delaware North Sportservice that will run the concessions as well as specialty items from local restaurants. In the next couple months, construction will also be completed on the wind veil sculpture that will be the featured element of the stadium's gateway to downtown, Target Plaza.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.