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04/12/10 3:33 PM ET

Fans flock to Target Field's unveiling

After years of anticipation, outdoor baseball back in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS -- It's unlikely that many fans traveled farther than Tara Koloski and Lisa Lake to attend Opening Day at Target Field on Monday. The two made the trip all the way from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Minneapolis for the historic opening of Minnesota's new ballpark.

And they're not even Twins fans.

"We had to come see the Red Sox," said Lake, who's had her tickets for three months. "It's halfway from Alaska to Boston."

Mark McGwire

Koloski and Lake were out on Target Plaza hours before Monday's game, donning their Red Sox apparel amid a sea of Twins fans. Supporters of both teams, however, were equally excited with the buzz generated by the opening of Target Field.

"Everything I've heard has been great," Koloski said of Target Field.

That certainly seemed to be the consensus among fans prior to the opener. Some had already gotten a taste of the new ballpark at the Twins' two exhibition games against the Cardinals. For others, Monday was their first time stepping foot into Minnesota's new outdoor field.

"I think it's amazing," said Aaron Johnson, who drove 4 1/2 hours from Dennison, Iowa. "The fan reaction seems to be really good as far as the number of people here already. There were people here already at 6 a.m. [CT]"

Todd Sauve and his son, Zach, both from Champlin, Minn., took plenty of pictures outside Target Field before heading through the gates. They'd already caught a glimpse of the inside during an exhibition game and had rave reviews.

"I love the ballpark," Todd Sauve said. "We waited three, four years -- ever since they announced they were building it -- to take a look."

"It has everything," Zach Sauve added. "It was nice finally being outside and being able to watch a game outside."

Todd, who donned a Rod Carew jersey for Monday's contest, was especially impressed with the way Target Field intertwined historic Twins teams and players while also paying tribute to the present.

"It's a fantastic place," he said.

Food seemed to be one of the things Twins fans were especially excited for, as Target Field offers a wide menu to choose from. Becky Gobel of Stillwater, Minn., couldn't wait to try the walleye on a stick. Tom Hutchinson of Anoka, Minn., was hoping to get the Murray's steak sandwich.

"I hear the food's really good," Johnson said.

Part of the pregame festivities Monday included the unveiling of Kirby Puckett's statue on Target Plaza, just outside Gate 34. Hundreds of fans gathered as Puckett's wife, Tonya, and son, Kirby Jr., helped reveal the statue paying tribute to the late center fielder. Kirby Puckett Jr. also had the honor of being the first fan admitted into Target Field.

While many fans reached with their cameras in hopes of witnessing the action, Paul Hamre of Roseville, Minn., chose to just watch and take in the sights.

"It just means everything," Hamre said of the ceremony. "He was one of the great players to watch."

Hamre said he grew up watching games at the old Metropolitan Stadium, where the Twins played until the Metrodome opened in 1982. While Monday's forecast called for a chance of rain, Hamre wasn't too concerned.

"Some days I'd freeze or get soaked in rain," Hamre said of games at Metropolitan Stadium. "Baseball makes it worthwhile."

Tyler Mason is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.