I got dirt on my hands, but I'm building me a new home
Target Field is on-target for an April 12 opening next season, as the Twins move from the Metrodome, their home for the last three decades, to the greener pastures of natural grass and outdoor baseball.
Kevin Smith, the Twins’ executive director of public affairs, and Mike Herman, the club’s director of media relations, were gracious enough to take the members of the Tribe media horde on a tour of the new ballpark this morning, and it is a beauty.
The 40,000-seat facility is on the opposite end of the Minneapolis downtown area, next to the Target Center (all that $100 furniture you’ve been buying at Target has left the company with plenty of scratch for sporting venue naming rights). Its limestone exterior comes from a local quarry and adds a little Minnesotan flair, as will the walleye sandwiches that will be served in the concessions. And a new light rail stop will take passengers 30 feet from one of the ballpark’s five entrances.
Inside, the swells will sit in the “Champions Club” seats that are right on top of the action behind home plate. They’ll go from $175 to $275 per game, and that includes access to the club, which will house the Twins’ two World Series trophies. When Joe Mauer was recently given a tour of that area, he asked if there will be room to add a new spot for a new trophy. Smith told him, “If you stay, there will.”
On the suite level are dining areas with huge images of Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett on laser-fired pine. Should go nice with the wood-fired pizza.
As for the “regular” seats, some of the best in the house are the left-field bleachers, which will go for about 18 bucks. The short, eight-foot wall in left ensures that those in the bleachers will feel like a fourth outfielder.
In right field, it’s a 23-foot-high wall, on top of which rests another bleacher section that is backed by a standing-room porch area where many a Justin Morneau fly ball will no doubt be deposited.
But if you ask me, the best place in the ballpark to take in the action might be on the Budweiser Party Deck in left. And it’s way in left, elevated high above the action. A gas fire pit will keep the patrons warm on those harsh April nights.
Speaking of keeping things warm, the field will be kept at an appropriate temperature thanks to coils installed underneath the soil. And the field, by the way, is already in place and looks ready for play. The stadium itself is about 90 percent complete, Smith said.
All in all, the Twins, who have already sold 16,500 season tickets for next season, did this one right. They added some local touches that make it unique to the region, and they pay proper tribute to the team’s history (a flag pole from old Metropolitan Stadium was unearthed and will be installed on the right-field porch). What’s more, they won’t have to share this new home with the Vikings, the Gophers or the annual monster truck rally that comes to the Metrodome (Herman said the fumes from the truck rehearsals trickle into the Twins’ offices and force an evacuation).
The $425 million Target Field looks like a winner to me (and what a bargain, compared with the Yankee Stadium costs). But with the Indians scheduled to visit in the third week of April next season, I’m still holding out hope for the last-minute addition of a retractable roof…
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- How do I know the Indians will be at Target Field the third week of April? Because I’ve read the 2010 schedule, of course. It was released this afternoon.
- The Indians had no official word on how Jason Knapp’s shoulder surgery went today in New York.
- If you didn’t already know Kelly Shoppach’s future with this club looks bleak, look to the lineups. Shoppach has started just five of 14 games in September. Lou Marson is getting a great opportunity to show whether he’s ready for this level. “He’s a young kid, and we want to take a good look at him,” Wedge said, “and pick our spots with [Wyatt] Toregas and Shoppach.”
- Trevor Crowe hit his first Major League homer last night, which is always nice. But he hit it from the left-hand side, which the Indians found encouraging, considering he’s worked his way back from a right oblique strain. “It’s good to have him available from both sides,” Wedge said.
- It was only one game, of course, but Matt LaPorta looked solid at first base last night, picking an Asdrubal Cabrera throw out of the dirt and ranging to his right to make a nice play. As for where LaPorta, who is back in the outfield tonight, can expect to play next year, as Wedge said, “a lot depends on the supporting cast.” And the guy filling out the lineups, of course.
- Michael Brantley was caught stealing for the second time in five tries last night. He still has the green light to run on his own, as Wedge is going to allow him to get comfortable running at this level and learn from his mistakes. He was thrown out once with a right-hander on the mound and once with a lefty pitching.
- Mahoning Valley lost the first game of the New York-Penn League finals against Staten Island last night. Double-A Akron’s Eastern League finals against Connecticut began tonight.
- The Indians are averaging 5.4 runs per game on the road and 4.6 runs per game at home.