ON TARGET: A NEW BALLPARK THAT MAKES THE A’S GREEN WITH ENVY

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Well, three close losses aside, my weekend visit to Minneapolis was certainly
enlightening.  I had heard that the
Twins’ new home, Target Field, was baseball’s newest gem.  Yet, walking into the first-year venue was
beyond my wildest expectations.  Of the
new generation of Major League ballparks, this may the best designed and best
feeling one of all–even outdistancing such jewels as the new Yankee and Busch
stadiums, as well as the Giants’ AT&T Park and Pittsburgh’s PNC Park.  Some of the more distinctive features at
Target Field are:

 

  • Limestone facing both inside and outside the park, going against
    the recent trend by adding a non-brick
    surface.

 

  • Similar to the renovated Dodgers Stadium, the lower box seat area
    is separated by a “moat” of sorts, which allows patrons to socialize going
    to and from their seats.

 

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  • A gigantic replica of the original Twin Cities logo featuring two
    players, one representing Minneapolis and
    the other St. Paul,
    shaking hands in dead center field above the batter’s eye.

 

  • Beyond the left field seating sets perhaps the largest and sharpest
    video board on this or any other planet. 
    If Ron Gardenhire is talking with his pitcher on the mound, he
    better hope there aren’t lip readers in the stands.

 

  • Videoboard.jpgResembling some of the soccer stadiums I’ve seen abroad, the upper
    awning overhang above the top tier seating features a built in bank of
    lighting–very cool and futurist looking.

 

  • An abundance of affordable outfield seating, including a three-deck
    layout in left field with towering heights that harkens back to the old
    Metropolitan Stadium where Killebrew, Carew and Oliva once roamed.

 

  • Unlike the New Yankee Stadium–impressive in its own right–Target
    Field is wide open behind the right field bleachers.  You can see 6th Street and part of
    downtown Minneapolis.

 

Yet, beyond the great features, Target Field
represents much more than a pristine place to play baseball.  It’s a crowning achievement for a small
market franchise that for many years has had its ingenuity tested in its
efforts to stay playoff caliber.  (Sound
familiar?).  I spoke with the Twins’
long-time broadcaster Dick Bremer.  You could
just see his excitement and emotion when he spoke.  “I’m from here.  Grew up here. 
Went to high school here.  To see
what this has done for my city and area is amazing.” 

 

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A day like yesterday–74 degrees, blue skies with
little humidity–is when these locals really enjoy not being entrapped under a
stifling roof.  Not to mention dealing with
that ridiculous Metrodome “baggie” outfield fence.  Yet, I think the most poignant scene I
witnessed last weekend was simply watching Joe Mauer stroll to the plate. He’s
the franchise player, truly a player for the ages, and he’s locked up with a
long-term contract that ensures that young fans will grow up watching their
favorite hero–and cornerstone of the franchise–play games in a Twins uniform at
Target Field for many years to come.  I
couldn’t help but feel a little green with envy, wondering when the time will
come when our Oakland
A’s fans can experience the same thrill. 
With Target Field now christened and the Marlins’ new yard opening soon,
only Oakland and Tampa Bay
remain among the 32 MLB clubs still seeking a new home.  You would think the odds are starting to tilt
in our favor that a permanent–and logical–solution will be forthcoming in the
near future.  We can only hope.

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