Less than one month remains until Minnesota Twins fans get the chance to watch their favorite team play America’s favorite pastime in the new outdoor Target Field stadium.
The Twins’ home opener against the Boston Red Sox on April 12 will mark the first time the team will host an outdoor game since September 1981, when the team played its home season finale at Metropolitan Stadium located in Bloomington, where the Mall of America now resides.
The new stadium cost $440 million to build and has a more intimate feel than the Metrodome, said Beth Kocian, a Twins community relations intern. Target Field seats 39,504 fans while the Metrodome held 55,300. Because Target Field has close to 15,000 less seats than the Metrodome, “They took a hit,” said Kocian. “But there isn’t a bad seat in the house.”
To unite the stadiums exterior and interior colors, the Minnesota Ballpark Authority Web site said Target Field has incorporated a wooden chair section on the main level, making it the first stadium since World War II to do so.
As fans flood into Target Field, many will notice the tarmac to be twice as wide as the Metrodome’s, making it easier to weave through traffic. When fans find their seats, they can expect to enjoy the game in a more comfortable fashion with wider seats, more leg room and fewer people to climb over, as there are fewer seats in each row. If fans have to leave their seat at any time, they can still catch the game on one of the 625 flat screen TVs located throughout the stadium. Unlike the Metrodome, during the 7th inning stretch, fans can sit back and enjoy the view of the Minneapolis skyline while watching footage on the 1400-inch scoreboard located in center field.
Head pitching coach of the Twins since 2002, Rick Anderson, said Target Field is one of the nicest stadiums in all of major league baseball.
“They cut no corners on it, and it’s just absolutely gorgeous,” said Anderson, who roomed with Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire when they played minor league baseball for the Mets organization. “I think it’s outstanding to get something like that for the great fans that have stood by us for so many years.”
Almost every Twins player has had the chance to tour the new state-of-the-art stadium and Anderson said they are looking forward to the extra space and new amenities.
“The lockers themselves are oversized; they are huge,” said Anderson. “There are rooms where people can lounge and watch TV; the training room is the biggest I’ve seen in baseball. Anything you could possibly imagine an athlete would need, they have.”
Fan amenities will also be bigger and better at Target Field with access to almost 1 ½ times more bathrooms, sit down bars and a direct metro transit that brings fans directly to Gate 6.
Anderson, who retired from baseball in 1988, said although the weather may not be ideal at the beginning of the season, it won’t affect the team’s play.
“The chance to be in a new stadium playing outdoor baseball is a good trade-off to dealing with the elements every once in a while,” Anderson said.
With the addition of Target Field to Minneapolis, surrounding businesses are also looking forward to Target Field’s inaugural season.
Nicole Laimer, general manager of a nearby Applebee’s, took the job last August specifically because of the new stadium. She said she couldn’t be more excited and looks forward to the season.
“The stadium will bring a lot of traffic and out-of-towners,” said Laimer, an Applebee’s employer for four years. “Being a family restaurant, we hope to capitalize on that.”
The new stadium will be a draw for baseball lovers all over the United States, April Hanson, a sales associate at The Hard Rock Café, said.
“The new stadium will bring baseball lovers from everywhere, not just Minnesota, with all of the summer ballpark tours,” said Hanson, who has marked opening day on her calendar.
As their season opener draws closer, Anderson said he is most looking forward to seeing the excitement of a full house on game day.
“This is a whole new era in Twins baseball and I’m just really excited to be a part of it,” Anderson said.