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Opinion

Newly opened Target Field offers fans many benefits

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April 14, 2010

For 28 seasons, the Minnesota Twins called the Metrodome home. That’s not the case anymore as the Twins moved to their new home, Target Field.

The $528 million ballpark made its debut last Monday in front of an announced sellout crowd of 39,715.

Target Field has hosted three games before opening its doors officially last Monday against the Boston Red Sox. On March 27th, the University of Minnesota played Louisiana Tech and the Twins played two preseason games on April 2nd and 3rd against the St. Louis Cardinals.

I was fortunate enough to find tickets to go to the home-opener and witness the debut of the first regular season game at Target Field. I watched as the numerous groups of people experienced what Target Field had to offer.

Target Field and its plaza gave Minnesotans something they have not experienced in the last 28 seasons unless they have visited other ballparks around the country: outdoor baseball.

The plaza had golden statues of Kirby Puckett and Harmon Killebrew, which had people lining up to take their picture next to. By Gate 34 there is a Golden Glove statue that people could stand next to or sit on and get their picture taken.

The entrance gates are numbered after retired numbers worn by Twins players, except Gate 42, which is Jackie Robinson’s number.

The other gates are #3 for Harmon Killebrew, #6 honoring Tony Olivia, #14 for Kent Hrbek, #29 honoring Rod Carew, and #34 honoring Kirby Puckett.

The plaza also had different food and drink vendors lined up and the “Wall” which has the names of people who donated money to the Twins on the wall.

Once you enter the stadium, the biggest thing you’ll notice is the obvious, no roof. But also, the concourses are wider and the foot traffic is not as congested.

The only time it got really congested in the concourse was about an hour before the first pitch when everyone was entering the stadium at the same time.

But as game time got closer and throughout the game, the concourse had a lot of space and was easy to walk around.

The food selection became more diverse as well. In the Metrodome, the food selection was essentially limited to hot dogs, hamburgers and pizza mixed with some nachos and ice cream.

At Target Field, the hot dogs, hamburgers and pizza are still there along with walleye on a stick, grilled steak sandwiches, chicken tenders, tacos, corn dogs, pulled pork, and the list goes on.

And I haven’t even mentioned the snack foods like nachos, cheese curds, ice cream, pretzels, cookies, popcorn, cracker jacks, and that’s just a small sample of what is offered at the park.

There are also two restaurants inside of Target Field, Hrbek’s sports bar and Town Ball Tavern.

The design of the stadium impressed me as well. Behind home plate and off where the left field seats and 3rd base side seats meet there is a beautiful limestone design that gives the ballpark its own unique design. In center field there are Minnesota fir pine trees, and while there is no roof there is a canopy above the top deck.

The stadium has a lot of bells and whistles, which is to be expected from a new ballpark. The scoreboard located in left-center field above the seats is the fourth largest in the MLB, and can be seen from practically anywhere throughout the ballpark.

On the lower levels, there are TV monitors mounted above the seating, and they’re also mounted by all the concessions so no fan has to miss the game. I spent less than five minutes in line getting food throughout the game. Right next to the scoreboard is the signature Minnie and Paul shaking hands logo that lights up when a Twins player hits a home run.

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit other outdoor ballparks, Old Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium, where the Yankees and Mets used to play before they moved into their new ballparks last year.

So I was able to experience the outdoor baseball atmosphere before Target Field, but it was cool to see Twins fans for the first time experiencing the outdoor elements of the projected forecast of rain in which everyone brought umbrellas although not a drop of rain fell and it was mostly sunny the entire game.

Also, the uncontrolled temp as when the sun beat down on us it felt really hot and when we got cloud cover it became cooler.

Also, I watched people experience the outdoor elements of animals or rather birds flying around. We even saw a bat flying around in the top of the second inning.

Even the opening ceremony was different then the days of the Metrodome, as right after the National Anthem was sung, four F-18s flew by which is something that couldn’t happen with the days of a roof stadium.

For 28 seasons, from 1981-2009, the Twins and the fans only knew of indoor baseball unless they were playing in a different state.

Now, the Twins and the fans are back outside in their beautiful new ballpark, Target Field. Oh, and I bet you were wondering about the huge home-field advantage at Metrodome critics seem to think the Twins will lose once moving to Target Field.

If the 5-2 dominating win over the Red Sox is any indication, I’m thinking the Twins are in ready for its new home-field advantage at Target Field.   

Derek Johnson is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.