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Ballpark Profile: Target Field

Ballpark Profile: Target Field
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Name: Target Field

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Opened: 12 April 2010

Architect: HOK Sport

Cost: $555 Million

Capacity: 39,501 (original)
                 38,55 (current)

Surface: Kentucky Bluegrass

If you've been following along with these ballpark profiles (and this is the twenty-third one we've done, so if not, get cracking!), you'll know that there are certain criteria that a ballpark must have to be considered 'great' (in our opinion).

It must be baseball-only. With a natural grass field. It must be open-air. It must be not only within its home city, but integrated into the fabric of the city itself (not pushed to the suburbs or surrounded by acres of parking lots). It must reflect/celebrate its surroundings, and "feel" like the hometown inside. And it should offer, beyond the outfield walls, a view of that city.

Target Field checks every one of these boxes with authority. It is, by our criteria, pretty close to the perfect ballpark. (In fact, given the climate in Minneapolis in the spring and late fall, if there's any ballpark that would have a legitimate argument for a dome or retractable roof, it's this one. But that was not to be, as we'll see below.)

Not only is Target Field part of the city, it is shoehorned into such a small footprint that only Fenway Park (built a century earlier) rivals it for total land area.

But they made the very best of the space available.

Reading the story of how Target Field came to be (and how it came to be on that location) is a roller coaster of a ride. For anyone interested in high-stakes drama, recriminations, political posturing, and the power of a single (but methodical) baseball fan, I'd recommend rolling up your sleeves and doing some research. But I'll do my best to summarize.

 

The Twins come into existence in 1961 when the Washington Senators relocated and began play at Metropolitan Stadium, a beloved old girl very similar to (the original) Candlestick Park and Kauffman Stadium.

In 1982, the Twins (and Vikings) moved into the Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome. This was the era of the big multi-purpose dome, and -- as mentioned above -- Minneapolis is one city that can justify playing indoors. If you've ever been to Minneapolis in February, it's something you won't soon forget.)

In 1994 (note: this is sixteen years before Target Field came into existence), the owner of the Twins Carl Polhad (fairly universally disliked and the "second richest man in Minnesota" -- it doesn't say who the richest is, but my guess would be Prince?) declared the Metrodome "economically obsolete" and asked/told the city to build him a new ballpark. This does not make him more well-liked.

The people of Minneapolis love their Twins, but they're also practical people, and they knew Polhad was the second richest man in Minnesota, so they told him to build his own darn ballpark. Polhad, of course, threatend to move or sell the team if they wouldn't fund his new ballpark.

In 1996, the first proposal to build a publicly-funded ballpark failed. A year later, a revised plan began to gain traction when the Twins (Polhad) offered to contribute the initial startup costs of a new ballpark. The plan fell apart when this "contribution" turned out to be a short-term loan that would be repaid (with interest) from public funds. Not only was the ballpark plan defeated, but the voters passed a referendum prohibiting Minneapolis from spending more than $10 million on any sports venue without voter approval.

A year after that (1998) Polhad signed a letter of agreement with a buyers group from Greensboro, North Carolina to move the team there unless Minneapolis agreed to build him a new ballpark. The voters of Minneapolis said no. (Unsurprisingly, the buyers had a similar clause in the agreement, making it contingent on the city of Greensboro building them a new ballpark. In a nice twist of fate, the voters of Greensboro also said no, so the sale of the team fell apart.)

"Twins" Minnie and Paul are depicted on the Right Field Scoreboard, shaking hands over the Mississippi River

Then the mayor of St. Paul jumped in, suggesting the Twins move across the river and build their ballpark there with St. Paul's taxpayer money instead. (For anyone unfamiliar, Minneapolis and St. Paul are called the "Twin Cities", and straddle the Mississippi River. That's why the team is called the "Twins".)

This annoyed the people of Minneapolis, but not as much as it did the people of St Paul, who voted that plan down.

By 2001, Carl Polhad was tired of not making progress on either a new ballpark or selling the team, and so he (allegedly) agreed to take a $250 Million settlement from MLB to allow the twins to be part of the contraction. MLB Owners had just voted 28-2 to eliminate two teams to reduce the size of the league. In an ironic twist of MLB's federal anti-trust exemption that grants them all kinds of freedom from federal taxes and rules, the courts ruled that the Twins' status as a 'community asset' obligated them -- legally required them -- to continue to play baseball for the citizens of Minnesota. The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the decision and the Minnesota Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Bickering, infighting, and political wars of words continued for the next few years, with the new ballpark being a frequent item on local, county, and state legislative sessions. With the entire Minnesota legislature up for election in 2006, and the feelings of Minnesotans about paying hundreds of millions of dollars well-known, no candidates actively campaigned in support of a new ballpark (or stadium for the Vikings, but that's another blog), and the idea was considered dead.

This is the good part:

A Twins fan and blogger named Shane Nackerud had kept a personal spreadsheet in which he tracked legislators' stances, for or against the new ballpark. When the dust settled, Shane -- and only Shane -- realized that there were enough votes to pass a ballpark proposal. He started spreading the word, and over the next few years, a (very small) parcel of land was identified, and -- one by one -- the hurdles preventing a new ballpark were laboriously cleared.

(Almost. A the 11th hour, the owners of the land, who had agreed to a purchase price of $1.7 million per acre in 2004, had the land re-appraised and determined the fair sale price in 2006 was $4.3 million per acre, or $34 million for the total parcel. The city tried to seize the land under eminent domain, but all was finally resolved in 2007.)

The final, all-in price, came to $555 million. While almost everyone agreed that a retractable roof was not only a good idea, but a virtual necessity in Minnesota, that would have added about $100 million to the bottom line. And the park would probably not have been built if it had cost $555,000,001, let alone $655,000,000. So the fans (and the players) just got some parkas instead.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

 

(A heated field and heated seating areas help. A little.)

Sorry for the long-winded history lesson. It's just a great story. About a great, truly great, ballpark. Twins fans, you should be justifiably proud of what you have there.

(And there's no need to feel sorry for St. Paul. They missed out on getting the Twins, but they do have The St. Paul Saints, one of the great minor-league franchises, who play in beautiful CHS Field, which is only a 15-minute drive from Target Field.)

Can I say how jealous I am of people in the Twin Cities having these two teams -- and ballparks -- so close together? There is almost nothing more enjoyable than minor league baseball (that's another blog), and having these two options right at hand is a wealth of luxury that I hope they appreciate. Most major-league towns do not have a good minor-league park within a couple of hours drive. 

 

Two last notes: the external façade of Target Field is not my favorite. It verges towards the modern, with light sandstone and steel. But it fits perfectly with its surroundings, which is what matters. Camden Yards and Coors Field are not red brick because "that's what a ballpark is supposed to be" -- they're red brick because that is what their neighborhoods are.

 

And lastly, Minneapolis has been in the news this year for the worst of reasons. The Twins have announced that they are reviewing their entire brand identity, and will be unveiling a whole new set of brand marks and uniforms after the 2021 season. A local Minneapolis doctor, Charles Crutchfield, has suggested a minor tweak to their historic "Minnie & Paul" logo (as shown on the scoreboard above.) Making one of the twins a person of color is a small change that could say volumes. Here's hoping there is more of this across all sports.

We're going to try to contact blogger/spreadsheet holder Shane Nackerud and revised logo designer Dr. Crutchfield to give them free Target Field prints for their efforts. 

Have your own thoughts or memories on Target Field? Post your comment below for a chance to win your own FREE PRINT from Ballpark Blueprints! 

13 comments

  • dHFQjpThkzvcCRq: October 12, 2020

    IRWlLKkeX

  • YTUknviSQOt: October 12, 2020

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  • Nathan: October 08, 2020

    We made our first visit to Target Field in 2019 and couldn’t agree more – this stadium is fantastic. We’ve been to many stadiums, this is one of our favorites.

    4 of us went to the game, we had 2 good seats down the left field line, and the other 2 of us stood along the rail on one of the GA sections in the LF corner – it was great!

    Can’t wait to go back when everything goes back to normal…

  • Jan: October 08, 2020

    What a recap and overview! Appreciate the history lesson. Growing up in Minnesota, I went to games as a kid. When Target Field opened, I went back home with my three adult kids to check out the new ballpark. Thanks for reminding me of my childhood while bringing back a special visit with my kids when this ballpark opened up.

  • Greg Siems: October 08, 2020

    What a great post! Very informative and nice to see my favorite ballpark highlighted this way. Can’t wait to take our new son there, when the world is back to normal. Would love a print to decorate his room! ⚾

  • Greg Siems: October 08, 2020

    What a great post! Very informative and nice to see my favorite ballpark highlighted this way. Can’t wait to take our new son there, when the world is back to normal. Would love a print to decorate his room! ⚾

  • Ryan Blackman: October 08, 2020

    Loved my experience at Target Field. Great stadium, and some delicious smells as I walked the concourse.

  • Sam: October 08, 2020

    Went there for the first time last year. Also took the tour. Definitely a top 5 park in my opinion.

  • Dan Humboldt: October 08, 2020

    This is a super cool print. I used to live in Minneapolis for five years out of college and both apartments I lived in were within walking distance to target field. The first one overlooked centerfield and the other one was two blocks away. I could see and hear the games from the first and could listen to the games from my patio on the second one. My wife and I went to games there and concerts and loved our experience in the stadium. It was top notch all the way around from the employees to the concessions to the ball park in general. The baseball wasn’t always great but we always had a great time. We’d love to have this up in our house now when we live in Atlanta to remind us of the great times we had there.

  • Joe Jensen: October 08, 2020

    This is awesome!

  • Evan: October 08, 2020

    Thanks for the history behind building Target Field, I knew they were trying to replace HHH Dome but didn’t realize for how long..
    I had the opportunity to travel to Target Field in 2014 from KC. Beautiful stadium all around, the bars next to the stadium and especially the lightrail (which goes all the way from Mall of America) is tough to beat. I was worried when they built an outdoor stadium, but have been pleasantly surprised it hasn’t been a bigger issue.
    Seems like the Twins have done a great job continue to make improvements through the stadium each year including the Delta Deck above CF. For any Midwesterner I think this is a trip to make. If you do take the lightrail from Mall of America. make sure you check out the seat still left from the longest HR In Metropolitan Stadium history belonging to Harmon Killebrew.

  • Steve Cecil: October 08, 2020

    What a great history lesson on the behind the scenes journey to build a ballpark. I’ve never been but I love how it fits so well into the existing neighborhood.

  • Marty Boylan: October 08, 2020

    The prints are outstanding I would surely love an angels print for my daughter the design of that stadium is outstanding

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