Sunday, 13 July 2014

A Tour of Target Field - Behind the Scenes

Minnesota Twins
Ground level view from left-centre field

A Tour of Target Field

When I was a kid I dreamed of being a professional baseball player. In the summers my friends and I would have our own home run derbies, declaring which of our favourite players (Joe Carter was a popular choice for us Canadian kids) we were as we stepped to the plate. We would "call our shot" like the Great Bambino himself, often pointing to our vine covered house in left field, or, as we called it, The Green Monster. 

Last fall on our trip to Minneapolis, the great people at the Minnesota Twins welcomed us for a special behind the scenes visit of Target Field, their state of the art stadium that will play host to the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Obviously we jumped at the opportunity.

A Brief History Lesson

April 12, 2010 - 51 years had passed since the last time the Minnesota Twins played their home opener outdoors, an occasion that took place at Metropolitan stadium. In 1982 they moved to the year-around comforts of the newly built Metrodome, where they would spend the next 28 years. On this day the freshly minted Target Field opened its doors for the first time. Players and fans alike felt like kids in a candy store with many fans who had visited the "Old Met" stadium when they were kids, excited for the beginning of a new era of Minnesota Twins baseball. 

Fast forward to the present day and this American League jewel is set to play host to all of Major League Baseball's biggest stars. On July 15, 2014 the Minnesota Twins will host the 85th Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Target Field and its is sure to be a great week of festivities for one of our favourite cities, Minneapolis.

First Impressions

Minnesota Twins Baseball
Arriving at Target Field by light rail
Getting to a game is a breeze, thanks in large part to the light rail system that spans from the Mall of America, all the way to Target Field. As you pull into Minneapolis' historic Warehouse District you get your first glimpse, and are astounded by how it looks so modern, yet fits the skyline so perfectly. When I stepped off the train I marvelled at the massive stadium covered in 450 million year old(!!!) Mankato limestone. The only thing missing was the smell of  ball park hot dogs filling the air.

We ventured inside where we met our guide for the day, Chris: part of the Twins' media relations team. As we boarded an elevator Chris suggested we start at the top and work our way back down to field level. When the doors open we at the top of the stadium standing on an outdoor patio area called the Budweiser Roof Deck. This section plays host to private parties and boasts its own bar, heaters and a fire pit. 

Minnesota Twins Baseball
View from the Budweiser Roof Deck

Target Field is friendly to the Earth

Target Field is green in more ways than just its rich playing surface. It's just the second sports stadium in the USA to receive LEED certifications for new construction. The Twins weren't done there. They have also become the first professional sports franchise to receive LEED silver certification for their operations and maintenance. How do they do that? The Twins staff utilize a custom-designed rain water recycle system that captures, purifies and reuses more than 686,000 gallons of rainwater a year, drastically reducing the use of municipal water.

Target Field
Tributes to former Twins greats like this one to Harmon Killebrew are tucked throughout Target Field
Scattered throughout Target Field are nods to the Twins greats of seasons past including the bronze statues of  Kirby Puckett, Rod Carew, Kent Hrbek, and Harmon Killebrew located in Target Plaza (a popular entrance point of the stadium). Another Killebrew tribute is the "gold glove" in Target Plaza. While it serves as a salute to every Twins player to win a gold glove, its location, 520 feet from home plate, marks the longest home run ever hit at the Met Stadium

Target Field
Hard not to recognized the smiling face of Twins legend Kirby Puckett

One our favorite photos from our tour. The steps that lead to the field through the Twins dugout

Passion, Hustle, Heart, Fun

Just as we thought that our tour was winding down, Chris melted our little league hearts when he invited to go into the Twins Clubhouse (which is off limits to cameras but I can describe to you what it was like).  As you walk through many hallways that seem to be there just for confusion sake,  you can see that no expense was spared when building this facility with state of the art fitness equipment and training rooms, including traditional hot and cold tubs, surrounded my modern medical equipment. Finally we came upon two large wood doors ingrained with the Twins' logo. Once inside, the room opened up to to a very large, dark wood grain walled area with lockers and half a dozen massage chairs. A giant Twins logo decorated the carpet. Joe Mauer's locker stood out for its corner location, certainly a perk of being the homegrown all-star he is.

 As I wrap this post up I will leave you with these memorable quotes above the doorways of the clubhouse:
We're all in this boat together. Everybody grab an oar. - Tom Kelly
Live for today. Tomorrow isn't promised to anyone. - Kirby Puckett


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