Baseball?s most unpredictable postseason is in the books (just ask the Twins, Yankees, Padres, Athletics, Mets and Tigers) and all of us with the Minnesota Twins would like to congratulate the St. Louis Cardinals organization on winning its tenth World Series title. The Cards ? with just 83 regular season wins ? were unlikely World Series winners. However, like the 85-win 1987 Twins, this Cardinals team refused to lose and deserved to claim the championship.
Throughout the month of October, much was made across the Upper Midwest about the impact of weather on postseason games. It seems as though the Twins presence in the postseason ? coupled with rain outs and frigid temps in New York, Detroit and St. Louis ? sparked a plethora of conversation about the future of outdoor baseball in Minnesota. In fact, it?s my belief that many across the region just recently focused on the reality that the Twins-Hennepin County ballpark project calls for the construction of an open-air facility versus a retractable or fixed-roof facility.
Newspaper stories, radio talk shows, calls and e-mails to the Twins front office all carried a consistent theme: Can the Twins and Hennepin County be serious about building an open-air ballpark? We?re going to find a way to include a retractable roof ? correct? Aren?t fans going to be miserable watching baseball outside in less-than-perfect weather? Somebody will come forward to add the roof ? right?
In response to those who are just now figuring out the future of baseball in Minnesota is outside, remember the Twins fought for ten-plus years to gain support for the construction of a retractable-roof facility. Plan after plan collapsed leaving significant doubt about the franchise?s future in Minnesota. Understanding the roof adds at least $130 million to the overall project cost and that the state of Minnesota was unlikely to participate in any funding plan, the Twins organization had a decision to make. Either remain in the Metrodome or partner with Hennepin County on the plan to build an open-air ballpark in Minneapolis? Historic Warehouse District. Clearly, the Twins chose the latter with hopes of gaining the necessary approvals, setting this debate aside, and preserving the future of Twins baseball for many generations to come.
The rest so they say is history. With the ballpark approvals now in place, the Twins, Hennepin County and the Minnesota Ballpark Authority are now focused on building the best open-air ballpark in America. Despite rumors and misinformation suggesting there is a ?plan? to ultimately add a retractable roof, the project team remains focused on shaping and improving the open-air experience. Fan comfort is the goal as we collectively explore a variety of options ? some of which have never been implemented in a Major League Baseball facility. More on that in the months to come as we prepare to unveil the ballpark design and amenities in early 2007.
Meanwhile, all this talk about the Minnesota weather and outdoor baseball motivated me to do some research. Interestingly, what I found was in contrast to much of the sentiment of those suggesting an open-air ballpark will prove disastrous for the baseball team and its fans.
I started with a review of the average monthly temperatures for nine northern climate markets ? all of which play open-air baseball ? during the months of April, May, September and October. While the survey confirms Minneapolis will have some challenging days and nights, it also confirms we are not alone. Yes, those less-than-perfect days will be more frequent in October. However, how many empty seats did you see at Comerica Park or Busch Stadium when temps dipped to the low 40?s earlier this month? Based on the following chart, why is outdoor baseball in Minnesota doomed when the average monthly temps are quite close to those in markets such as Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit? I thought Minnesotans were hardy people. What am I missing here?
|Average Monthly Temps|
So if Minneapolis? average monthly climate is comparable to some other northern climate MLB cities, I thought those folks predicting disaster must believe rain will be the ultimate challenge. More research produced similar results. The Twins have looked at this issue for a long, long time. Yes, we will have rain but it will result in fewer rainouts (2-3 per season) than most believe. However, a review of the average monthly precipitation for the seven-month period of April-October suggests that the Twin Cities are actually less likely to deal with rain problems than other northern markets playing outdoor baseball.
|Average Monthly Precipitation|
|New York||3.63 inches|
Despite the facts outlined above, I?m certain the roof debate will continue to rage for years to come. The important thing is the debate has shifted. For the past decade people across the region squared off over the decision of how to fund a ballpark and ensure the long-term viability of Twins baseball. For those of us within the Twins organization, we will happily engage in a debate over the merits of building an open-air ballpark. That change in dynamic represents progress.
Dave St. Peter
President, Minnesota Twins
New Ballpark Idea of the Week: ?The interior could be divided into two sides, where each side is identified as MLPS and STP. One interior concourse would have Minneapolis pictures, names and theme, the other concourse would include a Saint Paul theme identity.? ? Dana Peterson of Eagan, MN
When Upper Midwest baseball fans look back on the year 2006, they will remember one of the more eventful and uplifting seasons in the history of the Minnesota Twins franchise. The disappointing performance versus Oakland in the American League Division Series notwithstanding, the 2006 Twins had a heck of a season. CONGRATULATIONS to Terry Ryan, Ron Gardenhire, the entire coaching staff and team on winning 96 games en route to winning the club?s fourth American League Central Division title in five seasons. Twins fans far and wide applaud the grit, determination and never-say-die attitude of the 2006 Twins (i.e. The Little Piranhas).
Speaking of the fans, what can you say about the passion and dedication they continue to demonstrate for Twins baseball? They came to the Metrodome in big numbers as the team posted the fourth largest total attendance (Nearly 2.4 million including the postseason) in club history. Those same fans watched and listened in record numbers as Twins fever spread throughout Twins Territory.
I believe that fan support had a lot to do with the reality that these Twins defined the meaning of TEAM as much as any club in recent memory. Well done boys. Thanks for the memories.
Back in late May, in the midst of this memorable season, a new ballpark was approved thus preserving Twins baseball for future generations. Those approvals not only put Hennepin County and the Twins on track to construct a 40,000-seat open-air ballpark in downtown Minneapolis, but they once-and-for-all eliminate the nagging questions about the long-term viability of Twins baseball in this marketplace.
The balance of 2006 will be spent shaping our team for 2007 and beyond. With Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire at the helm of a nucleus of returning players featuring the likely Cy Young Award winner, an AL MVP candidate, the AL batting champ and the best bullpen in baseball, we fully expect to once again contend for a World Championship.
Meanwhile, the Twins front office remains focused on shaping and finalizing plans for the new ballpark. The next few months will produce a plethora of new ballpark-related news including the release of an updated conceptual design as well as the launch of a marketing campaign aimed at providing fans their first opportunity to secure premium seats in the new park.
Yes, these are exciting times to be a Twins fan. The team ? currently the second youngest in baseball ? looks to be a prime contender for seasons to come. A new ballpark is on the way meaning the team?s Metrodome era is drawing to a close. April 2010 is just over the horizon as we begin the countdown (three seasons ? 243 regular season home games) to the return of outdoor baseball.
Dave St. Peter
President, Minnesota Twins
Ballpark Idea of the Week
I think it would be a great idea to have fireworks shoot off every time a Twins player hits a homerun. Just like they do for the White Sox. It would bring so much excitement to the game and it will let Downtown Minneapolis let their Minnesota Twins hit a homerun. ? Steve of Minneapolis.