The date April 12, 2007 will go down in Minnesota Twins history as one of the most important days in the history of the franchise. Not only is it the day the Twins and Hennepin County unveil the vision for a new downtown Minneapolis ballpark, but it also signals the conclusion of a decade-long period of frustration and agony for the team and its fans.
Today?s unveiling comes following a four-week delay due to uncertainty over Hennepin County?s ability to acquire the necessary parcels of land. Those delays certainly challenged the viability of the Twins-Hennepin County ballpark project but ultimately strengthened the bond between the team and the County. That partnership was central to the legislative passage of the ballpark bill and remains critical as the entities work together to build a great urban ballpark.
Clearly, we would not be in the position we are today without the leadership of the Pohlad family or the Twins day-to-day project leader Jerry Bell. Their vision and passion for this project continues to inspire all of us within the Twins family. Moreover, all of us with the Twins continue to be appreciative of Hennepin County Commissioners Randy Johnson, Mike Opat, Mark Stenglein, Peter McLaughlin and Gail Dorfman. Their courage and leadership on this issue remains nothing short of heroic. Finally, we must thank the fans and business leaders across the Upper Midwest. Your continued patience and support for this project is simply amazing.
Going forward, much work remains as we strive to put the necessary elements in place for a final vote of the County board which will result in the ?quick take? of the ballpark land. In the days and weeks to come, the team, the County and the Minnesota Ballpark Authority must work to finalize a number of contractual agreements (i.e. the Development Agreement, the Lease/Use Agreement, Grant Agreement). Moreover, the team and the County remain engaged in discussions with MnDot and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad on a series of issues relating their respective operations and the ballpark. We remain confident those issues will be resolved allowing the project to move forward as scheduled.
THE BALLPARK VISION ? ONE OF BASEBALL?S MOST INTIMATE VENUES
As the Twins and Hennepin County unveil the vision for Minnesota?s new ballpark, it?s my hope that fans and media will focus on the following critical elements:
The new ballpark is nestled in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis on an 8-acre site ? The smallest site of the new generation of ballparks.
The ballpark will be uniquely positioned between the 5th and 7th Street bridges on the north and south, and cantilever over the interstate and railroad tracks on the east and west.
Despite site constraints, HOK Sport and Minneapolis-based HGA have devised a way to design approximately 1 million square feet of programming, slightly larger than PNC Park in Pittsburgh and AT&T Park in San Francisco . . . benchmark ballparks which our fans have identified.
Despite site constraints, HOK Sport has created one of the most efficiently designed facilities providing all of the modern amenities fans should expect.
UNIQUE ACCESSIBILITY AND CONNECTIONS
The siting and design provide a central convergence point with unparalleled access and connections to our city, region and state, some of which may not exist ?but for? the ballpark, including:
- Skyway access
- Pedestrian bridge and plaza connections to the Warehouse and Downtown Business Districts
- Cedar Lake bike trail
- Interstate 94/394
- Light rail terminal for existing Hiawatha Line for future lines, including the Central Corridor
- Northstar Commuter Rail terminal
DESIGN UNIQUE TO MINNESOTA
The ballpark has been designed with Minnesota in mind, including:
- Native Minnesota materials, including limestone, glass and steel.
- Environmentally friendly, including sustainability and energy efficiency.
- Weather resistant, including wind shelter, heated concessions, restrooms, restaurants and lounge areas, and one of the largest sun decks in all of MLB.
- Extensive native landscaping features.
- A celebration of Minnesota baseball history.
THE PEOPLE?S PARK
Raising the bar on the fan experience:
- Superior baseball sightlines.
- Concourses twice as wide as the Metrodome.
- More concessions points of sale and options.
- A Major League quality scoreboard and sound system.
- More than a ballpark ? a gathering place 365 days a year.
Yes, this is an exciting time to be a Twins fan. Going forward, we hope you will take the time to share your comments and feedback on the schematic design. Please take a few moments to weigh in by clicking on the Fan Feedback box as part of the New Ballpark page at Twinsbaseball.com.
Dave St. Peter