Barring something unforeseen, the Minnesota Twins, Hennepin County and the Minnesota Ballpark Authority will come together in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday (August 30) to host one of the region?s most significant groundbreaking events. Following a 10-plus year debate and a four-week delay due to the I-35W bridge collapse, the parties will team to ?officially? break ground on Minnesota?s new ballpark.
Thursday?s groundbreaking is only ceremonial considering the M.A. Mortenson team has been driving piles on the Burlington Northern property adjacent the ballpark site for the past several weeks. Moreover, just last week the construction team drove the initial piles on the actual ballpark site as they prepare for the formation of the superstructure this fall. Despite ongoing rumors and speculation, the driving of piles is moving forward as planned and the overall project remains right on schedule.
Fans attending Thursday?s historic groundbreaking event can look for the following:
- Scheduled appearances by Commissioner Bud Selig, Governor Tim Pawlenty, Hennepin County Commissioners Mike Opat, Peter McLaughlin, Mark Stenglein and Randy Johnson, Twins owner Carl Pohlad, Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire, Twins catcher Joe Mauer, Twins greats Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek and others.
- Alumni autographs.
- A plethora of affordable food and beverage options.
- A free concert performed by Minnesota?s own Martin Zellar.
- FSN North will televise the event live across the Upper Midwest.
Make plans to come out early and stay late for Thursday?s events, which will get under way at 4 pm. Think about it: This will be Twins fans’ one and only chance to visit the ballpark site between now and Opening Day 2010. Don?t miss out on this opportunity to be part of Twins and Minnesota sports history.
Twins Ballpark Notes: It appears the recent land value decision by the condemnation panel will be appealed by both the County and the private landowners. That appeal process is expected to play out over the next several months with a tentative trial date set for November. While Twins fans can take comfort in the reality that the land value should have no impact on the quality of the ballpark itself, it does create some concern about the County?s ability to ensure the level of the infrastructure surrounding the facility. Despite the fact that the Pohlad family has agreed to contribute to the County?s overall infrastructure budget, every incremental dollar diverted to land acquisition is one less dollar the project has to develop roads, bridges, streetscapes and other aspects certain to impact the overall fan experience. One can only hope that the private landowners emerge with a settlement offer worthy of consideration. Stay tuned for additional updates.
Dave St. Peter
President, Minnesota Twins Baseball Club
Isn?t it incredible how our world can change in a matter of moments? How a sudden unexpected event can put one?s life ? and more importantly baseball ? in proper perspective. That?s exactly what happened last Wednesday when the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed. Not only did a number people tragically lose their lives, many more were injured. The face of Minneapolis was changed forever as our community attempted to understand how this could happen.
Meanwhile, just blocks away from the scene of this unthinkable disaster, a baseball team was confronted with a series of decisions. No, I?m not referring to the trade deadline. Instead, I?m referring to the decision to play Wednesday?s game versus Kansas City with hopes of keeping the 25,000 fans off the streets and buy first respondersincremental unimpeded time to do their jobs.
I?m referring to the decision to postpone Thursday?s game against the Royals out of respect for those families impacted by this tragedy. I?m referring to the decision to move forward and play the four-game Indians series with hopes of returning a level of normalcy for our community. And lastly, I?m referring to the decision to postpone the groundbreaking for the new Twins ballpark.
The groundbreaking decision was the easiest, understanding that it wouldn?t be right to celebrate Minnesota?s new ballpark while the recovery effort continues in our downtown area. The Twins and our fans have waited 12 years to break ground on a new ballpark, we can certainly wait a few more weeks. Over the past few days, many fans have sought information about a rescheduled date for the groundbreaking event. The Twins, Hennepin County and the Minnesota Ballpark Authority will gather again this week in order to determine a date for the groundbreaking ceremony.
Rest assured, we will move forward in marking this historic occasion with a proper ceremony and opportunity for fans to participate on the ballpark site. That said, we will do so at a more appropriate time, and certainly with the families impacted by the 35W bridge tragedy in our hearts and minds.
Dave St. Peter
President, Minnesota Twins