Since it became reality in May 2006, one of the most often-asked questions regarding Minnesota’s new ballpark revolved around what the facility would be called. Months and months of incredible speculation were answered earlier today when the Minnesota Twins and Target Corporation announced agreement in principle on an a historic new partnership that includes naming rights for Target Field – the new Hennepin County ballpark scheduled to open in 2010 — along with Target Plaza, which connects the ballpark to downtown Minneapolis.
Today’s announcement is the latest sign of tremendous momentum for the return of outdoor Major League Baseball. It also marks the culmination of a long-term team strategy and approach in relation to the naming of Minnesota’s new ballpark.
While many franchises conduct what may as well be called an “auction” for naming rights, I think it’s safe to say the Twins employed a somewhat non-traditional approach. For many years – even in advance of the necessary government approvals – at the urging of the Pohlad family the Twins contemplated what Minnesota’s new ballpark should be called. To that end, the team considered a variety of options – some corporate and even going with a non-corporate name. The bottom line was this: Minnesota’s new ballpark was going to be given a name which fans across Twins Territory could embrace.
Over time, the team engaged in discussions with several local and national companies each expressing interest in a ballpark naming rights relationship. The team was especially encouraged by the number of Minnesota legacy companies who showed interest in the ballpark project. As those discussions evolved, the most important elements for the team when considering potential corporate naming rights partners were as follows:
§ Minnesota based, strong regional heritage, local leadership
o FAMILY FOCUSED
§ Brand consistency, Values
o CIVIC ACTIVATION/STEWARDSHIP
§ Plaza, Ballpark District, Downtown Minneapolis, Region
§ History of giving back
That’s where Target Corporation comes into the picture. Minnesota-based Target and the Twins have enjoyed a 20-plus year sponsorship relationship. With that existing partnership as a foundation, the Twins and Target engaged in serious discussions regarding opportunities surrounding the new ballpark and ultimately reached the agreement we are announcing today. Simply put, the Pohlad family and Twins organization is incredibly proud to have found what we consider to be a perfect naming rights partner.
As the Twins and Target announce this agreement, it’s clear that the partnership is about more than naming rights to Target Field. It’s about creating the ultimate fan experience; it’s about philanthropy; it’s about creating public gathering space (i.e. Target Plaza); it’s about building something iconic for downtown Minneapolis and the region; it’s about two Minnesota heritage brands combining resources and ideas.
While this agreement is clearly significant, it’s only the first in what promises to be a number of sponsorship related announcements surrounding Target Field. The team remains in serious discussions with many local and national companies about the next tier of sponsorship. The team expects to finalize up to four FOUNDING LEVEL partnerships – with various ballpark entitlements – in the near future.
Stay tuned for details as Opening Day 2010 at Target Field is less than 19 months away.
Dave St. Peter
President, Minnesota Twins