Two Years and Counting

A sell-out crowd of more than 48,000 will converge on the Metrodome for tonight’s 2008 season opener featuring the Minnesota Twins versus the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. All those in attendance will not only cheer on the Twins for the start of another season, but they will be on hand for the start of the official “countdown” to Minnesota’s new ballpark scheduled to open in 2010.

Starting with tonight’s game, the Twins will feature an interactive display adjacent the Samsung Home Run Porch which will countdown the number of games remaining in the Metrodome. The number will switch in the sixth inning – once the current game becomes official. Tonight, Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew will be among the group changing the number from 162 to 161 games.

Speaking of Opening Day, you could almost predict the forecast for a snowy sloppy day across Twins Territory. Undoubtedly, the crummy weather and pending return of outdoor baseball will be common discussion points for Minnesota baseball fans and media. Let’s just keep Monday’s weather in proper context.

The reality is ALL northern climate baseball communities – Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Boston, etc. – have challenges with April weather. Most of those cities have dealt with this issue for more than 100 years. Things are no different in Minnesota. While things are bit more unpredictable this time of year, come late April or early May, our climate is quite comparable to other northern baseball towns. That said, the Twins remain confident in our ability to work with Major League Baseball to ensure we open the season on the road – a factor aimed at helping ensure better weather for the season opener.

Nationals Park Opens to Solid Reviews
The Twins front office watched last night’s Washington Nationals-Atlanta Braves game with great interest as the team’s played the first-ever game in National’s Park. From all accounts the District of Columbia and the Nationals franchise deserve kudos for the design of a wonderful baseball venue. I had the chance to tour the facility during construction and look forward to getting a glimpse of the finished product in the near future. The similarities to the new Twins ballpark are plentiful, highlighted by the following:

  • Sustainable Design – Like the Twins ballpark, Nationals Park is seeking LEED certification from the US Green Building Council. The certification provides environmental guidelines for the sustainable construction and operation of new buildings.

 

  • Front Door – Like the Twins ballpark, the “front door” of Nationals Park is in the outfield. While the primary entrance to the Twins ballpark is in right-field (6th Street Pedestrian Bridge and Plaza), the main entrance to the Nationals Park is in left-field.

 

  • Stone – Watch a game at the Nationals Park and it won’t take long to notice the signature “federal building” buff-colored stone which is prevalent behind home plate and throughout the facility. Those stone elements remind me of the plans to use the Minnesota-native Kasota Stone throughout the exterior and interior of the Twins ballpark.

 

  • Landscaping – Since the Twins unveiled the schematic ballpark design last year, thousands of fans have expressed their satisfaction with the plan to feature a series of Minnesota-native fir trees just beyond the centerfield fence. Likewise, Nationals fans love the series of signature DC Cherry Trees which have been planted beyond the left-field bleachers.

 

  • Scoreboard – The Nationals Park video board is quite similar in size and shape to the board contemplated for the new Twins ballpark. The National’s board features a 4,532-square-foot high-definition video screen. Meanwhile, the current Twins ballpark design is calling for a 5,000+ square foot board.

 

  • Views – Both ballparks provide fans with memorable views of their respective home city. While the downtown Minneapolis skyline will be prevalent in the new Twins ballpark, Nationals Park gives fans (particularly those sitting in the upper deck) a spectacular view of the Capital dome.

 

Win Twins!!!

Dave St. Peter
President, Minnesota Twins

Ballpark Enhancements Help Ensure Superior Fan Experience

This week?s Hennepin County Board committee meeting once again demonstrated the Pohlad family and Minnesota Twins commitment to build America?s best ballpark. During that meeting it was announced that the team had agreed to cover $22.4 Million worth of ballpark upgrades ? raising the $390 Million project budget to $412.4 Million. That $22.4 Million expense is in addition to the incremental $15 Million contributed by the team to supplement the County?s original $90 Million infrastructure budget. Do the math. The Twins current ballpark contribution now totals $167.4 Million ($130M + $15M + $22.4M). Don?t be surprised if that total continues to rise considering the team?s ongoing commitment to ensure quality and a legacy project.

The good news for Twins fans is these enhancements are almost exclusively aimed at ensuring a superior fan experience. Among the elements included in these enhancements are the following:

         Full Roof Canopy Soffit ? Largest in baseball

         Scoreboard Upgrade ? High Definition board at least 102 feet long and 57 feet high.

         Warming Shelters ? Located on the Terrace Level

         Mankato Limestone ? 100,000 square feet of exterior stone

         Restrooms ? Incremental women?s restrooms

         Concessions ? Incremental concessions locations and enhanced operations

Stay tuned for more detailed information on the elements outlined above. We think these enhancements are critical and a huge win for the team ? and most importantly ? our fans.

Twins Ballpark Notes: A group of Twins officials visited Cisco?s San Jose headquarters this week to better understand how emerging technology can enhance the fan experience at the ballpark. The Oakland Athletics new home ? Cisco Field ? is slated to open as early as 2012 ? Last week?s construction milestone featured the initial placement of part of the promenade which covers the BNSF track. With that piece in place, last week marked the first time a BNSF train would pass ?under? the ballpark ? The Twins will officially launch the sale of Club Seats (3,000 Legend?s Club seats and 400 Champion?s Club seats) during the week of February 25 ? To date, 43 of the planned 55 private suites have been sold. That early sales success may lead the team to decide to increase the total number of private suites to 60 ? The Twins will soon finalize a definitive agreement with a well-known baseball concessionaire to handle all food and beverage services within the new ballpark ? Look for a ?Countdown to the New Ballpark? element to be incorporated during home games at the Metrodome during the 2008 season.

Win Twins!!!!

Dave St. Peter

President, Minnesota Twins Baseball Club

HOCKEY IN DOWNTOWN MINNEAPOLIS?

One of the most talked about sports stories of the recent holiday season was the NHL?s outdoor game played between the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins at Buffalo?s Ralph Wilson Stadium. More than 70,000 people braved frigid temps and snow to watch outdoor hockey and the game posted better-than-normal television ratings across the country. A successful event on all fronts. Successful enough to ignite discussions across the country about which northern climate facility should host the next outdoor hockey spectacle. Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, all have been mentioned.

The event?s success and accompanying buzz has led people throughout the State of Hockey to suggest it will soon be time for Minnesota to host an outdoor hockey extravaganza. Yes, we currently lack an adequate outdoor facility. However, the construction of TCF Bank Stadium and the new Twins Ballpark will change the dynamic in the near future.

There is no question that TCF Bank Stadium — complete with its horseshoe design, 50,000 seats and artificial playing surface ? is a likely venue for such an event. Moreover, the U of M?s vision for a tripleheader of sorts ? games involving the Gophers men, Gophers women and the Wild ? is quite solid.

At the same time, many have inquired whether or not the Twins would have interest in hosting such an event in the new downtown Minneapolis ballpark. The answer to the question is a definite YES.

Long before outdoor hockey was suggested, the Twins had considered constructing an ice skating rink in center field for the winter months. That rink could become a wintertime destination for thousands of Minnesotans, much like the rink which currently sits in downtown St. Paul adjacent the Landmark Center.

In regards to hockey, the new 40,000-seat Twins ballpark would offer more intimacy than a football facility. My sense is more fans would have optimal sightlines in the ballpark. Moreover, the thought of showcasing hockey in the region?s largest city has definite appeal.

The primary challenge to events of this nature in the Twins ballpark is the natural grass playing field. Like concerts, ice-related events can have quite a negative impact on a playing surface ? something that is quite concerning to the ballclub. It?s compounded by the calendar and the reality that Minnesota?s weather does not provide your playing field sufficient time to recover for Opening Day?

Needless to say, the playing field challenge will be studied with hopes of finding ways to mitigate the negative impact. Assuming we are successful, one never knows when we may see the likes of Mauer and Morneau on skates in downtown Minneapolis. Lets Play Hockey!!!!

TWINS BALLPARK NOTEBOOK: M.A. Mortenson remains on target to pour the first main concourse slab on or about January 23 ? As of today the Twins have confirmed commitments for 40 of the 55 private suites ? The team hopes to begin marketing club seat product (Champion?s Club and Legend?s Club) in early February ?

More than 70% of the ballpark project has been bid ? The 6 by 6 scale model of the ballpark ? along with the latest in 3-D computer animation ? will be on display at TwinsFest January 25-27. Don?t miss this opportunity to see first-hand the vision for Minnesota?s new ballpark.

Win Twins!!!!

Dave St. Peter
President, Minnesota Twins Baseball Club

Another Ballpark Milestone: First Concrete Slab Pour

Today marks another critical milestone in the construction of the new Twins Ballpark in downtown Minneapolis.

Beginning at 7 am this morning, the M.A. Mortenson crew will commence the project?s first concrete slab pour as crews set the floor of the ballpark?s mezzanine level (the mezzanine level is located between the service level and the main concourse and houses a variety of operational functions ? mainly the ballpark?s concession headquarters). Despite what has been a harsh start to winter, it?s been amazing to see the ballpark begin to take shape. Today?s initial pour will be followed by the first pour of the main concourse level in early January.

Twins Ballpark Notebook:

The Twins Ballpark project team traveled to Washington, DC last week in order to review the status of Nationals Park which is scheduled to open in April. While much work remains on interior spaces, the ballpark seating bowl is taking shape, the playing field has been installed and the main scoreboard is in place. While much has been made of the Twins Ballpark?s stone exterior, it?s interesting to see the ?federal building?-like exterior of DC?s new stadium ?

Speaking of scoreboards, the Twins project team recently made a trip to Pittsburgh to review Daktronics latest HD16 video board technology. Daktronics is the Brookings, SD company which is expected to compete for the scoreboard elements in the Twins Ballpark ?

As of last week the Mortenson crews had driven more than 1,300 of the 2,200 piles needed for the ballpark project ? As of today, the Twins have secured commitments for 37 of the 55 private suites within the ballpark ?

Current season ticket holders have been sent postcards on which they can identify their interest in securing premium seating (Champion?s Club or Legend?s Club seats) in the new ballpark. Those accounts not returning their postcards should do so quickly as club seating assignments will begin shortly after the first of the year. More updates to come in the near future.

Happy Holidays from all of us with the Minnesota Twins. Win Twins!!!!

Dave St. Peter

President, Minnesota Twins

Ballpark Sales Effort Underway

As construction of Minnesota?s new ballpark continues to charge forward, the Twins recently launched a fully-integrated sales and marketing effort surrounding the various proposed premium seating categories within the facility.

The team?s marketing headquarters can be found at the Twins Ballpark Project Office overlooking the construction site in downtown Minneapolis. The Ballpark Project Office houses the model unveiled last month as well as an exact full-scale mock private suite identical to those found in the new ballpark. On a daily basis several Minnesota companies visit the Ballpark Project Office in an effort to determine the premium seating product which meets the needs of their employees and clients.

First out of the box in the team?s new ballpark marketing effort is the sale of the 50-55 private suites within the facility. If early sales results are any indication, the new Twins ballpark looks to be on target for being the place to be starting in the spring of 2010.

Having launched the official sales effort less than seven weeks ago, the team currently has commitments for 32 of the proposed 50-55 private suites within the facility. While more work remains, the current sales pace has the team encouraged and on track to having the ballpark?s private suites sold out before the end of the calendar year.

With the private suite sales off to a roaring start, the team will soon shift its focus to the sale of other premium seating options including the Champion?s Club and Legend?s Club.

Located directly behind home plate, the Champion?s Club features 405 premium seats all with access to an exclusive club restaurant for entertaining before and after the ballgame, valet parking and a private ballpark entrance.

Meanwhile, the Legend?s Club ? similar in scope to the Xcel Energy Center?s Club Level features 3,000 of the best seats in the ballpark sitting on the deck immediately over the main concourse seating bowl. All Legend?s Club seats have access to the climate-controlled  Club Level lounge complete with a wide array of food and beverage offerings.

The transition of standard season ticket locations will commence following the 2008 season. Stay tuned for more information the premium and standard seating options within the ballpark as the various sales and marketing efforts officially get underway. Remember, the best way to secure your spot in the new ballpark is to establish your seating priority today by becoming a Twins season ticket holder. Visit twinsbaseball.com for the latest Twins season ticket news.

Win Twins!!!!!

Dave St. Peter
President

BALLPARK PUBLIC APPROVAL PROCESS CONTINUES – Sneak Preview of Various Design Changes

As the design of the new Twins-Hennepin County Ballpark continues to evolve, the ballclub along with HOK Sport and Mortenson are currently in the midst of preparations for the next round of the public approval process. Over the next two weeks, the Twins will present the latest ballpark design elements to the Hennepin County Board (Oct. 30), the Ballpark Implementation Committee (Oct. 31) and the Minnesota Ballpark Authority (Nov. 9).

As part of the presentation to the public bodies outlined above, the team and HOK will showcase updated renderings, a computer generated fly-around video along with a stunning ballpark model. Fans should feel free to attend any of the public sessions or be sure to check Twinsbaseball.com for the latest and greatest ballpark images starting Tuesday (Oct. 30).

As fans look forward to reviewing the updated ballpark images, most won?t notice significant changes from what was unveiled last spring. The general design remains the same, the seating capacity remains at 40,000, the exterior continues to feature Minnesota-native stone, etc. That said, many fans will notice some subtle revisions.

With those changes in mind, here is a sneak preview of various elements which have been revised since the schematic design was unveiled last spring:

  • The primary Twins Team Store ? originally located adjacent the Sixth Street Plaza was shifted to the area along Seventh Street.
  • The main Twins Ticket Office ? originally located immediately along Seventh Street, was shifted to the area adjacent the Sixth Street Plaza.
  • The design of the left field Home Run Porch was revised as follows: 1.) Two additional sections of seats were added increasing overall outfield seating capacity; 2.) The seating section was revised into a ?split? configuration ? very similar to the Terrace Level seating sections found elsewhere in the ballpark.
  • The ?Sports Bar?, originally located in left center field, has been shifted to the building found in the left field corner.
  • The area formerly known as the ?Batter?s Eye Club? in dead center field is being redesigned with a special focus on the creation a interactive area for kids and families.
  • The single vertical light standard ? originally found in left field ? has been replaced with a more pleasing light feature atop the main scoreboard (much like those lights found at Coors Field in Denver or Jacob?s Field in Cleveland).
  • The ?terrace? type seating on the Overlook (found in right field) has been replaced with standard ballpark seats.

Those revisions, as well as other changes, have all been made with hopes of improving the ballpark?s overall design. More to come as we continue to chase our goal of building America?s best ballpark.

Win Twins!!!!

Dave St. Peter

Hats off to the Pohlad Family

Over the years, select media members and fans have continually questioned the ownership commitment of Carl Pohlad and his family. Those individuals have oft criticized the Pohlads for managing the Twins baseball operations in a responsible fashion. They?ve also suggested that the Pohlads received a sweetheart deal when the Twins-Hennepin County ballpark legislation was passed in May of 2006.

History paints a much different picture than the one crafted by the critics. The Pohlads have not only been central to ensuring the long-term success and viability of baseball in this community, but they have demonstrated unprecedented patience and commitment to the process. While enduring ongoing questions and barbs, the Pohlad family has demonstrated non-wavering class and leadership.

That Pohlad leadership was on display again this week when Hennepin County released details of a settlement with the private owners thus ending the dispute over the land where the ballpark sits. It was a settlement which came largely due to the incremental contribution of $15 million from the Pohlad family.

The settlement is critical for several reasons but mainly because it provides the County with much greater certainty in regards to the management of the existing infrastructure budget. While difficult choices remain, the County and the Twins are optimistic in our ability to ensure a first-class pedestrian experience in and around the ballpark district.

Meanwhile, it?s time for a tip of the cap to the Pohlad family. Their extraordinary commitment to this community was once again demonstrated via their recent contribution of necessary infrastructure dollars. Thanks to the Pohlads, the Twins-Hennepin County Ballpark project is rolling forward on time and on budget. That commitment should comfort Twins fans considering the owner of the team is so fully dedicated to ensuring the successful, iconic nature of the ballpark project. Hats off to the Pohlads!!!!

Win Twins!!!!!

Dave St. Peter

President, Minnesota Twins Baseball Club

I had the opportunity to attend a ballpark-related meeting at the job site last week and for the first time Рa hard hat was truly necessary. The folks from M.A. Mortenson and various subcontractors are now spread across the ballpark site driving the first phase of what will ultimately be roughly two-thousand piles. In the days to come that work will spill into the Interstate 394 right-of-way as the crews begin work to construct the plaza and pedestrian bridge which will connect the ballpark to the downtown core. Stay tuned at www.twinsbaseball.com for more updates as Minnesota’s ballpark slowly begins to take shape.

Meanwhile, last week’s trip to the site reminded me how lucky we are to have the group of all-stars M.A. Mortenson has assembled to build Minnesota’s ballpark. Locally owned and operated, M.A. Mortenson is truly the hometown team building the hometown ballpark. Needless to say the ballpark project is a source of significant pride for the entire M.A. Mortenson crew. That reality should give Twins fans a sense of comfort, knowing the folks building the park will also be bringing their respective families to the park. They also should take comfort in the star-studded team M.A. Mortenson has put together to work with HOK Sport in developing America’s most dynamic sports facility. The M.A. Mortenson ballpark project team is as follows:

Name                       Role                                      Other Projects

Dan Mehls                 Construction Executive            Edward Jones Dome; U of Iowa Kinnick Stadium; Alerus Center; MPLS Central Library

David Mansell            General Superintendent           FedEx Forum; Sprint Center; Xcel Energy Center

Greg Funk                 Chief of Staff/Ops Manager      Walt Disney Concert Hall; MPLS Convention Center; MPLS Children’s Medical Center

Troy Blizzard            Project Manager                      Abbott Northwestern Heart Hospital; Walker Art Center

Lynn Littlejohn        Community Participation Mgr.    FedEx Forum; Sprint Center; Xcel Energy Center

Greg Clark               Vice President, Estimating         Museum Plaza Tower; LA Convention Center; Edward Jones Dome

Ken Sorensen            Vice President                         Sprint Center; MPLS Central Library; Xcel Energy Center

John Wood              Principal-in-Charge                   Target Center; MPLS Convention Center; Museum Plaza Tower

Ballpark Notebook:

Many Twins fans attending the Ballpark Groundbreaking Celebration on August 30, noticed the voice of legendary broadcaster Bob Costas voicing a new team-produced video highlighting the imminent return of outdoor baseball. The Twins were honored to have Mr. Costas narrate the new video, which contains interviews with dozens of current and former Twins, and showcases Minnesota’s  new ballpark. Look for the video to be featured at www.twinsbaseball.com in the weeks to come.

Official Groundbreaking set for Thursday

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.

Win Twins!!!!

Dave St. Peter
President, Minnesota Twins Baseball Club

Interstate 35W Bridge Tragedy Puts Life in Perspective; Groundbreaking on Hold

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.

Win Twins!!!!!

Dave St. Peter
President, Minnesota Twins