One of my favorite movie moments of all-time is the famed City Slickers scene in which Billy Crystal?s character describes in vivid detail his memory of walking into Yankee Stadium for the very first time. He waxes poetically about the anticipation of attending the game, walking into the ballpark and seeing the spectacular fields of green.
That is precisely the same feeling I get every single time I walk into an open-air ballpark. No matter what the time of year, no matter what is going on in my life, that single moment of catching the first glimpse of the ballpark ? the natural grass playing field ? the scoreboard ? is simply magical.
I had that experience again this week when I joined several members of the Twins organization in visiting Busch Stadium in St. Louis as part of a series of visits to recently built open-air ballparks. The tour group, which included Twins Sports Inc. President Jerry Bell, our CFO Kip Elliott, our VP/Assistant GM Bill Smith, our VP Operations Matt Hoy, our VP Corporate Partnerships Eric Curry, our VP Ticket Sales and Service Steve Smith, our Director of Ticket Sales Scott O?Connell along with assorted team advisors, is visiting the ballparks in order to gain fresh perspective on the latest trends in sports facility construction and general fan amenities. Understanding the Twins will drive much of the ballpark?s final design, it?s truly important that we involve a variety of folks throughout our organization to offer input and specific expertise in their respective area?s of emphasis.
The St. Louis trip proved to be time well spent on a variety of fronts.
First, the ballpark itself was fantastic. The Cardinals organization deserves a lot of credit for building a facility that St. Louis baseball fans ? some of the best fans in all of sports ? can be proud of. Located immediately adjacent the site of the previous Busch Stadium, new Busch seats approximately 44,000 fans and opened in April of this year. Signature elements of Busch Stadium include the Cardinal red brick; wonderful views of downtown St. Louis and ? of course ? the Arch; a variety of tributes to the great Cardinal teams and players of the past; more group Party Rooms (40-plus) than any ballpark in America; and a split upper deck (which is the same design we would like to implement in Minnesota?s new ballpark).
Secondly, our team had a wonderful opportunity to spend the day with a variety of Cardinal officials headlined by team president Mark Lamping and owner?s representative John Loyd. Their hospitality was incredible and while the tour is important, it?s the one-on-one dialogue with folks like this that is absolutely critical. You learn so much over a few hours. Not only what they did right, but perhaps more importantly, what they would do differently if they could do it again.
Over the next month, Twins officials will visit Pittsburgh?s PNC Park (for the 2006 Major League Baseball All-Star Game) in addition to Cleveland?s Jacobs Field, Philadelphia?s Citizen?s Bank Park, San Diego?s PETCO Park and San Francisco?s AT&T Park. We will report back following each of those trips.
Dave St. Peter
President, Minnesota Twins
P.S. Keep the New Ballpark Suggestions coming. Thanks to everyone who has already sent in their thoughts. To date we have received 1,000+ plus ideas ? all of which are reviewed by our internal new ballpark team. Who knows? Perhaps your idea will be incorporated into the new facility.