As installation of the Target Field playing field began last month, Twins Sports Inc. President Jerry Bell asked Dan Mehls of MA Mortenson if the construction team had plans to test the highly-sophisticated drainage system. The project has made a significant investment in one of the most elaborate playing fields ever installed when one considers the coordinated drainage, irrigation and heating systems. With those elements in mind and the natural grass playing field set to be installed starting today (Aug 24), Mr. Bell simply wanted to know if the team could be assured that the drainage system would deliver.
While it’s unclear whether Mortenson had “official” plans to test the playing field, Jerry got his wish last Wednesday (Aug. 19) afternoon when torrential rains blasted the construction site in downtown Minneapolis. Perhaps it’s a reflection of our dry spring and early summer, but it’s hard to imagine it raining any harder for an extended period of time. How did Target Field’s drainage system perform? The good news is that the playing field drained and drained well. In fact, head groundskeeper Larry DiVito advised that should a game had been scheduled that evening it would have started on time and been played without delay.
Target Field Notes:
The project is now 82% complete … Through last week, MA Mortenson had calculated more than 1.6 million work hours on the construction of Target Field … November 1st is a big date as that’s the internal deadline for the ballpark to be fully enclosed and secured and the south parking lot be completed … The Twins are working with local officials to assist in hosting a series of major events in November in conjunction with the opening of the Northstar Line and Hiawatha LRT extension … Mortenson and the Target Field project continues to exceed goals with 32% (more than $100 million) of all work granted to small, women and/or minority-owned businesses. In terms of workforce diversity, the project is tracking at 26% minority and 6% female … The Twins are working with the Minnesota Ballpark Authority, the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County on the ceremonial re-naming of a portion of 3rd Avenue South immediately adjacent Target Field.
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.
Dave St. Peter
President, Minnesota Twins