Today, the Minnesota Twins will inaugurate their new ballpark, Target Field, in their home opener against the Boston Red Sox on Monday. The new stone and glass stadium marks the Twins’ departure from the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, leaving the NFL’s Vikings as the sole tenant of that 1982 venue. Target Field, designed by Populous for a tight urban site in downtown Minneapolis, has over 15,000 less seats than the Metrodome in its baseball configuration.
Beyond that, the new stadium features upgrades in almost every other facet from increased legroom and a wider concourse to views of the Minneapolis skyline and one of the closest seating bowls to the playing field in all of major league baseball. “At the dome you were always looking down, even if you were in the first row,” said Mark McKay, a season ticket holder. “At Target Field, if you’re in the first row you’re at eye level with the players and you’re in really close.”
The new stadium also touts direct connections to the Hiawatha light rail (which also serves the Metrodome) as well as Northstar commuter rail, city buses, and bike paths. These transit links aided the park in achieving LEED Silver Certification, only the second Major League Baseball stadium to achieve such status. (The other was Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., also designed by Populous when the firm was still part of HOK.)
Moving baseball outdoors in Minnesota might seem like a bold proposition, but Target Field has taken a number of steps to mitigate the sometimes frigid, often fussy weather. Heated concessions, restrooms, and restaurants will offer respite from the outdoors, and a large sculpted metal roof canopy will shelter many seats.
As fans settle in and kick the tires of the Twins’ new digs, Vikings fans are looking for a new home of their own. The team’s lease at the Metrodome runs out next year and some Minnesota lawmakers are working hard to push through plans for a new retractable roof stadium on the same site. The stadium is the centerpiece of a $954 million dollar redevelopment project for downtown Minneapolis.
Star-Tribune columnist Sid Hartman points out that building a new field on the site of the Metrodome will save the local Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission money since they already own the land and the infrastructure necessary for serving large crowds is already in place. Hartman cites the success of year-old Cowboy Stadium in Dallas, which hosted a crowd of 75,000 for this season’s NBA All-Star game and is slated to hold both next year’s SuperBowl and the 2014 NCAA Final Four, as a rationale for a new facility in the Twin Cities.
Renderings of the proposed facility, designed by HKS architects, show flexible seating arrangements that allow for football, basketball, and even motor cross. Whether that stadium comes to fruition sooner rather than later, 39,504 Twins fans are expected to pack the seats of Target Field to welcome their new ballpark to the big leagues on Monday.