On August 30, 2007 a new chapter was officially begun in the history of the Minnesota Twins baseball franchise as the team officially broke ground on a brand new stadium. After a decade of hardball negotiating (no pun intended) that had the team threatening to move away from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Twins and the local government finally reached an agreement on a new home on May 26, 2006 when Governor Tim Pawlenty signed a stadium bill into law.
What will be most apparent to Twins fans is that for the first time since prior to the 1982 season, the team will be able to play outdoor games. For the past 25 years the Twins have been playing in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Prior to the team’s relocation to the Metrodome, the Twins spent 20 seasons at Minneapolis’ Metropolitan Stadium after arriving to area in 1961 from Washington D.C. where they were known as the Senators.
The Metrodome, while large in size (baseball capacity is listed at over 55,300), has had its share of problems over the years. As co-tenants with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, the Twins had to endure scheduling conflicts. Its rectangular shape also produces strange angles throughout the park and the cloud-white roof has caused many a fielder to lose track of pop-ups.
Despite the limitations of the Metrodome, the Twins have remained a solid draw, in part due to the team’s ability to stay competitive with a steady stream of emerging stars. Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was a member of the Twins before heading East, but the team has retained a steady core of talented players, including defending Cy Young award winner (Johan Santana), batting champion (Joe Mauer), American League MVP (Justin Morneau) and “human highlight film” centerfielder Torii Hunter. The Twins also have some tremendous youngsters that include pitcher Francisco Liriano, shortstop Jason Bartlett and outfielder Michael Cuddyer.
The new Twins stadium, tentatively called “Twins Ballpark,” will have a capacity of only 40,000, but feature a variety of new amenities that should make it superior to the team’s current home. First of all, the new stadium will have 3,000 club seats as opposed to the meager 243 that the Metrodome provided. The new park will also have four different retail stores within the facility, something that the Twins previous home lacked all together. Finally, Twins Ballpark will feature significantly more restrooms than that of the Metrodome – something all fans will certainly appreciate.
Since moving into the Metrodome in 1982 the Twins have brought the state of Minnesota two championships – in 1987 and 1991. More recently the Twins have dominated the American League Central Division, winning titles in 2006, 2004, 2003 and 2002.
Though the potential for harsh Minnesota weather does pose a threat to an outdoor stadium in April and May, the stadium has combated that problem by installing a garbage-incinerating heat generator directly adjacent to the stadium. The team fully expects the stadium to be completed in time for the 2010 season.