How do you improve a stadium that was named No. 1 in all of professional sports by ESPN The Magazine? Spend nearly $6 million to make adjustments. Target Field, now in its second season, has changed since spectators last watched the Twins play there. From new gizmos to tree transplants, fans will find differences big and small.
Spectators can wow at the new right field grandstand video display board. Measuring 28 feet high and 50 feet wide, the amenity was added to give fans a better view of scores and replays, Twins spokesman Chris Iles said.
At 100 feet tall, the new “Twins Tower” right next to the new video display is another piece of technology meant to pop. The tower will show the time at the top as well as show graphics, player info and stats, Iles said.
Because it is unique to Target Field, the tower will be experimented with to see what works best, he said.
Wireless connections are also improving. “TwiFi” — free WiFi provided at the ballpark — is now available, and those who want to chat or text on their cell phones are in luck, too: improvements should enable better reception for all major carriers.
The aesthetics and functionality of Target Field are getting updates, too.
Minnesota winters have a tendency to hold on as long as possible — frequently into ball season. For that reason, more radiant heat was added to the Home Run Porch and the stadium’s terrace level to keep spectators warm during chilly nights.
The façade below the Metropolitan Club is being updated with Kasota stone — already used throughout the stadium — to improve its looks.
The Twins and Minnesota baseball history are celebrated with new artwork. Sometime in the 2011 season, the team will announce a new statue to join the likes of Kirby Puckett, Rod Carew and Harmon Killebrew, already immortalized in bronze.
Other exterior work is occurring as well. Target Plaza was deemed a success by the team, and by opening day the Twins Tradition Wall will be installed.
Target Field was among the hardest places to hit a home run last year. Some of the blame was laid on the shadows cast by 14 spruce trees planted in the outfield, directly at batters’ eye-level.
This year, they won’t be there.
The trees were professionally uprooted and taken to a greenhouse in Forest Lake. A Major League Baseball official authenticated them as Target Field trees and marked them with an MLB hologram.
Two of the trees will be replanted near the entrance of the parking lot on Twins Way. One will be auctioned off to benefit the Minnesota Twins Community Fund and another will be given away to a season ticket holder.
The other 10 trees will be donated to the Minnesota State Park system. All 10 trees will be within 150 miles of the Twin Cities.