Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tough Times Disappear at Target Field

On a recent Saturday night, my wife and I enjoyed a nice dinner with my parents, headed home and starting kicking around a few ideas for how we'd spend the next five or six beautiful hours of freedom that only a Saturday night can offer. After crossing a few things off the list and realizing there would probably be some easy-to-get, inexpensive tickets to the Twins v. Orioles game at Target Field, (rain postponed the game from the night before) we decided to jump on the train and head out to the ballpark.

For $10 a piece, we got seats worth $12 (not huge, but it's always fun to get a deal, right?). From there, we grabbed a couple beers and headed to our seats which were tucked neatly into the right field corner. Like so many spaces in this beautiful park, these seats were dripping with character - bleachers that offered a nice view of the action in a party-like atmosphere.

We arrived late, but the game was a good one (1-0 Twins in the top of the 4th inning). The temperature was not what most people would consider baseball weather with a game time reading of about 45 degrees, but the sky was clear, the grass was green and the gloves kept our fingers protected from the icy cold emanating from the beer cups in our hands.

About an inning into our night, my wife got a text from her brother saying he was just a few sections over. We grabbed our beer and headed to their section, watching the game the entire time thanks to Target Field's open concourses that offer numerous sweeping views of the action. As we walked, met up with and talked to my brother in law, we couldn't help but notice some of the other things that make this park so sweet.

There are the countless meeting areas where you can chat with friends and still catch a big play with a quick glance every time the crowd erupts. There are the outfield seats that seem impossibly close to the action (seriously, it feels like you're sitting on Cuddyer's shoulders in the right field sections). There's the State Fair food on a stick in the concession area behind those seats. There are the sections of stadium that were actually built over existing freeways - something that isn't noticeable from inside the stadium, but is surprisingly apparent when you walk around it. The undercover roadways are the result of trying to squeeze a major league ballpark into a tiny, 8-acre parking lot. When the plans for this park were being drawn up, architects and organizers were criticized for trying to squish a stadium into such a small space. Now that it's open, the limitations caused by the size of the land seem to be more benefit than detriment. Because of the lack of space, architects were forced to get creative and the end result is one of the warmest, coziest, most unique environments I've experienced in pro or college sports (that includes more than a dozen arenas, stadiums and ballparks).

And then there's the view.

Yes, this view that gave us an incredible rainbow after a short, early May rain shower.

All the bells and whistles are what you'd expect with a new ballpark - the character and coziness is beyond what you'd expect - but that's not what makes the Twins' new home so special. With everything that's gone wrong with the world lately, Target Field is a place where we can all take a break from reality and focus on something that we got right.

A lot of us have lost or are losing jobs; we've been fighting viciously over things like health care and none of us trust the leaders we've elected to clear up those debates; we've seen businesses leave or collapse and well-known business leaders crumble into piles of corruption; we're tired of being at war and being perpetually reminded of terrorism - but for a few hours at the ballpark on a Saturday night, we can forget about those things and sit back with awe-struck smiles on our faces as we take in Minnesota's new meeting place. A ballpark to watch our constantly-overachieving, small-market baseball team play ball against the beautiful backdrop of the downtown Minneapolis night sky.

Target Field wasn't free. As a Hennepin county resident, I pay the sales tax increase nearly every day. But it's hard to quantify and put a price on the feeling of community generated by the new ballpark. At a time when we need it the most, Target Field makes us feel good, if only for a few hours at a time. To me, that makes every penny spent well worth it.


  1. Wow! That is a hell of a picture of the downtown skyline!

  2. Isn't it though? The skyline view from the seats along the left field line is one of the most beautiful in the Midwest ...sports stadium or otherwise! (IMHO)

  3. It sounds like a good time, certainly a lot closer to the experience out at the old Met than what I've had at the dome. Thanks for sharing.

    Is it absolutely necessary to take public transportation to attend a game, is parking so limited?

  4. I haven't tried parking, so I couldn't tell you. However, on Sunday we traveled downtown for Mother's Day and easily found a parking spot near our restaurant ...which was only about six blocks from the ballpark. So, it certainly is possible...

  5. Still loving that skyline picture (This is 'taralaraboom' from Twitter)!

  6. Love it, Justin!

    I haven't made it a game yet (I'm going to my first later this month) but I did attend an event there last week, got a glimpse of that glorious field, and now I'm even more impatient to see a game there.

    Even from seeing just the empty ballpark, it's obvious this ballpark is an infinite improvement over the Dome.

  7. Thanks for the comment, David!

    I'm having a hard time deciding which organization gained the most in the move ...the Gophers to TCF Bank or the Twins to Target Field. Either way, the fan experience for both those teams is, as you put it, infinitely improved!