Reporting Sara Pelissero
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Twins takeover has begun in downtown Minneapolis. With playoffs less than a day away, it seems Minnesota fans can’t help but jump in on the talk of the town.
While the Minnesota Twins taking on the New York Yankees is certainly not a new concept for fans, watching an American League Division Series matchup at Target Field is.
The much-anticipated faceoff begins Wednesday but there’s been plenty of preparations going on behind the scenes to ensure fans — and all that national coverage — are ready come Game 1.
Still, for Twins personnel, preps at Target Field — pardon the pun — is a whole new ballgame.
Chris Iles, corporate communications manager with the Twins, said it’s been a pretty interesting few days leading up to the playoff series, but exciting ones at that.
Getting Target Field “playoff ready” has been relatively easy — the Twins had a bit of a practice round, after all, with similar hype and attention centered on opening day. Still, with added interest due to the big “p” word, Iles said the demand for tickets has definitely gone up.
While back at the Metrodome, playoff games could accommodate around 55,000 fans, here at Target Field — even with standing room — there’s only room for about 41,000.
“The demand for tickets, with this being the first season at Target Field and the playoffs has been unprecedented, really,” Iles said.
Iles said they’ve just about sold out for Game 1 and with fewer seats than fans, it’ll be a packed house for sure.
They are preparing with extra security and a bit more staff to get those hot dogs and brats out to the masses, though they anticipate it’ll be just as smooth as opening day. But in addition to more fans, the Twins have to prepare for the media army that will be rolling through.
Iles said because the Twins are taking on the Yankees, the national media attention on the game is a bit higher than your typical playoff game.
“Additional media is a huge part of what we’re doing to get prepared here, especially with our opponent being the New York Yankees,” Iles said. “They bring a lot of media with them. So we’ve added an additional media section up in the terrace.”
With roughly 550 members of the media preparing to cover the game, the current press box just wouldn’t do. More than 100 seats in the upper terrace will be transformed as a second press box and will include tables in place of certain seats.
Had the Twins played Tampa Bay, that number might have been closer to 300 members of the media.
With that many cameras, laptops and reporters, Iles said they’ve also moved the press conference room to a larger area.
Iles said playing the Yankees also likely dictated the game time — with Tampa, the Twins might have played a little earlier on both days, probably closer to a 4 p.m. and noon game instead of the 7:37 p.m. Game 1 and a 5:07 p.m. Game 2.
Red, white and blue bunting has also been added around Target Field, as well as brand new ALDS logos stenciled on the field (roughly a four-hour process). Additional signage, including new signs behind home plate, was also added for the national broadcasts.
Other changes include an early wake-up call for the team with a 10 a.m. workout, something not ordinarily done but the 7:37 p.m. Wednesday game time altered the schedule.
Those later games also mean a bit of a traffic headache for those in downtown Minneapolis. Iles said they’re encouraging people to take public transportation or to try parking around the downtown area — not just at the ramps next to Target Field. He said Thursday’s 5 p.m. game will likely cause quite a traffic jam, as folks working downtown try to fight rush hour.
Playoff merchandise has been flying off the shelves since nearly a week ago, something Iles said they plan for well in advance.
With less than 24 hours until game time, Iles said the mood within Twins personnel, as with many Twins fans, is positive.
“We’re very optimistic. This is our first year at Target Field, the whole year really has been amazing, the fans have been great,” he said. “Just hoping we can win a few games here and keep the postseason rolling.”
And yes, winning a few games means beating the dreaded Yankees, but Iles said he thinks this is the year we’ll break our unlucky Yankees streak. Perhaps Target Field will bring new luck.
“If we can take this first series from them, I really think we have a really good shot of winning the World Series,” Iles said.