MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minnesota Twins open their home season at Target Field in Minneapolis on April 7, and this summer they will host one of baseball’s premier events, the 2014 All Star Game.
The mid-summer classic will bring national media attention and hundreds of thousands of visitors to Minneapolis. Downtown bars and restaurants already have their calendars marked.
“It’s going to be huge,” said Abbie Snell, the sales and marketing manager at Huberts, a sports bar and restaurant down the street from Target Field.
The All Star Game means big business at places like Hubert’s and other downtown establishments.
So much so, Minnesota lawmakers will hear a bill to extend bar-closing hours in Hennepin County from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. for several days surrounding the events.
“Event organizers say, Yes, it does help put on a better event. We also have testimony back when the Republican National Convention was here a few years ago that it actually helped with public safety,” said Rep. Joe Atkins, the chairman of the Minnesota House Commerce Committee.
Several days of All Star Game related events are expected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors downtown.
So getting ready for the All Star Game includes completing a major connection to the Light Rail Green Line at the baseball stadium.
Meet Minneapolis, the downtown visitors bureau, conservatively estimates the economic impact to the city at $75 million.
“We have a very vibrant downtown as it is, and when you put on top of it a major event like this, that really is going to make our businesses hum and our cash registers ring,” said Meet Minneapolis President and CEO Melvin Tennant.
The PR value the game will bring is also priceless, Tennant said.
“Because if you can just imagine the home run derby, every time a home run goes over that wall, you’ll get a good shot of our downtown skyline,” Tennant said. “I’m hoping they hit a lot of home runs.”
At Huberts, and other downtown businesses, it’s all hands on deck this summer.
“We want people to be here and get comfortable and hang out and spend time here,” Snell said. “What better way to do that than give them more time to do so?”