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Finding Minnesota: Target Field

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(credit: CBS) Mike Binkley
Mike Binkley has been covering Minnesota news for more than 25 year...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Even with more than 90 losses for three straight seasons, the Minnesota Twins have averaged more than 30,000 fans a game since Target Field opened in 2010.

The ballpark itself is clearly part of the draw.

“I love the architecture,” Jessi Oeltjen of Spring Valley said. “I’m a design buff, so just the architecture, the design, the layout. Once you get inside, there is not a bad seat in the house.”

This week, about 11 million viewers will get glimpses of the stadium during coverage of the All-Star Game.

It’s not like other new ballparks around the country that feature old-fashioned arches and red brick.

“That wasn’t going to work in downtown Minneapolis because of the architecture we have downtown,” Twins spokesman Kevin Smith said. “It’s modern, it’s glass, it’s angles.”

The skyline view is so important, the stadium designers didn’t put light poles in right field or center field where they would’ve been an obstruction. Instead, most of the lights are tucked into a rooftop canopy that runs from one foul pole to the other. One bank of lights above the main scoreboard in left field is pointed toward the outfield.

The stone that makes up much of the exterior, and many of the interior, surfaces is limestone, quarried from Vetter Stone of Mankato, Minn.

Fans will see a giant depiction of Minnesota Nice in centerfield: the Minnie and Paul characters shaking hands across the Mississippi River.

Outside the gates, Target Plaza features a giant Gold Glove that’s become one of the most photographed spots in the state. It sits 520 feet from home plate — the same distance that Harmon Killebrew hit his longest home run at the old Met Stadium.

Nearby is the largest piece of public art in the state. It’s a wall that waves, with 50,000 aluminum panels shaped like baseball cards. And next to that are nine giant topiaries shaped like baseball bats.

“The plant that grows the best on the topiaries are actually beer hops,” Smith said. “How appropriate for a ballpark.”

Back when the Twins shared the Metrodome with the Vikings, they used to be ranked near the bottom in terms of fan experience.  But in 2010, when Target Field opened, ESPN The Magazine ranked them first — for all major league sports.

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