MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Grounds crew workers are in the process of converting Target Field from a baseball diamond to a gridiron for Saturday’s St. Thomas-St. John’s football game.
The stadium was built with enough room to squeeze a football field into an area that runs from the left-field fence to the Twins dugout behind first base.
Head groundskeeper Larry DiVito and his crew will start by tackling the first big task: getting rid of the pitchers’ mound.
“It’ll go a little slow, because we have a heating system underneath,” DiVito said. “We want to make sure the mini-excavator doesn’t damage any pipes.”
DiVito says it will take most of Monday to finish the work.
“It’ll just come up in chunks. The clay is so compacted, it’s going to be in bowling ball-sized chunks,” he said.
A pair of lightweight goalposts have been delivered to the ballpark. Extra padding will go up on walls closest to the field to protect players. By midweek, crews will start painting the field, including the St. Thomas shield logo for the 50-yard line.
Despite online seating charts that show a solid, grass-covered surface, crews will not be covering the infield with sod.
“It was never in the discussion from the start of putting grass in,” DiVito said, noting that installing sod would make it more difficult to revert the field back to baseball.
Starting Monday, the Twins begin a 10-game, 11-day road trip, and that gap was among the reasons organizers were able to schedule the first football game in the stadium’s history.
More than 32,000 tickets have been sold for the rivalry game between the Tommies and Johnnies. That would set an attendance record for Division III football.