ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — It’ll forever be known as the home of the Saint Paul Saints.
Saturday, though, the secondary tenant steals the thunder.READ MORE: 'We Will Not Tolerate Sexual Misconduct In Any Form': Minnesota Colleges Investigating Alleged Sex Competition
CHS Field, the sparkling new ballpark in Saint Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood, echoes with balls hitting bats and slapping into leather mitts.
But instead of an independent minor league game, it’s the Hamline University Pipers and the Concordia Cobbers in an MIAC doubleheader.
Hamline signed a 25-year agreement to relocate its baseball program to CHS Field. That includes more than just hosting ballgames during the spring.
“Having our own locker room, weight room, batting cages. To be honest, we are very, very fortunate,” Hamline Coach Jim Weyandt said. “It’s a fantastic thing for us.”
There’s no admission price for Saturday’s doubleheader at the 7,000-seat facility. There was a big price to build for the ballpark. It came in at more than $60 million, with 80 percent of the cost coming from public funding.
The Pipers practiced Friday night for the first time on the green grass, and made sure not to mess things up before all of Saturday’s pre-game ceremonies and the first two games ever at the ballpark.
“Well, it’s clean,” Weyandt said. “We were very, very careful. We didn’t wear any cleats on the field.”READ MORE: 'We Are Pleasantly Surprised': Minnesota's Corn, Soybean Yields Better Than Expected
Both the Pipers and Saints leave behind Midway Stadium, which was built in 1982 and is now in the process of being demolished.
“Midway was good to us for years,” Weyandt said. “But it’s not even comparable.”
Following the grand opening ceremonies and throwing out the first ball, the teams expect to settle in for a couple of competitive games.
“For me, my coaches and my players, the most important part of the day is two big conference games for us against a good opponent,” Weyandt said.
The teams are in the middle of the pack in the MIAC. Hamline has a 3-5 league record, while Concordia is 2-2.
When Target Field opened in Minneapolis in 2010, the first game was also a college matchup. The Gophers hosted Louisiana Tech about a week before the Twins moved in. Louisiana Tech won the game 9-1.MORE NEWS: 'It's Unimaginable': Families Of Quadruple Homicide Victims Eulogize Loved Ones
The Saints’ first game at CHS Field is an exhibition against Sioux City on May 18. The first regular season game is May 21 when the Saints host Fargo-Moorhead.