“Don’t Play Ball Indoors!”
To: Mike Opat
Chairman, Hennepin County Board of Commissioners
Dear Commissioner Opat:
Moms all over the country have always told their kids not to play ball indoors. I’m glad you listened. Thank you. While many people deserve great praise, without you, the new Twins home at Target Field would not exist. And what a field it is! Target Field is a magnificent addition to our quality of life.
In our first Twins stadium, ball was played outdoors. In our second, it was played indoors. But now, for the first time in the history of this state, Major League Baseball is being played outdoors in the middle of a great city. Fittingly, on April 12th, the Twins inaugurated the season with a 5-2 victory over Boston.
None of the three Twins venues is comparable. The first two were clearly built in haste and on the cheap, and the Metrodome wasn’t even a baseball stadium but a repurposed football field. Target Field, by contrast, is a magnificent experience. The grass is green. There are literally dozens of Minnesota culinary opportunities, not just the usual Dome Dog. There is an outdoor fire pit. And there is something never before seen by a Minnesota Twins fan: the Minneapolis skyline.
Nothing about building Target Field was easy. More than 16 years were spent trying to get a new stadium for baseball. Innumerable fan committees, legislative committees, and Major League Baseball initiatives came and went without success. Contraction by Major League Baseball almost eliminated the Twins, but was stopped by a Hennepin Country District Court judge. Special sessions of the legislature were unavailing.
All of the pieces to build a stadium existed, however, including a huge fan following. If you have ever been in an assisted-living center for senior citizens when the Twins are playing, you can follow the game in every hallway. The fan base has ebbed and flowed with the fortunes of the team, but it’s never gone away.
The Twins have never been consistently bad, either. They’ve had terrific management and have made very shrewd deals. And the team has produced its share of local heroes. Who could possibly be more local and more heroic than Joe Mauer?