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Work on new outdoor Twins stadium is 'on schedule'

By Paul Christian

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Play ball.

By this time next year, Target Field — the new outside ballpark for the Minnesota Twins — will be complete, ready to go.

Notice the word outside. For the first time since 1981, when the Twins played at Metropolitan Stadium, the team will play baseball outside.

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But there is still plenty of work to be done the next 12 months in order to make that happen. Work like installing the seats, scoreboard, concessions, clubhouses, restaurants and putting in the new sod, which will be in place by Labor Day.

"Everything is on schedule,’’ said Dan Kenney, executive director of the Minnesota Ballpark Authority (MBA). "The contract calls for the park to be completed 30 days before Opening Day of 2010 and that should be right around April 5.

"There are 650 workers on site now and this summer that number will increase between 850 and 900. But it will be finished.’’

The MBA owns Target Field. It was created by the 2006 Minnesota Legislature and charged with overseeing the construction and operation of the park. It is partnering with the Twins, Hennepin County, Mortenson Construction, HOK Sport and HGA Architects.

Kenney, Steve Cramer (MBA chairman) and John Wade (treasurer) were in Rochester on Friday conducting its monthly public board meeting.

Wade is the president of the Rochester Chamber and the only outstate member of the five-person board.

To increase public awareness of the ballpark project, the MBA is conducting three of its meetings outstate — The Greater Minnesota Tour. Other stops include Moorhead (June 19) and Duluth (July 17).

Target Field will have 40,000 seats plus 2,000 for standing room, and Cramer compares it favorably to PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

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"The facade, seating capacity — the parks are similar,’’ he said, "and that’s not a bad thing because PNC has generally had nothing but positive reviews.

"I think you’ll see that tourists will come to the park even on off days, just to see it.’’

The MBA wants to make sure the fans have nothing but a positive experience. Seats will be generally wider and have more leg room than those in the Metrodome. And just as important, the concourses will be twice as wide.

"A fan will have an uninterrupted view of the playing field as soon as you enter the park,’’ Kenney said.

Parking?

There is said to be room for 20,000 cars within five blocks of the park, including three ramps, with a light rail stop directly at the park down the left-field line.

Bikers even will have access from the Cedar Bike Trail.

One distinguishing feature will be the Target Plaza, which provides a connection over Interstate 394 between the ballpark and downtown Minneapolis. That will make the park accessible for anyone working or parking downtown.

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The grass is being grown in Colorado. Once planted in late summer, it is hoped to have two mowings before becoming dormant.

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