Target Field and ... hockey?
FELDY: Me and Toddler Feldy took Mrs. Feldy to Target Field for the Twins-Os game on Sunday for Mother's Day (yes, we actually gave Mrs. Feldy the choice and she agreed!). We sat with the sort-of beautiful people (not behind home plate, but in the lower level along the left field line) and it felt like it was a mid-July game. There was no wind swirling and the sun was beating on us all afternoon. Toddler Feldy even put sunscreen on.
I point all this out because I realized just how warped my mind is. Here we are, an afternoon baseball game in May, feels like about 80 degrees out, great seats with great company, Twins win 6-0, and here's what I spent half of the game thinking about: Man, it would sure be cool if the Wild could host the NHL's Winter Classic at this place.
I was picturing where the rink would be, where the best place to sit would be, how cool the setting would look on national TV, etc.
While it looks like a guarantee that the Wild will not get the 2011 Winter Classic (the 2011 NHL Draft will be at The X, though), it's likely the team will get the Classic sometime in the near future.
My obsession with seeing pro hockey at Target Field led to some questions that I'm still kicking around, so maybe the Faceoff Faithful can help.
1. If/when the game comes to the Twin Cities, what's the better venue to hold it at: Target Field or TCF Bank Stadium? From the little bit I've found on the Interwebs about this topic, it seems like the NHL would probably favor TCF Bank Stadium, the home of Gophers football, because it could seat about 10,000 more than Target Field. Parking might be a big issue, however, and it's an issue that would work in Target Field's favor. To me, the real selling point of Target Field is the atmosphere it would provide. Yes, TCF is cool; it has the open end facing campus, etc., but Target Field is a much more cozy, quaint atmosphere. It just seems to lend itself to having the game. If you watched the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park, you know what I'm talking about. It looked awesome on TV and had to be even better in person. I'm not saying Target Field is comparable to Fenway Park, but it's certainly worthy of hosting the Classic. And hopefully soon.
2. Who should be the Wild's opponent? The obvious teams that come to mind are Dallas and Vancouver. Putting Dallas out there in throwback North Stars uniforms would be a cool touch. Vancouver is probably the team Wild fans hate the most, which might lead to a more intense game -- and it would give Canada a bigger reason to watch -- but the Dallas-Minnesota matchup might be more attractive to NBC. ... Another thought, what if a team lands in Winnipeg in the next few years? How about bringing the Jets down to play the Wild? I know there are a lot of Winnipeggers (Winnipegites? Winnipegians?) who travel down to Vikings games. I'm guessing there would be a good number of them who would like to make a trip to Target Field to watch hockey. And they'd probably have a few Molsons before hand.
3. Do the Wild have enough star power to land the game yet? Look at teams that have competed in the Classic recently -- Detroit, Chicago, Philly, Boston. They all either have a superstar, have a great team, or both. The Wild doesn't have a Jonathan Toews or a Nik Lidstrom. Yes, Mikko Koivu is a tremendous two-way player and Brent Burns is verging on stardom. That might not be enough for the NHL, but when you put those guys on top of Minnesota's passionate fan base, that's a pretty good combination. And, who knows, by 2013 or 2014, Chuck Fletcher might have this team built up into a playoff contender.