Ballpark Breakdown: Target Field
By Brendon McGirr
Opening Date: 2010
Capacity: 38,544 (as of 2019)
Visiting Date: White Sox 12, Twins 2 (July 2022)
(Fun Fact: This is the 2nd time my first visit to a stadium had Sonny Gray pitching for the home team. Neither went well for him.)
My photo from Target Field
The history of Target Field can actually be traced back all the way to 1994, when Twins owner Carl Pohlad declared that the Metrodome was out of date to current MLB standards. However, Pohlad also believed that the new stadium should be paid for by public funds, with the first riverfront plan in 1996 being voted down by the Minnesota legislature due to Pohlad being the second wealthiest resident of the state at the time. With the Twins lease in the Metrodome expiring in 1998, Pohlad announced he had a deal to sell the team to bidders from Greensboro, NC, with the intent to move the team. However, voters in Greensboro voted by a wide margin to not fund a new stadium, which led to a void of where the Twins will play.
St. Paul jumped on the opportunity, offering prime downtown real estate and a proposed tax increase to move the Twins. Again a referendum was held, but due to Pohlad using the Twins as leverage, the referendum for St. Paul failed by a large margin. At this time, owners of MLB teams voted to contract the Twins and the Montreal Expos due to economic reasons, leading to a dark future of baseball in Minnesota.
Eventually, due to several court cases and committee votes I will not bore you with here, a deal was put in place to raise sales tax by 0.15% to fund $392 million towards a Twins ballpark. Despite some significant issues with land acquisition (which again, I will not bore you with here) Target Field began construction in December 2007.
Populous was given the reins to design the stadium, who wanted to do a modern take on the retro-modern designs of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Instead of copying the brick and iron of these stadiums, the main construction material was local limestone. Although strongly suggested by ownership, a retractable roof was not added. The site fills a similar area to Fenway Park, and is boxed in by local streets in a similar way to Boston’s stadium.
On April 12th, 2010 the Twins opened up the stadium with a 5-2 win over the Red Sox, led by a home run by Joe Mauer.
Surrounding Area/Getting to the Stadium
For our trip to the Twin Cities, we stayed a few blocks away from Target Field in what is known as the Warehouse District or North Loop. Once a thriving industrial area for Minneapolis, it has now been converted into trendy bars, restaurants, and apartments. Located a few miles from downtown proper, it is easy to walk around and visit any of these areas. There were two in the area I did want to point out specifically.
Our first night in the area we went to the North Loop Gallery right before a game. The North Loop Gallery has several small restaurants inside that you can order from, including Japanese dishes, Hawaiian, tacos, and burgers. I had a Hawaiian hot bbq sandwich, which was massive and delicious. There is also a bar inside to order drinks from.
The day of the game, we had some pregame drinks at Storm King Brewpub and BBQ. This brewery has a great outdoor setting just down the block from the stadium, as well as some great drink options. They also do their own BBQ in house, and if I wasn’t waiting to try some of the food in the stadium I would've definitely gotten some.
In addition to these, Graze offers a similar concept to the North Loop Gallery (we actually tried to go there first, but it was packed) as well as several other breweries within blocks of Target Field such as Modest, Fulton, and Inbound.
As a quick aside that has nothing to do with the stadium but something great to do in downtown Minneapolis, I highly recommend taking advantage of Twin City Kayaks self guided Mississippi tour. They will meet you at a launch point north of the city and you can paddle into downtown. Was a great experience!
View from the Mississippi of downtown Minneapolis
If you are a little farther away from the Warehouse District, there is a light rail station steps away from home plate that drops people off. The Blue or Green Rail, depending on where you are coming from, offers 6 hour game day passes to get you quickly to and from Target Field.
In the Stadium
As we walked into the stadium, we noticed the open concourse that has become popular at modern parks that always keeps you in the action. There was not a bad place in the park to stand and catch the action as did our little tour. Just past the right field foul pole was an open green area that was set up with some yard games and seating for those that may not be as interested in baseball, and directly next to that is the seat where Kirby Puckett hit his famous homerun to win Game 6 of the 1991 World Series. There is a little stand that has calls of the play you can listen to.
Right by the right field foul pole you can find the Gray Duck Deck. Located right under the retired numbers, we decided to take in the last few innings of the game from this area. The deck has a nightclub feel with loud music and a variety of drink options, including the signature “Bomba Juice”. While a nice view of the field, the music and atmosphere makes it hard to focus on the game unlike other “party decks” I have seen in stadiums such as Coors Field.
View from the Gray Duck Deck
Other than the above mentioned, there was nothing that really stood out to make Target Field feel unique. The concourse had a similar vibe to Washington in that regard. That said, the viewing experience at the seats was phenomenal. As mentioned above, the sightlines were great and the unique feel of the field, from the home run porch in right to the asymmetrical walls around the outfield really gave a unique experience for a game.
Food of Choice
When asking for suggestions on what to get, my wife and I were given two foods to try at Target Field: The Tony O’s Cuban Sandwich and the Bub’s Aussie Pies. I was a little hesitant to get a Cuban Sandwich in Minnesota, but after several people vouched for it both online and in person, I did end up going and it was a real treat to have. The sandwich was flavorful and while not the best Cuban I have ever had, is certainly a great ballpark sandwich.
The same could not be said about my wife’s Aussie Pie. Bub’s is a local chain from Minnesota, and she got the Sloppy Joe meat pie, which was really bland for the price point. One thing my wife regretted not trying though was the house made mini donuts made in centerfield. She was talking about the smell of that stand for days after, and may be worth a try.
I’ve always had a strange connection with Target Field in that I love the unique feel of the playing field. It is in my usual rotation of stadiums in The Show with Shibe Field and Camden, and I was really looking forward to this visit. And while I had a great time visiting the stadium and surrounding area, there was something missing from this stadium. Perhaps my judgment is a little skewed from my Brewers trip just prior or the poor showing by the Twins on this day, but it lacked the energy or charm of other parks. From a straight game viewing experience, the field’s unique setup is great to see in person with great sightlines throughout. However, it lacked the unique charm that says this is the Minnesota Twins home stadium. Hopefully as Byron Buxton continues to build his legacy, Target Field can start separating itself from other parks.