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Twins Ballpark Offers Urban, Rustic Views of Minnesota

Mon April 23, 2007 - Midwest Edition

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Twins unveiled the long-awaited design of its new stadium April 12, describing it as a cozy urban ballpark with great sightlines, subtle reminders of the state’s beauty and a view of the Minneapolis skyline.

The 40,000-seat ballpark, tucked into 8 acres of the Warehouse District, will sit at the hub of light rail and commuter rail lines.

In a nod to the state’s rustic outdoors, fans walking from downtown will come upon the stadium’s limestone facade.

Flowers, trees and shrubs native to Minnesota will be planted around the stadium — including a band of pine trees visible to fans behind the center-field wall. An extra-big canopy will protect fans from the sun and rain.

“I really like it, but I didn’t expect it to be so modern-looking. I was hoping for something a little more retro,” said Brian Watson, a Twins fan from White Bear Lake. “Like Wrigley Field, something like that.”

Mike Pacovsky, a fan from Burnsville, deemed the design “very impressive” and said he liked how close the seats are to the field. The Twins said the seats will be closer to the field — 45 ft. (13.7 m) — than in any other major league stadium.

The team and its lead architect unveiled the design for the Hennepin County Board — which will likely vote on the proposal April 24 — and fans gathered inside the Hennepin County Government Center.

Other features include bigger seats than those at the Metrodome; a complete view of the field from an open main concourse; concourses twice as wide as those at the Dome; and 401 women’s toilets and 266 men’s toilets or urinals (compared with 256 and 192, respectively, at the Dome.)

“Whether this is a modern-day Wrigley Field… it is absolutely unique to the state of Minnesota,” said Earl Santee of HOK Sport, the firm that designed the ballpark.

The natural-grass field will be heated to melt snow.

On the field, the outfield dimensions will be 339 ft. to right field — with a 23-ft. high wall invoking the blue baggy in the Metrodome — 404 to center and 328 to left.

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan called it a “fair” ballpark that shouldn’t favor hitters or pitchers.

The team could break ground on the 40,000-seat, $522 million stadium as early as May and hopes to get it built in time for the 2010 season.

Construction of the ballpark would cap more than a decade of wrangling over the cost and location of a stadium and who should foot the bill. Last year, the Legislature approved a plan in which Hennepin County taxpayers will pay an estimated three-quarters of the cost through an additional 0.15 percent sales tax, or 3 cents on a $20 purchase. The Twins are paying an estimated $130 million, though the team is prepared to pay more to break a deadlock over the price of the land.

In the end, the team hopes the ballpark’s urban setting, its homage to Minnesota’s vaunted outdoors and fan convenience will bring people to the park long after its novelty has worn off.

“When it is all said and done, we are going to be judged on whether this is a fan-friendly ballpark,” said Jerry Bell, president of Twins Sports Inc.

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