Twins ready to show off Minnesota, Target Field with All-Star extravaganza
Twins president Dave St. Peter said of the All-Star Game festivities at Target Field: "There seems to be a growing amount of energy and excitement in the marketplace. That's what makes these events special."
MINNEAPOLIS — While the real work began in earnest two years ago when everything became official, the seeds were planted by the Minnesota Twins nearly a decade ago with the hope of once again hosting Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game.
Finally, after years of preparation, countless hours of planning, and the cooperation of many, baseball’s midsummer classic has returned to Minnesota.
Friday officially kicks off the weekend of events, with FanFest opening at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Sunday, the Futures Game and celebrity softball games will be held at Target Field. The ever-popular Home Run Derby takes place Monday, while the actual All-Star Game itself concludes the whirlwind of events in the Twin Cities on Tuesday night.
"It’s all about execution now," said Twins president Dave St. Peter. "There seems to be a growing amount of energy and excitement in the marketplace. That’s what makes these events special."
This marks the third time MLB’s All-Star Game will be held in Minnesota and the first since 1985, when the now-demolished Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome was the site of not only the game but the first-ever Home Run Derby. There was no Futures Game back then, nor was there a celebrity softball game. The red carpet events and musical acts that accompany this year’s festivities were nothing then like they were nearly 30 years ago.
As the All-Star Game continues to grow, the Twins are hoping this year’s event will be the biggest and best one yet.
Minnesota hoped it would be the host of this game long before a shovel was put into the downtown Minneapolis parking lot that is now the site of Target Field. Though the park opened in 2010, the ballpark legislation was passed in 2006, making the dream a reality.
It was at that time that the Twins first envisioned hosting the midsummer classic. They knew it would take some time — and plenty of hard work — but the vision was there.
"We talked about All-Star Game back in the mid-2000s. We were asked about it at the legislature. We couldn’t make any guarantees, but we had a pretty good stance that if a ballpark was going to be built in Minnesota that in the not-too-distant future, we would be successful with a bid," St. Peter said. "Ultimately we were told, ‘Yeah, we like your chances, but let’s make sure the ballpark opens on time.’ When that happened in the spring of 2010, then we got very serious about the bid process, which ultimately followed. The commissioner came to Minnesota in August of 2012 to award the 85th All-Star Game to the Twin Cities."
Beginning Sunday, this weekend is an opportunity for the Twins to show off Target Field, nestled perfectly into a small footprint downtown Minneapolis. The park seats 39,021 fans and is about as opposite of a venue as possible from the indoor, artificial Metrodome that hosted the last All-Star Game in town.
Though Target Field has now been open for four-and-a-half seasons, the 2014 All-Star Game will be the first chance the team and the state have to show it off to the rest of the country — and the world — on this kind of stage.
"Most of these visiting broadcasts brag about this place pretty good," said Twins general manager Terry Ryan. "A lot of them say, ‘You guys haven’t missed much.’ Whatever that means. ‘You haven’t missed much here.’ Everything seems to be comfortable, whether you’re a media member or a fan or a visitor in the clubhouse over there or the weight rooms or the art. . . .
"This is a chance to showcase this organization and this community. This is a huge opportunity for this club, and we know it’s not going to come around the bend again for a long time."
While Major League Baseball controls many of the in-game promotions and on-field ceremonies, there’s no doubt it will have the Twins’ fingerprints on it. The opportunity to promote the state of Minnesota won’t be squandered.
The Twins will have three players represented at this year’s event. Closer Glen Perkins and catcher Kurt Suzuki were both named to the American League roster for the All-Star Game, while second baseman Brian Dozier will participate in the Home Run Derby. As big of a deal as the event is for the front office, the players take just as much pride in Target Field playing host.
"It’s pretty cool to have the All-Star Game in your home park. There’s so much buildup around it and everything," Dozier said. "There’s obviously a lot that goes into it, especially the front office and the marketing department working together. It’s good for the team. It’s even better for the city. I think all the fans will enjoy it."
The only thing that’s out of the Twins’ hands now is the weather. Some questioned why the team would build an outdoor stadium in a climate such as Minnesota. And while Target Field has had a handful of rainouts since 2010, many will argue there’s no better place to be on a beautiful summer night.
That’s what the Twins hope to show to the rest of the world. Rain or shine — or, heck, even snow — the All-Star Game will be the place to be in Minnesota this weekend. And for those who have been working for years to put everything together, it’s a chance to sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
"I’m trying to really take in every moment," St. Peter said. "This is a blast. Anybody who has this job, works for a Major League Baseball team, is privileged. It’s an honor to have an opportunity to work an All-Star Game. Every single day is exciting, and a lot of fun. It’s been great."