(A quick note, first. We're going to try to pick a discussion topic each day and actually offer some opinion on here, instead of just little news tidbits all the time. We'll also try to tell you what our next-day's topic will be, and hopefully we'll get this noted daily in our print edition.)
FELDY: Mrs. Feldy and I took in the Twins home opener yesterday and, not surprisingly, Target Field gets a massive thumbs-up.
Here's my quick review if you don't want to read my wordiness. I'll do it in Andrew Bernard form: This ballpark is good.
If you want to read more, here you go ...
Before I get too deep into the greatness that is Target Field, I have a question for those of you who have also been to a game there: Is the enthusiasm over the new park due to just how great it is, or due to just how crappy the Metrodome was? Or is it a combination? I tend to think that, not only is Target Field a first-class park on its own, but its greatness is enhanced by the fact that we had to watch ball at the Dome for three decades.
I've been to a handful of new parks in the past five years or so and Target Field ranks among the best.
I'd better be careful how I state this, because I don't want my Minnesota citizenship revoked by the You-can't-ever-say-anything-bad-about-Minnesota police: Target Field is awesome. I love it. I can't wait to watch the Twins play home games there for most of the rest of my life. But .... Target Field is #2 on my list of new parks that I've been to. I put it behind Camden Yards/Oriole Park in Baltimore (which isn't all that new anymore, built in 1992) because the complete experience at Camden is tough to top, with the warehouse out in right field, the intimacy of the park, and the one-block walk to the Inner Harbor's entertainment district.
Now, back to the Target Field lovefest.
Honestly, I was worried after hearing so much hype about the place that I might get there and go 'this is it, really? It's just OK.'
My feelings changed from the time the new park came into view as we walked up on 5th Street, the north side of the park. Twins history is everywhere you go, both outside and inside, starting with the numbering of the gates. There are five gates to enter, numbered for the five Twins players whose numbers are retired — 3 (Killebrew), 6 (Oliva), 14 (Hrbek), 29 (Carew) and 34 (Puckett).
The next thing we noticed — it's hard to miss, basically screaming 'look at me!' — is the limestone exterior, which gives the park a unique touch that you don't see at other new parks such as Seattle and Philadelphia.
Still on the outside of the park, on the west side, are big division, AL and World Series championship banners. Near those banners are a series of bike racks — the Twins say there are about 400 bike parking spots for people who want to ride to the game. Across the concourse from the banners and bike racks is a chain-link fence covered in a brown material that includes giant blown-up baseball cards from Twins greats of the past and present.
Walking around to the south side, you find Gate 14, where, of course, the entrance to Hrbek's restaurant is. We didn't go in to try the Rex Burger, but the place was packed. Knowing Herbie's eating habits, the food in there can't possibly be bad.
From there, walking along the north side of the ballpark, you pass the back side of the massive Twins pro shop, which contains pretty much every piece of overpriced Twins merchandise you could possibly want. Just around the corner, on the east side, is Gate 34. That's at the center of a great plaza area, which was jam-packed with picture-takers, lunch-eaters and beer drinkers.
Inside the park, the concourses are indeed wider than the Metrodome's (how could they not be?) and the sightlines from every seat are terrific. We sat in Section 302, row 6, a little less than halfway up. Check out the Target Field seating chart, and you'll see we were about as far away from home plate as you can get, yet even with my 20-8000 vision I was able to follow the play. Sitting in the second-to-last section of the upper deck down the right field line at Target Field is vastly different than a similar section at Metrodome. You're seats in those section are also angled toward the field, so that when you sit straight, you're not staring into center field.
There are plenty of restrooms, novelty stands and concessions nearby (my first meal: a beer and a hot dog; what else could it be at a baseball game?). The food options are plentiful. I'm not sure how I failed to try a burrito from Senor Smoke's, but it's on the to-do list for the next trip to Target Field.
Oh yeah, the best part of the new park: The team on the field. Twins fans have waited a long time for a fitting place to play; now they have it and a winning team. Corny as it may sound, that combination was the best part of the day on Monday. A new park makes fans giddy, a good team makes them even happier. Not having to play in the Dome is the best.
To top it off, the post-game atmosphere was so far and away better than leaving a Twins game at the Dome. People hung around the park for a good hour afterward, as well as collecting on the plaza. A few blocks away, on the east side of Target Center, the street near Block E was blocked off, allowing fans to gather at places such as Smalley's 87 Club (formerly Champp's) and the new Hubert's bar.
What do you think, Twins fans? Am I overselling Target Field or do you feel the same way? Let us know.
TOMORROW'S TOPIC: A postmortem on the Wild's season and a look ahead at the NHL playoffs.
PHERSY: Feldy, how dare you!!! How dare you not rank the Twins' new park as No. 1 on your list. Spoken like a true North Dakota rube. You're probably still just worked up about the Sioux nickname, and the fact that UND will now be known as the FIghting Ground Squirrels.
OK Feldy, I had to chide you at least a little bit on this one. I haven't been to the new field yet, though I'm hoping to go early next week. So it would be tough for me to give any kind of true review of the park.
But, through the love-fest, I think most people realize that they didn't exactly go crazy on this new park. There aren't a whole lot of bells and whistles or expensive features. But what they did do is make it a tribute to the past, present and future, and I love that.
And I think you're exactly right ... part of this state's obsession with the new park is definitely owing to the Dome and its inadequacies. Years of indoor ball in the worst MLB park will make you get a little excited to head outdoors, even if we just built a stadium with no roof in the frozen tundra that is Minnesota.
But, let's enjoy it while it lasts. The critics will come out soon enough. Let's roll with the positivity!
Speaking of positivity, how about that team currently playing at Target Field? The Twins are hot, and that makes this whole thing that much more enjoyable.
Feldy and I are talking about this for tomorrow's print-edition version of Faceoff ... but let's just say, I really love what I'm seeing from this team early in the season, against some of the best teams in the American League.