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New Twins ball park will bring outdoor baseball back for fans

Aug 31, 2009

Members of the Blue Earth Cub Scout Pack 33 enjoyed a trip to the Twins game recently – one of the final ones in the Dome.

After not making it to a single game last year, I have been lucky enough to attend several Minnesota Twins baseball games this year.

It is a bit of an historic year for the Twins – their last season in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

Of course, while driving to and from the games this year, the conversation often comes back to whether having an outdoor ball park makes sense in Minnesota. We seem to have a lot of inclement weather here. Heck, it could even snow for some early season April games, or those late into October. Can you imagine a World Series game postponed due to snow?

Despite all of that, I am one fan who is pretty excited both that the Twins are finally getting a new stadium, and that it is going to feature outdoor baseball. So what if I might have to wear a sweatshirt, or take a jacket.

I guess it is not so much that I am a baseball purist and feel the sport needs to be outdoors, as much as it is the fact that the Metrodome just absolutely stinks when it comes to being a baseball park.

I remember going to a lot of games in Metropolitan Stadium, another multi-use park. When the Twins and Vikings were going to move out of there and into the Dome, the idea was sold to the public that the Metrodome was going to be a state-of-the-art combination baseball/football stadium.

My opinion is that they were half right. It has always been a pretty decent place to watch football. I admit enjoying going to a Vikings game wearing a short-sleeved purple jersey. At the Met Stadium, I wore a purple jersey, but it was buried under several sweatshirts, coats, and parkas.

So while the Metrodome is a fine place to watch and play football, when it comes to baseball, it leaves much to be desired.

They fold back hundreds of seats and hang a giant blue baggie – which now has three Stanley tools logos on it. I have never understood why, except that it is a money-maker, obviously. Sometimes balls hit that way are doubles, sometimes they are home runs. Who really knows?

The sound system in the Dome is atrocious – fans can hardly understand the announcers. The lights are blinding if you try to follow a ball in the air. And the grass is, of course, fake. So is the warning track in the outfield. It is fake dirt, made out of hard plastic. I can’t understand how more players are not hurt when falling on it.

Sure, there has been a so-called home field advantage to the Dome. Opposing players have been known to lose sight of a ball against the once white, now dingy grey, back ground of the dome roof, or those bright lights. And if the fans get raucous, the noise can be intimidating to the other players on the other team.

The only time I have ever seen a baseball crowd make a difference is when I attended a couple of World Series games in 1987 and 1991. Most of the fans in attendance never sat down, and never stopped yelling. But at most regular season Twins games, the fans are pretty quiet, until the ninth inning of a close game.

I have gone by the new Twins stadium – on my way to games in the old stadium – and it looks like a thing of beauty. On the television news they are showing workers laying truckloads of new sod, imported all the way from Colorado. (I wonder if Blue Valley Sod put in a bid for the new real grass at Target Field? But I digress.)

So I am excited to go see a Twins game in the new ball park next year. And a Gophers football game in their new stadium, on the University of Minnesota campus, just where their games should be.

The Vikings may be stuck in the Metrodome for a few more years, but playing there works for them, and for the fans. If the Viking owners ever convince the state to build a new football stadium, I hope it has a roof over it. Outdoor baseball is one thing, but outdoor football in December in Minnesota is something completely else.