Heyyyyy guys. Good to see you all again.
Some of us need an all-star break too, and I chose to take mine before the real one so that you'd have stuff to read while you have no Giants. I'm considerate like that. Now, onto my Target Field experience. Hope you enjoy the pictures. I took all of them, and yes, I know they're awesome.
Although I have been to Wisconsin and Illinois many times due to family, I had never been to Minnesota outside of its glorious airport during Northwest layovers.
After hitting my cousin's wedding, we stayed in the city's downtown area for another 3 or 4 days. During that time, I discovered a top 3 city (in my book). Other than San Francisco, I'd say my top 3 favorite cities that I've been to are Chicago, Denver, and Minneapolis. Seriously. All great.
I know you trust my judgment, otherwise you wouldn't read this. Trust me, Minneapolis is a place that virtually undiscovered by coast dwellers, and if it weren't for its horrendously cold winters and hilarious accents, we probably wouldn't have such preconceived notions about it.
I have to say that it is just a gorgeous, modern, exceptionally clean, walkable, safe, and just downright pleasant place. I can't say I spent time in the whole city or traveled too far outside of it's glimmering downtown district, but overall, it was downright impressive.
Check out this video I took at a 3 level bar called Brit's, where I watched the USA v. Ghana soccer game. This is one of the top 10 bars I've been to, and I don't think there is an equivalent to it around these parts. If you can't see the video, click here.
And, as you can guess. That's me screaming "AMERICA!". I prefer it to the "USA!" chant. I think AMERICA is just more forceful and extreme, while USA is just too pedestrian for me. If you ever hear someone yelling AMERICA, you can be they know me. But back to the scene.
The downtown area is UNBELIEVABLY clean. Like, if someone dared me to eat a steak and asparagus off the sidewalk, I would probably do it. There are literally city employees that walk around and sweep sidewalks, and hand sweep the streets. It makes the diseased streets of North Beach look like the Third World in comparison. Swear to God. There are are like 3 bums in the whole city, zero panhandlers, and it's nearly impossible to find a corner store to buy Jim Beam and tallboys of Busch, as is my custom.
This in itself was frustrating, but with corner stores, unfortunately come derelicts, hustlers, and other sleazes of ill repute. Take note San Francisco... If you move the liquor stores, the winos and heroin addicts will move too. Or maybe they'll just die off and disappear like a lawn that doesn't get watered in the summertime.
In addition, Minneapolis has a public transportation system that is second to none.
Imagine if BART cost $1.75 and they didn't even check your ticket. Okay, now picture a clean BART starting in Marin, going through the city, stopping once in each relevant district, stopping at AT&T, stopping 100 feet from Candlestick's entrance, then proceeding down to SFO, and stopping at HP Pavilion.
That's basically what this light rail does. It starts at one end at the Target Center and Target Field, stops at the downtown working and boozing districts, stops at the Metrodome, goes out toward the suburbs, stops at the airport, and then ends at the Mall of America in Bloomington. Theoretically, you could do all this without even paying.
BTW, Mall of America was ABSURD!
Anyway, it was just an impressive place with baseball loving people. There are Joe Mauer statues all of the city, and everyone wears Twins stuff everywhere. Now onto the stadium.
Target Field is just great. After years of playing in the Metrodome, these fans are literally overjoyed, just like we were after getting out of Candlestick. People are literally hugging each other in the streets over this park. Everyone I talked to had been to multiple games, even in the young season, and there was just a feeling of enthusiasm throughout the area.
Walking to the game is incredibly easy from most downtown areas. Once you get going, there are bars everywhere on both sides of the street, and it's not dangerous to be a pedestrian. We stopped at Kieran's Irish Pub (the equivalent of MoMo's) on the way in. There is a Hooters right above it too, which is cool if you want good chicken wings, bad service, and great views.
From there, the street transforms into an elevated walkway that leads you directly into the RF gate, with outside bars within crawling distance.
The concourses are exceptionally wide, which I love. Nothing worse than a traffic jam inside the yard. Also, there are ramps to get to upper levels, but they go virtually unused due to the efficient escalator system.
What I noticed was that in every section of every level there is a place to watch the game without sitting in a seat. Rails abound, and they respect people who would rather walk around and catch different vantage points or to take shelter during adverse weather. They even let you go into the club and suite level without a club or suite level ticket (perhaps just pregame, but still). You can walk around there, but you just can't get into any of the seats or bars, probably a nice touch for the those early April or October games when it's cold.
I didn't notice any bad seats in the house, as I walked around to all levels, and sat in different seats before the game. What I did notice is that in my section, 133, had exceptionally small seats. Now, I'm a big dude, but these were smaller than any seat I'd ever encountered in any stadium, even Wrigley or Fenway. Interestingly enough, that is not the case for all the rest of the seats. I've heard of Field Club seats being large and cushy, but for the seats in right-center to be smaller than the last row of the upper deck behind home plate was a bit odd.
Also of note is that there is just one section with actual bleachers... probably only about 2 or 3,000 in total. They went for the classy scene.
The most you'd spend of a beer there is $6.50 or $7.00, and there are pretty good food options. The consensus among Twins fans are the Kramarczuk's sausages, the Cuban Sandwich, and anything from the State Fair stand. Yes. Pork chops on a stick, fried walleye, and Turkey Legs are on the menu.
Dear Giants: Please copy all these things now. Sincerely, Dan.
The craziest I saw there were the Best Buy Charging centers in the lower level. There are three little kiosks with phone chargers of all kinds. You can walk down and charge your phone FOR FREE, and you can bet your boots that they have your charger. I charged up my Droid for a minute, and joked with Twins fans about my phone getting an STD from other phones than may have been plugged in before. We laughed, then I left and drank a Summit EPA in Hrbek's bar. WIN.
Also of note is that there are 4 or 5 Best Buy kiosks with PS3 and XBox360 loaded with the newest baseball video game. Oh yeah, and you don't have to pay. Great for entertaining snot-nosed little brats who don't realize what an awesome thing it is to be at a baseball game.
Although it's called Target Field, and I was surprised that Minneapolis-based Best Buy didn't buy the naming rights, Best Buy's fingerprints are all over this place. There are high-tech things that they've sponsored dotted around the place.
What I liked most about Target Field is that there is nothing wrong with it at all. There are no gimmicks-- no pool in the outfield, and no, you can't hit it into a body of water. There is no steamboat in center field or monument to excess anywhere. There is literally nothing to complain about. It's is nearly perfect in every way without being overly flashy or novel, a concept that reflects its team and its fans.
It is the Joe Mauer or Justin Morneau of stadiums. Near-perfect baseball players who simply don't do anything badly. And hey, those are two MVP's you're talking about.
And that ain't bad.
If you'd like to see my full photo album (60+ pics) of Target Field on Facebook, click here.