The worst-kept secret in Minnesota sports history is "secret" no more: The Twins will host the All-Star game at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.
As you may know, only one other team was "bidding" on the right to host the event, but the odds against the Cubs were pretty long. For one thing, '14 is an American League year since the location still roughly rotates between leagues as a vestige of the days when home field advantage in the World Series also rotated in a similar manner (and the days when the "league" distinction actually meant more than the DH rule).
But even the centennial of the venerable Wrigley Field could not overcome the fact that it is a decrepit relic of a ballpark, barely able to host a regular major league game, let alone one of the biggest events of the baseball season.
I certainly feel the same warmth and affection for the old place that everyone feels, but there's a reality which has not yet been addressed on the north side of Chicago. Once they get the place shored up (or -- dare I say it? -- replaced), they'll certainly get their turn.
At Wednesday's press conference, Bud Selig said again that he used to have to "beg" cities to take the game, and maybe that's somewhat plausible, but nobody had to beg the Twins. Maybe you remember this scene from September 10, 2008:
That's the roof of the Target Center, where a very similar cast of characters gathered to announce, in grand fashion, that they were bidding on the event which was then six years in future. At the time, it was really pretty clear that the application was essentially the award, even though the ballpark experience being assembled some 400 feet away was still mostly imagination.
Selig confirmed as much at the press conference, calling the decision to award the game to the Twins "pretty easy". More and more it looks like there is a pecking order by which these decisions are made, factoring in league rotation, new/renovated ballparks, and time since last hosting. That actually makes it possible to guess where the game might be played in each of the coming years:
2013 (NL) New York (Citi Field)
2014 (AL) Minnesota
2015 (NL) Washington
2016 (AL) Toronto (possibly post-renovation)
2017 (NL) Los Angeles (Dodger Stadium, post-renovation)
2018 (AL) Tampa Bay (assumes new ballpark circa 2016)
2019 (NL) Cincinnati
2020 (AL) Oakland (assumes new ballpark circa 2016)
2021 (NL) Chicago (Wrigley Field, post-renovation or rebuild)
2022 (AL) Baltimore
2023 (NL) San Diego
2024 (AL) Texas
2025 (NL) Miami
2026 (AL) Cleveland
2027 (NL) Philadelphia
I've modified this list a little bit since it was first published to reflect the Astros' move to the AL, which eliminates the need to double-up on NL teams once per cycle, but doesn't otherwise change much.
There are a few other things to consider. First, as of this writing, the Nationals don't seem to be interested in hosting in 2015 despite the slam dunk if they applied. They could be looking at the progress of development in their new neighborhood and calculating that it wouldn't be done in time for such an event. Frankly, given what I saw there, that would be a very conservative estimate. If I had to guess, I'd say the neighborhood will be packed to capacity with hotels and condos by that point. It's already stacked pretty high.
Currently the Reds and Marlins are going for 2015, with the Reds favored since they haven't yet hosted in their new ballpark. It may be necessary to swap Washington and Cincinnati in the above list.
Setting aside Wrigley, Tampa Bay and Oakland remain the two clubs still needing ballpark replacements, and it's not clear at all that they will get those any time in the near future. And, unlike Toronto, it's a little hard to imagine the game being played in either the creaky Coliseum or under the Tampa catwalks.
Toronto comes due in 2016 and will have a lock if they do anything to upgrade Rogers Centre. The Dodgers have already been open about plans to spiff up Dodger Stadium, making 2017 theirs for the taking.
The Wrigley problem doesn't really come due until 2021 (they last hosted in 1990), the possible exception being if they decide to move or tear down and rebuild. That could lead to a sentimental pick, a la Yankee Stadium, in which the old park gets one last shot before going offline. Frankly, I don't see it happening unless they do something substantial to make things better there, both for fans and players. The politics will probably drive this one. (And you may have heard that Cubs ownership did themselves no favors by making a substantial donation to the Republican presidential nominee at exactly the moment they hit up the hard-left Democratic mayor of Chicago for some funds. Political retribution knows no greater home than Chicago.)
Beyond that, 2022 will be the 30th anniversary of Camden Yards, so it makes sense. The remainder of the line up is based mostly on length of time since last hosting. Should there be another round of ballpark replacements (which, though unlikely, is hard to predict), everything could change again.
There certainly was a weird vibe at the press conference on Wednesday, with the guys standing behind the current speaker often bowing their heads as if they were discussing a death in the family. It could be that the whole Mauer-on-waivers fiasco overshadowed the joyous news a little bit. I'm sure there were a few people there who were preoccupied with that story.
In fact, despite the fact that a bunch of us fans lined up outside of gate 34 to watch the proceedings, only twice was there ever spontaneous applause from anyone about the announcement. It was mostly a polite smattering as each speaker was announced. Far from a pep rally, this was a business transaction, plain and simple.
And so will be getting tickets to the game. The Strib published a skimpy primer on what to expect, but it comes down to this: Either go back in time and become a full STH a few years ago, or start saving your pennies and buying rabbit's feet. There's no denying that most of us will be enjoying this event the same way we watch all the other All-Star games: on TV.
But this is definitely the big feel-good moment of the Twins' 2012 season, and there were some stars and other familiar faces on hand. It's definitely very cool to see the ribbon boards in the stadium lit up with the good news.
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From left: Rod Carew, Tim Laudner, Twins historian Clyde Doeppner (behind), and Bert Blyleven
"You talk about the magic, the aura, but what really makes a stadium is the fans. Concrete doesn't talk back to you. Chairs don't talk back to you. It's the people who are there, day in, day out, that makes the place magic."
– Bernie Williams
Explore the Site
Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3042 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
A view straight on of the Pro Shop area and ticket windows (just barely visible). The piers you see beneath the plaza are already almost completed (see final photo).
Nine spots for hops bats.
Left field bench seating
Installation in action (Home Plate Box)
(Click to enlarge.)
In addition to the Pro Shop facade, you can see more gravel being laid before the final plaza surface is poured.
Here's the Northstar platform.
I set up my late inning "office" at the drink rail behind section 206
Note the gigantic -- and very permanent -- M's on the gates at the base of these stairs.
Banners on the parking ramp are a great touch. They help manage scale and turn a lemon into lemonade. On my way there today I passed the WCCO building and remembered how the Twins schedule used to be painted in giant form on the side of that building (which is no longer visible). Wouldn't that be a great thing to resurrect on the side of that ramp? A giant Twins schedule. I always thought that was cool.
Another B ramp glimpse (don't loiter here!)
Memorabilia on display in the Metropolitan Club
You'll be able to park here for a quick stop at the Pro Shop or ticket window.
The main ticketing area beneath the restaurant.
Chef stand and menu in the Carew atrium
The transit corner entrance (Photo by Tom Sweeney, Star Tribune)
Trains now rumble regularly beneath the promenade.
The model still shows the Batters Eye Club, which is no longer part of the design.
Just up the foul line, it looks like the base of the wall in foul territory on the right side.
Crosswalk taking shape.
The lone light standard and one of those "entry beacons."
Polo Grounds facade, obscured
Center field seating
Despite what those signs say, every one of these places was selling either snacks or Yankee memorabilia out of its front door. Do you suppose anything like this will spring up anywhere near the new Twins ballpark?
A slightly different elevation drawing, again viewed from Fifth Street, with some labels. (Click to enlarge.)
The process of building the canopy is really amazing to watch.
One thing that the design disguises nicely is that the Pro Shop (and other key components) are actually built over lanes of freeway. That can clearly be seen here.
Guthrie Theater (original design colors)
5:45 PM, section 327, row 9, standing: sunshine.
I saw it at another park...
Flowers and Hall-of-Fame plaques. Very nice.
The Pantheon (with inset of the magic eye)
Just to the right, more ticket machines. These things are everywhere.
The rules were clearly posted next to this new entry point on the Seventh Street side. I have no problem with the rules!