MINNEAPOLIS -- The 2013 Big Ten Conference baseball tournament is coming to Target Field.
It marks the first time the tournament, which will be held May 22-25, will be played at a Major League ballpark. The tournament was hosted at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio -- home of the Triple-A Columbus Clippers -- each of the past four years.
"It's great," said Twins' senior director of corporate communications and broadcasting Kevin Smith. "Hosting the Big Ten Tournament is another example of how Target Field is a community asset -- not only for the Twins but for the state and the University of Minnesota. I think it's neat it's the first time the tournament has been held in a Major League stadium. I think every parent and every kid and every fan who is going to be lucky enough to make it here is going to have a very special time."
The Big Ten tournament, which began in 1981, is a six-team double-elimination tournament, with the winner claiming the Big Ten's automatic bid to the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The top six teams based on conference regular-season winning percentage earn invitations, with the top two seeds earning a first-round bye.
The No. 1 seed will play the lowest-seeded Round 1 winner, while the No. 2 seed will play the highest-seeded Round 1 winner.
Purdue University won the tournament title last year, while the University of Minnesota has won it a record nine times. The Gophers also hosted the tournament six times at the old Siebert Field, their former on-campus facility.
Minnesota also features a top pitching prospect in left-hander Tom Windle, who is ranked as the No. 29 overall prospect for June's First-Year Player Draft. Michigan outfielder Michael O'Neill, ranked No. 86, is the only other Big Ten player among MLB.com's Top 100 Draft prospects.
Smith said the Twins' relationship with the Gophers and their coach, John Anderson, helped them land the conference tourney. Minnesota broke in Target Field on March 27, 2010, with the first game played there, against Louisiana Tech.
"We've always had a strategy to get the Big Ten tournament," Smith said. "We have a great relationship with John Anderson at the University of Minnesota. It's such a good relationship that the University of Minnesota played the first ever game at Target Field. So we've got a good relationship with the university, and he's run a fantastic program over there, so we were lucky enough to make it work."
Target Field, which opened in 2010, has also hosted other local tournaments, including Minnesota State High School League championship games. The ballpark will also host the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) World Series for a third straight year in June.
"We do the high school tournament, the RBI Tournament and now to host the Big 10 Tournament, we have youth, high school and Division I baseball," Smith said. "So it's kind of neat."
Tickets for the tournament are on sale now. All-tournament passes are $30, while group tickets with a minimum of 20 are available for $7 each. Single-game tickets will be available only on the day of the game at the Target Field Box Office, and they cost $10 each for adults and $7 for youth, senior citizens and students with a valid college ID.
All-tournament passes and group tickets are now on sale by calling the Target Field Box Office at (612) 338-9467 or (800) 338-9467. The tournament bracket will officially be announced Saturday.
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger.