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Minneapolis to offer unique All-Star experience

MINNEAPOLIS -- With Target Field conveniently located in downtown Minneapolis, the Twins have a unique opportunity to show off their city and ballpark when they host the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

All of the events associated with the Midsummer Classic -- such as the All-Star FanFest, the All-Star Gala, the Futures Game, the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game itself -- are set to be held in downtown Minneapolis. Add in all of the hotels and dining options within walking distance of the ballpark, and it's expected to be one of the most intimate All-Star experiences in recent memory.

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"I know the people in Major League Baseball are excited about it coming to Minnesota, because we have critical mass and a downtown ballpark," Twins president Dave St. Peter said. "We have the ability to do a lot of things within a tight radius, which creates an exciting dynamic."

It's a significant change from this year's All-Star Game, which was held at Citi Field in New York. There were events held all over Manhattan, while the ballpark is located in Queens. The Twins saw it firsthand, as they sent a team of about two dozen front-office members to New York to get a better feel for the Midsummer Classic, including St. Peter.

"In New York, I don't care what you do, it has a tendency to get lost," St. Peter said. "We clearly intend to paint the town."

St. Peter said the Twins are focusing on the model set by Indianapolis, which hosted Super Bowl XLVI in January 2012. Indianapolis received high praise for keeping everything centralized and convenient.

"That's the model we're following," St. Peter said. "Indianapolis got rave reviews when it hosted the Super Bowl, and the biggest reason was that everything was downtown. And it's not just great for the media, but great for the league and for the fans coming into town. So we're going to try to replicate that model and keep everything to a six- to 10-block radius. We have a unique advantage to that because of the location of this ballpark."

Target Field, which opened in 2010 and is located in the Warehouse District of downtown Minneapolis, will hold all of the events associated with the game itself -- such as the Futures Game, Celebrity Softball Game, Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game.

The Minneapolis Convention Center will play host to FanFest, and the Twins are still determining where to hold the annual Gala and 5K race. The All-Star Game traditionally has a major effect on the host city's local economy, as well, as New York brought in an estimated $191.5 million from this year's Midsummer Classic, while Kansas City garnered $60 million last year.

"FanFest will be at the Convention Center, which will give us everything we need to do there," St. Peter said. "And the hotel community in Minneapolis has been great. Pretty much the entire MLB room block will be downtown."

St. Peter added that nearby St. Paul also will be involved in hosting the All-Star Game, but he said that most of the events will take place near Target Field. St. Paul and other surrounding communities also figure to host various charity events throughout the week.

"We're looking to do something that will pay tribute to the city of St. Paul -- it's not lost on us that we're the Twin Cities," St. Peter said. "So I expect something will take place in St. Paul, and it's not just at the urging of Joe and Jake Mauer. But for the most part, we're going to try to cram almost everything into downtown Minneapolis."

Mauer, however, said he's simply just excited for the Twins to be hosting the All-Star Game for the first time since 1985, back when it was held at the Metrodome.

"I think it'll be a great venue with it right downtown," said Mauer, a St. Paul native and six-time All-Star. "I think downtown and First Avenue will be buzzing. It will be a lot of fun. Minnesotans will come out. I know that. It'll be a great atmosphere."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger.

Minnesota Twins, Joe Mauer