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Target Field ready for its All-Star closeup

MINNEAPOLIS -- When Target Field opened in 2010, it was immediately hailed as one of the breakthroughs in modern stadium design.

It honored the Twins' rich heritage with features like the iconic Minnie and Paul shaking hands in the second deck above center field and the entry gates bearing the numbers of former Twins greats. It also paid tribute to Minnesota with the Kasota limestone used throughout the ballpark and has a modern feel with its signature façade around the stadium.

And now the Twins will have the opportunity to show off their downtown ballpark when they host the 2014 All-Star Game.

"I think it's the most beautiful ballpark in all of baseball," Twins president Dave St. Peter said. "And I think that's a tribute to the Pohlad family not only being willing to build a great ballpark, but a landmark facility."

The road to opening Target Field in 2010 -- after the franchise played indoors at the Metrodome for 28 years wasn't an easy one -- But the Twins were able to get it accomplished, and they had the goal of one day hosting an All-Star Game during the process.

The effort to bring outdoor baseball back to the Twin Cities began in the 1990s, when the late Carl Pohlad, the club's former owner, argued that his team needed a new ballpark to be competitive.

The Twins were even discussed as a potential candidate for contraction in 2001, underscoring the need for a new stadium, but the dream of an outdoor baseball ballpark became a reality when then-Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed the stadium bill on May 26, 2006.

Designed by Populous, with Mortenson Construction serving as the construction manager, ground broke on the $545 million stadium on Aug. 20, 2007. Target Field hosted its first Major League game on April 12, 2010, with 38,145 fans on hand to see the Twins beat the Red Sox, 5-2.

The ballpark, conveniently located in the Warehouse District of downtown Minneapolis, currently holds 39,021 fans, with 54 private suites and 12 group-party suites, as well as popular areas like the Champions Club, Legends Club and the Budweiser Roof Deck in left field. New drink-rail seating was also added in right field near Target Plaza before this season, lowering the official capacity from its original total of 39,504.

"I think we have good fans, and it'll be an awesome venue for it," said Twins closer and Stillwater, Minn., native Glen Perkins. "I think Target Field, with the way it's set up, will be an awesome spectacle."

One of Target Field's charms is its coziness, as it's located on 8 1/2 acres of land on the western edge of downtown Minneapolis. For comparison's sake, the site is about the same size as Fenway Park in Boston.

It lends itself to an intimate feeling throughout the ballpark, but as St. Peter noted, the Twins will also have their hands full creating enough space for the media and the broadcast centers that will be used by television networks like ESPN and FOX.

"One of the biggest challenges is the broadcast compound," St. Peter said. "I already talked to ESPN and FOX and asked them what we can get by with. I know what they want, but it's more about what we can get by with because of an urban ballpark and no parking. But at the end of the day, we'll make it work and adapt."

St. Peter added that the ballpark, which already has seen several additions throughout the years -- such as a new scoreboard and LED tower in right field -- could see further improvements before hosting the All-Star Game next year.

One major change outside the ballpark will be the creation of a new 50,000-foot transit hub for the light-rail station that serves downtown Minneapolis.

"Jim Pohlad has challenged the front office about what we can do inside the ballpark," St. Peter said. "He'd like to do something of significance, but we'll see if we can find the right project or not. We're looking at a few ideas, such as revising a few seating areas for the All-Star Game."

But St. Peter stressed the convenience of Target Field being located downtown as a major selling point for Major League Baseball bringing the Midsummer Classic to the Twin Cities for the first time since 1985.

"I think it's a big advantage," St. Peter said. "I think, to me, the best events are the ones that aren't scattered and in a critical mass within an eight- to 10-block area, and that's what we're able to do with Target Field."

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

Minnesota Twins