When I was working as a Target Field usher from 2010 to 2014, I was able to direct fans to just about anything they wanted. Hrbek's, the Town Ball Tavern, the Captain's Deck (which really hasn't been called that for years now), the Minnie and Paul sign in center field, mini donuts, pizza, you name it and I did a solid job telling you where to find it.
However, there was one question I always dreaded, and fortunately it was rarely asked: "What can my child(ren) do here?" Well, uhh, you see, uhh... yeaaaahhh.... The thing was, there wasn't much for kids to do at the ballpark. When Target Field first opened, there were the Best Buy video games set up in straightaway center field on the main level, but those have been gone for a few years now. You could play Twingo, I suppose, or look for some ice cream, but if you wanted to entertain the kiddos, you'd most likely have to bring your own activities.
This comes on the heels of the Twins announcing two new bars that will replace the center field seating in the upper deck. There's no doubt that the Twins didn't need to add these new bars, but I'm well aware that money drives many decisions in the business world. The view from straightaway center field is very good, especially when you aren't more than 30-40 feet above the field. Plus, I will admit that the proposed design looks far better than the original asymmetric appearance.
Overall, I think the new proposal looks good and I'm sure I'll visit Minnie and Paul's on my next Target Field visit. However, I can't help but feel that this continues a trend in which a baseball team ignores a chance to draw in younger fans. Every year we have articles written on how baseball is dying or that it can't garner younger viewers like the NBA or NFL. Well, I get the feeling that baseball loses younger fans because it's really not trying that hard to retain them. Why would a kid that's a casual baseball fan want to get into the Twins if s(he) visits Target Field only to learn that there's nothing to do but watch the game?
Admittedly, there is a little effort done on Sundays with the Kids Day promotion. Two players are available every Sunday for free autographs for kids 14 and under, but you need to know that they're located in the south ramp by Gate 29, they last only 40 minutes, and they typically feature the 24th and 25th players on the roster. There's also the kids announcer during the 4th inning, a notable increase of children shown on the video board, and finally running the bases on the field after the game.
There isn't a designated area in the ballpark where games and activities are available, like at the Target Center. There's no play area like at Petco Park. Basically you're stuck if you want to see your kids doing anything like that. Again, I understand that earning more money is the bottom line and that there isn't a lot of space in the already-small Target Field. However, the organization has found the ability to add the Great Clips seats, Barrio, and now the two center field bars without any demonstrated consideration for younger fans. It's not a deal-breaker for me, I understand the bottom line, but I still feel it would be nice for the Twins to throw them a bone once in a while.