The Twins were supposed to complete a four-game set with the Chicago White Sox today, but instead the two teams stayed cooped up in their respective homes or hotel rooms as they were snowed out for the third consecutive day. This has led to a ton of people - both inside and outside of Minnesota - crying that it was dumb that we built a ballpark that didn’t come with a roof.
Before you start your inhale to make a similar comment or you crack your knuckles in anticipation of firing your next tweet through the Internet... just stop. Target Field is perfect the way it is and nothing you say is going to change that.
Every single time there’s a rainout, people complain because we used to have the Metrodome. Rain or shine, you could count on the game being played in the Dome (unless the roof collapsed) and everyone was happy. Except, well, we weren’t. The Dome was ugly. We had to crane our necks because home plate was 70° off to the side. Fly balls were lost in the white roof and ground balls bounced over defenders or raced past them at breakneck speed. It was not a pleasant experience for anyone involved, unless you came from North Dakota, because at least your trip to the Twin Cities to see the Twins came to fruition because you were able to watch the Twins.
Though there were discussions to put a retractable roof on the new ballpark, it was ultimately decided that it would be an open-air stadium. The space where Target Field was built used to be a parking lot, meaning the ballpark had to be tiny.
If you go on a tour of Target Field, you’ll likely be told that the ballpark was built like a mushroom cloud; it started small at the bottom and expanded out as you went up. Target Plaza, the walkway that connects Target Field to the Timberwolves’ Target Center, sits atop 394. Building a retractable roof not only was going to cost more money, it was going to take up even more space as well.
It might seem odd that I went with the HOK artist’s rendering as the “after” photo rather than an actual picture of Target Field, but that’s because we all agreed on one thing: you have to see the view from behind home plate and/or down the 3rd base line.
Additionally, ESPN The Magazine ranked Target Field in 2010 as being the #1 stadium experience.
Minnesota is getting unfair criticism because of an historic snowstorm in April, one that is nearing the state record for snowfall in April. Target Field was built without a roof because the average high temperature in April is 58°F and the average high temperature in September is 72°F, plus it should be blatantly obvious that it’s warmer here during the summer months. True, we average 3 inches of snow in April, but why would we demand a roof on a baseball stadium if the average low in April doesn’t even reach freezing temperatures (37°F)? PS: Saturday, the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves played when it was 38°F with drizzling rain and wind gusts of 24 MPH, plus Sunday’s game was cancelled due to inclement weather. I doubt anyone will cry that the Cubs need a roof on Wrigley Field.
Returning to the Twins, part of the criticism also stems from our awareness of the successor to the Metrodome, which is US Bank Stadium. The new home of the Minnesota Vikings, it did keep a Metrodome feature in that it could be used for both football and baseball. The baseball accommodations weren’t for the Twins though, but rather the Minnesota Gophers collegiate baseball team. Hence, it seems clear that in inclement weather, the Twins and their fans could just truck over to US Bank Stadium to play their game(s).
Unfortunately, this ignores several important issues. First, although the Gophers play in US Bank Stadium, it is not a good baseball field.
Myjah has already covered that the Dome was better for playing baseball. Without arguing her same points, I want to point out the following:
a) There are no real dugouts.
b) As you can see in the picture above, the infield is all turf rather than having dirt basepaths.
c) The dimensions are comical as it’s 381 feet to straightaway center and only 301 feet down the right field line. For comparison, Angel Stadium and Petco Park both have the closest center field fences at 396 feet, while Fenway Park has the closest right field distance at 302 feet (though it quickly juts out to 380 feet). In other words, US Bank Stadium would likely be the smallest field in the majors.
That takes care of why the game itself would suffer at US Bank Stadium. Next, there are plenty of logistical issues. Seats in Target Field do not fully correspond to seats in US Bank Stadium. Ticketholders in the Legends or Champions Clubs are expecting to enjoy a game in the Legends or Champions Club. Does the Twins gameday staff follow the team to US Bank Stadium or do the Vikings/Gophers get to use their gameday staff? If the Twins bring their staff over, the staff has to be trained on how to direct fans and navigate the stadium themselves. Delaware North Company (the company in charge of Target Field’s concessions) and their employees will be upset that they miss out on a home game. The list can go on and on and on. Although MLB has moved games to other cities before, the difference was that all of those were moved to other existing MLB stadiums. I doubt MLB would sign off on the Twins and White Sox playing their three games unless they had moved to Miller Park in Milwaukee.
Edit: I’ve seen arguments as to why the Vikings put a roof on US Bank Stadium while the Twins did not. It’s simple, the state wanted a stadium that could be used for more than just 8-10 football games a season. Large concerts, motocross and monster truck rallies, the state high school football tournament, etc. can all be held at US Bank Stadium thanks to the roof. It was not as critical for Target Field because it was smaller, it would be used at least 81 times each summer, and Target Center was right next door anyway.
Long story short, there’s a lot of vocal people that wish that the Twins had a roof or another home. I’m choosing to be vocal in response, that we were hit with a rare snowstorm, Target Field is perfect the way it is, and there are too many issues with moving a game over to US Bank Stadium. And for you non-Minnesotans that think you know what we should have done, I want to hear your complaints about your own teams the next time they lose a game to the weather. You know damn well why some ballparks are built without a roof. We know why as well.