Twins fans show up early for Opening Dayby Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio,
Sunny Thao, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis — Fans are showing up at Target Field hours ahead of the Minnesota Twins' afternoon home opener to take in the sights, grab a hot dog and snap pictures of the new stadium.
Today's game isn't the first time baseball has been played at Target Field, but it's the first home game for the Twins in the 2010 regular season.
"I'm excited for outdoor baseball, especially this game" against the Boston Red Sox, said Nate Walker, 32, of St. Paul, before heading into the ballpark.
The game against Boston wasn't to start until 3:10 p.m., but downtown Minneapolis was the place to be -- especially as the forecasted rain held off. Street vendors sold hot dogs and State Fair-style food outside, while street musicians entertained fans decked out in red, white and blue.
"It's the most amazing experience," Valerie Crowell, 29, of Cottage Grove, said of attending one of the Twins' exhibition games last weekend.
Crowell, wearing a Twins jersey, said the team's new digs are "awesome."
"I've seen baseball played inside my whole life, and it's great to see it played outside," she said.
Some fans arrived for the game several hours before the gates even opened at Target Field. That included Mike Clark, who was at Target Field as the sun came up Monday morning, well before the gates opened at noon.
Clark lived in the Twin Cities 10 years ago and became a Twins fan before moving to San Jose, Calif.
"Me and my buddy always came to games when I lived here," Clark said. "I moved away in 2003, and as soon as I heard they were opening this park, I knew I'd be here today."
Many fans took pictures at the Hall of Fame area outside the stadium. Others admired the architecture, including the limestone facade that came from Minnesota.
"It's done right," said Nick Capra, 27, of Blaine. "There's a Minnesota flavor to it, from the limestone to the Twins Logo to the State Fair food inside the stadium."
While a Gophers baseball game and Twins exhibition games have been played at Target Field already, the home opener will perhaps be the first true test of everything from transportation and traffic, to food stands inside the stadium.
Twins spokesman Kevin Smith said some things will just take some getting used to at Target Field.
"A lot of our food is kind of made-to-order stuff," Smith said. "Our fans are used to going up and getting stuff that's been precooked and pre-wrapped, and then out they go. But lines are going to be longer in places where we do the made-to-order food."
Metro Transit is also watching to see what happens at the Metrodome light rail station. Staff will be on hand to encourage people to take a bus if trains are too full, spokesman Bob Gibbons said.
"We had a number of fans park there, and then come to the station to ride light rail to Target Field, and those trains were awfully full," Gibbons said. "Our intent on putting staff there is to encourage fans to step right across the street on 4th Street and consider using a route 3, 16 or 50 bus that comes along there."
Right-handed starter Carl Pavano will throw the first regular season pitch at Target Field, and left-hander Jon Lester will take the mound for the Red Sox.
The Twins' series with Boston runs through Thursday. The Twins will then host the Kansas City Royals this weekend and the Cleveland Indians next week.
Tim Nelson is a general assignment reporter for MPR News.