A $5 million Minnesota Twins-funded renovation at Target Field has given the ballpark a new look, more places to play and enhanced security.
For the sixth time in 10 seasons of baseball at Target Field, the Twins used the offseason to redo the batter’s eye — the center field backdrop against which batters try to get a read on the movement of pitches often hurtling toward them at 90-plus mph.
At first there was a line of evergreens, then paint and later aluminum; this year’s batter’s eye will be a field of 6,000 Sea Green Juniper plants.
More noticeable to fans will be Gate 34, one of the ballpark’s two major entrances facing downtown.
Gate 34 added a permanent metal canopy and additional entry checkpoints, including two lanes for users of Clear, the biometric screening system often used at airports for an enrollment fee.
Flexibility and increased security drove the design, said Matt Hoy, the team’s senior vice president of operations. When Target Field opened in 2010, security practices weren’t what they are now.
Adjacent to the new Clear entrances are dedicated lanes for fans with disabilities and season-ticket holders, as well as checkpoints for everyone else.
The enhanced gate ate up some of the plaza, which features statues of Twins’ greats Kirby Puckett and Harmon Killebrew.
But the big star — the oversized Golden Glove, a favorite spot for photos — got more accessible. The glove was taken off its 16-inch pedestal and placed at ground level.
“I don’t think any of us knew the glove would become one of the most iconic photographs for families” visiting the ballpark, Hoy said.
The renovation created more space inside Gate 34 (which carries Puckett’s number), where covered pop-up space will accommodate local vendors selling cotton candy, cookies and Minnesota-themed clothing. Hoy said the area can be configured for anything from autograph tables to a beer hall or grilling competition.
Another new feature: kid-friendly turf for energetic youngsters who need more than a seventh-inning stretch. Lawn games will be set up after fans arrive for games.
While the space immediately outside the stadium has shrunk, the view of the ballpark from outside has expanded. The removal of a canopy over the right field seats has opened the interior, especially upper-level seats above the first-base line, to views from several blocks away.
The new batter’s eye is a “living wall,” entirely green because of the junipers. Each plant sits in its own one-gallon bucket placed in a slanted tray system, through which the shrubs are watered.
Testing how that new feature works will require a few times through the batting order during the Twins’ home season, which begins at 3:10 p.m. Thursday against the Cleveland Indians.