The first pitch at U.S. Bank Stadium left the mound just after 6 a.m. and almost an hour before sunrise Friday morning. Yet, more than 100 fans arrived early for the first-ever baseball game at the billion-dollar stadium.
The Twin Cities’ newest baseball diamond didn’t give up much offense in its debut. Iowa Central won the first game of a doubleheader 1-0 and Century College of White Bear Lake won the second game 3-0 in extra innings.
The teams paid for five hours on the field and used the final 75 minutes to scrimmage against one another without umpires.
The players offered positive reviews about the indoor field and its almost 100 percent turf surface. Some players voiced concerns about the way ground balls bounce and how the turf effects sliding. The only dirt on the field is a small patch on the pitcher’s mound. The batter’s and catcher’s box are dirt-colored turf and the infield, including the area surrounding the bases, are green turf.
The first game briefly paused in late innings while the stadium lights were adjusted after the sun had risen. Some of the high fly balls and pop ups caused trouble for outfielders and infielders. The ping of metal bats and the pop of pitches hitting the catcher’s mitt were all amplified by the loud echo the stadium creates.
“It was great to be out here playing baseball. Just a beautiful facility in here. Can’t ask for anything better,” said Mike Schiller, Century’s freshman catcher. “[The field] was phenomenal. It’s hard to get used to bounces. ... It seems like the ball flies pretty well in here, so I have a feeling it’s a good balanced ballpark.”
Schiller drove in the go-ahead run for the Ducks in their extra-innings victory.
The Gophers play their first game at the stadium Friday at 6:30 p.m. against Seattle University. Immediately after that game ends, Minot State and Crookston will play the stadium’s fourth game of the day. It is scheduled for a 10 p.m. start.
Watch and hear the sights and sounds from the first baseball game at U.S. Bank Stadium in the above player or here.