Twins President David St. Peter said that with the amount of snow this winter, the Target Field grass is without question the only lawn in the state that already has been mowed. There is no doubt that the field, which is heated, will be playable for the home opener April 7 against Oakland.
“Our heating system has done its job, and we’ve been able to get the snow off the field the last couple of weeks,” he said. “We’re ready to go. We’ll see what [precipitation] we get this week, but hopefully Mother Nature will cooperate and we’ll be ready to go on April 7th.”
The home opener has not yet sold out with about 3,000 seats available, which is unusual being so close to the start of the season. Still, St. Peter says he thinks the game will sell out. He added that interest in this year’s All-Star Game at Target Field has helped keep season ticket sales healthy.
“There’s no doubt it has helped us,” St. Peter said. “We think we’re going to land somewhere right around 17,500 full-season equivalents by Opening Day. … Clearly that’s a number that’s down from a year ago, but still I think it’s remarkable, considering the way we’ve played, that that many people are still engaged and really want to see this team succeed.”
St. Peter added said the team is still selling All-Star Game ticket packages.
“Our full-season ticket holders ultimately purchased about 90 percent of the All-Star tickets they had access to,” St. Peter said. “Our partial [season ticket owners] plans will go on sale here in a couple weeks. We had almost 150,000 fans register via the online random draw process for the general public. We’ll be able to go to those folks here at the end of April to see how many of those people have an opportunity to buy strips. Clearly the events at Target Field are going to be a very tough ticket.”
How are those ticket packages being sold?
“All the All-Star tickets are being sold in event strips,” St. Peter said. “When you buy a strip, you get a ticket for the Futures game and the Legends softball game, which will take place on Sunday, July 13th, the Home Run Derby on Monday, July 14th, and, of course, the All-Star Game itself on July 15th.”
St. Peter also said to expect some more event announcements around the game.
“All-Star balloting will start on the 25th of April,” he said. “I’d expected a pretty significant media event that day, and announcements about All-Star spokespeople and FanFest. And one of the great aspects of the All-Star Game for the host community is charitable donations coming into the marketplace. We’ll have a pretty significant announcement about a partnership between Major League Baseball, the Twins Community Fund and the Pohlad Foundation that I think will make a very significant splash relative to capital projects in this marketplace.”
Inside the Badgers
Former Orono standout and Wisconsin redshirt junior Jordan Smith has had a front-row seat for the Badgers’ run to their first Final Four under Bo Ryan, after defeating Arizona 64-63 in overtime Saturday for the West Regional title.
Smith, whose father, Gregg Smith, was a punter with the Gophers in the 1980s, was asked how the team rebounded from losing five of six games in the middle of the Big Ten schedule to eventually make it to Arlington, Texas, to face Kentucky on Saturday.
“We just always kind of felt that that was a little bit of a lull in our season,” Smith said. “We didn’t really think much of it at that point. I think we all had the confidence that we needed to get where we are right now. We all just kind of believed we were going to be just fine. We’ve been saying all along that we’re a team that was built for the tournament and I think we’ve shown that so far.”
Smith said when Wisconsin lost 81-68 to the Gophers in the middle of that rough stretch, the team didn’t panic.
“That was kind of a tough one, especially being from Minneapolis, but I think just as far as our season as a whole, we didn’t really focus too much on any one particular loss,” he said. “It was just kind of everybody stayed together and stayed positive and we were able to turn it around.”
Smith is roommates with junior forward Frank Kaminsky, who was named the West Regional Most Outstanding Player after scoring 28 points on 11-for-20 shooting with 11 rebounds in the victory over Arizona.
“I couldn’t be more proud of that kid,” said Smith, who has lived with Kaminsky for two years. “He’s a great guy, a great player and he deserves every second of what he’s getting right now.”
• The Gophers women’s basketball coaching vacancy should be attractive to candidates. According to the University of Minnesota’s most recent financial report from 2013, Pam Borton — who was fired Friday — was paid nearly the same salary as men’s hockey coach Don Lucia, nearly $503,000 compared to $518,000 for Lucia, even though her sport lost in the area of $1.9 million and Lucia’s hockey team earned just over $3.6 million. Borton does have two years left on her contract, but the word is there is a buyout as a part of her contract.
• Bad luck for coach Jerry Kill and the Gophers football team with former Iowa Western linebacker Cody Poock, who had earned a starting position and has been one of the big pluses of spring practice. Poock injured his knee in Saturday’s practice and is expected to have surgery, which would end his participation in spring drills. The hope is he still will be able to play some football this fall.
• Gophers basketball center Elliott Eliason sprained his ankle in practice before the team left for New York and the NIT semifinals, and there is some question if he will be able to play. … The Gophers have a record of 25-12 in NIT games, but if you include their two NIT appearances under Clem Haskins, which were subsequently vacated, the team is 31-13, including five victories in their run to the 1998 NIT championship over Penn State at Madison Square Garden.
• Owatonna coach Jeff Williams was named the Minnesota Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year.
• Lou Nanne isn’t the only grandfather who can brag about his hockey-playing grandkids. That was Connor Gaarder, the grandson of former Vikings head coach Jerry Burns, who scored the game-winning goal in North Dakota’s two-overtime 2-1 victory over Ferris State on Saturday. Gaarder had eight goals and eight assists in the regular season.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40, 8:40 and 9:20 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. email@example.com