As the final piece of structural steel was in place, workers and officials looked ahead -- with satisfaction - to Opening Day 2010.
Ironworkers from Mortenson Construction put into place the final piece of structural steel that was lifted into the left field roof canopy at Target Field on Friday, June 5, 2009, in Minneapolis. The event was known as a topping off event. They are a tradition on major construction projects that commemorate the completion of a building's structure. The topping off of Target Field involved workers signing the last beam before it was hoisted by a crane and set in place by awaiting ironworkers.
The sign is up. The center-field trees have been planted. And the first seats are in place. From here on out, it's all about Opening Day at Target Field.
Another major milestone came Friday as the last piece of structural steel was installed during a "topping- off" ceremony to commemorate the completion of the stadium's structure in downtown Minneapolis.
"We promised we'd build the best ballpark in America, and thanks to you, I think we've done that," Hennepin County Board Chairman Mike Opat told hundreds of stadium workers who had gathered for the event. "It's not done yet, but we're almost there."
The Minnesota Twins' new home is now more than 75 percent complete.
Workers signed the beam before it was hoisted into place atop the left-field roof canopy at Target Field.
Afterward, workers filed into the stadium for a barbecue lunch to celebrate the accomplishment.
Julius McCoy of St. Paul, a steelworker, had difficulty putting into words the significance of the last beam going into place.
"This is all we've worked for right here. It isn't every day that you get to help build a major-league baseball stadium," he said. "It makes us feel like we've really done something."
Some project officials couldn't help comparing Target Field with the new $1.5 billion Yankee Stadium.
Earl Santee, senior principal at Populous, the architecture firm for Target Field, has designed 16 major-league ballparks.
"I just opened a ballpark in both New York and Kansas City," he said. "And this is it. This is a model project."
What sets the two stadiums apart is the level of workmanship, said Jerry Bell, president of Twins Sports Inc.
"I had the good fortune to go to New York a few weeks ago. The bad news is we lost, but I did get to see both Citi Field [new home of the New York Mets] and Yankee Stadium," he said. "I wish you could all see the difference in the quality of workmanship that you have done compared to what the big shots in New York did."
When complete, more than 3,500 workers will have put more than 1.3 million hours of work into Target Field, said Dan Mehls of Mortenson Construction, the contractor building the stadium.
Now workers will turn their attention to all the things that will make Target Field look and feel like a real ballpark. Workers are installing seats; trucks are dumping 4 feet of subsoil to prepare for sod installation at the end of August; even the beer taps are already in place.
"This is it," McCoy said as he looked up with satisfaction at the final steel beam now in place. "It's all about Opening Day now. I don't know if I'll be in one of the good seats, but I'll be here."
Aimée Blanchette • 612-673-1715