In Target Field’s basement this weekend, team historian Clyde Doepner will don white gloves as he reverently displays such valuable memorabilia as Harmon Killebrew’s jersey or long-ago owner Clark Griffith’s Baseball Encyclopedias. Two floors up, Twins fans can purchase their own pieces of history, such as Drew Butera’s spare catcher’s mask, or the nameplate that once hung above Jason Repko’s locker.
The line between jewel and junk can be a fine one, can’t it?
But the Twins hope the real treasure that fans discover at the 26th annual TwinsFest, which runs Friday through Sunday, is Target Field itself. With the Metrodome’s cavernous floor now a part of history, too, the Twins have turned their winter carnival into a home game.
“People are going to have access to a lot of areas of the ballpark that most of them have probably never seen, from the clubhouse to the suites,” said Kevin Smith, the team’s senior director of corporate communications. “If you’ve sat in the left-field bleacher for three years and wondered what’s in the Metropolitan Club, or where the batting cages are, you can walk around and see for yourself. It’s pretty neat.”
Quite a bit smaller, though, and more spread out, but the team hopes its roster of interactive games makes the event feel like a party in a museum. The new venue forced a limit of 6,500 tickets per day, so the three-day event will draw far fewer than 30,000-plus that the Twins attracted to the Metrodome in previous years. Ticket prices were also raised to $20 for adults (they were $9 if purchased in advance at the Metrodome) and $10 for children 14 and under.
“We explored a lot of ways to create space,” Smith said, “but I think we’re happy with how it fits here.”
The team considered, but discarded for now, ideas like building a temporary ice-skating rink on Target Plaza, or enclosing the open-air main concourse with Plexiglas. “We’re going to study how things work this year before we decide what TwinsFest will look like in the future,” Smith said. “It’s January in Minnesota, so we’re limited by the weather in some of the things we’d like to do.”
Roughly 75 former, current and future Twins will be present to sign autographs, as usual, but also to participate in such events as beanbag tosses, bingo, bowling, video games, and pop-a-shot.
“We’ve tried to keep the most popular parts of the old TwinsFest, while coming up with several new events that fit in the new venue,” Smith said.
Autograph sessions, at a cost of $10-$35, will take place in the suite level, while games, player interviews, concessions and a “yard sale” of discarded gear, artwork and autographed Twins memorabilia will be located on the club level. In the below-ground service level, 57 collectors and dealers — down from the usual 80-plus at the Dome — will have tables set up. Fans can also walk through the Twins clubhouse and batting cages, or purchase tickets for Doepner’s tour of the team’s archives. Tickets for the Twins’ April 7 home opener will go on sale at 4 p.m. Friday.
Saturday’s session is sold out, but tickets remained Thursday for the Friday and Sunday sessions, with all proceeds benefiting the Twins Community Fund.