At least one all-star free agent will return to the Twins roster next year: The team has signed Kenny Chesney for another Target Field concert on July 12 with a second heavy-hitting country music act for support, the Zac Brown Band.
Chesney inaugurated Target Field as a music venue last July with tourmate Tim McGraw. Musicians, fans and Twins representatives alike considered the sold-out show a home run.
"Two songs into my show last [summer], I realized I was going to come back," Chesney says in a promotional audio clip posted on the Twins website. "It's a beautiful stadium, and it was just a special night in Minneapolis."
Chesney apparently told his people this summer: "I want to go back to Target Field," according to Kevin Smith, the Twins' director of public affairs.
Tickets for the second go-around will be sold exclusively online at www.twinsbaseball.com/concerts starting at 10 a.m. Dec. 7 at prices yet to be announced. They will probably be close to the $29-$298 range charged in July. Twins season ticket holders will receive e-mails about a pre-sale offer beginning Dec. 4.
The concert will again include a "Sand Bar" viewing area near the stage as part of even pricier VIP packages.
Next summer's outing is being dubbed the "No Shoes Nation" tour, after Chesney's anthem "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem," and it promises to be extra rowdy given the party-centric stage personas of Chesney and Brown (whose band happens to be performing Saturday at nearby Target Center).
Brown's band is actually a fill-in on the July 12 date. Hot young country act Eric Church is opening most of Chesney's 17 stadium dates next summer but had a scheduling conflict with the Minneapolis stop. Minnesota and Wisconsin fans hoping to catch Church and/or get an early jump on the tour could see Chesney May 18 at Miller Park in Milwaukee (also on sale Dec. 7).
Smith said no other Target Field concerts are being discussed for next year, but added coyly: "Now, if the Rolling Stones come calling ..." The Stones are expected to play a 50th anniversary tour next year.
The Twins' front office also talked with Paul McCartney's and Bruce Springsteen's people about having those superstars perform there in the ballpark's first three years. Chesney is still a coup, however, given his continued ranking as the top-drawing live act in the country, plus his fans' penchant for buying alcohol -- a big part of concert revenue.
Unlike last July, Target Field's lawn crew should have plenty of time to tend their precious grass. The Twins are on the road July 5-14, then go on break for the All-Star Game before resuming their home schedule July 19.
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658 Twitter: @ChrisRstrib