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Continued: Countdown begins for 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 18, 2013 - 12:09 AM

“We need more than 2,000 volunteers for all the various venues — FanFest, the airport, hotels,” Hoy said. “It’s a small army, and you’ve got to be especially organized about it.”

Fortunately, the Twins have plenty of help in their enormous undertaking, mostly because it’s not really theirs. The All-Star Game is property of Major League Baseball, and the New York office has its own staff working on the same issues, but giving them a Minnesota bent.

Everyone is familiar with each other now, in part because Hoy and St. Peter led a 30-person contingent to New York this week to shadow their colleagues at Citi Field. Twenty were Twins employees, mostly department heads from media relations to the clubhouse manager to broadcast coordinators to crowd-control captains. Five more represented Twins concessionaires, to see all the changes from a normal night game, and five were from the City of Minneapolis, to get comfortable with the controlled chaos that is baseball’s biggest non-playoff event.

The Twins sent Hoy and a handful of others to last year’s game in Kansas City, too, figuring that the scale of the event and challenges for organizers might be more relatable in a medium-sized Midwestern city, rather than in the nation’s largest metropolis.

“We learned a ton from Kansas City,” Hoy said. “Of course, they had a lot more room.”

Space a key

Oh yes, the space issue. One great benefit to Target Field’s location is that the perimeter of All-Star events and hotels might be contained within a 10-block radius, meaning a sizable number of people can just walk the skyways to get where they need to go.

“Indianapolis got rave reviews when it hosted the Super Bowl [in 2012], and the biggest reason was that everything was downtown,” said St. Peter, though the team also intends to find ways to include St. Paul in the “Twin Cities” event. “We’re going to try to replicate that model.”

But if the compact downtown is convenient, it feels claustrophobic to Hoy, who has held countless meetings on logistics; a set-in-stone game plan is far from complete. Fox, ESPN and the MLB Network all broadcast live from the venue and each one designs extra gimmicks and specialty cameras into the event — and that’s before you get to credentialed broadcasters from most major-league cities.

“The scope of it is just staggering,” Hoy said. “I’ve already had discussions with ESPN and Fox, and frankly asked them what they can get by with,” St. Peter said. “I know what they want — but what can you get by with?”

The broadcasting “village” at New York’s Citi Field this week, crammed with satellite uplink trucks, power generators, control trailers and TV news equipment, occupied the equivalent of 365 parking space outside the ballpark.

“We’ve got 380 spaces total, for everything, and that’s if you included the players’ lot,” Hoy said. “That’s going to be a real hurdle, because we’re not surrounded by empty land. We’re in the middle of a city.”

Finding room is going to be an issue everywhere. All-Star Games now make “sponsor zones” part of the experience, a state-fair-like area for Major League Baseball’s partners to reach customers and display their wares, ideally along the high-traffic approach to the stadium gates. In Kansas City a year ago, Chevrolet even operated a test track, allowing fans to test-drive Corvettes and other sports cars.

“It’s a great attraction,” Hoy said, “but we just don’t have that kind of space.”

Target Plaza isn’t big enough, and there are no obvious alternative spaces, so the Twins are trying to be creative.

“We’re looking at how the shape of that might be shifted without losing its impact, but I don’t know yet how we’re going to figure that out,” Hoy said. “It’s like this enormous puzzle, except we’ve got too many pieces.”

 

Staff writer La Velle E. Neal III contributed to this report.





 

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