Hartman: Planning for All-Star Game goes back nearly a decade

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 10, 2014 - 12:13 AM

Even before Target Field funding was OK’d, officials had the Midsummer Classic in mind.

Twins President Dave St.  Peter said the planning for the upcoming Major League Baseball All-Star Game started as far back as 2006 when the Twins were battling with state legislators to get the funding to build Target Field.

“We had done our homework in terms of what the likelihood would be of an All-Star Game coming to the Twin Cities,” St. Peter said. “That was certainly something that we talked about at the Legislature when the ballpark got approved in May of ’06. I can assure you we had incremental discussions at that point with the commissioner’s office and was told at the time that once the facility opened, if it opened on time in 2010, which obviously it did, that we would be able to go through the bid process at that point.

“We really worked hard in the spring and summer of 2010 and ultimately made our bid in 2011 in conjunction with Hennepin County, Meet Minneapolis, the ballpark authority, etc. We received word in the summer of 2012 from Commissioner [Bud] Selig and Major League Baseball that the 2014 All-Star Game would be in Minnesota.”

Exponential growth

St. Peter said that while he was only 18 when the All-Star Game was last held in Minneapolis at the Metrodome in 1985, he has heard from plenty of people that this year’s event will be a much larger experience.

“I’d say probably 10 times as big, when you think about everything that happens with the events,” he said. “Consider the fact that the Home Run Derby in and of itself was held I think in the middle of the afternoon and I think it was a free event at the Metrodome. And I don’t think there was live television on it. Now, ESPN will put up probably their biggest number, ratingswise, of the summer with the Home Run Derby.

“That ticket arguably might be tougher to get than the game itself, from what I’ve experienced the last couple of weeks,’’ St. Peter added. “That alone is huge. Then you have the Futures Game, where we expect 40,000 people in Target Field for the Futures Game and the celebrity softball. Those events did not exist in 1985. Then everything that happens away from the ballpark: FanFest, the [free] concert [at TCF Bank Stadium], all the different hospitality events — it really is a showcase for the game, and it has grown exponentially.”

St. Peter, in talking about the tremendous effort put forth by the Twins staff, Major League Baseball and the city of Minneapolis, said there have been upward of 1,500 media credentials issued for the event. Then there’s Saturday’s free concert at TCF Bank Stadium with Imagine Dragons and Atmosphere that is being done in coordination with the University of Minnesota, and he estimated there are between 500 to 750 volunteers working at the MLB FanFest, which will take place from Friday to Tuesday.

“All of that happens with a lot of effort behind the scenes from a lot of people and a lot of Twins staffers, I can tell you, who have really been working two jobs for the last two years,” St. Peter said. “It’s an honor and a privilege. … It certainly is taxing, but it’s what you do for these events and it’s certainly worth it.”

St. Peter said that while the All-Star events are great moments for the team and the city, the project that might have the most impact is the Legacy Giving Project.

“We’ll contribute upwards of $8 million in conjunction with Major League Baseball, the Pohlad Family Foundation and the Twins Community Fund to a variety of different causes and mainly capital projects around the state,” he said.

St. Peter was asked about the logistics of hosting this large of an event at Target Field, and if the stadium was designed to handle it.

“Yeah, it certainly was,’’ he said. “When we designed Target Field, one of the filters we put certain elements through were jewel events. Now frankly, we wanted to do it more for the postseason, and in 2010 we saw that with the American League Division Series. The way you design certain areas from a media perspective in terms of where you put power and data, how you set up your broadcast compound, all of those design elements involved Major League Baseball,” he said. “Certainly there was a postseason filter and an All-Star Game filter that was used to make certain decisions.”

St. Peter also added that although the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby are sold out, Major League Baseball might release some tickets over the next week. As of Wednesday, MLB was selling Home Run Derby seats for $175 to $185.

Jottings

• The Vikings have the easiest schedule in the NFC North this season, based on their opponents’ 2013 winning percentage.

• Vikings coaches are on a five-week vacation until training camp opens July 25.

• The Twins, needing a starter to replace injured Ricky Nolasco, had some good options at Class AAA Rochester and will call up lefthander Kris Johnson to start Friday at Colorado. Over the past 12 games entering Wednesday, Red Wings starters were 7-0 with a 2.89 ERA.

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