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To listen to and read all the adulation heaped on Target Field during its first year, you'd think the place dubbed the "best stadium experience'' in all of professional sports by ESPN The Magazine might leave well enough alone during the offseason.
On Opening Day 2011, a scoreboard above the right-field stands and a 100-foot tall LED-lit column alongside are among the new or expanded features that will greet fans, the Minnesota Twins announced Wednesday.
While all the bids haven't yet been finalized, Twins Sports Inc. President Jerry Bell estimated that the total cost for all enhancements will be $4 million to $6 million. The Twins are paying for everything, which preserves the Minnesota Ballpark Authority's capital improvement fund for future needs.
"We just tried to improve on what the fans already accepted," Bell said.
Here's a roundup of the new features, slated to be ready for the stadium's sophomore season:
Equal opportunity video
Some fans in left field this season couldn't watch replays because the large scoreboard loomed over them. No more. Next year, they'll be able to follow the action on the new right-field high-definition scoreboard. At 50 by 28 feet, it will be smaller than the main one but still three times larger than the one in the Metrodome.
Officials believe the Twins Tower, to be built where Target Plaza meets the right field stands, will become an iconic ballpark element and a downtown landmark. The tower will flash messages and graphics while displaying the time at the top. Both the tower and new scoreboard will be built by South Dakota-based Daktronics.
Building on tradition
More names will be added to the Tradition Wall, a popular display featuring Twins players and fans outside the ballpark in Target Plaza.
Back to the quarry
The concrete concourse wall below the Metropolitan Club on the right-field side will be re-clad in the ballpark's distinctive Kasota Stone, the yellow limestone quarried in Mankato.
Git yer Randy Ravioli here
The Twins plan to add more Minnesota-based signature items to its concessions stables, given the popularity this year of vendors like Kramarczuk's and Vincent. "Perhaps Tinucci's," said Bell with a smile, referring to the east-metro Italian deli and restaurant whose buffet former Viking Randy Moss memorably spurned last month.
Bringing up the heat
Radiant heat, now a cozy amenity on the main level, will be added to the upper-deck terrace level and the Home Run Porch in left field.
When you're not watching
For those who just can't put down their handhelds, free Wi-Fi Internet service will be provided throughout the ballpark. The Twins are calling it their "TwiFi" network.
Mystery legend to come
A bronze statue of another legendary Twin will be added next year to the current lineup of Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew and Kirby Puckett. Who will it be? Twins president Dave St. Peter knows, but he's not saying.
Kevin Duchschere • 6121-673-4455