They appear in the quiet of a sunny Easter morning and in the chill of a drizzly weekday afternoon.
They come alone and with kids and sometimes, in waves of three or more, to stand in the shadows of the downtown skyscrapers and peer through the openings of locked stadium gates.
The faithful wear the red, white and blue of the home team. Others don jackets and ties and more formal attire while breaking from work.
Some pull out cameras or cell phones to snap a few photos, but most simply stare in awe, soaking up the sight of the flashy new scoreboard and the massive seating decks that rise from the Earth to the sky above.
"I was drawn. I couldn't stay away any longer," Anna Hensel, of Roseville, said Wednesday as she checked out spiffy new Target Field. "I'm so excited. I just had to come see it and touch it and get some tickets."
Four days from now, the Twins will formally christen their new ballpark when they host the Boston Red Sox in the 2010 home opener. But for hundreds of curious fans who have waited decades for their team to escape the dreary Dome, that's too long to wait.
The pull of the new park is just too strong to resist.
"It's beautiful," said Mary Kollen, a downtown resident who pedaled by on a bicycle.
"It looks awesome," said Dennis Feeser, of Villard, Minn., who stopped with his brother, Ed, and a friend, Liz Solem, to sneak a peek.
"It seems like you're right close to the field," said Ed Feeser, of Rosemount. "From here, it's hard to believe a real baseball field is down there."
"It reminds me a little bit of the old Met," said Diana DeGidio, a longtime fan from St. Paul, as she peered through Gate 34 overlooking right field. "It doesn't look like there's a bad seat in the house."
DeGidio, who works for Ramsey County, took time off work this week to buy tickets and check out the ballpark. For nearly an hour she walked the site, inspecting everything from the giant gold glove beyond the right-field gate that pays tribute to the team's "Gold Glove" winners, to the statue of Hall of Fame great and former Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew.
A diehard fan since she saw her first Twins game at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington in 1962, DeGidio was a tough sell.
"It's better than I thought it might be," she said, squinting as she glanced around. "I just don't like the idea that they don't have a roof."
To Renata Shaffer-Gottschalk, of Minneapolis, that's the appeal.
"I love it. There's nothing like an outside baseball stadium," she said.
Within minutes of buying tickets for a June game with the Detroit Tigers, Shaffer-Gottschalk and her husband, Ryan Medeiros, raced to Gate 29 to look inside.
"I see green! I see green!" Shaffer-Gottschalk shouted as she spotted outfield grass. "I wish there was a game tonight. I'm getting antsy."
Small touches --the gate handles in the shape of the state of Minnesota and the red, white and blue bunting on lamp posts -- impressed. So, too, did the backdrop.
"I love being able to see the skyline and warehouses," Medeiros said.
Hensel was surprised it wasn't bigger.
"I thought it would be more spread out," she said.
Fred Chaney, a former Minneapolis resident, was surprised it fit the site.
"When I first saw it, I was like 'Man, how could they stick that in there?'" he said. "But it's amazing what they can do."
Chaney and his wife, Ellen, stopped Wednesday while visiting with their sons, Ty, 7, and Torii, 4, and daughter Denmark, 2. The family once lived near the site before moving to Chicago three years ago.
"This was our back yard," Fred Chaney said of the neighborhood. "This is where we lived. To come back and see it, it's supercool."
Retired postal carriers Jack Burmis, of Fridley, and Dave Shopek, of Brooklyn Center, were impressed, too, but disappointed they couldn't see more.
From where they stood outside Gate 34, almost none of the playing field was visible. Still, the promise of a ballgame under the sun or the stars was reason enough to approve.
Said a grinning Shopek: "I'm looking forward to an afternoon game with a couple of Kramarczuk's sausages and a couple of brewskis."
Richard Meryhew • 612-673-4425