Visuals big part of trip to Target Field

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL IIILNEAL@STARTRIBUNE.COM
  • Updated: April 9, 2010 - 12:33 PM

From the giant videoboard to Minnie and Paul shaking hands, Target Field will offer an outing decidedly un-Dome-like.

The Target Field videoboard — here displaying Twins legend Harmon Killebrew — is the equivalent of stacking 1,042 42-inch HDTVs.

Photo: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

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When a Twins player hits a home run at Target Field, fans will discover what it means to be in a modern ballpark.

The main videoboard and all the ribbon boards around the field will launch into a graphical celebration. Lights will flash along the wind veil that hangs from the parking ramp along Target Plaza behind right field.

The celebration sign in center field -- where Minnie and Paul watch over everything -- will light up as they shake hands over the Mississippi River, which will appear to be flowing.

Instead of the "Star Wars" theme that was used for home runs in past seasons at the Metrodome, the Twins will instead play Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" over a state-of-the-art sound system.

"We talked about Bob Dylan," Twins President Dave St. Peter joked. "But I don't think 'Like a Rolling Stone' would be too good after a home run."

Good ol'-fashioned fireworks will top it all off.

Monday will mark the beginning of a new viewing experience as the first regular-season game in Target Field history takes place. It's not just the Twins' return of outdoor baseball, it's also about the technological advances that come with it.

"There will be a lot for the senses to take in," said Andy Price, the Twins' senior director of game presentation/broadcast.

The anchor of it all is what the Twins say is the fourth-largest videoboard in the league -- a screen stretching 57 feet high and 101 feet wide with 1080 lines of HD resolution. It equates to a 1,392-inch big-screen TV, and it would take 1,042 42-inch TVs to fill the same space. It's nine times larger than the scoreboards at the Metrodome.

"When you are working with a canvas that is nine times bigger, you have much more flexibility," Price said.

The Twins have a green background with yellow numbering, to track the score. There's room for both lineups and a linescore with plenty of room left for a huge picture of the player at the plate.

As far as game presentation is concerned, Price said the club hasn't installed its entire offense yet. And last weekend's exhibition games against St. Louis didn't even scratch the surface of what they have in store for fans during the regular season.

Player introductions, for example, will be eye-catching, like when Denard Span walks up to batter's box in the first inning Monday.

"We have two different animations that lead into player headshots," Price said. "And then we will also be unveiling a look that incorporates Sony's 'The Show' video game walk-ups of each of our players."

Target Corp. has gotten involved with the development of "Race to Target Field," an animated game that is truly Minnesotan. The Target bull's-eye, Babe the Blue Ox and a mosquito will race every night between the fourth and fifth inning, with standings updated after each showing.

The Twins will do more with video thanks to the board, like last weekend when they replayed ceremonies of Rod Carew and Harmon Killebrew having their statues unveiled. They plan to keep fans around after games with postgame interviews on the main videoboard.

Below the main videoboard, and above the bullpens, are smaller videoboards that will track who's pitching, his line, pitch count and pitch speed. And fans will know who is warming up in the bullpen.

Along Target Plaza, nine 40-foot tall topiaries will change colors during the game. Starting with the one closest to the playing field, each topiary will turn red for each inning played.

Along the right field wall itself is the out-of-town scoreboard. "It's one of the unsung heroes of this park," St. Peter said. "We really haven't had, in my mind, an active state of the art out-of-town scoreboard and it is one of those things fans have long called for."

The Minnie and Paul sign in center is 46 feet high and 40 1/2 feet wide. The Twins have it programmed to do something specific for 14 different moments -- including victories, home runs, stolen bases, double plays, strikeouts, etc.

"In a rain delay," Price said, "the sign will be on and the river will keep moving."

Jerry Bell, president of Twins Sports, Inc., said the goal was to have a sign that told people instantly that they were in a Minnesota ballpark, adding, "We think, we hope, [the sign] does it."

And if fans tire of the new-fangled stuff in their faces, they can head to the Twins Pub behind home plate and watch Sue Nelson play the organ.

Watching baseball at Target Field will be as un-Dome-like as it can get. The Twins will take advantage of everything they have to ensure that.

"The ballpark goes a long way toward framing that picture," St. Peter said. "But this facility is equipped with a multitude of design and technical enhancements aimed at accentuating those special moments and creating a deeper, emotional connection with our fans."

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