When you’re on stage in front of the entire country, you want to look spotless. Shirt pressed, hair combed, and make sure to wash behind your ears.
It’s the same for baseball stadiums, too, which is why Target Field got scrubbed down and polished up Monday, eight days before baseball’s 85th All-Star Game, with a cleaning crew even scouring the top of the iconic canopy roof, just in case.
“When you see the blimp shot next week, we don’t want there to be any black smudges on the roof,” said Matt Hoy, Twins senior vice president of operations. “We want Target Field to look brand new.”
Hoy and his staff have less than a week to accomplish it. With the team itself having departed on a West Coast road trip Sunday night, the All-Star Game transformed from a binder of planning memos on Hoy’s desk to something far more tangible.
“Things got real today,” he said.
That meant a lot of physical labor in all corners of the five-year-old downtown Minneapolis stadium. A specially equipped crew polished the giant video scoreboards in the outfield. The grounds crew replaced worn sod and fertilized the grass. Flowers in the planters were replaced with fresh blooms; a couple of dead trees on Target Plaza were swapped out for saplings; and even the roofs of concession stands, generally not visible to paying customers, were washed clean.
In the Twins clubhouse, every stray sock and extra jersey was removed from the players’ lockers, packed into 150 jumbo bins and loaded onto semi trucks, all to make room for 34-man rosters of baseball’s best players, who will take over the room Monday. The couches and card tables that Twins players lounge on were hauled away, and the chairs at each locker were stacked up and removed, to be replaced by All-Star-branded versions.
“Basically, it’s like Oct. 1 for us. We’re emptying it out like it’s the end of the season,” said Rod McCormick, Twins home clubhouse manager. “And when it’s over, we’ll have two days to put everything back the way it was.”
While a half-decade’s worth of Twins paraphernalia was packed up — five truckloads of material was hauled out of the stadium, Hoy said, with another two or three to come — a similar amount of goods were shipped in to speed Target Field’s transformation from a ballpark to an All-Star headquarters. Risers have been set up behind six sections of seats, with tables, power and Internet access, for the overflow of media members who will be here. Exactly 365 pieces of bunting have been draped around the railings, and All-Star signage is being put up.
The team’s media office entryway has been cleared so ESPN can use it as an interview room, and the Twins’ video department is now the All-Star “social media area,” where the players can go to tweet. Yeah, apparently that’s a thing now.
Even the lunch area is getting a makeover, with the deli tables and soft serve ice cream machine giving way so that a sushi station and catering equipment can be set up.
Target Field should be ready in a couple of days, including painting All-Star logos on the field and mowing one into the outfield grass. Then the rehearsals begin. The Twins, Major League Baseball and the various broadcasters who will televise the proceedings will practice every ceremony, every announcement, every bit of entertainment planned. Even the pregame flyover is rehearsed.
“We’ll go over every move, every song, every change on the field,” Hoy said, “as live as possible.”
Only one thing can’t be practiced.
“My biggest fear is the weather. That’s the big wild card. To me, the worst thing that could happen is if everybody has to sit around while it rains,” Hoy said.
The Sunday and Monday events — the All-Star Futures Game for prospects, the celebrity softball game and the Home Run Derby — would not be rescheduled. Tuesday’s actual All-Star Game could be pushed back to Wednesday, but baseball will try everything to get the game in as planned.
“I’m hoping, after all this planning, for Chamber-of-Commerce weather,” Hoy said. “After the spring we’ve had, maybe it’s rained itself out.”