If your office mate leaves for a late lunch Monday and does not come back, look for them over at Target Field where the Twins have their home opener against the Chicago White Sox.

First pitch is at 3:10 p.m., but pre-game festivities begin long before that so look for crowds and traffic to start building a few hours before. The Twins are giving away hooded sweatshirts Monday, and that's appropriate because it's going to be a cold one, and windy, too.

Metro Transit offers doorstep service for those who arrive by light-rail trains. Both the Blue Line and Green Line light-rail trains stop on the northeast side of Target Field. There also is a stop a few blocks away at Hennepin Avenue/Warehouse Station where the platform is sometimes less crowded after games. But with a sellout or close to it expected, both stations will be busy before and after the game.

To make things easier, buy a round trip ticket for $4 ($3 for youth and seniors) online. Each ticket is good beginning 3 hours before first pitch and allows fans to ride up to 3 hours after the final out.  For parking, try the free park and ride lots at 28th Avenue or Fort Snelling stations.

Fans coming from the northwest suburbs and further out can hop the Northstar commuter train. A special Twins train departs Big Lake at 1:20 p.m. and arrives at Target Field at 2:12 p.m., giving fans an hour to get their favorite beverages and find their seats. But pay attention to the clock as the last outbound train departs Target Field station at 6:15 p.m.  Family passes and individual tickets can be bought in advance online. Prices vary depending on which station travel originates from.

Take the bus
A number of routes serve Target Field. Regular off-peak fares of $1.75 apply going to the game but the rush hour fare of $2.25 will be in effect from 3 to 6:30 p.m.  Here are the routes that stop at the stadium:
•    From the north: 4, 5, 14, 19, 22
•    From the east: 3, 61, 94
•    From the west: 9, 14, 679
•    From the south: 4, 5, 6, 14, 22

Fans in the western suburbs can take advantage of the Twins Express (Route 679), Metro Transit provides express service to and from Target Field and the I-394 & County Road 73 Park & Ride ramp. Buses leave every 15 minutes for two hours before the game; return service starts two hours after the game begins and runs until an hour after the game ends.

Driving
With Monday being a work day, finding parking could be more challenging than usual as ramps will fill up early in the day. Getting to them could be difficult too. Expect extra congestion on 7th Street, 1st and 2nd Avenues N., Hennepin Avenue and other streets in the vicinity of the stadium and Target Center.  Inbound I-394 will likely see extra midday traffic. That also will be likely on I-35W and I-94 and the 4th and 7th Street ramp.  Be on alert for buses parking around the stadium, especially on 7th Street. That always slows the traffic flow.  Be aware that utility work is impacting traffic on streets crossing Nicollet Mall, which will add to the travel time.

Of course, pedestrians will be out in force, so look both ways before proceeding through intersections and around corners. Traffic control will be out to regulate traffic flow, but motorists need to be alert, follow their direction and use patience.

 Dynamic messaging signs throughout downtown provide drivers with real-time information as they move around the area. There are currently more than 70 of these signs downtown, which are used to direct people to parking, to notify drivers when key parking ramps fill, and to help drivers find their way around.

To avoid the crush around Target Field, metered parking in other parts of downtown are an option. For 50 cents, fans can hop a Metro Transit bus or light-rail train in the downtown area. Here is a list of parking ramps and lots in downtown Minneapolis.   Some ramps contract with parking apps such as SpotHero and Parking Panda  or Park Whiz.

Fans with disabilities

Fans with disabilities can be dropped off on 7th Street near Gate 29 just outside the Twins Pro Shop and main ticket windows. Sometimes that area is congested as it also is where fans hail taxis and get dropped off.

Biking

It might be a bit chilly, but opting to bike to the game might be just the ticket. Target Field has more than 300 places to lock up your two-wheeler, The city has scores of other bike racks nearby.  With a big crowd and lots of traffic, visibility is key so think about wearing bright/reflective clothing in addition to using bike lights and helmets.

  Nice Ride Minnesota has started its season and has a docking stations at Target Field Station, and near Target Field at 2nd Avenue N. at 6th Street, 4th Street and 5th Avenue N. and 2nd and Washington Avenues.

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