There won’t be any fans watching the Twins play at Target Field this season, at least not for a while. But some famous faces will be visible in the stands anyway.
The Twins will populate their seats behind home plate with giant 4-foot-tall heads seeming to watch the game.
TV viewers will be able to pick out the faces of legendary Twins players and other local and perhaps national celebrities; more than 80 such heads, which are commonly used as free-throw “distractions” by students in some college basketball arenas, have been readied for Opening Day thus far.
“We wanted to do something fun to fill that space,” said Matt Hoy, Twins senior vice president for operations. “We’re still working out exactly how it will look,” and whether the faces will change over time or remain the same, he said.
The Twins rejected a plan to turn that space into a revenue generator like the Dodgers’, which was unveiled on ESPN’s broadcast Thursday night. The Dodgers allowed fans to buy seats — at $299 apiece — in the Dugout Club directly behind home plate at Dodger Stadium and have their own cardboard-cutout likenesses installed in those spots.
Fans will notice a few other changes to Target Field starting Tuesday, too, some more subtle than others. Open-air awnings have been erected behind each dugout to allow players who are not in the game to sit in the stands, socially distanced.
It’s possible the Twins’ extra players, who work out daily at the St. Paul Saints’ CHS Field in case they are needed later by the major league team, will be invited to attend games and sit nearby, since they are tested for the coronavirus every other day.
Like most MLB teams seeking to generate revenue or fulfill sponsorship agreements, the Twins have covered several sections of outfield seats with tarps bearing large logos of prominent Twins sponsors (including the Star Tribune). In the left field upper deck, an enormous 53-foot-long printed photo mosaic, featuring more than 3,000 Twins fans, will be displayed on the Home Run Porch in section 331.
Large red letters spelling out TWINS are being installed at the edge of the grassy Gate 34 plaza behind the right-field seats, and will be visible from much of the ballpark.
And on the flagpoles atop the right-field scoreboard and ad boards, the Twins will fly huge pennants commemorating the franchise’s six World Series appearances — including, new for this year, the Washington Senators’ 1924 World Series title, and their 1925 and 1933 AL championships.
The field itself won’t look much different, although like all MLB stadiums, an MLB logo and “BLM,” for Black Lives Matter, will be visible in the dirt on the back of the pitcher’s mound.
There will be no organ music from Sue Nelson this season, but PA announcer Adam Abrams will be on duty.
Many of the thousands of juniper plants that make up the batter’s eye above the center field wall have been replaced, too, after some died over the winter. As an experiment in preparation for the still-scheduled NHL Winter Classic between the Wild and Blues on New Year’s Day, the grounds crew left the plants in place during the offseason to see how they would fare in the Minnesota cold.