The Minnesota Twins are messing with the Gold Glove, the larger-than-life sculpture on Target Plaza outside Gate 34, the entrance named for the late Kirby Puckett.
The 7-by-9-foot cast bronze mitt, a favorite spot for fans to meet and pose for photos, is being moved as part of a $5 million to $6 million offseason renovation project to expand the plaza area outside Gates 34 and 29, where two-thirds of fans enter Target Field.
The Twins last season made some changes inside Gate 34, to ease congestion where right field meets first base. Now the team is doing the same outside the gate, reconfiguring entrance points as a jagged pattern rather than the straight line that exists now.
Gate 34 now will have 16 entrance points, up from 12, along with the same single wheelchair entrance, said Matt Hoy, senior vice president of operations. The Twins also plan to erect a canopy about 25 feet wide over all gates to shield metal detectors, ticket-scanning machines and people from the weather.
“We’re trying to create a better experience for guests coming in the door,” Hoy said. “We’ve been sensitive so we don’t create a big concrete monolith of the space.”
The Minnesota Ballpark Authority (MBA), which oversees the complex, has approved the project.
“For the MBA, we wanted to maintain the open feel of the plaza and avoid the use of temporary fencing or tents on game days,” MBA Executive Director Dan Kenney said. “The new layout had to maintain public access to and through the plaza at all times.”
The Gold Glove was placed in Target Plaza when the ballpark opened in 2010 as a nod to the Twins’ top fielders. Sitting on an 18-inch platform, it was designed to be decorative. “It wasn’t originally intended to be used as a photo op,” Hoy said.
But now it will not only be moved about 100 feet toward downtown, but also lowered to better accommodate the demands of snapshot all-stars.
A matter of security
The Twins also are adding security measures, because the world has changed since 2010. The team, along with all of Major League Baseball, is moving slowly toward full NFL-level security.
The team added magnetometers in 2014 before the All-Star Game. Except for concerts, they haven’t yet limited bag sizes like the NFL does.
Moving fans quickly through the gate isn’t just about convenience — it’s critical to security.
“Any time you have crowds gathering on the exterior of a building, it’s an opportunity” for an attack, Hoy said.
In a less ominous vein, more mundane changes are in the works that won’t be seen by fans, such as the addition of storage space in the bowels of the building. Such space is highly coveted at both Target Field and the two-year-old U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Twins also are adding a new lawn inside Gate 34, laying down more than 5,800 square feet of turf.
“If your kids are getting impatient in the fifth inning or so, you can have them out there running around,” Hoy said, adding that the space could be used for impromptu whiffle ball games and other amusements: “I don’t want to do too much to distract them. You can still get a home run ball out there.”
And the team plans to install a permanent “multipurpose shell” inside Gate 34, with glass doors and a fabric canopy, that might be used for all sorts of activities such as autograph signings, a pop-up store, beer hall or concert.
In all, the gate line will take up an additional 9,000 square feet of the plaza. That leaves roughly 68,600 square feet on the public plaza over Interstate 394.
The Twins also plan changes on the plaza outside the ballpark, moving and replacing some planters with a permanent bench.
Kansas City-based architect Populous was working out the final details on the plan, which Hoy insists will not change the welcoming nature of the ballpark or the amount of greenery in the area.