This baseball season, the Minnesota Twins will open a beautiful new downtown, open-air stadium. I’ve never been to Minnesota, but from all reports, it is COLD. If you have not played baseball, let alone watched it in cold weather, you don’t want to; it is miserable. Between the stinging of your hands while trying to hit and catch, the gripping of the baseball or simply staying loose for an extended period of time, it is very difficult to play well.
Throughout the summer, an open-air stadium is not an issue, but what about the months of April, October and sometimes November? The average temperature in April is 50 degrees. In October and November, it’s football season; and the Minnesota Vikings don’t even play outside. The average temperature is 35 degrees with an average low of 20. Oh yeah, it also relentlessly snows with a mixture of freezing rain in the “Twin Cities.”
This also could have an affect on attracting free agents in the future. With a small budget as it is, it’s already difficult competing against the bigger markets. Retaining players could come back to bite them as well. The face of the organization, catcher Joe Mauer, is due to become a free agent at seasons end. With an opportunity to make over $30 million annually, Mauer may split for warmer pastures.
Although building this open-air stadium in Minnesota is crazy, a new stadium was much needed. The MetroDome was a fielding error waiting to happen. It was common for a fielder to lose vision of the ball, as it would get lost in the white ceiling. The MetroDome was one of the last stadiums to have Astroturf, a highly outdated playing surface, which led to more errors and injuries. The Twins also shared the dome with the Vikings, the reason why the field had odd dimensions and used quirky methods to create a baseball field.
The city of Minneapolis is the biggest winner; they get to keep their beloved Twins in Minnesota. Despite winning two World Series titles, the Twins were often rumored to be relocated throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Cities such as Charlotte, Las Vegas and Portland were among the possible destinations. Even though the city and the Twins faithful are thankful, I’m sure they would have graciously accepted and appreciated a retractable roof with their new stadium, i.e. Seattle and Milwaukee.
It should be interesting to see how this plays out, but the Twins are already facing a huge loss. With the season just month away, yesterday the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that All-Star closer Joe Nathan will miss the entire 2010 season with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He will undergo more tests throughout the next couple weeks, but the outlook does not look promising with an inevitable surgery on the horizon. Don’t forget your long underwear, because it looks to be a bitter, cold season in Minnesota.