Big League Stew

Target Field: A local’s guide to enjoying a road trip to the home of the Minnesota Twins

Big League Stew

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Target Field on opening day 2012 (Getty Images)

Have a baseball road trip coming up? Well, in a bid to help you with your upcoming journeys, Big League Stew has solicited the help of the locals. Over the next month or so, we'll be hitting up our usual guest blogger crew to feature 10 tips for enjoying each of the 30 ballparks like the locals do. Have a suggestion in addition to the ones listed here? Make sure to list it in the comments below.

So you’re in Minneapolis and you’re looking to be entertained, eh? Well you’re in luck, fair visitor! Minneapolis is a jewel of a city, with beautiful parks and lakes, a thriving arts scene, and some of the Midwest’s finest restaurants. Nestled on the banks of the Mississippi River, you’ll surely find myriad ways of enjoying springtime, which this year takes place for nearly two full weeks before three months of oppressive heat give way to winter’s nine months of snow and passive aggression.

What’s that you say, dear friend? You’re in the mood for a baseball outing? May I convince you otherwise? We don’t really do that anymore around here. For one, the Local Nine haven’t given us much to cheer about over the past two years. Plus, I was actually still shoveling my driveway a week and a half ago. No, I’m not kidding. So please forgive us natives for neglecting to realize that the 2013 baseball season has actually been going on for a while, and for ignoring that our team, while only playing .500 ball, is wildly exceeding our 90-loss expectations.

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So instead of hanging out at that admittedly beautiful ballpark downtown tonight, I would encourage you to seek out a rooftop bar in our sparkling urban playground, order yourself a nice seasonal beer, and watch as all of the beautiful 25-year-olds who work in Target’s marketing department get off work and make tonight a wonderful thing.

Huh? You’re telling me that you still insist on watching Vance Worley struggle to make it through four innings tonight? I honestly don’t know what to say to that. It’s your life, brother.

Anyway, here are 10 tips for enjoying your trip to Target Field:

1. Getting in and out of downtown Minneapolis: Reaching Target Field isn’t all that tough to begin with, but if you want to spice things up, you can always take the light rail, which drops you off right at the ballpark. The Hiawatha Line, running from downtown to the Mall of America, is the only line in operation right now (with the Central Corridor Line to St. Paul projected to start running in 2014). Many a cheapskate has parked near the train station at 38th Street, grabbed a couple beers and some pull-tabs at The Cardinal, and then hopped the light rail for a 10-minute jaunt downtown. You get dropped off right at Gate 6 (more on the gates below).

2. The park has five gates. That seems simple, right? Well, curveball! They’re not numbered 1-5. Instead, they’ve been given the numbers of five all-time great Twins. Starting from the northernmost gate (i.e., left field) and going clockwise, they’re numbered 6 (Oliva), 3 (Killebrew), 34 (Puckett), 29 (Carew), and 14 (Hrbek (yes, really)). Go ahead and curse this entire premise when you find yourself walking all the way around the park to find your gate. We all do.

3. “Minnesota Nice” is practiced by the people working throughout the ballpark. Any kid who doesn’t have a mustache can probably get in Target Field without a ticket. And they’re pretty lax about bringing in food or water bottles, just don’t make a big show about it. (Note: “Don’t make a big show about it” may as well be on our state flag.) Even our scalpers are surprisingly honest.

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(Sports Illustrated)

4. The best views in the whole park are on the third base side. SI certainly understood this. You get a great view of downtown, and there’s absolutely no better place to watch Joe Mauer hit two sharp singles, take a walk, and ground into a 4-6-3 double play.

5. Keep in mind that Target Field really is a microcosm of Minneapolis as a whole. It is pretty and clean. It is family friendly. And it is very aware and unabashedly proud of its Minnesota-ness. In this respect, you’re lucky, since the Twin Cities, like Brooklyn and Portland and every other city littered with hipsters, have become somewhat of a homebrew hotspot. The Twins have embraced it, offering Surly and Fulton drafts at the Twins Pub in Section 141. Throughout the park, you’ll also find plenty of other local brews, like Summit, Schell’s, Lift Bridge, and that beer that lights up our skyline, Grain Belt. And for God’s sake, if you’re ordering the latter, call it a Premo. Act like you’ve been here before.

6. Minnesota is crazy about its State Fair, which is the home to [Insert Name of Any Cockamamie Food You Can Think Of]-On-A-Stick. Target Field has wisely co-opted some of the Fair’s fairest fare, offering (among others) Pork Chops-On-A-Stick, corn dogs, and fried pickles. They’re all found in section 133.

7. The standard hot dogs are plenty good, though they’re not the equal to the beloved Dome Dogs of yesterday. Nonetheless, bypass the standard sausages and make a point of hitting up one of the Kramarczuk’s stands throughout the park. Kramarczuk’s is a Northeast Minneapolis mainstay, and just won a James Beard Award. You’re not going to want to miss their Polish.

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(Getty Images)

8. The Budweiser rooftop deck in left field is incredibly difficult to sneak into. Still, it should be attempted at least once.

9. The Twins’ marketing department got creative this year and booked a bunch of local bands to play during Wednesday night home games. No word on whether Prince will make an appearance. (Hint: He won’t.) But listening to The4onthefloor or Trampled By Turtles in between innings will help get your mind off the fact that Aaron Hicks needs to hit about .350 for the rest of the season to reach the Mendoza Line.

10. As a follow-up to No. 1, the light rail trains after the game are inevitably and uncomfortably packed. Your best bet is to grab a drink. There are two ways to go here. You can either keep it classy, and head somewhere cool nearby like Bradstreet Craft House or the Monte Carlo (home of one of the most beautiful bars you’ll ever see), or keep it dirty and cross the tracks (literally) to Sneaky Pete’s. Whatever the latter might lack in sophistication, it makes up for in goodwill, having hired beloved beer vendor Wally the Beer Man after his unceremonious firing in 2010. Better still, go Don Draper and head to Murray’s on 6th Street for a steak and a whiskey. Sid Hartman would approve. (You’ve by now noticed that several of these tips are about how and where to drink. Before you insinuate anything, bear in mind that Kevin Correia is currently being touted as the Twins’ ace. You’d drink, too.)

So there you have it. That’s how you do Target Field. One more thing: If you ride a bike to the game (or anywhere else in the city), you can basically do whatever you want, unimpeded. We’re progressive like that.

What are your favorite tips for a visit to Target Field?

Previous parks: Citi Field, Marlins Park, Great American Ball Park, Petco Park,Comerica Park, Progressive Park, AT&T Park, Rogers Centre, Wrigley Field, O.Co Coliseum, Yankee Stadium, Coors Field, Minute Maid Park, Fenway Park, PNC Park,U.S. Cellular Field, Safeco Field

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