Sports Odds & Ends
The 10-year-old plus Minnesota Twins ballpark located on the ‘border’ of Minneapolis downtown’s North Loop and North Minneapolis will open Thursday, April 10, for the team’s 2023 home opener. Fans will see new electronic doodads around the park as they enter the gates through a newly installed security system.
Over the last couple of years, the Twins have spent nearly $30 million on stadium improvements including what team officials christened “Scoreboard 2.0,” which replaced the old scoreboard with a brand new one.
The team’s president and CEO, Dave St. Peter, and Matt Hodson, the business communications director, both bragged about the state-of-the-art equipment as they unveiled the new video boards to reporters on March 28.
“The goal of Scoreboard 2.0 is to enhance the fan experience by providing more entertainment,” declared St. Peter of the new high-definition display for the main video board in left field, the auxiliary board in right field, the “Twins Tower” down the right field line, and the seating bowl ribbon boards, among others.
Additionally, in centerfield, the famed Minnie and Paul celebration sign got a technology makeover as well. The historic characters in the Twins’ logo from the 1961-86 seasons—two White men shaking hands across the Mississippi River—will now have “Win! Twins” above them. The two will now also have mechanical moving arms.
A couple of years ago, MSR health columnist Dr. Charles Crutchfield, III suggested that the team should change the old logo to be more diverse. Both he and I were told that the Black doctor’s suggestions would be considered. So far, Minnie and Paul look just as White as they always have.
The Twins have struggled since the ballpark opened in 2010 to attract Black fans to home games. But, this is a baseball-wide problem, not just the local major league baseball team. However, this year’s roster features three U.S.-born Black players—outfielders Byron Buxton and Michael A. Taylor, and utility player Nick Gordon. Infielder Royce Lewis is recovering from ACL surgery and is on the 60-day injured list.
When asked if the Minnie and Paul sign somehow conflicts with the team’s ongoing commitment to attract more Black attendees to Twins games, Hodson said, “What we really want to try to do is beyond that particular marker. It’s part of the reason we put in the public art last year. It’s part of the reason we are doing pregame activities throughout the year,” he continued.
“What we try to do with our food partners, our retail partners, our community partners is to make sure that everyone knows that Twins baseball is for everyone.”
In addition, a new security checkpoint at each stadium gate will meet all those who come to the ballpark this season, doing away with bag restrictions that have been in place for several seasons.
“Whatever you’re carrying, you can keep that on you and walk right into the game from the street to your seat, unless you have something you shouldn’t have,” explained Peter George, Evolv CEO, before demonstrating the state-of-the-art screening system, Evolv Express. The Twins are the first Minnesota professional team to use the Evolv system.
“We have about 30 different professional sporting stadiums around the country that are using our technology today,” including several MLB ballparks, added George.
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