Busy Twins offseason marked by move across town

4:46 PM, Oct 20, 2009   |    comments
Scene of the Grime
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins have started what's sure to be a busy offseason.

Team officials have been in annual meetings in Florida and Joe Mauer's contract status tops the list of roster issues needing resolution following Minnesota's fifth division title in the last eight years.

The organizational to-do list is longer than usual, though.

The team will soon move out of the Metrodome for their new open-air ballpark on the other side of downtown, and a lot of stuff has accumulated in the corners during 28 seasons at the billowing, muffin-shaped stadium.

"We're going to clean out our closets," executive director of public affairs Kevin Smith said. "There's a lot of stuff that's been collected over the years that we don't need anymore, but there's a lot of things that we don't just want to throw away and might have sentimental value for some people."

The Twins are considering holding a public garage sale next month. If the plan comes together, fans could have a unique opportunity to add to their memorabilia stash, perhaps filling out their collection of bobblehead dolls or other promotional giveaways from years past.

"If you missed bat day, you might find a bat," Smith said.

What about the baggie? Well, don't count on being able to buy the big blue wall that covered the stacks of football seats behind right field. The Twins are authenticating that signature artifact, holding onto it for now.

Amateur baseball games will still be held at the Dome during the cold months and the Twins will continue to put on their annual fan festival underneath the Teflon-coated ceiling, but the Metrodome sure looks like a football-only stadium now.

The Vikings have sold naming rights to the field and two gates and purple banners are all over, including one that covers Twins lettering on the facade of the front office.

Players were required to clear out of the clubhouse by the end of this month, and all employees will pack up and relocate to Target Field around the Christmas and New Year holidays. The move itself shouldn't be too complicated, but it is a lot of work.

The Minnesota Ballpark Authority, the public agency that operates Target Field, recommended the Twins give themselves several months to get settled before opening day to avoid distracting from the build-up to Minnesota's first outdoor pro baseball game since 1981.

Ballpark authority officials solicited advice from other stadiums around the country on how they prepared. The Washington Nationals, for one, had some early problems when their ballpark opened last year, like malfunctioning scoreboards and microphones.

The Twins are also getting ready to change their letterhead and leave behind 34 Kirby Puckett Place, "one of the greatest addresses in sports," president Dave St. Peter said recently.

The Twins asked the city of Minneapolis to rename a portion of Chicago Avenue in front of the stadium in 1996, honoring the Hall of Fame outfielder who later died from a stroke. The Twins will acknowledge their past stars in several ways at Target Field, including restaurants in Harmon Killebrew's and Kent Hrbek's names and a statue of Puckett on the plaza.

They wanted their new mailing address to focus on the team. The ballpark authority has a pending application with the city to call a stretch of Third Avenue along the site Twins Way, said executive director Dan Kenney.

"It's a nice solution," Kenney said.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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