MINNEAPOLIS -- Ask any Twins fan attending a game at the Metrodome this season, and they'll tell you that the club's trek to a new ballpark has been grueling and the wait has been too long. And they'll be passionate about it. "I have 30 pages of e-mails that I've sent to my legislator," said Dick Schlicht, a resident of Lakeville, Minn.
"We're glad the fight for it is over," added Schlicht's wife, Diane. Twins fans endured a decade of debate over the possibility of a new baseball park, which ended on May 26 when Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed legislature in an on-field ceremony at the Metrodome. The team was considered for contraction by Major League Baseball in 2001, then thought to be headed out of Minnesota. "I thought they should have put [a new ballpark] in 10 years ago," said Robert Byrne of Lakeland, Minn. "You see all these cities all around the country getting new parks, and they're still playing here. I was glad that they finally got it." The Twins-Hennepin County new ballpark bill includes a 30-year lease for the team, guaranteeing the next generation of Twins fans the ability to enjoy baseball in Minneapolis, which boasts all four major professional sports. "Just to know that we're going to have baseball here for a long time," said Dick Schlicht, who has held season tickets for a dozen years. "We just want that to continue. It's a favorite pastime just to come here and watch all the baseball games." The new ballpark, which will be located near the Target Center, will begin construction next spring, Twins president Dave St. Peter said. Design details won't finalize until later this year. However, according to the final legislation, the open-air ballpark's 42,000 seats will all face the infield and will have the closest seating bowl to the playing field in all of Major League Baseball. "I just want them to stay, and to have a ballpark that's made for baseball so you can see no matter where you're at," Diane Schlicht said. "This one's a football stadium." But since moving into the Metrodome in 1982, the Twins have won two World Series championships, 1987 and 1991. The club clinched both titles in Game 7 at the Dome. The Metrodome also hosted baseball's All-Star Game in 1985. The Metrodome, which deflated in April 14, 1983, and caused the Twins to postpone a game against California, must have something that fans will miss. "Not for watching baseball," said Byrne, who has attended Twins games regularly for the last few seasons. "Baseball is meant to be outside on grass." Maybe when the Twins open their first homestand in 2010, considering Minnesota's weather, the dome will be appreciated. "When it's 40 degrees outside in April, I'll miss that," Dick Schlicht said. "But we'll still come."
Jason Brummond is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.