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Minnesota's Classic hopes raised

Minnesota's Classic hopes raised

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MINNEAPOLIS -- As teams begin the final weekend before next week's All-Star Game, the Twins are already excited about the prospects of hosting the event after the completion of their new ballpark.

With Major League Baseball leaning towards using the Midsummer Classic as a vehicle to display new stadiums, coupled with the fact that the Twins haven't hosted the game in more than two decades, the Twins' new ballpark appears to be a prime candidate shortly after it opens in 2010.

Tuesday's game is at Pittsburgh's PNC Park, which opened in 2001.

"There's no question that we anticipate being able to bring the All-Star Game back to Minnesota with the new ballpark now in our future," Twins president Dave St. Peter said Friday. "It's something that we have a great deal of excitement about and certainly we're hopeful that Major League Baseball will see fit to reward a game back to Minnesota."

St. Peter said the Twins have had only "informal discussions" with Major League Baseball about the possibility of the game's return to Minneapolis. He added the club hopes to have conversations in the not-to-distant future with MLB.

St. Peter said he feels good about the team's chances to host the game in a few years after the stadium opens.

"Traditionally, teams like to host All-Star Games once you've established your ballpark and you've been opened for at least a couple seasons," he said. "Then you're in a better position at that point to host an All-Star Game in terms of focus and things of that nature.

"From an economic impact point of view -- along with a showcase point of view for our city, our county, our state, our region -- it's a wonderful opportunity. It's something we take very seriously and we're really excited at the prospect for further discussion."

The Twins hosted the All-Star Game in the Metrodome in 1985 and Metropolitan Stadium in 1965. The inaugural Home Run Derby took place in the Metrodome.

All seven American League ballparks that have opened since 1989 have already hosted an All-Star game, which can't be said about their National League counterparts. Since 2000, eight of the nine new ballparks have been opened in the National League. In addition, two NL teams -- the Washington Nationals and Florida Marlins -- hope to debut in new stadiums by the start of the 2008 season.

In February 2005, Commissioner Bud Selig said he's not focused on preserving an American League-National League rotation for All-Star Game venues, which will be snapped for the first time next season since the 1950s. San Francisco's AT&T Park has been announced as the site for the five-day event.

"We do love the All-Star Game as a showcase for our new venues," Selig said then. "I'll try and alternate the game [between leagues] if I can, but this is a great way to show off our new [ballparks]."

The Twins' 42,000-seat ballpark will be ready for Opening Day in 2010. The design and construction process is overseen by the five-person new ballpark authority, which held its first meeting on Friday. The ballpark authority is currently working on selecting an executive director.

Jason Brummond is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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