MINNEAPOLIS -- On Thursday night, the Twins will finally break ground on a new downtown stadium that is more than 10 years in the making.
Groundbreaking festivities are slated to start at 5 p.m. CT, after the Twins' 12:10 p.m. game against the Royals at the Metrodome. Fans attending the ceremony will be treated to a concert, batting cages, fireworks and autographs from current and former Twins. The actual groundbreaking will occur at 7 p.m.
In 1995, the Twins planned to build a new stadium along the Mississippi River next to where the Guthrie Theatre currently sits, but those plans went awry. The Twins decided on a new site and the proposal was approved by the legislature and signed by the governor on May 26, 2006.
Before construction began, the Twins had to reach an agreement with BNSF, the railway company whose tracks currently sit in the path of the new ballpark. The parties agreed that the tracks would be moved closer to the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center, which borders the ballpark site. Original plans had the tracks running under portions of the ballpark.
The work to clear the site that sits on the north edge of downtown between 5th and 7th Streets on 3rd Avenue N began on May 21. The site was most recently a parking lot and was previously a railroad bed.
The only aspect left to be settled is the price of the eight-acre parcel of land that the ballpark will sit on. Hennepin County seized the land in May through eminent domain. The county has agreed to pay the owners of the land $13.75 million, but the former owners believe the land is worth $65.38 million. A decision is expected on Aug. 20.
The one-million-square-foot ballpark will have approximately 40,000 seats, and will be similar in size to the new PNC Park in Pittsburgh and AT&T Park in San Francisco.
The park will be made of native Minnesota limestone, glass and metal and will have openings in the facade so passersby can look through.
"People have been waiting a long time to see tangible progress on this project, and today we reward them for their patience," said Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat, when the design for the park was unveiled on April 12. "This ballpark will not only be a great baseball venue, it will be a great public asset for Minnesota. The design shows that despite our challenges with this site, we will build one of the great urban ballparks in America."
The ballpark is scheduled to open for the 2010 season, the Twins' 50th season in Minnesota.
Leslie Parker is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.