MINNEAPOLIS -- There is no more doubt as to just what the new Twins ballpark will look like, as the Twins and HOK Sport unveiled a model of the ballpark at a Hennepin County Board meeting on Tuesday afternoon. Earl Santee of HOK Sport, the firm designing the ballpark, presented the design to the board and discussed some of the new design aspects that were reflected in the scaled model. "I think it looks great," Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat said after viewing the model. "It's hard to imagine when you are down on the site, but I think it's going to be a great asset to the Entertainment district and it fits in with the look of the downtown neighborhood."
Only a few slight changes were made to the original design plan, including extending the upper deck so that it now looms above the playing field down the right-field line and a family picnic area in center field that the designers had once thought of making into a club. Among the unique aspects of the ballpark will be lighting tracks that are built into a canopy which will "top off" the ballpark. Pine or fir trees will be placed in center field and native Minnesota vegetation will be incorporated through the ballpark. The model also displayed the look of the limestone that will make up the majority of the façade of the stadium and how the club is planning to use the franchise's five retired numbers as markers for the five entrances into the park. The model itself is quite substantial, requiring nearly 3,000 hours to construct and weighing in at 324 pounds. All of the lights on the model are illuminated by fiber optic wire, and its scoreboard is actually a working LCD screen that came from an in-car DVD player. It's the largest presentation model ever built by HOK Sport, which has completed 52 previous such models. "We hoped, by building the model, it might demonstrate what you can expect in 2010," Santee said. "And we think this is it." Fans will be able to view the model themselves during the team's annual TwinsFest, which takes place Jan. 25-27 at the Metrodome. The purpose of the unveiling on Tuesday was to guarantee that the design of the 40,000-seat ballpark not only fit the board's approval, but that it could indeed be built within the set budget. John Wood of Mortenson Construction spoke at the meeting and assured the board of Commissioners that the design shown in the model could be completed within budget. Wood also confirmed that the stadium, which is being built between 5th and 7th Streets at 3rd Avenue N. in the Warehouse district, is still on track to be ready for the start of the 2010 season. The county board is expected to vote on the final design plan next week, just a few days before one last public design and budget approval will be addressed by the Ballpark Authority. While the general plan for the new park appears complete, there could be some slight changes made during the actual construction process. As part of the deal with the county, the Twins have agreed to pay the difference if any of those changes cause the project to go over budget. Twins Inc. president Jerry Bell reiterated that pledge on Tuesday. "From the Pohlad family to everyone in the Twins organization, if we have to pay more to build this ballpark, the quality of the ballpark will not suffer," Bell said. "The short-term pinch of funds can be overcome because we expect this ballpark to be here for generations. So we're not going to suffer on quality."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.