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Set in stone: Twins ballpark progressing

Set in stone: Twins ballpark progressing

MANKATO, Minn. -- Homegrown talents like Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer have driven the Twins to success on the baseball field, so when it came time to choose the materials that will make up the Twins' new outdoor stadium, the organization stuck with the homegrown theme.

The Twins announced on Tuesday that Vetter Stone Company of Mankato will supply the 100,000 square feet -- or 100 semi-truck loads -- of limestone that will cover the facade of the downtown ballpark, scheduled to open in 2010. Jerry Bell, president of Twins Sports Inc., made the announcement at a podium made from a slab of limestone that will eventually be a part of the stadium.

"We said that we wanted to have a Minnesota ballpark, and nothing could be more grassroots, if you will, than what is going to be the skin of this ballpark," Bell said. "This is truly going to be a Minnesota ballpark."

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The company was founded in 1954 by the late Paul J. Vetter Sr. and his four sons, and is still owned by the family today, with Paul's grandson Ron Vetter serving as president.

Limestone from the Vetter Stone Company quarry has been used to construct the Wells Fargo Tower is Minneapolis, the U.S. embassies in Moscow and Abu Dhabi, and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. But the hometown project is one that Vetter is very pleased about.

"This ranks really high for us, and a big part of it is the family aspect," Vetter said. "Working for the Pohlad family -- with the Mortenson family, who's constructing it -- and to be another family business that's brought in and to have it so close to home is much more personal than a lot of projects are. So many projects are far away, and they're nice projects, but this one is very personal and hands on."

The earth-toned stone will cover all faces of the $390 million ballpark and will be mixed to display random patterns of different colors and shapes. The walls were designed to emulate the naturally exposed ledges of stone visible along the banks of the Mississippi River.

Dan Mehls of M.A. Mortenson was also on hand to discuss the ballpark. M.A. Mortenson, according to Mehls, is the third biggest sports facility builder in the country, having worked on Coors Field in Denver and Minnesota's own Target Center and Excel Energy Center. The Twins ballpark will be the largest project the company has ever constructed.

"We consider this to be one of our most monumental and significant projects in the history of our company," Vetter said. "We're just glad to be part of it."

Ground was broken on the ballpark in October and construction is on schedule. Bell and the Twins organization have worked for years to move the Twins out of the Metrodome and into their own outdoor ballpark, and is glad to finally be seeing the payoff.

"It's hard to believe, but when you look down there, you've got about eight or nine frames up and about 100 people working. It took a long time to get to that point, so it is a little difficult to believe, but it is there. They're working on it."

Leslie Parker 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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