NEW YORK -- Twins president Dave St. Peter and two dozen other members of Minnesota's front office descended upon Citi Field for this year's All-Star Game festivities to get a better feel for the Midsummer Classic, which will be held at Target Field on July 15 next year.
Twins executives met with members of both Major League Baseball and the New York Mets' staff throughout the week to find out more about what goes into hosting the 2014 All-Star Game. It marks the return of the iconic event to Minnesota for the first time since 1985.
"I think the benefit to this is just to reconfirm the significance of the event," St. Peter said. "We have a lot of people who have been through jewel events in baseball, but there are also a number of our people who frankly have not. So it's opened our eyes and the biggest thing is that it helped us develop better relationships with people with Major League Baseball."
St. Peter and the rest of the Twins staffers arrived last week, taking in as many events as possible leading up to Tuesday's All-Star Game, including FanFest, Sunday's Futures Game and Monday's Home Run Derby. Members of the community relations staff also attended many of the charity efforts hosted around New York City throughout the week.
"I remain convinced that people in Minnesota and the upper Midwest have no idea how big this event has gotten," St. Peter said. "I know the people in Major League Baseball are excited about it coming to Minnesota because we have critical mass and a downtown ballpark. We have the ability to do a lot of things within a tight radius, which creates an interesting dynamic."
Target Field is considered one of baseball's crown jewels, with ground being broken on the $545 million stadium on Aug. 20, 2007. It officially opened on April 12, 2010, with 38,145 fans on hand to see the Twins beat the Red Sox, 5-2.
The ballpark, conveniently located in the Warehouse District of downtown Minneapolis, currently holds 39,021 fans with 54 private suites, 12 group party suites, as well as popular areas such as the Champions Club, Legends Club and the Budweiser Roof Deck in left field. New drink rail seating was also added in right field near Target Plaza before this season, lowering the official capacity from its original total of 39,504.
"We expect sellouts," St. Peter said about All-Star events next year. "I know there were empty seats here at the Futures Game on Sunday but we don't expect that. We think it'll be like Kansas City without an open seat for three days. We have a small ballpark with limited capacity and a large season-ticket base. So that should help us."
The All-Star Game traditionally has a major effect on the host city's local economy as well, as Commissioner Bud Selig said he estimates the All-Star Game will bring about $75-100 million to the local economy and about $5 million will go to local charities.
"I love the Twin Cities," Selig said. "Great franchise. Great fans. Beautiful ballpark. I'm really looking forward to Minnesota. I have a very soft spot in my heart, maybe because of my relationship with [late owner] Carl Pohlad and the whole Pohlad family. So I'm really looking forward to it.
"I had promised them when they got a new park. But, look, they deserved it. It's a wonderful baseball town. Great tradition. I'm a fan of Minnesota, I really am."
The Twins have been angling to host an All-Star Game since 2008, as it's been a near 30-year wait for the Midsummer Classic to return to the Twin Cities.
In the 1985 All-Star Game, the National League defeated the American League, 6-1, with LaMarr Hoyt winning Most Valuable Player honors for pitching three scoreless innings at the Metrodome, which was the home of the Twins from 1982-09.
That event came 20 years after the '65 Classic at Metropolitan Stadium, the outdoor home of the Twins from 1961-81. The NL won that one, 6-5, despite a two-run homer from hometown favorite and Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew.
Twins catcher Joe Mauer, a St. Paul native, was just two years old the last time Minnesota hosted an All-Star Game and said he can't wait for its return next year.
"I think it'll be a great venue with it right downtown," said Mauer, a six-time All-Star. "I think downtown and First Avenue will be buzzing. It will be a lot of fun. Minnesotans will come out. I know that. It'll be a great atmosphere."
Minnesota closer Glen Perkins, who hails from nearby Stillwater, Minn. and was an All-Star for the first time this year, also said he believes Target Field will be a great venue for the event.
"I think we have good fans and it'll be an awesome venue for it," Perkins said. "I think Target Field with the way it's set up will be an awesome spectacle. All our guys are here taking notes and all that."