Monday, April 12, 2010

Where to go before/after Twins games?

For my entire life, my favorite team, the Minnesota Twins have played their home games indoors (the Metrodome opened for baseball 2 1/2 years before my birth) which means, despite witnessing hundreds of Twins games over the past 18 years or so, I have never seen the sun illuminate the Twins' home whites during a game that mattered. (I say this to exclude spring training/exhibition games.)

That will all change tomorrow, April 12, when the Twins officially christen Target Field as the new home of Twins Territory. It promises to be an historic day, and one that I feel extremely fortunate to witness in person.

Opening a new ballpark, Twins fans are learning, while a blast and probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience, is also a lot of work! You have to find a new "secret" spot to park (or find a new bus/train route), figure out which seats you like the most, which concession stands have the best food and even what innings to head for the restroom. But Target Field's prime location near Minneapolis' Warehouse District brings to light another, heretofore unknown dilemma for Twins fans -- where should I go for a drink/bite before and after the game?

As a 20-something die hard fan, this is question I've been pondering for a surprisingly long time, but I think I might just have my answer: Rock Bottom Brewery in downtown Minneapolis.

Saturday, Becca from Lola Red Public Relations invited myself and some other Twins bloggers out to witness a fun event they had staged at Rock Bottom -- a "Biggest Twins Fan" contest, in which an online poll selected four Twins fans to compete for a pretty-darn-spectacular grand prize -- a trip to 2011 Twins spring training in Fort Myers, valued at $1,500! With blogger John Meyer one of the contestant and Rock Bottom only a couple miles from my house, it was a no-brainer -- a couple friends and I decided to check out the event (promises of 2-4-1 beers did not hurt, obviously...).

I'll post a couple of videos that I shot on my Flip cam below, but needless to say, it was a pretty fun event. The four contestants (a woman named Michelle, John, eventual winner Ross and tattoo-guy Joel) competed in a series of contests ranging from spin-the-bat (see a video of John below) to math problems to giving their best angry Ron Gardenhire impressions (hilarious video below). Contestant Ross ended up the much-deserved victor and took home the trip, but there was an excellent crowd on hand and people were fired up for Twins season!

It's interesting to see the various bars and restaurants position themselves to capture a portion of the inevitable Twins traffic - at least 3 million people will be making their way down to Target Field sometime over the next six months, which means a lot of potentially hungry/thirsty customers!

I've always liked Rock Bottom and their custom-brewed beer (the Northstar being my person fav), and they gave away special T-shirts to those in attendance Saturday that entitle them to 2-4-1 beers on the day of any Twins home game throughout the season -- that certainly made my pre-/post-game outing decision a lot easier, since Rock Bottom is just a stone's throw away from the field and a quality establishment to boot.

It remains to be seen if other places around the park begin holding similar promotions to woo Twins fans -- I think they're going to find that the competition for those dollars will be fierce, and differentiating yourself from the throng (like Rock Bottom appears to be doing) could really pay off in the end.

Again, a heartfelt thanks to Becca for the invite -- I know that TwinsGeek (John Bonnes) and Kristen Brown (@kbrobaseball) also made appearances. I'll definitely be stopping by Rock Bottom with some friends on several occasions this season!

The videos I referenced above are embedded below -- the actual contest itself was a hoot, as you can see!

**ADDENDUM: Sarah from Oh It's THOSE Girls baseball blog has a far better recap of Saturday's event, complete with pictures (w/out all the pontificating that I am prone to) - check it out!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Twins v. Cardinals - first Major League Baseball games at Target Field

Okay, so I'm about a week late with this post (although bear with me, I'm going to put a couple things on here tonight), but I was in attendance at both of the Twins exhibition games against the Cardinals at Target Field April 2 and 3.

Friday night (the first-ever Major League Baseball game at Target Field!) I had excellent seats right on top of the visitors dugout (a place I hope to sit once or twice more this season, if I'm lucky). The experience was awesome -- gorgeous night, everyone just in awe of the stadium and having a great time.

For your enjoyment, I'm posting a couple of videos that I shot with my Flip came -- including the first-ever hit by a Twin at Target Field (a lead-off triple from Denard Span), a panorama of the entire stadium just before the first pitch by Carl Pavano and a pitch-by-pitch view of Joe Mauer's first-ever at-bat at "The House that Was Built For Joe."

I'm sure almost all of you will get to Target Field at some point this season, and these videos will cease to be novel. But for now, I think they're pretty cool, since no more than 80,000 people have witnessed a Twins game at the new stadium.

Let me know what you think!