The Minnesota Ballpark Authority took an important step at its Aug. 18 meeting by officially giving the Twins the go-ahead to begin the design and construction of the new $522 million ballpark.
With the consent of Hennepin County officials in a letter released the day of the meeting, the five-member Ballpark Authority that will own and oversee development of the stadium passed a resolution that will allow the Twins to hire a lead and local architectural firm, a project manager and construction manager. These individuals or firms will “provide us with detailed plans, specifications and cost estimates for the new ballpark,” Twins Sports Inc. President Jerry Bell wrote in a letter to the Ballpark Authority.
“This really puts the team on the road to put the professionals in place to get this going,” Ballpark Authority Chair Steve Cramer said.
But as plans for the stadium moved forward, it became apparent at the meeting that there were still some kinks in the planning process that needed to be worked out. As officials with the Twins and Hennepin County delivered updates, Ballpark Authority members noted that both organizations were working separately on the design of the stadium rather than pooling their resources.
“It seems like a lot of different people spending a lot of money to get the same information,” Ballpark Authority member John Wade said.
Authority member Mike Vekich also asked what the process would be for settling differences between the various entities working on the stadium - such as the Twins and Hennepin County - and Chuck Ballentine, the county's point person on the ballpark, said such a process hasn't been determined.
Questions also arose when the newly hired Executive Director of the Ballpark Authority, Dan Kenney, announced that he had extended offers to two new staff members without posting the positions publicly. Wade questioned whether the jobs needed to be formally advertised to the public and said while he understands that the positions should be filled in a timely matter, he didn't want to see any shortcuts taken. He requested a legal opinion on the matter.
“I don't want to find this is a problem later on,” Wade said.
Twins President Dave St. Peter was also on hand at the meeting, where he distributed thick white binders that included comments the organization has received so far from fans across the state who have suggestions for the design of the ballpark. He said the comments largely fall into one of three categories: people who want to see a new stadium that is the antithesis of the Metrodome, people who want to see a ballpark that has a “Minnesota look and feel” and people who want to see elements of the history of baseball incorporated into the stadium. St. Peter said he wants the public to have the opportunity to provide feedback on what they want in a stadium. The Twins are also in the process of conducting market research that, along with fan feedback, will help determine things such as ticket prices, how the seats in the stadium are set up and the number of restrooms in the ballpark.
“We all agree that we want to build a great ballpark, and we all have different ideas on what makes a great ballpark,” St. Peter said.
The next meeting of the Ballpark Authority will be held Sept. 15 at the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, 900 S. 5th St.
Kari VanDerVeen can be reached at email@example.com and 436-4373.