By Brian Johnson
Dolan Media Newswires
Minneapolis — It’s official: the Minnesota Twins have a new home.
This week, less than 100 days before the first pitch at Target Field, officials from ballpark contractor Mortenson Construction ceremonially handed over the Target Field keys to the Twins — the stadium’s lone tenant — during a clubhouse press conference inside the new $550 million ballpark.
Twins employees packed their bags and started moving into Target Field in December and began doing business at the new 40,000-seat ballpark this week.
At Monday’s press conference, project officials removed their yellow hard hats and exchanged them for blue Twins baseball caps to commemorate completion of a project that that began with a ceremonial groundbreaking in August 2007.
With help from more than 3,500 craft workers, 82 contractors, and thousands of off-site workers, all major work on the stadium wrapped up two months ahead of schedule, a feat that’s “absolutely unheard of” for this type of project, according to Mortenson construction executive Dan Mehls.
The limestone-clad open-air stadium — which required 2 million hours of labor, 4,900 tons of steel for the outfield frame and seating, 55,000 cubic yards of concrete, 51 miles of piles, and 100,000 square feet of limestone — was built mostly with regional workers and materials.
Roughly $40 million in direct payroll costs went into the pockets of workers, 96 percent of whom were from the Twin Cities, according to John Wood, senior vice president with Mortenson. The project team exceeded goals for participation of disadvantaged workers and businesses, he said.
Twins Sports Inc. President Jerry Bell praised the work of Mortenson, Kansas City-based design firm Populous, the Pohlad family and others who brought the project to what he called a “historic” moment.
Bell put in a special word for the craft workers. Noting that the Twins visited numerous ballparks around the country during the run-up to construction, Bell said the finished product at Target Field compares favorably with the best.
The craftsmanship “just couldn’t be better,” he said.
One of the early goals was to make the stadium uniquely Minnesotan, Bell noted. Asked at one point by the design team what that might look like, Bell quipped, “I don’t know … but we will probably know it when we see it.”
Clearly, he likes what he sees today.
One thing that stands out is the limestone exterior, which came to the project site in more than 100 semi truck loads from a Mankato-area quarry. The design also includes Minnesota native landscaping and tributes to Twins legends.
The new stadium, at 1 Twins Way in the Minneapolis Historic Warehouse District, was scheduled for completion in March, a month before the start of the 2010 baseball season.
Hennepin County is covering roughly two-thirds of the project cost with a .15 cent sales tax. Construction costs alone are $425 million; the total $550 million price tag includes site acquisition and infrastructure costs.