U plays at revamped Target Field

The Gophers played in the stadium before the Twins this season.

Kate Raddatz

University of Minnesota baseball fans had more than the start of the Big 10 season to be excited about at FridayâÄôs home opener âÄî they got their first taste of âÄúTarget Field 2.0.âÄù
The $550 million stadium has already seen several changes in recent months to prepare for its second season of Minnesota Twins baseball. It will be home to the Gophers since the Metrodome collapsed in December.
During FridayâÄôs chilly game, fans took advantage of the 130 radiant heaters that were added to the concourse.
For University students who canâÄôt tear away from their handhelds, free Wi-Fi, informally dubbed âÄúTwiFi,âÄù is now available throughout the ballpark.
âÄúWe donâÄôt really know what to expect with that,âÄù Twins spokesman Kevin Smith said of the Wi-Fi service. âÄúThatâÄôs something new weâÄôre trying to keep up with the demands for folks who want to stay connected during the game âÄî itâÄôs a test process.âÄù
The biggest construction changes to the ballpark are a high-definition scoreboard in right field as well as an LED 100-foot âÄúTwins TowerâÄù next to it that will flash text and graphics. While the tower wasnâÄôt on during the Gophers games, fans had the same full coverage of the game on the main scoreboard that the Twins use throughout the season.
Minnesota head coach John Anderson said the most challenging part of playing at the high-tech field is getting the players accommodated without being able to practice there before game time. The team currently practices at Gibson-Nagurski Football Practice Facility and Siebert Field on the University campus.
âÄúYou have to try to control your emotions because it is very exciting, but you have to focus [on the game],âÄù Anderson said. âÄúItâÄôs a different venue but the rules and dynamics are still the same.âÄù
Even the menu is different this year. Last week the Twins unveiled 13 new Minnesota-made food items to be added to Target FieldâÄôs concessions.
The âÄúWalk a TacoâÄù from El Burrito Mercado in St. Paul and the famed turkey sandwich from the Minnesota State Fair werenâÄôt on sale at the Gophers games, but fans did get to try new bratwurst dishes from KramarczukâÄôs of Northeast Minneapolis.
And unlike any other University sporting events, beer will be sold at the Gophers baseball games.
Gophers spokesman Steve Geller said most of the main level will stay open for fans at the Gophers games, with the exception of the outfield.
âÄúWeâÄôre making sure we didnâÄôt take 2010 for granted,âÄù Smith said of the changes. âÄúWeâÄôre going to try to up the excitement.âÄù