Snow marks Siebert Field debut

Two of the Gophers’ first three games at their new stadium were delayed because of poor weather.

Minnesota short stop Michael Handel hits the ball for a base run against Ohio State Buckeyes on Friday, April 5, 2013, at Siebert Field.

Amanda Snyder

Minnesota short stop Michael Handel hits the ball for a base run against Ohio State Buckeyes on Friday, April 5, 2013, at Siebert Field.

by Samuel Gordon

It took a couple of days, but the sun peaked out from behind the clouds Sunday afternoon and shined light on Siebert Field for the stadium’s inaugural series.

The Gophers fought bad weather as they opened their new ballpark by winning two of three games against Ohio State.

Cold temperatures, rain and snow delayed Friday and Saturday’s games, forcing a doubleheader Sunday.

The weather was tame Sunday, and the series finale was completed in an hour and 37 minutes.

Weather aside, opening the ballpark was a positive experience for the Gophers, who pitched well during the series, closing it with a 1-0 victory.

“There was lots of emotion,” Gophers head coach John Anderson said. “It was a long weekend here. For us to log the hours we did out here and be able to finish the series and play the way they did is a real compliment to the kids.”

Minnesota was expecting three sellouts. The bad weather prevented that from happening, but there was still a good turnout and fans in attendance were enthusiastic.

Dale Abrahamson, father of Minnesota third baseman Ryan Abrahamson, said he enjoyed being back outside.

“As soon as the weather warms up, it’s going to be great,” he said. “It was a little cold and wet watching it, but they got through it.”

Dale Abrahamson said the weather didn’t really change the fan experience.

The fan experience at the 50,000-seat Metrodome, where the Gophers played most of their games previously, wasn’t as intimate. At Siebert Field, the bleachers are practically on top of the field.

“The dome gets a little old,” he said.

Second baseman Tony Skjefte said the intimate crowd setting at the new park is a lot more fun.

“There’s a lot more atmosphere here for sure,” Skjefte said. “It’s fun when the games get close and the fans get into it.”

The field’s opening is apparently making waves around the Big Ten, too.

Longtime Gophers public address announcer Dick Jonckwoski, who travels throughout the Midwest for various speaking engagements, said people approach him with inquires about the new ballpark.

“I’m amazed as to how many people say ‘How’s the stadium doing? How does it look?’” he said. “Nobody’s ever said that before.”

Minnesota will play its home games at Siebert Field for the remainder of the season.

Although the opening weekend was a success, Anderson said he’s ready to move forward.

“This is all new for us, too,” Anderson said. “Each time we step on the field I think we’ll learn a little bit more.”