Target Field has now officially been christened as a ballpark.
The Twins' new home hosted its first baseball game on Saturday afternoon, a college contest between the University of Minnesota and Louisiana Tech.
The gates opened at 9 a.m. CT and allowed fans to enjoy what was essentially a day-long open house that also included a baseball game in the afternoon. A total of 37,757 fans paid $2 to come through the turnstiles at Target Field on Saturday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., and got their first glimpse at the ballpark. All the proceeds from the day went to the Twins Community Fund.
The contest also provided the Twins with their first dry run to test out the facility during an actual baseball game, which Louisiana Tech won, 9-1. That included checking to make sure everything went smoothly with concessions, sales, security and other game-day operations.
"We worked up to this incrementally, with season-ticket holders open houses leading up to this day, and those were helpful,," said Kevin Smith, the Twins' executive director of public affairs. "But this day was really one to prime the pump to get ready to play professional games in here.
"It was really a great opportunity to get that machine going. Having never had that many people in here, it was a great opportunity for us to see how things work and how we can get better. Happy to report we didn't have any major snafus, and now we can look forward to the next few days of making some tweaks and making it better for the exhibition games.
Next weekend, the Twins are scheduled to host two exhibition games against the Cardinals on April 2-3. It's all in preparation for Target Field's official home opener on April 12 against the Red Sox.
The coming weeks are bound to be an exciting time at the ballpark, but Saturday afternoon's game was special in that it provided that first real glimpse of baseball on the Twins' new field.
"It was fun to see the lines painted for the batter's box," Smith said. "It was fun to see the foul lines painted. It was fun to see Target Field used as a baseball facility."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.